Self-Respect Is Crucial for Happiness—Here’s How to Attain It

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Alexandra Tudor
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Highlights: Research suggests that self-respect may hold the key to achieving true peace of mind and the inner happiness you seek. Here’s how to attain it.

Self-respect forms the foundation of all the decisions you’ll ever make, including how you treat yourself and how you allow others to treat you.

Growing up, the emphasis was always on respecting others. In taking that advice, you may have forgotten the importance of respecting yourself as well.

Additionally, self-respect may have been confused with overconfidence or having an inflated ego, which is far from the truth. That’s why it’s important to truly understand how this action can serve you, help you grow, and make you happy. 

The more you focus on your relationship with yourself, the more your life will bloom from the inside out. How you show up for yourself is how life will show up for you as well.

Woman showing herself self-respect

What Is Self-Respect?

A broad definition of self-respect could be interpreted as having pride and confidence in yourself and behaving with grace, honor, and dignity. It’s about showing love to yourself through your actions, behaviors, and attitudes.

The difference between self-respect and self-esteem

These concepts can seem to be very similar, but in reality, there is a slight distinction between them, according to this 2019 research paper.

Self-esteem is knowing you can conduct yourself well in a given situation. Outwardly, you are successful, which contributes to your self-esteem. And believe it or not, it’s possible to act with self-esteem while having very little self-respect.

The problem with relying on self-esteem, or being caught up in this evaluative framework, is the moment you have a bad day and doubt yourself, you fall prone to blame, guilt, regret, and stress.

The difference between self-respect and ego

Both self-respect and ego are naturally present. However, having a level of appreciation for yourself is far different than having a high opinion of yourself. While respect is born from an abundance of self-love, ego, especially an inflated one, is born from too much self-esteem.

People with huge egos sometimes feel unequal to others because, deep inside, they feel worthless and undeserving of respect.

But, when you believe in yourself, the ego does not play a big part in your actions. And having self-respect simply means you like yourself, which is not contingent on success or failure.

Why Is Self-Respect Important? 

Self-respect is essential to your mental health and well-being, according to the American Psychological Association. It helps you consider your own worthiness, dignity, and right.

Here are three reasons why it’s important to respect yourself:

  1. Self-respect exhibits toughness and moral nerve. You will display strong character with the willingness to accept responsibility for your own life, and you’ll fight for your values and beliefs, no matter what. This will make everyone else take note and admire your courage.
  1. Self-respect makes you a better person and partner. If you respect yourself, you believe you’re a worthy individual. When you feel worthy, you believe you are deserving of love and respect. And when you command respect from others around you, they start to appreciate you more and take you more seriously.
  1. No more need for comparisons. When you love yourself, you will feel good and value your attributes, your talents, your skills, and abilities. This means you never compare yourself to others, as you will also allow others to shine in their own way. Your self-confidence will increase accordingly.
Relationship with self-respect

Examples of Self-Respect

Self-respect can show up in different ways, depending on the life category you’re referring to. Here are a few examples of how it can play a crucial role in your personal and professional relationship.

Self-respect in relationships

While it is very important to respect your partner when you are in a relationship, it is equally important to respect yourself, too. In fact, self-respect is the foundation of all strong and healthy relationships.

When you accept yourself as a whole person, with both flaws and strengths, it changes how others perceive you. When you know who you are and how much you’re worth, you will not let anyone, and not even your partner, treat you as any less.

That is why you should practice self-respect in all of your relationships — with your partner, friends, parents, and everyone you meet.

Self-respect at work

In a professional environment, self-respect can look like knowing your worth financially, not overworking yourself, and delegating activities that you can’t fit into your schedule anymore.

These things are all correlated with knowing your boundaries and establishing them in your work relationships. Studies have shown that keeping your boundaries at work can improve one’s ability to self-regulate their emotions and be more productive.

What Does a Lack of Self-Respect and Self-Love Look Like?

Many times, one might notice the need to show more respect to who they are when they notice what they’re actually lacking. Here’s a list of signs to watch out for:

  1. You’re the doormat. People ask things from you without giving back anything in return. You may hate it, but you let them get their way anyway.
  1. You lose yourself in a relationship. Values are forgotten and you find yourself doing things you wouldn’t normally do. When it comes to decisions, they’re made without your approval or notice.  
  1. You are attention-seeking. You’re dying for the validation that your low self-esteem cannot provide. You follow an image or symbol, or do irrational or erratic things, like making a fool of yourself at a party or in the office.
  1. You overindulge in bad habits. Drinking, doing drugs, overeating, self-harming, and punishing yourself and your body — these are some ways to indulge and forget.
  1. You care for people who don’t care for you. You’ll move mountains for someone who doesn’t even take notice of you. You make excuses for them even though they wouldn’t think twice about throwing you under the bus.
  1. You tolerate verbal, mental, or physical abuse. You endure abusive partners and nasty people because you remember that one time they treated you nicely, and you hang on to that feeling of belonging.
  1. You engage in casual sex when it doesn’t feel right. You have sex with someone just because you’re seeking attention and care. Your sexual interactions aren’t liberated, fun, or respectful. You don’t enjoy it, but do it to feel like you belong.
  1. You are a puppet. You meekly follow along because you genuinely believe you have nothing of value to add to a conversation, relationship or meeting. 
  1. You became untidy and sloppy. Your surroundings, like your room or kitchen, are a mess. You don’t care about cleaning up and just want to sleep all day.
Self-respect at work

How to Gain Self-Respect

Although it’s not a one-fits-all, there are some beneficial ways to build your self-respect. It’s a slow but sure process, so here are some small steps you can take.

#1: Take care of your body and environment

It’s the only one you have, so take care of it and pamper yourself often. Live healthily and make exercise a lifestyle priority. 

Sometimes taking care of your body isn’t the thing that you feel like doing, but actions like exercising, cooking a healthy meal, or going to bed early will speak more self-respect to your body.

What is more, if you can’t take care of your home or car, you can’t take care of yourself. So focus on the environment you live in as well. Clean up, declutter and surround yourself with beautiful things that are a reflection of your beauty and character.

#2: Give attention to your inner world

Determine your beliefs and values which reflect your authentic self. Stick to them. 

You don’t need to change them for anyone. Under no circumstances change your values to suit someone else, as then you will let yourself down.

When you truly own who you are, you stop hiding your hobbies and openly share your passions. You aren’t afraid to stay honest and speak up about your opinions, boundaries, and your real interests.

Moreover, self-respect is about cherishing your feelings and listening to their guidance. This way, you can find what will make you happy and meet your own needs before caring for someone else’s.

#3: Respect your time

Time is one of the most precious resources you were given; therefore, you need to treat it with respect. Think about what your life would look like if you spent moments with people you truly connect with, doing the things you love the most, and taking care of your body.

Do you see why spending your time wisely is a form of self-respect? It’s the currency you use to show love for who you are and what you do.

#4: Honor your roots

Respecting your elderly will give your life a whole new meaning. It might not seem like a big deal, but opening a place in your heart for everyone and everything that has been will only empower and support your journey.

Think about how beautiful a tree grows when its roots are strong and healthy. The interesting twist here is that human beings have their own roots as well. It’s about your family and your past, with all the good, the bad, and the ugly.

To respect something is to accept it. To respect yourself is to accept yourself. So it’s only when you truly love and respect yourself and your roots that you can start to believe you are worthy of another person’s love and respect.

#5: Embrace change and growth

Sometimes, you will grow apart from people and situations and that’s okay. And embracing the transition is a form of respect for yourself because being stuck in the same place forever isn’t beneficial for you in any way.

The people who retaliate against your changes are always the people who you’ve outgrown and are now maybe holding you back. Reconsider how much of their presence you’d like to have in your life.

You are a combination of the people you spend the most time with. Respect yourself enough to make sure they are a positive influence. Actively seek out people who treat you in the best way possible.

5 Inspirational Quotes on Self-Respect

When it comes to self-love, self-respect, and living life on your own terms, Kristina Mänd Lakhiani, co-founder of Mindvalley and trainer of Live By Your Own Rules Quest, is the go-to person for inspiration.

Here are a few quotes that Kristina shares to help boost your confidence, change your self-perception, and build the life you desire. It starts with the most important person that you have a relationship with: you.

  • “Only when you know what you are, are you capable of moving towards what you want to become.”
  • “We are the first to judge ourselves. And we convey that energy into the world, and that’s how the world starts to see us.”
  • “The modern idea is you’re supposed to accept yourself. I think that’s an insane idea — really. I can’t think of a more nihilistic idea than that. ‘You’re already okay.’ No, you’re not! And the reason you’re not is that you could be way more than you are.”
  • “The art of learning to be happy is not to ignore or not notice the negative or be okay with the negative. It is actually to learn to work with it.”
  • “Your most valuable asset is you. No project, partner, or client is worth paying for with your health and sanity.”
Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani on self-respect
Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani, co-founder of Mindvalley and trainer of Live By Your Own Rules Quest

Show Yourself the Respect You Deserve

So, in the end, it boils down to this: accept yourself, respect your efforts, and you will, ultimately, respect yourself.

And self-respect leads to self-discipline, which gives you the complete ability to choose how to live your best life. Now, that’s real power. 

If you want to connect more with the best version that you can become, you’ve come to the right place. 

Your best self is waiting for you. Welcome in.

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Alexandra Tudor

Alexandra Tudor

Alexandra Tudor is a former content writer for Mindvalley and a psychology enthusiast. From clinical experience working with both children and adults, she's now in the process of becoming a licensed psychotherapist, specializing in the IFS method and family constellation therapy.
Written by

Alexandra Tudor

Alexandra Tudor is a former content writer for Mindvalley and a psychology enthusiast. From clinical experience working with both children and adults, she's now in the process of becoming a licensed psychotherapist, specializing in the IFS method and family constellation therapy.

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