Self-respect is Essential for Happiness: Here’s Why.
When we picture someone “living their best life”, what comes to mind is usually someone who is confident, isn’t insecure and has high self-esteem, has healthy boundaries, has a good sense of self-discipline that helps them succeed with their goals, moves with integrity, is comfortable in their own skin, and is generally pretty happy. It might even seem like they know something that others don’t – or is it that some people just naturally possess a je ne sais quoi that allows them to move through life with some sparkle? Here’s the answer: Whether they are aware of it or not, they do have a special quality that enables all of this to happen – and the good news? It’s not something that you’re either born with or not: it’s something that we can all learn and develop.
The underlying common thread for all of these things is self-respect. But what exactly does that entail? Self-respect is self-worth. It comes hand in hand with self-love, self-esteem, and self-compassion, but the nuance of self-respect is that it’s considering yourself important enough to hold yourself – and your thoughts, opinions, and feelings – in high regard. It’s about how you view and treat yourself, and how you allow others to treat you as well.
People who respect themselves are more likely to fulfill their potential, because they believe they deserve to do so. They know they are not just worthy enough to meet their goals, but also believe that they do have what it takes to put in the work to get there. The strength of character that comes with self-respect means that one is willing to take responsibility for their actions, and as such, they tend to act in line with their morals, values, and belief systems. When you respect yourself enough to behave in a way that speaks to your beliefs and values, you open the door to less negativity and more happiness. Things that command your respect are usually more highly-appreciated, and this includes yourself, making way for more self-compassion and acceptance. After all, that’s what respect is all about: fully accepting yourself for who you are, and creating a life where you can honor that.
It’s the secret to living authentically and in a way that is joyful, satisfying, and fulfilling. Self-respect is an essential part of being happy – and if it’s something you need to work on, you can grow it and nurture it.
Take Care Of Yourself
Self-respect, as the name suggests, begins with the most important person in your life – yourself. What is your relationship with yourself? To have self-respect means accepting who you are, including both your strengths and weaknesses. It also means being honest enough with yourself to make the necessary changes – big and small – to nurture your own happiness. Taking care of yourself means checking in with yourself regularly to see if you are engaging in any behaviors that are obstructing your happiness. On a physical level, it starts with asking yourself if you respect your body and live in a way that makes you feel the best about yourself. Think about your daily routine – does it include good nutrition, sleep and exercise? When you eat well, move throughout the day, and feel well rested, you are putting yourself in a more positive disposition. On a psychological and emotional level, it means knowing your boundaries, then applying and maintaining them. It means living with integrity, allowing yourself to do things that make you happy on a regular basis, and learning how to prioritize things wisely so that you can spend your time in a way that feels fulfilling to you.
Put Yourself First
Are you putting everyone else’s wants, needs and feelings before your own? Are you able to say “no” when it’s necessary, or do you feel the pressure to say “yes” even when you don’t want to, so that you don't get labeled or perceived as a bad person by others? When you stop taking care of everyone else and start to say “no” to things that don’t serve you, you are setting yourself as the priority. This doesn’t make you selfish, rude, or self-centered; it means that you know who you are and what you want, and that you respect yourself enough to stick to that. Ultimately, by saying "no" to these things, you free up time, space and energy for everything else that can add meaning and happiness to your life.
Believe In Yourself
Do you speak to yourself as kindly, respectfully, and thoughtfully as you speak to others? Self-deprecation only serves to bring up negative emotions like anger, shame, and regret. While it’s important to acknowledge when you make mistakes, it’s equally as important to give yourself permission to forgive yourself. When you’re falling into the trap of negative self-talk, you’re putting that energy out there. Negativity breeds negativity, and is an obstacle to happiness. Developing more self-respect means leaving your mistakes in the past and learning from them, to grow and move forward.
Know Your Worth
When we don’t know our value, we tend to let people walk all over us and push us around. We put others’ feelings before our own and allow people to take us for granted, disrespecting us because we lack the confidence and the strength to stand up for ourselves. Knowing your worth involves taking a hard look at the people in your life and making sure they are reciprocating the love, respect, and kindness you are showing them. If you continuously put energy into people who don't see your worth, lie to you, or treat you unfairly, consider letting them know that this is unacceptable, and that you expect to be treated with respect. Failing that, distancing yourself or letting them go altogether could give you the peace of mind you need and deserve, so you can focus on the more positive aspects of your life. This doesn’t include lowering your standards; instead, it’s about consciously choosing to surround yourself with people who accept you for who you are, and don’t make you feel like you have to change your nature just to please them.
You are the most important person in your life. Step into your truth, know yourself, and own who you are without worrying too much about how others will perceive this. The key to happiness lies within, and it is in your power to unlock it.
All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals and other resources that influenced this article: Understanding Self-Respect And Its Relationship To Self-Esteem; Believing In One’s Equal Rights: Self-Respect As A Predictor Of Assertiveness; Why The Psychological Experience Of Respect Matters In Group Life: An Integrative Account; Self-Esteem In A Broad-Spectrum Approach For Mental Health Promotion.
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