If you want to live a positive and present life, you've got to cultivate self love. And self love begins with self respect. By definition, respect means, "a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements." Think about someone you really respect — either someone you know well or a well-known figure — and pause to consider what you value in that person and how it feels when you think about him/her. Now, imagine what it would be like to feel that way about yourself.
Respecting yourself is a challenge. Life offers lots of temptations to lure you away from loving and respecting yourself, and, regardless of how much you work on it, there will often be outside influences that get in the way of making it easy to treat yourself honorably. Here are a few situations that might tempt you away from respecting yourself:
- loving someone who doesn't love you (or who treats you badly);
- having a "successful" career that makes you unhappy;
- wishing you could go back to a past time in your life;
- thinking you need to have X, Y, or Z to be happy;
- having people around you who doubt your abilities;
- wanting things simply because you think you "should" want them;
- thinking the lives others lead is better than your own; or
- living or working with people who treat you (or themselves) negatively.
This is a very small list of things that might deter you from giving yourself the respect you deserve. The list is lengthy and, unfortunately, most of us will face one or more of these respect-stealing situations in our lives, some of which are out of our control. You cannot always control what happens to you, but you can always control how you treat yourself. Here are some things you can do every single day to cultivate more self respect in your life:
1. FIND OUT WHO YOU ARE.
The foundation for respect and self love is knowing what it is you really want and who you really are. You have to get in touch with yourself and what matters to you. (One way I do this is by using my Finding Yourself workbook and revisiting it often.) When you know who you are — and what you will and won't stand for — you'll be able to focus on the activities and people that encourage self respect.
2. SEEK OUT POSITIVE PEOPLE.
It's essential to keep company with those who respect you — and themselves. Negative people (even those who are not negative directly to you) are draining, and they can spark negativity within you without you even realizing it! You've may've heard the saying: you are a combination of the five people you spend the most time with. Respect yourself enough to make sure those people are positive influences.
3. NEVER SETTLE FOR LESS..
One of the best ways to respect yourself is never to settle for less than what you deserve. And you — we all — deserve the very best in life: the best people, the best career, the best feelings. Unfortunately, one of the reasons a lot of us don't have these things is because, deep down, we don't feel we're worthy of them. Remind yourself that you are worthy every day. (If you need a reminder, check out this perfect magnet.)
4. FORGIVE YOUR MISTAKES.
Freeing yourself from past is a challenge (no matter what the past!), but, in order to respect who you are now, you must let go of who you were then. Do what you can to forgive yourself for mistakes you've made. Remind yourself that we've all made them — it's part of life! — and those who respect themselves know how to let those mistakes go. You can never go back; you can only take what's happened and move positively forward.
5. FORGIVE OTHER PEOPLE.
If you've been hurt badly, forgiveness can be really difficult. But carrying around pain and anger only makes it more challenging to cultivate love and respect for yourself. Let go of the pain others have caused and you'll open up space in your heart in mind for more positive emotions and experiences. No matter what wrong has been committed against you, forgiving is always better than clinging to the pain. Need inspiration? Read Forgiveness.
6. BUILD UP CONFIDENCE.
Confidence might sound like a by-product self-love, but it's actually part of what makes it easier to have love and respect for yourself. We all (yes, even those people you think have it all!) struggle with confidence, but you can help build yours up by doing things you're good at, learning to accept compliments, and engage in self-esteem building activities. And keep in mind: being confident ≠ egotistical. So many people avoid confidence because they think it's self-centered, but it's very different and you need it to respect yourself!
7. CHOOSE HONESTY ALWAYS.
The ultimate sign of respect? Honesty. When you're honest with yourself, you'll see (and communicate!) what's good for you and what's not. You'll be less likely to compromise on what matters most to you. Being honest with yourself is actually harder than it sounds, so really pay attention to how you feel and think. The more honest you are with yourself, the easier it is to be honest with others. Honesty improves not only your relationship with yourself, but with other people as well.
8. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY.
Respect might be an abstract concept, but it can have tangible results in your body. Making yourself feel good physically is one of the ultimate ways to respect yourself. Treat your body as you would the body of someone you love dearly. Healthy food, exercise, low stress. The more kindness you show yourself physically, the more internal love you'll feel. Your body is the vessel transporting you around this world, and it deserves your love and respect.
9. EXERCISE YOUR MIND.
Just as you need to take care of your body, your mind needs a little TLC as well. Respect it by challenging yourself with new experiences and information. Step out of the thinking you're comfortable with, and try to find new perspectives. Find resources for inspiration — books, websites, people — and allow your mind soak up all it can. The more you know, the more you can grow. And all that growth will empower you, making it much easier to respect yourself.
10. SPEAK POSITIVELY ABOUT YOURSELF.
A great way to figure out how someone feels about him/her self is to listen to how they speak about themselves. Too often people want to avoid sounding self-absorbed so they downplay their positive aspects. Try always to speak about yourself positively, and try never to put yourself down with negativity. If this is a struggle for you, check out Using Positive Words to Promote Self-Love, which will give you inspiration for speaking positively about yourself. (Plus there's a free download with lots and lots of words!)
11. DON'T COMPARE TO OTHERS.
"Comparison is the thief of joy," said Theodore Roosevelt, and he couldn't have been more right. The more you compare your life to someone else's, the more difficult it becomes to cultivate self respect. It's hard not to compare (especially with everything on display via social media!), but remind yourself that, no matter how well you know someone, you don't ever know everything. No life is perfect, and an essential way to respect yourself is to focus on what you have, not on what perceive others possess.
You're probably well aware that none of these 12 tips come easily, but, I promise, they all get easier with practice. Start by being aware of what's really happening, then do your best to find a way to make it a positive, self-respecting experience, and then use what you're going through (good or bad!) to cultivate more respect for yourself using the tips above.