What does it really mean to have respect for yourself?
We asked 18 experts “What is self-respect and why is it important?”
Let’s have a look at some of the insights they shared.
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist | Author of “The True Heart of a Man“
Self-respect is a form of self-love wherein a person values his or her own unique and unrepeatable approach to living Life.
It is having an understanding and appreciation of the underlying character traits of one’s True Self—and most importantly—making life choices and decisions from that authentic aspect of a person’s personality. This is very different than relying on one’s ego or False Self persona that serves as a cover to show the world only “the good stuff” of a person’s personality.
The reason self-respect is so important is that it is the gift we give ourselves when we become less motivated to please others in order to get their approval and more motivated to live a life of authenticity and personal integrity despite whatever anyone else thinks about us.
However, it is also very difficult for me to show respect to others if I am lacking self-respect. For example, it’s the same as if I wanted to give money to someone, I would first need to have money in my pocket in order for me to give money to that person. The same goes for respect. I can only give it to someone else if I have it inside me—for myself—in the first place.
Dr. De’Andrea Matthews
Author | Speaker | President of Claire Aldin Publications
Having boundaries for every area of your life is the best description of self-respect. When you respect yourself, you know when to say “no” to what is no longer emotionally, mentally, or financially healthy for you.
Gaining self-respect is about learning your worth, knowing your value, and advocating for yourself, as needed. Self-respect is important for making mature decisions that impact your life and the lives of others connected to you. At the end of the day, self-respect starts with you but is designed to have better interpersonal relationships.
Carrie Krawiec, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Birmingham Maple Clinic
“Self-acceptance and self-improvement are like wings of a bird; you need them both to soar. Self-improvement without self-acceptance will cause a nervous breakdown. Self-acceptance without self-improvement is a delusion.”
I think this is a great summary of self-respect. It is not just affirmation but rather a combination of belief in yourself to challenge yourself and then feel pride that comes with your accomplishments.
It’s not the need for adoration or perfection but rather a balance between acceptance and willingness and openness to grow, push, and change.
Licensed Psychologist | Matthews Counseling & Coaching
So what is self-respect? It’s the belief that you are worthy of love, attention, and respect, and you are no less than anyone else.
Given this belief, you set boundaries with others, essentially drawing a line with regard to how you will and will not be treated. A person with self-respect treats others how they want to be treated, and when they are treated poorly by another person, they talk with them about it or they consider distancing themselves from that individual or ending the relationship. Conversely, a person without self-respect not only tolerates this kind of treatment but is quick to excuse it or to believe they deserve it.
This plays out in many ways. A person may be lied to, talked down to, ignored, left out, disrespected, and so on. It can happen to any of us, but the difference is that a self-respecting person would not accept this, nor would they let it go without some discussion of how they felt.
You may give the person a chance to explain, apologize, or change their behavior, but you would be unlikely to let it happen again and again. A person who struggles with self-respect is likely to have trouble in their relationships, not asserting themselves, being pushed around or taken advantage of, and is quite unhappy.
At an extreme, people like this often enter into abusive relationships, sometimes over and over again. They are often not respected by others, because they don’t expect or demand it, and it becomes clear they don’t respect themselves.
The idea of respecting yourself relates to the saying, “how can you love someone else if you don’t love yourself?”
This is certainly true, but we can apply this to friendships and family relationships as well. When you respect yourself, you know who you are and you put yourself on an even level with others, so you are not going to tolerate mistreatment, nor should you be mistreating others. As a result, you have opportunities for better relationships, better self-esteem, and more happiness.
Licensed Psychologist in Lancaster, California
Self-respect is a state of recognition that a person is just as important and worthy as any other human or sentient being on the planet. One person is no more or less important but is significant nonetheless.
The state of self-respect would include the actions of taking care of one’s body, mind, and spirit, exhibiting healthy interpersonal boundaries, and being assertive in the face of people trying to hurt or take advantage of one. Self-respect is being kind, accepting and loving to oneself just as one would be to any other loved one.
A self-respecting person has the ability to recognize his or her own strengths and limitations and views limitations as areas of growth rather than permanent signs of failure.
An example of self-respect is a person who does not intrude on other people’s rights or beliefs but does not allow others to do the same to him or her. He or she stands up for his/her beliefs and responds to others in a way that is dignified, strong and clear.
Self-respect does not mean arrogance, grand-standing, bragging, or pushing other people around. One can respect oneself equally with others and value what others believe, even while disagreeing.
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
Self-respect is the knowledge that you know your self-worth and that you expect to be treated well and respectfully as a result. Having self-respect helps others to see and treat you with dignity and worth.
Often the backbone of self-respect is knowing your values and living by them. Having self-respect often means that you need to stand by your character and be willing to defend your values and actions. This can be hard in today’s world when so many influencers are out there to challenge our values.
That said, I would offer that healthy connection to others- either in friendship or in love- cannot come without self-respect. When we treat ourselves with self-love and dignity, we help set a course for others to do the same. Without self-respect, even the most well-meaning partner, who initially sees their loved one as deserving the best, will start to lose this vision and will begin to see and treat his/her partner only as well as the person values him/herself.
We end up attracting and receiving only as much respect and love as we give ourselves. This can be hard to understand when you are young and fall in love!
What I recommend and work on in my practice is to help individuals to come to understand and live by their value system. We all have core values at some level within us, but forget to live by them because there are so many messages being sent to us by outside influences- media, peers, family, etc.
When we take the time to hone in on our core values and begin working to live by them, we then begin to exude self-confidence and self-respect. This shapes our interactions and helps others to grow more confident and respectful towards us. When we are living by our values and are willing to accept responsibility for our actions and choices because they are based on these, we find that our interactions with others become more genuine and worthwhile.
Ultimately, our relationships among family, friends, and loved ones are positively affected and become more authentic. All of this stems from our need for self-respect.
Clinical Psychologist at New York State
The term “self-respect” is so unique to each individual that it is hard to define in broad terms.
Signs and symbols of interpersonal respect vary greatly between people, cultures, societies, etc., and so does how one chooses to show love or praise to one’s self. I assess “self-respect” in my clients through an exploration of their self-care customs, rituals, as well as their beliefs and fantasies about their minds, bodies, and relationships with others.
What words do people choose to describe themselves?
How do they imagine others see them or think about them?
The answers to those questions often hold the key to a person’s self-image, encompassing both their mental image of themselves as well as the image of how they think they are perceived by others.
If both are positive, there is usually a correlation between how they choose to treat themselves; aka are they likely to set tolerable boundaries with people, find time for pleasurable activities, allow themselves to indulge, take risks, engage in close and intimate relationships with mutual satisfaction. If thought of this way, it is easy to see that having respect for one’s self is important because it defines how much satisfaction or pleasure a person gets out of their lives.
Attorney at Moshes Law
Self-respect is one of those things that needs to be cultivated as early as possible. Self-respect helps breed positive character and kids that grow up with this trait usually grow up to become people that strongly defend their values and beliefs.
Not only that but they also become people who take responsibility for their own lives and understand that their mindset is what determines their success.
And let’s be clear, success is subjective and can mean different things to different people – It’s how you define it.
So in short, self-respect is a big part of positive character and mindset which is so important to have in life.
Expert Love & Relationship Coach
Self-respect is the core belief system and linked actions that prove we are worthy of being held in high esteem, by ourselves and by others.
Self-respect plays a major role in attaining and maintaining healthy romantic relationships. In order for love to exist, respect must be present.
Respect for our partners is perhaps the more obvious need, however, our own self-respect is paramount. Without self-respect, we cannot lay healthy boundaries, creating a space in which we thrive within a relationship. We also cannot truly receive the love our partners offer to us fully, as we will always question if we are truly worthy of that love, at all.
People inherently treat us as we instruct them to, and if we do not hold ourselves in high esteem, then others will consciously or unconsciously not see nor treat us with respect either.
Author | journalist | Editor & Writer at e-counseling
Self-respect is personal empowerment. It fills the individual with a sense of competence and confidence.
Without self-confidence, people tend to shy away from being involved in society, away from initiating activities, and away from themselves. They become listless, minus a sense of goals and direction. People without self-respect can become the targets of bullies, con artists, and other nasty individuals able to harm someone without mature defenses and social sophistication.
Police advise pedestrians to walk with shoulders back, heads up and focused looks upon their faces. That body language informs observers “Don’t mess with me. I fight back. I have self-respect.”
Author | Dating & Relationship Coach
Self-respect is a deep understanding of your innate value as a person. It’s important because when we have self-respect we are guided from within regarding our actions and behavior.
We know that what we do is a reflection of how we feel about yourself. So we can look at our life as a gauge as to how strong our self-respect really is.
Is our life working for us?
Do we give and receive love freely?
Do we care about others and have others who care about us?
We also understand that no one can diminish our value unless we let them. With self-respect, we’re mindful about who we let into our lives and what we accept into our belief-system.
A Jazz Musician Who Writes Books
We are frequently told to treat others the way we would like to be treated. However, we less frequently ask if we are treating ourselves the way we would treat someone else. That’s where self-respect comes in.
We might be kinder to a stranger than we are to ourselves. It’s not that we think poorly of ourselves, though we might. It’s more that our sense of self is lacking somehow, and we do not see, hear, feel ourselves and our needs adequately.
This is important because we make all of our decisions about what to do with ourselves from how we sense ourselves. If we think we are unworthy, our decisions will be based around that self-image and will be overly critical or dismissive. There will be a real disconnect, all the way down to the physical, between what we actually need and what we choose to give ourselves.
That disconnect may be minor, leading to an endless sense of disappointment or lack of fulfillment. Or it may be so vital that it’s dangerous so that we allow someone to abuse us. In any case, the price of a lack of self-respect is very high over time.
Retaining self-respect may require more than a pep-talk or a work-out. There may be somatic work that needs to be done to recover the self or the parts of the self that have been gone so long we don’t even know they’re missing. The journey back towards having a self to respect may be long, but ultimately it’s one of the most important things we can do in our lives.
Author | Columnist | Motivational Speaker
Self-respect is the feeling of confidence and pride in one’s self. I first earned this from my mom. This lesson came when I was in the fourth grade and a classmate invited all the students in our class except a couple.
I was one of those not invited for some reason. I must have talked myself into an invite or something because a day before the party, an invitation was ‘put’ in our mailbox. The other kids’ were mailed a week before. I was so happy. My mother was not when the whole story came out. So she wouldn’t let me go.
She told me “if you can’t be the tablecloth, don’t allow yourself to be the dish rag. As the dish rag often gets thrown out with the dishwater.”
“What did this saying even mean?” I thought.
What it meant, she explained was never allow yourself to be second best by anyone. She told me “if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” That I was as just as good as the desired kids, and never allow anyone to believe anything less. This has always stuck with me.
Health & Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics
Self-respect is the ability to have a sense of honor and dignity for yourself and your choices.
The ability to recognize your intrinsic self-worth and have pride in your self, are both vital components of self-respect. This isn’t about ego or understanding your own importance, but about how you see yourself and your value. It’s important because ultimately it affects all your decisions and behavior.
Not only that but if you don’t respect yourself, how will others respect you? By creating boundaries and honoring yourself, you allow others to do the same, cultivating healthy relationships as well as a sense of self.
Co-founder of Vivio Life Sciences
Self-respect is the fulcrum to happiness. Without self-respect, how can you enjoy life, and all of your own experiences and intricacies.
With self-respect, you can accomplish anything. Life is most rewarding and fulfilling when you engage it while being yourself and having the courage be your person and express that person to others.
Self-respect is an internal satisfaction and gratification, rather than the exhaustive search of seeking it from external sources. Self-respect provides clarity on who you are, what you want to do, and the tools to endeavor. A rare personal quality, respect yields confidence, compassion, understanding, and fulfillment.
Life Coach | Author of “Heart Healing: The Power of Forgiveness to Heal a Broken Heart“
When I think of self-respect other words automatically come to mind: self-esteem, self-care, and a loving relationship with myself. Our relationship with ourselves forms the blueprint for all the relationships in our life.
When we judge, criticize, and compare ourselves to others we often wind up sabotaging ourselves. We believe that we are not enough, not worthy of love, care, and our dreams. We are often ashamed of these beliefs about ourselves – although we often think other people know this truth about us.
Since we, often unconsciously, teach others how to treat us, based on our thoughts and feelings about ourselves, it is crucial that if we want loving relationships in our lives it begins with respecting and loving ourselves.
Certified Creativity Coach | NYS Life Coach
Self-respect is about caring but not carrying others suggestions, be curious to learn from them, but staying aligned with your personal values. Others can be your immediate family, your girlfriend, boyfriend, a higher-up, or a business associate.
Embrace who you are with your good, bad and ugly. Hold yourself in esteem when others may question, tease or mock your beliefs. Most importantly don’t take them personally.
Self-respect is about believing you are good and worthy. Mingle with those that acknowledge your point of view. Exhibit your moral nerve and take responsibility for your own life. Be open to upgrade and improve yourself.
You deserve to be treated well. That’s why self-respect is important. Choose not to tolerate abuse – verbal or physical. Ask for help at any time you feel unsafe physically, intimidated or threatened.
Yoga Instructor | Marketing Specialist for Hollingsworth
I grew up not knowing what self-respect looked or felt like. I was in an emotionally and physically abusive home with parents who were working around the clock. My parents are very traditional and placed education and duties before anything else. English was their second, and sometimes even third language, so understanding the concept of self-respect was next to null.
When I was 15, I moved to California to live with my aunt who is a school teacher. She found out what I had gotten into and instead of scolding me, which is what my parents would have done, she sat down and had a talk with me. She asked me a question that I had never heard before and this literally made the synapses in my brain fire in different directions.
She asked me, “Do you respect yourself?” I had never thought about that before. Thousands of images of me misbehaving, stealing, lying, etc, began to flash before my eyes. I realized that my entire life up to that moment, I had no respect for myself at all. I was doing all these things that were harming myself, my future and others around me.
I sat there and cried, having a full understanding of why I had been doing all the things I’d been doing up to this point. I had no respect for myself. I did not love myself because no one had ever loved me.
My aunt made an impact on me that day, and I could see her unconditional love for me. She wanted me to grow into a better person. She left me with one piece of advice, and this piece still sits on my fridge today, it says “You are the product of the choices you make.”
My life goal is to teach people to empower themselves and others and to fully love yourself and all your faults and strengths.