Mental Health

Boost Your Self-Respect

Lesson 1


Self-respect and respect from others are closely aligned. They are both something that everyone desires. Self-esteem is an admirable trait. It is something that we can recognize in another person by their actions, attitudes and demeanour.

When we see someone manifesting self-respect, we unconsciously respect them more. Conversely, it is harder to respect someone who exhibits little respect for themselves.

While on the surface, it is reasonable to assume that everyone deserves respect, this is tempered by the fact that many people do things that make them undeserving of the connection of other people.

Our self-respect is not a gift, nor is it fixed. We can strengthen our self-esteem by our thinking and our actions. It can also be diminished, even crushed, by our behaviours, and how these subsequently make us feel about ourselves.

Other people also can affect our self-respect, positively or negatively. The degree to which they can is a measure of how resilient we are and how healthy our self-esteem is.

This report can help you to understand the interaction between self-respect and respect from other people, and most importantly, how to increase both.

Self-esteem and self-respect are two terms that are closely linked to one another. Both are positive attributes in healthy individuals.  But ultimately, there are key differences that are crucial to understanding both concepts.

Gaining a deeper understanding of them can help achieve healthier levels of self-esteem and further build self-respect, to be able to function more effectively in society.

Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs

In his 1943 paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” American psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed the idea of a psychological hierarchy of needs in human beings.

  • Physiological needs are the requirements for human survival. They include breathing, food, water, shelter, sex, clothing, sleep and comfort.

  • Safety needs can be seen as a way to meet tomorrow’s physiological needs. They include personal and financial security, health, order, law and protection from elements.

  • Love and belonging needs are about social interactions. We don’t want to go through life alone. Social needs include friendship, love, intimacy, family, community, belonging and relationships.

  • Esteem needs include self-esteem as well as recognition from others. Esteem can come in the form of achievement, status, prestige, recognition, mastery, independence and responsibility.

  • Self-actualization needs relate to becoming more than what we are, and they can come from peace, knowledge, self-fulfillment, realization of personal potential, personal growth and peak experiences.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is often portrayed in the shape of a pyramid with the largest, most fundamental needs at the bottom and the need for self-actualization and transcendence at the top. In other words, the theory is that individuals’ most basic needs must be met before they become motivated to achieve higher level needs.

The basic physiological needs are the lowest and fundamental for the survival of individuals.

In this case, these needs seem to be overlapping with safety and security needs. Such needs usually emerge from deprivation and the absence of which develops a sense of anxiety and stress.

It can be attributed to the idea that people may think an empty stomach (without food, water, and other routine essentials during lockdown) would take their life away before the coronavirus.

The panic buying of bulk grocery and toilet papers are noteworthy examples. The hoarding of such items highlights the perceived unpredictability of the future about the availability of such goods.

To have these products, people still step out of their homes to buy and attempt to endanger their lives at the cost of their living, until these items are procured. Therefore, people tend to satisfy their elementary needs at any price, despite being aware of the hard reality of coronavirus. 

Self-esteem describes the confidence in a person’s worth and abilities. It is how you think and feels about yourself at the most subconscious level. To esteem, something means to hold something in high regard.

Having healthy self-esteem is crucial to mental wellbeing and success. It is this ability to conduct yourself confidently that empowers you to take action with enthusiasm, making progress and achievement more possible.

A measure of self-esteem is how easily the statements or actions of others can influence feelings of self-worth. Someone with low self-esteem may be crushed, sometimes savagely, by the negative words of others.

They may also be too easily influenced by insincere but flattering words. Their self-worth may depend heavily on the opinions and acceptance of other people.

A person with healthy self-esteem is not immune to either praise or criticism, but they have sufficient emotional resilience not to base their feelings of self-worth solely on either.

On Self-Respect

Self-respect is a form of self-love, and it means that you accept yourself for who you are. Having self-respect means having positive feelings about yourself. These feelings enable you to maintain positive regard for yourself.

Respect for oneself or self-respect means that you value the person that you are deep down, and you accept that person.

It involves treating yourself with respect and by extension, expecting others to treat you with respect as well. Self-respect enables you to act with grace and dignity to whatever gets thrown your way.

It allows you to set healthy boundaries and standards to protect yourself from other people as well.

Standing up for yourself is one way of showing self-respect. When you have this at a healthy level, you can assert your values and live your principles. When you have this within yourself, it’s straightforward to respect and understand the journey of others, too.

Self-esteem comes from our long-formed opinion of ourselves, our sense of self-importance and value based on external achievements, abilities, and inner strength. It is fostered even more by external recognition when we know that it is genuine and deserved.

Self-esteem is vulnerable to negative feedback and can be heavily damaged by extreme adverse circumstance. Regardless of how ideal having it is, it is not as stable or enduring as self-respect. Self-respect is something you can hold steadfast inside you, even when your self-esteem is at a low ebb.

Unlike self-esteem, it cannot be easily destroyed, especially when you know who you are and value the person that you are deep down. Self-esteem may be about pride in oneself; self-respect is having the certainty of your dignity as a person.

Even though external circumstances can shape self-esteem, self-confidence and self-respect both coexist within a person. Self-respect is the foundation that can help rebuild a person’s self-esteem when it is profoundly affected by criticism and negative feedback.

Self-esteem is something that can be rebuilt when damaged, and it relies on self-respect to be able to do that more effectively.

If you have a healthy sense of self-respect, and you value who you are deep down, nurturing your self-esteem won’t be a challenging thing to do.

Effective Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem and Manifest Self-Respect

  • Avoid falling into the trap of comparing yourself with others. You are unique and valuable just the way you are; there’s nobody else like you, so celebrate that.

  • Attend to your basic needs before anything else -  take care of yourself.

  • Choose your company and friends wisely.

  • Learn to take compliments gracefully and say thank you.

  • Let go and forgive yourself for past mistakes.

  • Acknowledge your efforts and hard work; celebrate wins, whether big or small. Learn to relish your accomplishments.

  • Be kind to yourself and treat yourself well.

  • Don’t expect yourself to be perfect. Perfectionism will hold you back.

  • Do more of what makes you happy and feel positive about life.

  • Be mindful of your inner self-talk and change the script to a positive one if it is negative.

  •  Be positive about yourself all the time.

It is an aspect that separates humans from animals. You have the intelligence, the sense of self-worth, and the knowledge of who you are so you are confident of your abilities.

If you have low self-respect, don’t expect people to treat you with high regard. It starts within you, in your inner self. If you respect yourself, people will do the same. It’s a domino effect.

What you project to others is what they perceive you to be. If you have self-respect, you treat people the same way, and they reciprocate how you treat them.

You can develop your self-esteem in parallel with your self-respect, as the two are closely entwined. It’s your attitude towards yourself. Whatever crisis life brings, if you keep your dignity and self-respect intact, almost nothing can break your spirit.

You can soar high from the storms of your life. Life’s tests will strengthen your self-respect and your resilience, making it easier to face challenges in the future. You will become a person of strength and confidence.

Here are some best ways to develop healthy self-respect:

Accept Who You Are

Have you meditated on what kind of person you are?

Spend alone time and analyze what sort of person you have become or would desire to be. Know your strengths and weaknesses.

Focus on the former; they are your potential, maximize them. Whatever shortcomings you may have, try to change them for the better, but do not dwell on them. Take action and move on, or accept them.

If you realize you’re not a very friendly person, why not start to reach out to the people around you such as your neighbours, workmates or schoolmates.

Next time you see them, why not smile at them and say “Hello”.

Few people can resist a friendly greeting. It starts from there.

Acceptance from others is a big step to increased self-acceptance, but you may need to make the first move.

Let Your Uniqueness Shine Through

Allow your unique traits to define who you are. Don't be afraid to stand out and don’t let the opinions of others smoother the real you. Express yourself, what you feel and think.

If not in so many words, through painting, drawing, photography, singing, or learning another language. If you have skills and talents, share them to the whole world.

You are you, unique and different from the rest. By letting your uniqueness shine through, you are making a statement such as “This is who I am”.

If you are a compassionate person, let it shine by volunteering to a charity or community work.

Even a simple task of helping a neighbour can make a statement for you.

Nurture Relationships with Your Loved Ones

A close relationship with family members or friends can boost your self-respect. Knowing that somebody believes in you, accepts and loves you no matter what can make you grounded. 

You can better feel ‘allowed’ to be what you want to be and celebrate your individuality with a well-balanced and sensible personality. You can be confident that whatever happens, you have someone to rely on, someone who can support you to achieve your dreams and ambitions.

They are the ones who know you inside and out and will not judge you for the things you’ve done or have not done. They are your anchor, making you secure by loving you unconditionally.

Make Your Own Decisions

Asking for a piece of advice from persons you trust is a wise move. Letting them decide for you is another story. If you just follow what others tell you to do, you’re not human; you’re a puppet.

You have intelligence and set of values which you use to weigh the right from the wrong.

If you don’t have a mind of your own and live someone else’s life or dreams, it’s not living, only existing. Nobody should be a slave of another.

You gain self-respect if you make your own decisions and learn from your mistakes.

It can make you grow, develop your self-confidence that you can rely on your judgment to make choices in life.

Values are ethics, a set of moral principles that directs a person how to conduct themselves. If you stand by your values, people will respect you for it.

If you don’t want to do something because it is against your moral code and values, then you have to be firm to hold on to your resolve.

There should be no swaying from one set of values to another. So, what would be the result if you stand up for what you believe is right?

You add to your self-respect and pride.  

You’re confident that your moral codes and values will guide you to a life that you deserve; being happy, confident, and with a good conscience.

Self-respect plays an integral part in our emotional health. If you’ve lost your self-respect, you can take steps to rebuild it. However, the key is your attitude. 

If you take positive steps and are optimistic, you can! If on the other hand, you have a pessimistic, negative outlook, you won’t.

If you are ready to start, here are a few steps to build your self-respect.

Stick to Your Values and Beliefs

Prepare yourself to accept or ignore criticism. There will always be people who will say negative, hurtful words about you. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that some people enjoy seeing others feel awkward, or who are lacking in self-esteem or self-respect.

This is because it makes them feel good! It makes them feel better than that person.

If they put you down, don’t listen.

Take pride in yourself and stick to your values and beliefs. Remaining steadfast to your core values and beliefs will help make it easier for you to regain your self-respect.

It is entirely reasonable to feel bad when being criticised by others, even if the criticisms are unfounded. However, if you want to improve your self-respect, you have to learn how to deal with criticism, whether it is valid or otherwise.

Instead of taking criticisms personally, develop a mindset that enables you to use these criticisms to serve as one of the keys towards building a better you.

Change How You See Yourself and Other People

When you can filter criticisms effectively, you can make more logical and less emotional evaluations of them. Criticism that you recognise as valid can be used as feedback, to help you be better – at a task, or as a person.

That which you determine is unhelpful, negative, or spiteful should be filtered out. When your self-respect is at a low ebb, it is too easy to give credence to unhelpful criticism. However, it is essential to train yourself to be less affected by it.

When you do ignore other people’s negativity and criticism, you will change your perception of yourself and others. This is not sudden enlightenment but a process.

In doing so, you will learn to trust yourself more, and question others more also, including their knowledge (or lack) and motives.

As your self-reliance strengthens, so will your self-respect.

When your self-respect is low, it is common to perceive simple, neutral statements from others as criticism or judgment. Instead of viewing others as people who look down on you, see them as kind-hearted people. This can greatly change the way they treat you and vice versa.

Show Honesty and Commitment

Regardless of the mistakes, you have made in the past, and we have all made many, move on and make ‘you’ a better person. If you have had negative experiences in the past, be positive about the future. 

Be honest with yourself and to others, and be committed to becoming a happier you.

You have plenty of chances in life to make yourself a better you today and tomorrow. Forget about yesterday.

It’s gone and done. Show them you can now be trusted!

Give Yourself Credit When You Deserve It

It will be much harder to increase your self-respect if you don’t ‘do something’. Sitting on the couch watching Netflix all day, every day, won’t do you any good at all. You have to do something beneficial for your self-esteem.

If you are lazy or have a ‘don’t care’ attitude, you can certainly expect people to have detrimental perceptions about you, and they would be justified. Get up and do something worthwhile. Be clear in your intent and reason – make the reasons for self-improvement about you, not others’ expectations.

If you take pride in what you do and find yourself achieving, then make sure you give yourself the credit you deserve. It’s crucial, you do! This builds your self-confidence and respect for yourself.

Take Care of Your Physical Appearance

Gaining self-respect can be hastened by not taking your physical appearance for granted. Dress to make yourself feel good and dress appropriately according to any given situation.

Just remember, though, you don't have to be a slave to fashion when taking care of your appearance. What matters most is that you feel ‘right’ and look smart.

Unfortunately, people do judge by appearance, and if you look in the mirror, you may be subconsciously judging yourself too. Therefore, allow others (and yourself) to see you as someone worthy of respect.

Once you realise you have dressed appropriately for an occasion, it will make you feel more confident.

Make sure you don’t become a fashion watcher when keeping up appearances. If you feel you can’t keep up with the trends, it may cause the opposite desired effect, and instead, only lower your self-esteem.

Also, avoid dressing up for the sake to please others or to get attention. If you do, you risk lowering not just your self-respect but your self-esteem as well.

Don’t Be Selfish – Show Selflessness

If you live your life helping others whenever you get the chance, you’ll feel good inside, and you’ll gain respect for yourself. You’ll feel like a decent person, plus, other people will positively see you.

Again, do this in a way that feels good to you. Don’t do so out of feelings of obligation, or a sense of duty, as this will make you feel resentful and powerless.

If done for the right reasons, you will know it, as your self-respect will increase.

Are You Being Treated with Respect?

Respect is one of our most basic needs. By definition, various dictionaries define respect as either admiration, a polite attitude, or honour. 

Simply put, to give respect means to uphold a human being’s innate sense of worth and value.

It is giving someone the dignity that they rightfully deserve as human beings.

We are all entitled to basic respect as humans. Ideally, it would be a universal language that we use to communicate with others, regardless of race, gender, religion, colour or any other demographic that could exist.

We all could use some respect in our homes, workplaces, relationships, social circles, and in our daily random encounters with people. Mutual respect simply makes our world a better place to live in, and the apparent lack of it causes much division, trouble, and chaos.

In reality, respect, which ought to be a standard to live up to, is not what all of us practice. Ideally, we’re taught this essential quality at home as children, but too many people simply don’t live up to it. Everywhere we go, disrespect is all too common – in families, social circles, at work, and some relationships, unfortunately.

Between people, disrespect can range from being subtle to blatantly obvious. Subtle forms of disrespect are not as easy to detect at the onset as they can be sly and hidden behind manipulative acts.

Whether visible or not, it’s essential to know when people are violating our boundaries.

Here’s how to tell when people are treating you poorly and identify when you’re not given the respect that you so rightfully deserve.

They Are Lying to You

One of the most common forms of disrespect is when people lie to you. It’s a sly and manipulative tactic that others use to take advantage of your trust and confidence. 

Sooner or later, the truth will find its way out into the open, and you will find out the real dirty work that was done against you.

Talking behind your back, cheating, putting up a front, and even white lies are all fundamental breaches of respect performed against another person.

Everybody deserves the truth, and indeed, honesty is possibly the highest manifestation of respect.

You Don’t Have a Voice

It isn’t due to a sore throat or a cold. When you find yourself with no voice in any partnership, in the office, or your own family, it’s an indicator that your opinion and worth have been constrained. 

You not being given a chance to speak, when you willingly voice your opinion to be heard, is a sign of disrespect to you.

In this circumstance, conversations always seem to be one-sided. You don’t feel heard, and if you speak, it looks like you are continually being put down.

You feel you’re not on the same level and you’re regularly blamed for being wrong, always at fault, mistaken, cannot be trusted with anything you say, and worse, they may raise their voice at you, even when you are merely openly discussing.

The same applies if you’re the one talking, and people do not listen to you. You may be physically present in this case, but people are invalidating your presence and acting as if you are not there.

They Mock You

You may find yourself in a position where you are belittled or made to feel foolish or somebody who can’t be taken seriously. When you share something, regardless of how sincere or genuine it is, you may be laughed at, made fun of, or responded to with sarcasm. 

You feel unvalued as a person because your thoughts are never taken seriously.

When you bring up concerns, they’re dismissed immediately. Conversations are very unhealthy, and you would rather not speak to these people again.

You feel insulted, often unsafe being in their company and feel like there is something wrong with you when you’re around them.

A common defence against this type of behaviour is a determination never to speak your mind or share your thoughts. Life then loses much of its spontaneity and potential joy.

You Are Deliberately Excluded

You may be made to feel that you do not belong. When there are get-togethers, you’re often the last person to know. You may not be kept ‘in the loop.’

You are rarely consulted on essential matters, and you don’t feel heard, seen, or included. Simply put, you’re made to feel like an outsider. You think this way because of how you are being treated, and this is an apparent show of disrespect.

These are just a few of the many telltale signs that indicate and signal disrespect.

If you experience any of the above, it is a clear sign of disrespect; one that you should not tolerate. These disrespectful behaviours are manifestations of unequal relationships.

Honest evaluation is required to determine whether your behaviour needs changing, or whether you need to distance yourself from those abusing your right to be respected for who you are.

Respect is a fundamental concept, one that should be expected at all times in a civil society. We could probably all use a little more respect in our lives. It makes it so much easier to live in harmony with others, amidst our natural differences.

Your overall evaluation of a person’s total worth, based on how they live their lives, how they treat you and other people, and all other known factors that contribute to your impression, builds up your respect for a person.

That is why it often said that respect must be earned. All too commonly, respect for others may be based on very subjective criteria, depending on the standards the person deems valuable.

The esteem you have for another person could be subject to various circumstances. For example, some people have a lower regard for those who rent their homes, compared to others who own theirs. Some people may have little respect for someone unemployed, regardless of the circumstance that may have caused it.

We usually don’t know what people genuinely think of us, and in many ways, we want them to see our best. But to some degree, their perception is beyond our control.

Regardless of how people see you or value you, you deserve basic respect at all times. When we feel respected by others, it gives us a sense of positive regard about ourselves.

Things You Can Do to Get More Respect

Do you want to get more respect?

We all do. Of course, it is natural to wish for respect from others, as a natural right and not something that needs to be earned. However, in this real world, it doesn’t always work that way.

This does mean that there are some actions that you can take that will make others show you greater respect.

Here are some actions and behaviours that will engender more respect from other people.

Be respectful and polite to others

Disrespect begets disrespect. You cannot expect people to respect you if you are disrespectful yourself. Respect is something that you reap based on your own actions. 

Mutual respect is based on reciprocation. When people see that you are respectful and polite, it naturally makes them respect you more.

Often the respect you experience from other people is a pure reflection of yourself. In a perfect world, this would probably be the case. So always be respectful and polite and manifest the fundamental decencies that others are entitled to. Being considerate of others is a very basic way of being respectful.

Have self-respect

It is difficult to expect others to respect you if your actions show that you don’t respect yourself. How people view us is beyond our control, but what matters, even more, is how we view and portray ourselves.

Be impeccable with your words and actions. Integrity is the quality of being honest with strong moral principles. If you want more respect, you’ve got to uphold your integrity at all times. Do not be sneaky or underhanded.

Prove that you can be relied upon

Respect and trust go hand in hand. If people can’t trust you, they cannot have a deep respect for you. There are many ways to prove to others that you can be trusted.

Some of these things include; keeping your commitments, showing people that you make good judgments and decisions based on the results of your choices, and practicing the highly-regarded values of humility, kindness, and fairness towards other people.


Lying is the fastest way for people to lose respect for you. The moment you are found out, you will naturally be relegated to being someone untrustworthy, and in turn, not deserving of respect. It has been said that honesty is the highest form of respect.

When you prove yourself an honest person, whose actions and words consistently mesh in all ways, people will naturally grant you respect. An old song has its sentiments about ‘honesty as a lonely word and hardly ever heard because everyone is so untrue.’

Proving to people that you’re one of the rare few who keep and honour their word, and is truthful, will make them respect you.


Having little self-respect, or losing it, is not a trivial thing. Those whose self-respect is diminished are a risk to themselves and others. This is because it ultimately leads to feelings of only not caring – about actions, behaviours, outcomes, and consequences.

This emotional state is where the worst of human behaviour is expressed. It is truly a mental health issue. When a person’s self-respect is at a low ebb, unwise decisions are often made.

People often fantasise about performing a heroic deed that will elevate their status among their peers, believing this will give them the respect they crave, and of course boosting their self-respect.

Life very rarely works like that. The way towards increasing both self-respect and the respect of others is through steady, righteous effort. There really aren’t shortcuts here, because that would be a contradiction to what self-respect means.

To improve self-respect is a noble goal, and should be something everyone aspires to. By the regular and consistent practice of the suggestions given in this report, it is hoped you can raise yours, and be happier and more successful because of it.

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