Self love is an essential element for living a positively present life, and self respect is a vital aspect of self love. The more you respect yourself, the more you are able to love yourself. However, self respect isn’t always as easy to come by as you might think. There are a lot of aspects of life that can lure you away from respect. As much as you might want to treat yourself with respect, there are often outside influences that can get in the way of treating yourself honorably.
For example, here are a few situations that might tempt you away from respecting yourself: loving someone who doesn’t love you (or who treats you badly); having a “successful” career that makes you unhappy; wishing you could go back to a past time in your life; thinking you need to have X, Y, or Z to be happy; having people around you who doubt your abilities; wanting things simply because you think you “should” want them; thinking the lives others lead is better than your own; or living or working with people who treat you (or themselves) negatively.
These are just a few of the reasons you might find respecting yourself difficult, and, unfortunately, they can happen to almost anyone. Not all of these things are within your control (you cannot always control how others act or react), but what is within your control is how you treat yourself. Here are some of reminders of how to make self-respect a priority in your life.
DON’T SETTLE FOR LESS THAN YOU DESERVE.
One of the best ways to respect yourself is never to settle for less than what you deserve. And you — we all — deserve the very best in life. You have this one life to live and you deserve to have the best things for you: the best people, the best career, the best feelings. Don’t settle.
GET IN TOUCH WITH WHO YOU REALLY ARE.
In order to not settle, you have to know what it is you really want. You have to get in touch with yourself and what matters to you. (One way I do this is by using my Finding Yourself workbook and revisiting it often.) When you know who you are — and what you will and won’t stand for — you’ll be able to focus on the activities and people that encourage you to respect yourself.
FORGIVE YOURSELF FOR YOUR MISTAKES.
Letting go of the past can be difficult, but in order to respect who you are now, you must let go of who you were then. Do whatever you can to forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made. We’ve all made them — it’s part of life — but those who respect themselves know how to let those mistakes go. You can never go back; you can only take what’s happened and move positively forward.
FORGIVE THOSE WHO HAVE HURT YOU.
Forgiveness can be tough sometimes, especially if you’ve been hurt badly. But caring around that hurt and anger only makes it more difficult to cultivate love within yourself. Let go of the pain others have caused and you’ll open up space in your heart in mind for more positive emotions and experiences. No matter what wrong has been committed against you, forgiving is always better than clinging to the pain.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE.
Respecting yourself means keeping company with those who respect you — and themselves. Negative people (even those who are not negative directly to you) are draining and they spark negative thought patterns within you. You’ve heard the old saying: you are a combination of the people you spend the most time with. Respect yourself enough to make sure those people are positive influences.
WORK ON BUILDING UP CONFIDENCE.
The more you believe in yourself, the easier it will be to treat yourself with love and respect. Confidence isn’t always easy to come by, however, so you’ve gotta work for it. Do things that you’re good at. Accept compliments and make note of when others are proud of you. The more you do things that build up your confidence (and avoid those that tear it down), the more confident you’ll feel. And the more confident you are, the less likely you are to settle.
BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF (AND OTHERS).
Honesty is the ultimate sign of respect. When you’re honest with yourself, you’ll see what’s good for you and what’s not. You’ll be less likely to compromise on what matters most to you. Being honest with yourself is actually pretty hard so really pay attention to how you feel and what you think. And practice the art of being honest with others. Even when it’s hard, the truth is always the way to go.
TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR BODY.
Making yourself feel good physically is one of the ultimate ways to respect yourself. Treat your body as you would the body of someone you love dearly. Healthy food, exercise, low stress. Respecting your body is an essential aspect of self-respect. The more kindness you show yourself physically, the more internal love you’ll feel. Your body is the vessel transporting you around this world and it’s up to you to respect it.
EXERCISE AND INSPIRE YOUR MIND.
Just as you need to respect your body, you also need to respect your mind. Challenge yourself with new experiences and information. Step out of the thinking you’re comfortable with and try to find new perspectives. Find resources for information and inspiration — books, websites, people — and soak up all you can. The more you know, the more you can grow. And all that growth will empower you, making it much easier to respect yourself.
SPEAK POSITIVELY ABOUT YOURSELF.
The way you speak about yourself says a lot about how much respect you have for who you are. Try always to speak about yourself positively and try never to put yourself down with negativity. If this is a struggle for you, check out Using Positive Words to Promote Self-Love, which will give you inspiration for speaking positively about yourself. (Plus there’s a free download with lots and lots of words!)
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS.
Theodore Roosevelt rightly said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” The more you compare your life to someone else’s, the more difficult it becomes to cultivate self-respect. It’s hard not to compare, but remind yourself that, no matter how well you know someone, you don’t ever know everything about his or her life. No life is perfect and an essential way to respect yourself is to focus on what you have, not on what you lack.