How to Respect Yourself

Respecting yourself is the art of psychological well-being. It's like breathing. However, carrying it out requires a series of brave strategies that you may not be putting into practice. We'll tell you about them here.
How to Respect Yourself
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Respecting yourself goes beyond merely safeguarding or taking care of your self-esteem. It means fully accepting yourself and leading a lifestyle according to your own needs. Although it sounds surprising, this is often a neglected and even forgotten concept when it comes to education.

Our society respects the rights of others. This respect forms the backbone of our educational system. For instance, if a child attacks another, the aggressor is usually punished. However, they don’t always explain to us the importance of respecting ourselves. As a result of this small educational gap, it’s common for problems to occur.

For example, some people don’t respect themselves but they don’t respect others either. The reverse can also happen. In these situations, assuming that what others want or expect becomes more important than what we need. The key lies in having a successful combination of respect for ourselves and others.

“They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.”

-Mohandas Gandhi-

Young boy smiling thinking how thinking how to respect yourself
We’ve been told for so long that we must attend to our self-esteem, we’ve forgotten self-respect.

How to respect yourself

Psychology hasn’t given the attention that the concept of self-respect deserved. In fact, over several decades it’s tended to exaggerate the dimension of self-esteem. Indeed, self-help literature abounds on this subject, convincing us that without self-esteem, we’re all but lost.

Self-esteem is, of course, a vital component of psychological well-being, but self-respect is the cement that makes it solid. Self-esteem concerns the evaluation you make of yourself. This perception of your own self is often built from your environment and from the messages that you receive from your own family, friends, and society.

While self-esteem asks you for reasons to love yourself, self-respect only asks that you accept yourself as you are. Nothing more. It wants you to accept your virtues and flaws, your potential and limitations. Constance E. Roland and Richard M. Foxx conducted research that highlights how the art of respecting ourselves has been a recurring theme in philosophy since Aristotle’s times.

At that time, it was defined as the ability to think and act in such a way that we could safeguard our autonomy, have self-control, and be tenacious in life. You’d probably like to develop these exceptional qualities a little more yourself. Here, we tell you how.

While self-esteem is about what you think (or what you think others think about you), self-respect is rooted in how you treat yourself.

Love yourself for who you are and not so much for who you could be

Many self-help books urge you to develop your best version and be proud of everything you’ve achieved. Obviously, you have the right to improve in the area of life that you want. However, your love for yourself mustn’t depend exclusively on what you achieve or fail to achieve.

In fact, the affection you feel for your own being must be unconditional. Therefore, you must stop judging yourself so much. Love yourself for who you are. It’ll take a huge weight off your shoulders.

What others need isn’t more important than what you need

Naturally, it’s a good idea to support and comfort a friend when they’re suffering. It’s also acceptable that you want to be close to your family during difficult times. Furthermore, it’s both logical and essential that you focus 24/7 on the needs of your children and partner.

Nevertheless, respecting yourself requires remembering that you’re also a priority. You can’t keep giving until you eventually run out of energy, courage, or dignity. You mustn’t take on the role of supporting actor in the theater of your life.

Accept that you have weaknesses that may never improve

Self-demand is one of the processes that damage your psychological well-being. If you’re constantly trying to iron out your own flaws, don’t allow yourself to make mistakes, and beat yourself up if you do, you’re not respecting yourself. As contradictory as it may seem, it’s okay to assume that you have flaws, weaknesses, and limitations that you’ll never be able to correct.

As a matter of fact, those small supposed imperfections of yours are what make you more real. Accepting your light and dark sides, without resisting them, reinforces your self-esteem.

Expressing what you want isn’t disrespectful

If you want to start respecting yourself, practice assertiveness. Saying what you think and what you feel and need in each circumstance isn’t a form of contempt for the other person. It’s a strategy of relational harmony. Expressing with respect what you don’t consider to be fair, or expressing your thoughts in a safe and respectful way doesn’t hurt anyone. Quite the contrary.

Being assertive facilitates social harmony as we’re clear about our limits and needs.

Be true to your values whatever the circumstance

Self-respect means being consistent with yourself, whatever the circumstances. It means doing what you say, saying what you think, and believing what you think without outside interference. Respecting yourself means living in tune with your own values. Furthermore, you don’t allow others to impose any of their own values on you that aren’t in tune with yours.

Woman with closed eyes on the beach thinking how thinking how to respect yourself
People who respect themselves enjoy better mental well-being.

Taking care of yourself is respecting yourself

When was the last time you spent a day doing what you really wanted to do? Have you ever let go of a friendship or relationship that generated more stress than harmony? What have you done today to make you feel good? Although it may surprise you, these dimensions shape the valuable exercise of self-respect.

Getting away from anything that takes away your peace and extinguishes your potential, taking care of yourself, and giving yourself quality time are all tasks that you mustn’t neglect. In fact, you need to ask yourself if you’re respecting yourself as you should, or is it time to make a change?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  •  Clucas C. Understanding Self-Respect and Its Relationship to Self-Esteem. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 2020;46(6):839-855. doi:10.1177/0146167219879115
  • Roland, C. E., & Foxx, R. M. (2003). Self-respect: A neglected concept. Philosophical Psychology, 16(2), 247–287.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.