Now Reading
Self Respect: A Complete Guide to Build It!

Self Respect: A Complete Guide to Build It!

Updated on Jun 26, 2023

Reviewed by Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, MD , Certified Psychiatrist

How To Build Your Self Respect : A Complete Guide

Have you ever felt that your friends and family just take advantage of you? or your colleagues don’t respect your time? Is your partner walking all over you? If yes, it is likely that you have self respect issues.

Poor self-respect and self-esteem can have detrimental effects on every aspect of our lives. It affects our emotions, spirits, minds, and bodies in a myriad of ways.

If you, too, have been living your life facing these problems, read on.

Self-Respect Infographic

Low Self-Respect - Causes, Signs, and How to Remedy It
Low Self-Respect – Causes, Signs, and How to Remedy It

Self Respect Definition

Self-respect is liking yourself enough to not let anyone behave with you in a manner you consider unacceptable.

Self-respect refers to honoring your self-worth, maintaining your dignity, and making sure that you take pride in your accomplishments and your abilities. Having a healthy dose of self-respect means believing on a visceral level that you are worthy of being treated in a courteous manner.

It is the belief that your abilities are enough, and you are enough. The core belief underlying self-respect is that a person doesn’t have to do extraordinary things to deserve basic human respect.

In other words, self-respect means that we like ourselves because of who we are, and it does not matter what we can or cannot do.

On the other hand, if you do not have this sense of being enough, it can be attributed to a lack of self-esteem and self-respect.

Self-respect also means that you believe in your sense of competence. The root cause of lack of self-esteem and self-confidence in many cases is a lack of faith in one’s abilities and competence, which stems from a lack of self-respect.

Self-confidence and a healthy dose of self-esteem are a result of self-respect. However, it should be noted that self-respect cannot be used interchangeably with self-esteem.

Self Respect vs Self Esteem

The basic difference between the two is that self-esteem is a result of self-evaluation. Self-esteem comes from having achieved something, being successful, and being outwardly competent.

However, to get to this type of success, one needs self-respect.

This means that you first need to have the self-respect to be successful, and then you can build a healthy dose of self-esteem from that success. Self-respect is a prerequisite for self-esteem.

Here is a brief summary of the most important differences between the two concepts:

1. Self-respect is not dependent on an external evaluation framework. It does not matter whether or not you are successful, because self-respect does not depend on it.

Self-esteem requires this external evaluation framework. Most people with high self-esteem need to consistently prove their success – either to themselves or the external world.

2. Self-respect allows us to accept ourselves with our flaws and limitations. Since it is free of an evaluation framework, it becomes easy to deal with the not-so-great parts of our personalities.

Self-esteem is focused on the qualities and criteria that make us successful, making it difficult for us to accept our flaws.

3. Self-respect makes us more capable of dealing with insults, failure, and guilt. Research has revealed that people who have high self-respect are also less prone to regret, blame, lies, secrets, and stress – compared to people who lack self-respect but have high self-esteem.

Why is Self Respect Important?

Self-respect is a prerequisite for happiness and good quality of life. Let’s explore how:

1. Stronger moral nerve

People who have self-respect take responsibility for their actions and stand by their values and beliefs no matter what happens. They are an example for society as others take inspiration from their courage.

2. Better relationships with others

People who have high self-respect believe that they are worthy human beings and that they deserve love and respect. This results in healthier relationships based on mutual respect.

You also learn how to choose better friends, partners, and workplaces that will respect you in the long run.

3. Improved quality of life

If you have self-respect, you will not be bothered by your limitations and flaws. You will accept them and find it easier to work on them and improve yourself.

4. Contentment with life

People with self-respect do not feel the need to compare themselves with others, their successes, talents, skills, and abilities. They are content with themselves and do not feel jealous when other people get ahead.

Their personal and professional life improves massively. This ultimately leads to a better quality of life.

5. The power of no

Without self-respect, it is possible that other people will start using, abusing, and mistreating you. Self-respect gives you the ability to say no. You learn how to set boundaries for yourself and protect yourself from those who would want to take advantage of you.

6. Better relationships with yourself

When you have enough self-respect for yourself, you learn how to honor your own needs and desires. You pay more attention to what you want and dedicate energy to your dreams.

And you start trusting yourself and develop self-confidence. You also dedicate more time to self-love and self-care.

Signs You Should Start Building Self Respect

As is clear from the previous section, self-respect is extremely important. But how do you know if this is something you already have or something you should work on?

Here are some red flags that reveal whether you have a healthy sense of self-respect or not:

1. You’re the doormat

When people ask you for something and they expect you to do it without even thanks in return or any consideration for your own time or energy, it’s a pretty clear sign that you may be in need of working on your self-respect.

If people walk all over you and do whatever they want without considering your feelings about how their actions might affect you, you are the doormat.

2. You seek approvals

If you want other people to approve your actions, thoughts, and feelings all the time, it is indicative of low self-esteem and low self-respect.

Seeking validation, following an image or symbol to gain attention, and sometimes doing things that you don’t want to do simply to gain the approval of other people is a sign of low self-esteem.

3. You often find yourself-caring for people who don’t care about you

This is a classic sign of low self-respect. If you feel like you can move mountains for that one person in your life who doesn’t even notice you or you keep making excuses for someone over and over again, even though they’d never apologize for their mistakes, you have low self-esteem and low self-respect.

4. You tolerate abuse

If you find that you have been in a string of relationships where people have verbally, mentally, or physically abused you, then it is very likely that you have low self-respect.

Ask yourself – if your partner does one nice thing for you once in a blue moon, and you hang on to that feeling, while they ignore or abuse you the rest of the time, then you have self-respect issues.

5. You don’t hold your ground in an argument

If you find yourself backing down in a conversation when things get confrontational or difficult, you’re losing your sense of self-respect. If you negotiate and compromise your values and beliefs in order to avoid conflict, you have self-esteem and self-respect issues.

People who have shaky self-respect often avoid difficult situations rather than expressing themselves honestly.

6. You’re not able to take constructive criticism

If you find yourself holding back tears when someone gives you some constructive feedback at your job, then you might be having issues with self-respect.

If you find yourself yelling at your friends when they try to point out your unhealthy habits or proclivity for toxic relationships, your self-respect is not strong.

In other words, when you react emotionally to criticism instead of acting objectively, you have self-esteem and self-respect issues.

7. You cannot leave the house without makeup

If you believe that you’re not going to look beautiful or presentable without makeup or expensive clothes, then you have self-esteem issues.

It should not be noted that wanting to wear makeup does not mean that one has self-respect issues.

Instead – not accepting your appearance as you are and being afraid that if someone looks at you without makeup, they will think you are ugly – this is the core premise behind low self-esteem and low self-respect.

8. You are afraid to contribute in a conversation

If you believe that your voice does not matter, and no one is going to value your feedback then you have self-esteem issues. Second-guessing yourself before saying anything, thinking too hard before expressing yourself, and stuttering too often are all signs of low self-respect.

9. Not being able to make simple decisions

If you feel like you constantly need feedback from other people before making the simplest decision, then you have self-esteem issues. And sometimes even when you do come to a decision, you keep changing your mind over and over again.

You’re not assertive and you feel like you’re not in control of your life, or that you will mess up if you make a decision before consulting other people.

More signs of low self-respect include giving up on your dreams before even getting started, comparing yourself with others, and not being able to handle compliments.

There are many more signs of low self-respect. This is not a conclusive list. This is just a format for evaluating yourself and asking yourself if you think you are enough.

Why Do Some People Have Little or No Self Respect?

Low self-respect can have many causes. Here are the most prominent ones:

1. Disapproval from authority figures

People who grow up hearing from their parents that they’re not good enough grow up into adults who do not have a positive self-image.

Excessive criticism, forceful shaming, and excessive focus on failures result in children who end up feeling uncomfortable and less confident in their own skin as adults.

2. Neglect from authority figures

This is the opposite of disapproval. In these cases, no matter how well the child does, his caretakers do not pay attention. Such a child grows up to believe that his greatest achievements are not worth noticing. They feel forgotten, unimportant, and unacknowledged.

As a result, they grow up into adults who feel that no one is concerned about them. This feeling of being unrecognized can also cause them to feel as if they have to apologize for their existence as adults.

3. Conflict amongst authority figures

If the parents of the child fight all the time or make each other feel bad, the negative emotions are absorbed by the child. The whole environment becomes overwhelming, scary, and disorganized.

Additionally, the child might start believing that he or she is the cause of the conflicts. The same principles are applicable when a parent is extremely sad, depressed, or acts unpredictably around the child.

The feeling of conflict, negative thoughts, and overwhelming emotions carries over into adulthood.

4. Overindulgent authority figures

When parents are overprotective of their children, it leaves them unprepared for the outside world. They fail to develop a thick skin to withstand the challenges of life outside the influence of their parents.

As a result, they compare themselves with their peers and find themselves ill-prepared to deal with even the smallest of problems. This leads to feelings of shame. They may even start questioning their parent’s opinion of them.

Ultimately, they default to the idea that they’re not good enough, that they are victims, and grow up to be adults with very low self-respect and self-esteem.

5. Comparison with siblings or peers by authority figures

When children are constantly compared to their more successful siblings or friends by their parents, they internalize the feelings of not being good enough.

This can carry over into adulthood and result in the excessive need for approvals, inability to take criticism, and low self-respect.

6. Bullying

Bullying alone may or may not contribute to low self-respect, but when it is combined with conflict at home, it can add to the sense of being lost, hopeless, and being abandoned that the child already feels.

They may start self-loathing and thinking of themselves as damaged.

Such children believe that their parents are in distress because of them and the external bullying further reinforces these feelings. This ultimately leads to low self-respect as adults.

7. Struggling with academics

One of the biggest reasons why children have low self-esteem is if they are not doing well in school. When they are falling behind in class and they do not get any support from their parents, they grow up thinking that they are stupid which leads to low self-respect as adults.

On the other hand, if a child is feeling left behind in class and his parents are further reinforcing this belief by calling him stupid and making him doubt his own smartness – it further enhances the feelings of shame.

8. Trauma

Sexual, emotional, or physical abuse is one of the most common reasons for low self-respect and self-esteem. When children are forced into a physical or emotional situation against their will, they find it very hard to trust themselves or the world in the future.

They may even grow up to believe that it was somehow their own fault. To cope with all these shameful feelings that come with trauma, they learn to manage the chaos in their own head by viewing themselves as repulsive and dirty, which contributes to low self-respect as an adult.

9. Poor belief systems

When your belief system or religion reinforces the fact that you are always sinning no matter what you do, it can be very similar to living with disapproving authority figures.

These judgments from the established belief system that you grow in evoke feelings of guilt, shame, conflict, and self-hatred.

The child is told over and over again that he should be disappointed or ashamed of his behavior. Ultimately, he internalizes these beliefs and grows up to have very little or no self-respect

10. Society and the media

Movies, shows, and Instagram photos of celebrities are all airbrushed these days to achieve unrealistic levels of beauty and body shape.

When children grow up watching such things and believing that this is all possible, they start to feel that their own imperfections are shameful, and they are inadequate.

This leads to low self-respect and self-esteem at an early age which may continue in adulthood.

Effects of Low Self Respect at The Workplace

Research has indicated that low self-respect at the workplace can have serious consequences:

1. Poor public image

Low self-respect and confidence are immediately noticeable to employers, bosses, and colleagues. This leads them to make negative assumptions about you, assuming you are incompetent as well.

2. Less entrepreneurial activity

Lack of self-respect and confidence can hinder entrepreneurial activities. People who have self-respect and feel confident about their ideas are more likely to start their own ventures and startups.

3. Less financial risk

People with low self-respect do not take risks with their money. Instead of investing it in ventures that may have some rewards and risks, they put it in low-interest accounts that have low rates of interest.

4. Lack of promotions

People who have little or no self-respect and self-esteem do not ask for promotions or raises. They do not trust their judgment and engage in negative self-talk, which prevents them from getting ahead.

5. Lower earnings

Studies have shown that people working in blue-collar jobs who have more confidence and self-respect earn $7,000 per year more than those who do not. With white-collar jobs, the difference is $28,000 annually.

Effects of Low Self Respect in Relationships

Here is how low self-esteem and self-respect affect relationships:

1. Proclivity to abusive relationships

People with low self-respect often gravitate towards abusive relationships. Such people are more predisposed to putting up with emotionally and physically abusive partners, and even friends and families.

A person with low self-respect is also more susceptible to people who have clinical disorders like narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.

Physically abusive individuals generally choose such people as their victims, as they are easy to manipulate and cannot judge effectively.

2. Distortion of perspectives

Even when it comes to healthy relationships, low self-respect can be quite damaging. It can distort the perception of the partner for the person who has low self-respect.

According to this study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, women who had low self-respect were more likely to feel threatened by their partner’s flaws. They also tend to view their relationship as either all good or all bad.

3. Relationship satisfaction

People with high self-esteem are more securely attached to their partners and experience more relationship satisfaction, compared to those who have low self-respect and self-esteem.

Research has indicated that people with low self-respect also believe that their partners’ perception of them is poor. Compared to this, people with high self-respect have a positive view of their partner’s perception of them.  

4. Brooding insecurities

People who have low self-respect tend to make their partner insecure quite often, compared to those who have self-respect.

According to Steven Graham, associate professor of psychology at the New College of Florida in Sarasota, low self-respect individuals affect the predictability of the relationship, which is not good.

“If my views of you are changing very quickly, thinking very positively about you one minute and negatively the next, that could make the other person feel insecure,” he explains.

5. Problems with intimacy and extreme jealousy

Continuing from the previous point, lack of predictability can also create problems with intimacy and can cause overall negative feelings in that area of your life.

Heidi Riggio, assistant professor of psychology at California State University in Los Angeles says, “You may be afraid that your partner will leave you, or you panic over other things that others wouldn’t think twice about,” says. This can lead to panic attacks or extreme jealousy.”

How To Build Your Self Respect?

If you have already identified the problem with yourself regarding lack of self-respect, the next step is to figure out how to develop it.

Here are some simple steps that you can take to improve your self-esteem and self-respect. However, it should be noted that developing these habits will take hard work, time, and effort.

1. Affirmations

Every single one of us has an inner dialogue. It is the constant chattering within our brain, and it has more power than we realize. In order to develop more self-respect, you have to stop talking to yourself in a negative way.

Before you can actually believe that you are worthy, you will have to fake it. The best way of doing that is to use affirmations. This is basically replacing your negative inner chatter with positive sentences.

For instance, whenever you feel helpless during the day, you have to tell yourself, “I can do this.” When you say this over and over, for several days, your brain will be forced to believe it.

2. Define your values

Every single one of us has certain values we are not willing to compromise with or abandon. Sometimes people struggle with situations where they are questioned, but we always try to be consistent with certain values.

In order to maintain your sense of self-respect and boundaries, you need to identify these values.

  • Some of them are
  • Compassion
  • Discipline
  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Reliability


Take a piece of paper and write down the values that are completely non-negotiable to you. Keep this piece of paper with you and look at it over and over during the day to make sure that you remember them and inculcate them within your life. This will boost your self-esteem and self-respect in the long run.

3. Develop hobbies that do not involve other people

Dealing with drama can be very addicting to people who do not have a lot of self-respect because it allows them to maintain their role as victims. Detach yourself from these toxic situations by exploring your own hobbies and interests.

The key thing here is to have a certain part of your life that is only meant for you. This will help you not only find out what interests you but also develop a sense of self-worth and fulfillment that is not dependent on other people.

Over time, you will be able to extend this feel-good experience to other areas of your life.

4. Set clear boundaries in relationships

If you do not have boundaries, other people will walk all over you without missing a beat. It is essential to have certain parameters to define your relationship with other people.

As for what these parameters and boundaries should be, it can be determined by paying attention to your feelings.

For instance, if you feel like you’re being taken advantage of when a colleague asks you to work extra hours when you have a family outing planned, identify this feeling and say no.

Keeping a journal can help with identifying these feelings.

5. Don’t talk about yourself in a disparaging manner

Even if you’re making a joke, do not make fun of yourself in front of other people. While a healthy amount of self-deprecation is important, the difference lies in the kinds of jokes you are making.

For instance, if you are uncomfortable with your body image, don’t make fat jokes in front of other people about yourself. If you do have to make jokes, talk about something that you are confident and completely comfortable about.

6. Don’t undersell yourself

A lot of people who have self-respect issues often undersell themselves and then get frustrated when they realize they’re not making enough money for the work that they are doing. This is because low self-respect often makes people underestimate their skills and talent.

If you feel the same way, look up other people in your field of work and find out what they’re making. Get an outsider’s perspective. Talk to other people and ask them what they think should be your worth.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate harder. Be confident in your ability to do the job. Highlight the qualities that you believe are the best in yourself, instead of focusing on your flaws.

7. Practice self-care

Pay attention to what you need emotionally, physically, and mentally. Nurture your mind, heart, body, and spirit. This will involve eating clean, making sure you get enough sleep, exercising every day, spending some time meditating, and feeding your mind with some form of mental exercise.

Do this religiously. Because when you commit to self-care, your self-respect will automatically increase.

8. Keep a Journal

A journal can be a very powerful tool for promoting personal change. For instance, it can help you monitor how often you do things that indicate a lack of self-respect.

Every single time you do something that you believe, in retrospect, is a consequence of your lack of self-respect, record it. After that, do some introspection and find out what was going through your mind at the moment and how you were feeling.

When you do this consistently, you will be able to figure out the pattern of behavior that leads to such actions. Then you can work on finding ways to deal with it.

9. Take care of your emotional needs

Do not engage with people that make you feel less or unworthy of respect. Whether it’s a partner that is constantly demeaning or belittling you or your own family that makes jokes at your expense, make it clear to them that what they’re doing is making you feel inadequate.

If they do not stop this behavior, stop engaging with them. Any relationship that makes you feel emotionally upset on a consistent basis needs to be cut out.

All of us have emotional needs, but people who have low self-esteem tend to neglect them. This leads to frustration and overall poor quality of life. Notice what your body and mind are demanding and make sure these needs are met. Keeping a journal can also help with this

10. Learn how to be proud of who you are

Instead of depending on your work, hobbies, or love life for validation for self-respect and self-love, learn how to do it without needing any of these things. Don’t confuse self-respect with your work. Be proud of what you achieve but do not let it define you.

Because if your success becomes your source of self-respect, you will struggle whenever you have to encounter failure. If you have a consistent sense of self-respect, you need to love yourself from the inside out, not outside in.

Closing Thoughts

There is no area of your life that is not affected by self-respect. How you view yourself is extremely important for a good quality of life.

While it may not be easy to develop it if you have had a traumatic childhood, it is also not impossible. And the sooner you get started, the sooner you will be on your way to a magnificent life that is just waiting for you to embrace it.

Article Sources


Scroll To Top
We use cookies in order to give you the best possible experience on our website. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies.
Privacy Policy