Gaining self-respect is something that can seem very hard, especially if you’ve little to begin with. But never fear, because even if you don’t currently believe it, you honestly can take some simple steps to help rebuild yours. The trick is to understand that it’s going to take time.
The key is to take it slow and steady. Little baby steps are what you need to do, each and every one taking you ever so slightly forward to your goal of respecting who you are and your place in the world.
The first thing to understand is that self-respect is about action. And no matter where you are in life, if you begin to take positive action – no matter how you might be feeling – you’ll begin your healing journey.
1. Discover who you really are and your values in life
An easy(ish) first goal is a bit of a voyage of self-discovery. Try writing a list of what you really value in life. This mustn’t be what you ‘think’ you should value, or what other people value – it has to come from the heart.
Write down what matters to you – what you will and what you won’t stand for. This could be anything – honesty, trust, love, respect – it doesn’t matter (and it also doesn’t matter how random your values are, either). This is YOUR list, not anyone else’s.
2. Surround yourself with positive people
Positive people tend to be ones who have already worked out how to gain self-respect. And the worst thing you can do if you’re still on that tenuous journey is to hang around with those who tend to think and act on the negative side. The crucial point here is that you need to eliminate negative thinking both from yourself and from your life in general.
Hard as it might be, the people who’re going to have the best impact on your own self-respect is those who are positive and that respect themselves. Make it your aim to spend time with that kind of folks,
3. Forgive those who’ve hurt you
This can be tough. But d’you know what? Failing to forgive someone for having done you wrong only hurts one person – and that’s you! Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. But what it does mean is giving yourself the ability to move on. This allows you to ‘be the better person’, and this in its own right will help to boost your own self-respect.
4. Proactively make the effort to change negative thoughts to positive ones
Again, this will probably seem difficult (or even impossible). But hey, small steps – as we mentioned before. For instance… You hate your body, or you hate the way you look. OK, but what DO you like about yourself?
It might be that you have nice hands, or that animals seem to like you, or that you can bake a half decent lasagna – it doesn’t matter what. The take away from this point is that every time you feel yourself thinking negatively about yourself, force yourself to think about your good points – however small they might be.
5. Expect setbacks
Let’s be honest, you ARE going to have setbacks. But when you make a mistake, or you feel that you’ve failed at something, and it feels like all your hard work in trying to gain self-respect has gone down the drain, the important thing here is to forgive yourself.
Because it’s ok to have setbacks – it really is. The most important point here is that you allow yourself to accept that they’re going to happen, shake yourself off, and then carry on moving forward.
6. Treat yourself in a respectful manner
Would you allow someone to disrespect a friend of yours? No, of course you wouldn’t. So why on earth would you do that to yourself? When you feel that you’re going down that road, imagine what you’d say if you heard someone voicing that very same thought about someone you care about. What would you say to them? You’d probably tell them that they’re being bang out of line. Well, you need to say exactly the same to yourself.
7. Be honest (with yourself and others)
Honesty is so, so necessary when it comes to self-respect. And while it’s natural to be honest with those around you, we can all be guilty of trying to lie to ourselves. The key here is trust your gut instinct, because that’s pretty much a given that your true self is trying to come to the fore in whatever situation you’re in. Learning the ability to be honest with yourself will see you taking a huge step forward in the self respect stakes.
8. Exercise and take care of your body
Both exercise and looking after your body really can improve the way in which you view yourself. In addition, exercise releases ‘feel good’ endorphins in the brain, making you feel more positive about every aspect of life. And it also gives you motivation to do more.
You don’t have to join a gym – although if that’s your bag, then you’re your boots. But there’s plenty of other fun things you can do. Go for a walk, learn a new sport, go dancing (or dance while you’re vacuuming). It doesn’t matter what type of exercise you do – just make sure it’s something you enjoy.
And of course, there are other ways you can tend your body. Get a new hairstyle. Have a makeover. Get your nails painted. Grow a goatee (for the guys). Again, whatever you fancy, just go for it.
9. Never settle for less than you deserve
Absolutely! Because YOU are the only one who can make those decisions. And settling for something less than you know you’re worth is detrimental to your self-respect. Whatever it is, if it’s less than you deserve, then you need to stop whatever it is, and find something (or someone), that is up to scratch.
10. Don’t ever stop trying
This is the most important point of all. Because whatever you do, whatever setbacks you suffer, when it comes to gaining self-respect, you need to keep striving forward. Self-respect is a beast that needs feeding – and only by continuing to make the effort will it continue to improve.
You CAN do it. Remember, little by little, give yourself a bit of a break if things go awry, and gradually the way you feel about yourself will improve. No matter how bad things might feel right now…