“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” ~ Mark Twain
Self-respect is a fundamental for a great life. If we lack self-respect we will be insecure and strive to be someone we are not. To develop self-respect means to cultivate the self confidence to deal with whatever life throws at us. The following are some ways we can improve our self-respect. Remember, self-respect comes from an inner belief and not an egoistic feeling of superiority.
1. Be True to Yourself
There is great social pressure from parents, work and society to become a certain person and to achieve certain things. It is a pressure hard to detach from. But, a real self-respect only comes from being true to our inner calling. It is important you have faith in your own values and remember what is important to you. Just because other people think you should behave in a certain way, doesn’t mean they are right. Everyone needs to follow their own path. Even if others don’t respect your decision it is important that you do. Just ask yourself whether you come into the world to please Tom, Dick and Harry or live your own life?
2. Learn to Handle Criticism
We are sensitive beings. Nobody likes criticism and when we are criticized, either directly or indirectly, we feel bad about ourself – even if the criticism is not justified. To maintain a sense of self respect, we need to learn how to deal with criticism. Don’t take criticism personally. Look at it from a detached perspective. Maybe it is false, in which case we should ignore it. If their is some truth, we can use it to develop our character. However, it is important not to take criticism too personally. Just because we are not very good at a particular task, doesn’t mean we need to lose our self respect.
3. Look After Your Appearance, Without Being a Slave to Fashion
Our appearance is important. It can give us confidence or it can make us feel awkward. Take care of our appearance; dressing smart for the right occasion gives us self confidence. At the same time, we don’t want to be the slave of fashion trends. Dress for your own benefit; don’t dress in the expectation of pleasing others and receiving complements.
4. Avoid Jealousy
Jealousy of other people’s success is a common way of losing our happiness and self respect. Jealousy is simply envy of other people’s success. We feel miserable that we cannot enjoy their success. Sometimes it can even lead us to knocking the other person. If we follow this path of jealousy we will definitely lose our sense of self respect. When we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, we are saying our self respect depends on being better than others. But, the truth is, there will always be some people more successful than ourself. The trick to lasting self respect is to be happy through others success. We should never feel that other people’s success in any way diminishes our self worth.
5. Remember your Motivation, Not Results
Sometimes we work with best of motives and the best of intentions only to be disappointed by the outcome. The problem is that we equate our self respect to outer displays of wealth, success and social standing. It is the nature of life, that things will not turn out as we hoped, but, it is a mistake to link our sense of self worth to the achievement of external targets. Self respect comes when we value our attitude to life and other people. Even if things go badly don’t lose your self respect. Work with the best of intentions and gain your self respect from that.
6. Respect Others
If you have no respect for others, how can you have self-respect? Self respect means we have an inner confidence and inner assurance, but this is not a confidence built on superiority. It is the wrong approach to try and feel better by putting others down. If we look for the good qualities in other people, it is easier to remember the good qualities in ourselves.
7. Never Hate Yourself
We make mistakes, we may do the wrong thing; but we should never put ourselves down unnecessarily. If we are not careful we start bitterly regretting things and even disliking ourselves. We should never hate our self, it is very destructive. Listen to your conscience, but, don’t be too hard on yourself and feel burdened with guilt.
Forgive others and forgive yourself. Don’t live in the past, but, move on from past mistakes and difficult situations. If your mind is occupied with problems from the past, you will always feel guilty and unworthy. Don’t allow your self worth to be determined by past mistakes.
9. Be Selfless
The way to self respect is not through a bloated sense of pride; this is a false type of self respect. We may think that the praise of others boosts our self respect, but, actually this praise creates a vulnerable ego. If our self respect is based on the praise of others then our self respect will be very tenuous. Self respect should not be dependent on the praise of others; it should be independent of others praise.
10. Don’t Keep up With the Joneses
You will not be able to build self respect if you are permanently striving to impress others with outer displays. People who are impressed with material wealth and social standing are probably the kind of people not worth impressing anyway. Be comfortable with what you have, not what you think will impress others.
Tejvan Pettinger lives in Oxford where he writes on issues of self improvement and self development. He updates a blog Sri Chinmoy Inspiration. Recent blog posts include Changing Yourself by Accepting Yourself.
Image by Moriza.