Self-respect is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as having both “a proper respect for oneself as a human being,” as well as a “regard for one’s own standing or position.” On the surface, self-respect may be mistaken as having the same definition as self-esteem, given that both speak upon your relationship with yourself. While it would be ideal to have a healthy amount of both self-respect and self-esteem, one may argue that if situated with a decision between having either self-respect or self-esteem, it may be slightly more substantial to have self-respect over the latter.
According to Ellen J. Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, those with higher levels of self-respect are less prone to becoming caught in the evaluative framework of social interactions. When a person with high self-respect is given a compliment, they’re less likely to become intensely charged by the positive evaluation given to them from another person, due to the sufficient levels of confidence and trust that they’ve already personally invested within themselves. Being gracious – but non-influenced – by compliments can also help to protect you from feeling hurt by criticism or negative feedback. Contrastingly, someone with high self-esteem but low self-respect may experience wavering high and low levels of confidence, because their perception of self is based on how others view them instead of their own self-understanding.
Want to know if you appear as someone with healthy levels of self-respect? Or perhaps you’d like to learn to develop traits that a self-respecting person would have. Whichever your case, here is a list of 8 signs that expresses to others that you have self-respect:
“I’m my own best friend.”
Having self-respect means knowing how to respect and befriend yourself. Showing others that you treat yourself the way you treat someone you endear is one of the strongest signs that you have a high level of self-respect. Speaking to and about yourself respectfully, being kind and caring towards yourself, and maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself are all great habits to practice to have more self-respect. Those observing you are then more likely to treat you with more respect, because gaining respect from others starts from having self-respect, first and foremost.
“I know my priorities.”
When faced with difficult decisions, a person with self-respect relies on the integrity they have to the order of their list of priorities. For example, let’s say you have a choice to make between attending a party that might heighten your social status or stay home and babysit your younger sibling as you promised your parents you would. If keeping to family obligations is higher on your priority list than increasing your social status, then you may choose to keep to your responsibilities and sacrifice the fun for the time being. Not only would you be reinforcing to yourself that you have self-respect, but others will also respect you for being confident in your decisions and not being swayed by outside influences.
“I respect others.”
Those with high self-respect display respect to most everyone, regardless of social/economic standing. CEOs and political leaders know that showing respect to those who have less powerful positions than them is one way to gain respect from others because in doing so, they show that they have enough self-respect to know they aren’t entitled to gaining other’s respect purely through their high-level positions, but through the way they treat others instead. Showing respect to all people, regardless of their class, age, gender, sexuality, etc, expresses to others that you respect yourself as a contributor to the human race.
“I know when I’m in the wrong and can show humility by apologizing for it.”
Being a self-respecting person means understanding the importance of humility. There’s a misconception that self-respecting, or self-confident, people rely on an unshakeable image to be seen as strong. When in actuality, one of the best combinations found in the most self-respecting leaders includes both confidence and humility. In quoting Jim Haudan, co-founder and CEO of Root, he states, “Frequently, humility is interpreted as a weakness of inadequacy, but instead humility should be seen as a freedom from arrogance and pride.” Remember that knowing you are always growing and have room for improvement is more a sign of self-respect than not.
“I maintain healthy boundaries.”
A self-respecting person, like yourself, understands that their energy and time are valuable and priceless commodities that aren’t to be misused. In knowing that, you’re more likely to reserve both resources and invest them in people, things, and activities that bring you true fulfillment. Instead of cutting draining people out of your life or immediately going cold turkey on activities you know don’t support your growth, find ways to gradually create boundaries that will eventually help bring you more inner peace. With practice, you’ll learn to trust yourself in weeding out what feels nurturing vs toxic for your system. And with more self-trust comes more self-respect.
“I stand by my values, regardless of a witness.”
True self-respect is displayed in individuals who hold themselves to the values, morals, and ethics that they associate themselves as having, whether or not others are there to witness them doing so. When your words and actions are rooted in integrity, your psychology will naturally gravitate towards a self-respecting mindset. Integrity is the voice within that is most grounding in the whirlwind of other tempting influences and voices. Follow it wisely, and you’ll always find yourself in a place of self-respect.
“I know I have reasons to love myself.”
An easy exercise for developing more self-respect is through discovering and reinforcing the many reasons why you deserve to have love and respect yourself. Write down characteristics and traits that you possess that make you feel highly valuable and worthy in your own eyes. Perhaps it’s the way you treat people with kindness, your consistent punctuality, or how you always manage to act with courage in the face of your fears that makes you self-respect yourself. Read the list back to yourself when you need a reminder of your values and practice self-respect every day by sticking to them.
“I surround myself with people who I know respects me too.”
Once you’ve solidified a strong sense of self-respect for yourself, maintaining distance from those who don’t reflect that truth back to you and finding a tribe that does love and respect you will become like second nature. When you have a confused perception of who you are, your world tends to reflect that confusion to you. However, when you know who you are and why you deserve to respect yourself, you’ll refuse to allow anyone who wants to convince you otherwise to be of any influence in your life.
Everyone struggles with self-confidence and self-love from time to time. Neither of those concepts are meant to be final destinations or finish lines where healing and growth stops. What does matter, however, is that we maintain a consistent and ever-lasting amount of self-respect for ourselves and one another throughout the ups and downs of it all.
For more tips and resources on how to maintain respect for yourself and from others, be sure to check out our Psych2Go YouTube channel for more videos like the one below:
Dowling, Danielle. “12 Ways to Show Yourself Respect (and Teach Others to Do the Same).” Mindbodygreen, Mindbodygreen, 9 Mar. 2020, https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-20165/12-ways-to-show-yourself-respect-and-teach-others-to-do-the-same.html.
Haudan, Jim. “The Powerful Combination of Confidence and Humility.” Inc.com, Inc., 27 Sept. 2016, https://www.inc.com/jim-haudan/the-powerful-combination-of-confidence-and-humility.html?cid=search.
Langer, Ellen J. “Self-Esteem vs. Self-Respect.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 9 June 2016, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/199911/self-esteem-vs-self-respect.
“Self-Respect.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/self-respect.
Tracie Strucker, PhD. “The Remarkable Thing about Integrity and Self-Esteem.” Medium, Fit Yourself Club, 12 June 2020, https://fityourself.club/the-remarkable-thing-about-integrity-and-self-esteem-c1c81693535b