Gaining self respect

Raising low self-esteem - NHS

We all have times when we lack confidence and do not feel good about ourselves.

But when low self-esteem becomes a long-term problem, it can have a harmful effect on our mental health and our day-to-day lives.

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves.

When we have healthy self-esteem, we tend to feel positive about ourselves and about life in general. It makes us better able to deal with life's ups and downs.

When our self-esteem is low, we tend to see ourselves and our life in a more negative and critical light. We also feel less able to take on the challenges that life throws at us.

What causes low self-esteem?

Low self-esteem often begins in childhood. Our teachers, friends, siblings, parents, and even the media send us positive and negative messages about ourselves. 

For some reason, the message that you are not good enough is the one that stays with you.

Perhaps you found it difficult to live up to other people's expectations of you, or to your own expectations.

Stress and difficult life events, such as serious illness or a bereavement, can have a negative effect on self-esteem.

Personality can also play a part. Some people are just more prone to negative thinking, while others set impossibly high standards for themselves.

How does low self-esteem affect us?

If you have low self-esteem or confidence, you may hide yourself away from social situations, stop trying new things, and avoid things you find challenging.

In the short term, avoiding challenging and difficult situations might make you feel safe.

In the longer term, this can backfire because it reinforces your underlying doubts and fears. It teaches you the unhelpful rule that the only way to cope is by avoiding things.

Living with low self-esteem can harm your mental health and lead to problems such as depression and anxiety.

You may also develop unhelpful habits, such as smoking and drinking too much, as a way of coping.

How to have healthy self-esteem

To boost your self-esteem, you need to identify the negative beliefs you have about yourself, then challenge them.

You may tell yourself you're "too stupid" to apply for a new job, for example, or that "nobody cares" about you.

Start to note these negative thoughts and write them on a piece of paper or in a diary. Ask yourself when you first started to think these thoughts.

Next, start to write some evidence that challenges these negative beliefs, such as, "I'm really good at cryptic crosswords" or "My sister calls for a chat every week".

Write down other positive things about yourself, such as "I'm thoughtful" or "I'm a great cook" or "I'm someone that others trust".

Also write some good things that other people say about you.

Aim to have at least 5 positive things on your list and add to it regularly. Then put your list somewhere you can see it. That way, you can keep reminding yourself that you're OK.

You might have low confidence now because of what happened when you were growing up, but we can grow and develop new ways of seeing ourselves at any age.

Other ways to improve low self-esteem

Here are some other simple techniques that may help you feel better about yourself.

Recognise what you're good at 

We're all good at something, whether it's cooking, singing, doing puzzles or being a friend. We also tend to enjoy doing the things we're good at, which can help boost your mood.

Build positive relationships

If you find certain people tend to bring you down, try to spend less time with them, or tell them how you feel about their words or actions.

Try to build relationships with people who are positive and who appreciate you.

Be kind to yourself

Being kind to yourself means being gentle to yourself at times when you feel like being self-critical.

Think what you'd say to a friend in a similar situation. We often give far better advice to others than we do to ourselves.

Learn to be assertive

Being assertive is about respecting other people's opinions and needs, and expecting the same from them.

One trick is to look at other people who act assertively and copy what they do.

It's not about pretending you're someone you're not. It's picking up hints and tips from people you admire and letting the real you come out.

Start saying "no"

People with low self-esteem often feel they have to say yes to other people, even when they do not really want to.

The risk is that you become overburdened, resentful, angry and depressed.

For the most part, saying no does not upset relationships. It can be helpful to keep saying no, but in different ways, until they get the message.

Give yourself a challenge

We all feel nervous or afraid to do things at times. But people with healthy self-esteem do not let these feelings stop them trying new things or taking on challenges.

Set yourself a goal, such as joining an exercise class or going to a social occasion. Achieving your goals will help to increase your self-esteem.

Where to find help for low self-esteem

Talking therapies like counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help.

You can refer yourself for talking therapies on the NHS.

If you prefer, you can talk to a GP first and they can refer you.

You could also find a private therapist. Make sure they're registered with a professional body.

Audio: unhelpful thinking

In this audio guide, a doctor helps you to replace negative thoughts with more positive thinking.

Media last reviewed: 2 March 2021
Media review due: 2 March 2024

Visit healthtalk. org to hear young people talking about their experiences of low self-esteem.

Video: talking therapies for stress, anxiety and depression

Animated video explaining self-referral to talking therapies services for stress, anxiety or depression.

Media last reviewed: 14 March 2022
Media review due: 14 March 2025

What It Is, How to Achieve It, and Why It's Important

Self-respect is knowing you are worthy and treating yourself accordingly.

Respecting yourself is the first step toward understanding you deserve love, consideration, and opportunities like everyone else.

“Our level of self-respect acts almost like a blueprint to instruct others how to engage with us,” says Jaime Zuckerman, a licensed clinical psychologist in Philadelphia. “When we develop healthy reciprocal relationships, we find ourselves surrounded by those who respect us, support us, and treat us how we want to be treated.

Self-respect is loving yourself and treating yourself with care. It’s the result of staying true to your values and not being willing to compromise.

The more you engage in behaviors consistent with your beliefs and values, the more you’ll feel fulfilled and confident. This, in turn, will improve your sense of well-being, says Zuckerman.

Respecting yourself also prevents you from comparing yourself and your life with other people. This may be especially important in today’s digital world.

“Self-comparison is rampant on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok,” says Zuckerman. “When we have a low level of self-respect, we tend to engage in more social comparison, which makes us feel worse about ourselves, not good enough, and minimize our achievements.”

At its core, self-respect is a form of self-care.

“When someone has self-respect, they have accepted themselves and believe that they are deserving of belonging in the world,” says Divya Robin, a psychotherapist in New York City. “We are wired to want connection and a sense of belonging, so self-belonging and acceptance is incredibly important for psychological health, too.”

If you feel you need to work on caring more about yourself and showing more self-respect, these tips can help you take the first step.

1. Try to revisit your values

If self-respect means acting according to your values, the first step must be to clarify what your values are.

Values are firm beliefs about what’s important or desirable to you in life.

For example:

  • integrity
  • tolerance
  • loyalty
  • generosity
  • cooperation
  • wisdom
  • commitment

To define your core values, Zuckerman recommends asking yourself these two questions:

  • What do you value most in life?
  • Are your daily actions taking you closer or further away from the things you value most?

Once you do this first exercise, consider following up with the following reflections:

  • Who do you admire and why?
  • What are the things you’re not willing to compromise on in life?
  • What would you like to be known as?
  • What are some things you aspire to become as a person that you have not yet worked on?
  • What is important to you in a friendship?
  • What is important to you in a romantic relationship?
  • How do you think people with different views and experiences should be treated?

Try to work on these and similar questions by being honest with yourself. Consider leaving cultural or family expectations behind, so you can identify what matters to you.

2. Consider taking inventory of your relationships

You probably don’t live in isolation, even if you don’t have too many people around you.

Self-respect starts with the people you choose to have in your life and heart.

“Surround yourself with people who empower you to accept and embrace your authentic self,” says Robin.

Consider these questions:

  • Are the people you surround yourself with building you up?
  • Do your significant others support your dreams, opinions, lifestyle, and preferences?
  • Are you being treated by others as you wish to be treated?

“If not, it’s helpful to set boundaries in your relationships. Boundaries are used to let others know what you’re willing to accept and tolerate,” Zuckerman states.

3. Try to focus on activities you enjoy

Self-respect is also about life satisfaction, and that may start by spending time and effort on the things you’re passionate about.

Although this isn’t always possible, try to include a few activities in your routine that make your heart happy.

These activities can be related to your social life, school, or work.

Some of them could include:

  • starting a new hobby or reconnecting with one that used to make you happy
  • setting your professional goals and making 90-day plans that include specific tasks that will help you achieve them
  • reading a new book about personal growth, fiction, or career development
  • starting a blog, vlog, or personal journal
  • dancing, singing, or listening to your favorite beats
  • starting a new exercise routine
  • learning to cook
  • planning an event for the family
  • volunteering your time for a cause you’re passionate about

Doing things you’re good at, says Zuckerman, could also help you increase your sense of well-being.

4. Practicing self-care will help

Respecting yourself means taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, socially, and physically.

Self-care activities can include:

  • relaxation techniques to manage anxiety and stress
  • spending time in nature
  • connecting with your favorite people, even if virtually
  • revising your diet to make it fit your health needs
  • taking pauses to reset, rest, and recharge

5. Identify and nurture your needs

If self-respect is about taking care of yourself, it’s important that you identify what “care” means for you. What are your needs? What would make you feel fulfilled and satisfied?

“Check in with your needs on a daily basis, and instead of shaming yourself for having needs, nurture your needs,” Robin suggests.

It’s natural to feel apprehensive about spending too much time on yourself, especially if your responsibilities include taking care of others. But attending to your needs is essential to your well-being and can even prepare you to take better care of others if that’s a priority for you.

Self-esteem is about how much you love yourself. Self-respect is how you show that love to yourself. Usually, having strong self-esteem will motivate you to respect yourself more.

But self-esteem also tends to depend on your interactions with the world.

“Self-respect is not contingent on success or performance,” says Zuckerman. “It is more of an accepted, unchanging view of ourselves and our worth. Self-esteem, however, is based on our abilities and how well we think we can handle ourselves in a given situation.”

Respect is about value and acceptance, and esteem is about evaluation (of skills and abilities).

Self-respect is understanding and honoring your own needs. It’s knowing your worth and acting accordingly.

If you feel you can work more on your self-respect, consider identifying your values, setting boundaries, and nurturing your needs through self-care.

3 foundations of self-respect | PSYCHOLOGIES


Know yourself

You must respect yourself. Amazing! The only question is how. To start from Monday or from the New Year is an empty shaking of the air. How to start doing something that you have not done and do not know what it is? This advice is an empty phrase if there is no specifics. It is good if you saw an example from childhood or you were brought up in the spirit of respect for yourself and others. It often happens otherwise. I was raised under the motto "meet other people's expectations." The most frequent phrase I heard was "let me be worse." She meant "I will do what others say, to the detriment of myself."

When I realized that a normal life begins with self-respect, I had to learn it from the beginning. I looked for points of support and took the first uncertain steps, as a result, I identified three foundations of self-esteem.

1. Adequate self-esteem

Treating oneself as a victim of circumstances, striving to please others, justify other people's expectations, fear of condemnation and, in general, dependence on external evaluations - inadequate and biased self-esteem. The formula "Me and my self-esteem" includes an external variable.

“Meet success and reproach equally, not forgetting that their voice is false,” wrote Rudyard Kipling in his poem “The Commandment.” I repeated this phrase when again I took someone else's assessment too close to my heart. To find the first point of support, you need to take three steps.

The first step is self-approval simply by the fact of existence

The vast majority of children who grew up to be insecure adults were raised with the best of intentions. But these principles of education included initially false messages. As a child, the worst curse was to hear that you would not be loved. To be good, to be accepted in the team, you need to do the right things. As a result, the installation nested: “You are initially bad, but when you justify someone’s expectations, then, perhaps, you will become good.” Rave?

This is how the subconscious thinks like a child, the internal program works, which was downloaded at a time when we could not reason and think critically.

To approve oneself means to accept without any conditions

This program has been registered very deeply. Even as adults, we unconsciously continue with these old naive beliefs. Only by pulling these algorithms out, you can see all their absurdity and inconsistency. But while they are in the depths of the unconscious, they are sharks prowling in search of prey. Yes, they were conceived as protection and help, but over time they turned into monsters.

It's time to remove them, replacing them with new useful settings:

  • I am, so it's already good.
  • I approve of myself, period, without conditions.
  • I'm good on my own, that's how I was made.

The second step is self-acceptance

To approve oneself by the fact of existence means to accept oneself without conditions. An old soda ad had a set of "If I was like him, that would be cool" story line. After that, pictures followed, as all representations of oneself in the place of another invariably turned comical and burst like a soap bubble. There is nothing better than being yourself.

Be yourself and accept yourself with pluses and minuses (perhaps this is how you perceive some of your qualities). Each person, including you, has pluses, strengths, exceptional qualities. Do not believe me, ask your friends and relatives, be surprised how much good and unique they see in you.

The book of the Soviet psychologist Alexander Luria "A little book about great memory" tells about a man with a phenomenal memory. So, this amazing hero with unlimited mnemonic possibilities believed that everyone had it, he was no different from others. And with you the same story - what you consider banal, perhaps a unique quality.

Minuses are not minuses, they are fronts of work. The path to success and development is negative feedback. It can and should be accepted with gratitude. Imagine that you no longer feel cold, hot, pain. You can sit on a fire or freeze to death without even noticing it, because there is no negative feedback. This is reminiscent of the elk from the joke, which, with a hangover, comes to the stream to drink water. A hunter shoots at him, and the elk feels so bad that he does not notice the wounds and thinks: “What is it? I drink, I drink, and I get worse and worse.

Those very minuses are the direction for work. Start asking yourself questions: what can I do to make it better? This applies to everything: work, communication with loved ones, relationships with a partner. When you understand how you can improve, start doing it. Over time, you will not have minuses, there will only be growth and development. You will begin to see yourself as "the possibility of anything."

The third step is to give yourself the right to make mistakes

“I have no right to do this,” the little perfectionist told me. Over time, he turned from a bore into an executioner. This attitude is the product of false attitudes. This is a greeting from childhood, we have taught ourselves to be afraid of making mistakes. Once they were not afraid of anything, they got up and fell until they learned to walk, run and perform other pirouettes. Fear of error is superficial, instilled from the outside. Like varnish, it covers all of our beautiful texture. This is another example of good intentions backfiring. Mistake is normal, it is the feedback necessary for growth.

Successful people perceive mistakes differently. “I just found 10,000 ways that don’t work,” Thomas Edison said of his failures. It is an experience that enriches life. Take on a new attitude: “I have the right to be wrong. This is how I learn and become more effective, wiser.”

2. Knowing and feeling competent

“Who knows that you are in love? Only you alone. You feel it with all your skin ”(from the film“ Matrix ”).

The feeling of one's own competence is not social recognition, but inner knowledge. You just know that you are the best, no matter what.

As a child, I knew that no one could ride the waves better than me. On the beach, he was a “body surfing” champion, which he opened himself, no one knew if there was such a thing (there was no Internet then, the TV broadcast only two channels). There was no competition in a fictitious sport, I just knew that I had no equal in this. You may have a signature pilaf or pies recipe. No one better than you in the family cooks pizza, embroiders, manages staff? When I worked as a student in the USA, I considered myself the best dishwasher, the feeling of my competence overwhelmed. I walked with my head held high.

Competence can be anything. Here are three steps to help you find this tool:

  1. Think for yourself and ask independent experts (friends and loved ones): what are you good at? Perhaps you are the best wife, mother or father, daughter, grandfather, friend? It is important! This is no less important than being a narrow-profile specialist in Silicon Valley or a large corporation.
  2. There is such quality. Connect it to yourself and every time you do it, say - "I'm doing great!"
  3. Listen to how you feel when you do your job. Fix them in the body, "register" them at the cellular level, so that every particle knows that you are the best. Enjoy this feeling. It does not need to be demonstrated - you know about it, that's enough.

3. Harmonious relationships

Yes, relationships are the cornerstone of life. How many people stumble, break spears, step on rakes, walk in circles. They ask: "Why do I get only moral freaks?" They throw themselves into the abyss of new relationships and, after a wave of passion, sink to the bottom of depression.

The problem is not the world or people. The question to ask yourself is: “Why do I choose only scum from a variety of people?” Yes, yes, you do it yourself, you are the reason for everything that happens to you. Both partners and the nature of the relationship you choose.

You will consciously choose worthy partners

Having gone through the above steps, having found two points of support, you will receive a third one. A person with low self-esteem, who does not respect himself, chooses a partner whose relationship brings only negativity and suffering. When you evaluate yourself adequately and objectively, do not pay attention to external assessments, know your competence and uniqueness, you do not need to jump into the last car, rush at the first one that comes across, you no longer need this suffering.

Some people will leave the environment, and they will be replaced by those who are in tune with you. You will consciously choose worthy partners, build relationships based on love, trust, acceptance, respect and support.

About the author

Sergey Ivanov is a blogger who writes about self-development and personal growth. His blog.

Text: Sergey Ivanov Photo Source: Getty Images

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How to gain self-respect and respect of others?

How to gain self-respect and the respect of others?

Respect is the recognition of the dignity of the individual, careful, tactful attitude towards another person, attention to his interests, beliefs, recognition of equality of rights. Self-respect is a respectful attitude of a person towards himself, his personality.

Perhaps someone can change their attitude towards you, stop communicating. Do not despair, do not focus on yourself and your illness! Remember that there are people and organizations that are ready to provide you with the assistance you need. On our website you can find all the necessary information.

Your own attitude towards yourself is also important. It is important to see yourself as a person, and not a victim of illness, circumstances or bad attitudes of other people. How can you help yourself? There are universal tips that we want to share. They are suitable for all people. Following these tips will help you gain self-respect and the respect of others.

1. Be attentive to the people around you - relatives, friends, neighbors, colleagues. Think about how you can be useful and necessary for another person.

2. When communicating, try to see something good in each person. There is a saying: "Each person is not a friend for you, and not an enemy, but a teacher." Keeping this in mind, you will be able to perceive each person as a teacher, thanks to which you can gain new experience and knowledge.

3. When there is respect, there is mutual understanding. Respect the advice and opinion of the other person. If you need to correct someone, first show them respect, and then correct them. Then it will be easy for him to agree with you. Relationships thrive on trust and respect. So communicate with the awareness that each person has inherent dignity. Treating everyone with respect is a sign of respect for yourself.

4. Be honest with others. Honesty means saying what you think and doing what you say. Honesty builds good relationships because it inspires respect and deep trust from others.

5. Be responsible. Taking responsibility for any business, bringing it to the end is an opportunity to develop your abilities and talents. It is important to feel responsible for the results of your actions. You can’t take only a good result personally, and blame others for a bad result, removing responsibility. Remember that others, looking at you, will do exactly the same as you - this will increase their sense of responsibility.

6. Don't resent a person for making a mistake. Learn to criticize less and be more understanding, forgiving, patient with a person.

7. Be disciplined. Follow the rules that keep order in life. Discipline is respect for life and respect for oneself. When there is a certain routine, there is no confusion that takes time, a person manages to do a lot.

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