Self-respect is your own inner sense of pride in yourself and of who you are as a person.
Self-esteem comes from the affirmation others give you whereas self-respect is something you give yourself. Self-respect develops as you put in the effort to learn a new skill, overcome adversity, and work hard to achieve a goal. Healthy self-respect gives you an inner confidence that your efforts will be rewarded and you can overcome whatever challenges life throws at you.
Self-respect also gives you a basis for learning how to process and come through the disappointments, mistakes and failures of life.
When you struggle to respect yourself your life is vulnerable and everything is hard. It is hard to believe that good things would happen for you. It is hard to believe that the future will be better. It is hard to hear words of encouragement from others. It is hard to give and receive love. Relationships become hard.
“Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with with your self-esteem. They’re no good at all.”
Kurt Cobain (Rolling Stone, April 16, 1992)
Damaged self-respect makes for poor self-leadership
If you lose self-respect you don’t lead yourself well. This can lead you on a downward spiral towards defeat as you:
- Believe your inner doubts and fears
- Give up on your dreams and quests
- Compromise your values and common sense
- Give in to temptations
- Listen to the darker voices in your head
- Engage in self-sabotage behaviours
- Enter into co-dependent or abusive relationships
- Avoid people who could assist you
If you do not deal with the inner or outer cause of your loss of self-respect you can be in danger of depression and other illness.
Self-respect can be restored!
The good news is that self-respect can be rebuilt! You can start anytime! Start doing something small that you can do consistently. A good place to start is daily exercise, or helping another person who can use your assistance. You may need a little support at first. Over a few weeks and months you can ‘get back on your bike’ and rebuild your damaged self-respect.
I put my family and many other people through a traumatic time a few years ago when I lost my way. I had an affair which meant I had to resign my public position, which destroyed my marriage and family. I too was shattered and broken. My self-respect was at an all-time low. In that dark time, somehow with God’s help, I made 3 decisions:
- To do whatever it required to make sure my ex-wife and I did not go bankrupt (worked 3 jobs for a while)
- To eat as well as I could on a tight budget
- To join an exercise class 3 times per week and make fitness a priority
At the time, these were survival decisions. With the benefit of hindsight almost 10 years later, I can see that these 3 decisions contributed to rebuilding my self-respect. I have been working with many people over the past 5 years who have learned similar lessons.
Self-respect is the core of effective self-leadership and the foundation for overall physical and emotional health.