Loving yourself is an essential element for living a 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 easy to come by. There are a lot of aspects of life that can lure you away from respect.
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); being “successful” but feeling unhappy with your work; 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 are 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.
1. Stay in Touch with Your Values
In order to not settle for less than you deserve, 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.
2. Absolve Yourself from Mistakes
Letting go of the past is a challenge, but in order to respect who you are, you must let go of who you were. 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.
3. 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 pay close 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.
4. Forgive Those Who Have Hurt You
Carrying around hurt and anger only makes it more difficult to cultivate self-respect. Let go of the pain others have caused, and you’ll open up space in your heart and mind for more positive experiences. No matter what wrong has been committed against you, forgiving is always better than clinging to the pain. (Note: Forgiving doesn’t mean condoning. You can still keep your distance from someone who has hurt you while forgiving him or her.)
5. Build Up Your 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.
6. 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. Remember this: You are a combination of the people you spend the most time with. Respect yourself enough to make sure those people are positive influences.
7. 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, complimentary thoughts. 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.
8. 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 that 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.
9. 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!)
10. 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.
Self-respect is essential. It requires work, but it’s so worth it. If you remember one thing about self-respect, let it be this: Never settle for less than what you deserve. You 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 environment, the best feelings. Don’t settle.
Dani DiPirro is an author, blogger, and designer living in a suburb of Washington, D.C. In 2009, she launched the website PositivelyPresent.com with the intention of sharing her insights about living a positive and present life. Dani is the author of Stay Positive, The Positively Present Guide to Life, and a variety of e-books, including Loving Your Self, a workbook designed to promote self-love. She is also the founder of Twenty3, a design studio focused on promoting positive, modern graphic design and illustration.