Monday Motivation: 12 Ways to Show More Self Respect

Let’s begin by clearing up something: Self-respect does not make you narcissistic or conceited or self-centered … in fact, it does quite the opposite. Self-respect is about amassing a deep sense of self-worth and self-love to show that you are worthy of receiving love and in turn, giving love.

The problem for most of us — myself included — is that we go about it the wrong way. We try to get a sense of self-worth by amassing “likes” on Facebook or getting a new gadget, when the truth is that external factors will never give us the self-respect we crave.

Here are 12 ways to show more self-respect:

1. Figure out what makes you respect yourself.

One of the concepts that allows me to respect myself is keeping my word to others. If I say I am going to do something or be somewhere, barring any emergencies, I feel best when I do what I say I am going to do. Doing work in the world I care about also musters up a lot of self-respect as does exercising regularly, starting my day with a green juice, and being under the covers by 10pm for a good night of rest!

2. Be honest about who you are and who you aren’t.

Once you know what makes you feel good (see step #1), continue to be clear — not only with yourself but with others. Leading with honesty is not only less work but more enjoyable.

If you know working outdoors at a farm sanctuary is what you’re here to do, then you have no business working 9 to 5 at a local marketing company for the next decade. You’re disrespecting your talents and interests and you’re being disrespectful to a company that could hire someone who’d actually excel in that position.

I know that I am not honoring myself when I make social plans three nights in a row after work because doing so leaves me feeling depleted. I do my best to be clear about this with myself and with friends.

3. Respect yourself by taking action around things that excite you.

Yes, taking action on the unknown can be scary stuff. We’re never guaranteed our ideal outcome and that can cause us to retreat, bigtime. But the most successful people I know aren’t afraid to try something new. Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard and the rest is history. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak began Apple in their garage. Alicia Keys harnessed her talent and fame to create a totally new venture, Keep A Child Alive. Through clinics, education, and medicine, the global pop star’s not-for-profit is treating and preventing the spread of HIV in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda.

4. Stop trying so hard to be “normal!”

The only way to stand out is to be your idiosyncratic, real, quirky self. It’s easier said than done, but consider this: all those folks you look up to have taken ownership of what sets them apart and leveraged it to their advantage. Besides, if you don’t own who you are, you blend in. And what’s interesting about that? (Psst. Normal is boring anyway. Don’t believe me? Read this.)

5. Don’t let other people define your boundaries.

Many people have good intentions, but their advice is often clouded by their emotional baggage. So when someone tells you “you’ll never be able to do that” or “you shouldn’t” or “you can’t,” ignore them until you have figured out for yourself what’s true.

6. Learn to say no.

Letting others know what isn’t OK doesn’t make you a bad person — it makes you a strong and respectable person. When you stop saying yes to things you don’t want to do, you create more time and energy to engage with the activities and people that do make you happy. (Have trouble saying no? Start here.)

7. Date the partner who is SURE he or she wants to date you.

You know the first place all of us tend to throw self respect out the window? Yup, you guessed it: dating. I’m convinced there should be a firm rule when it comes to dating: If it’s not hell yes, then it’s hell no!

I speak to countless people who have so much to offer the right partner but are in a paralyzed state of waiting for their current partner to decide about a critical aspect of the relationship. I understand that it takes time for a couple to grow, but I’m talking about people who’ve gone beyond compromise and are living in a state of numbing self-sacrifice.

Muster up the self respect to start over! Though scary, starting over will be less painful than being with a partner who doesn’t want or isn’t incapable of giving you what you need.

8. Let whatever you get done today be enough.

Self-respect means not engaging in being overly self-critical, judging or restricting. It’s so easy to chain ourselves to a to-do list and then gauge our worthiness on it’s completion. How about a purposeful shift towards self-kindness? What if, as you finish one task and contemplated the next, you said to yourself: I could do this, or I could not. If I choose to stop now, I will allow whatever I have completed today to be enough and I will not beat myself up for it. How’s that for respecting your bandwidth?

9. Know that you are not your genes.

We could spend a lifetime untying the knots of our past, but at some point, we must realize the knots are no longer ours. They belong to our parents, grandparents and their grandparent’s parents. The lineage is complex and lengthy and effortlessly passed from one generation. We have a choice and at any point we can reflect on our childhood influences and declare: “This is not my story. I am not my genes.”  (Read even more here)

10. Apologize with self-respect.

Saying “I’m sorry” is seldom pleasant or easy, so if you’re going to do it at all, make it count! An important part of apologizing is learning not to make excuses. (Because that’s just disrespectful to the other person and your integrity.)

So next time you’re tempted to plead your case, lay a hand on your heart, check in with that inner barometer and listen to the truth. If an apology is called for courageously, offer one (minus the excuses).  (Want to really fine tune your apology game? Keep on reading here.)

11. Be willing to accept reality.

You must be willing to see things and people as they are. It can be painful to acknowledge that there is a problem with ourselves, our loved ones, or a situation. But if you don’t deal with the problem with curiosity and courteousness, your situation will be prolonged. And that is not very respectful of your time and energy.

12. Write love notes to your body.

Our health, like everything else in our life, is a relationship. The more we pay attention to it and nourish it, the more our body thrives. Often when we consider becoming healthier we can find ourselves in front of the mirror looking at our bodies and wondering what we need to “fix.”

Instead of making self-deprecation your morning ritual, stand in front of the mirror and list three things you love about yourself. Later, write them down, preferably on sticky notes. Then pick the one or two that make you feel the way you want to feel every single day and leave these love notes on your bedroom mirror, in your wallet, on the TV remote and read them even on those days when you might not feel that way.

In closing, remember to treat yourself the way you’d want others to treat you. By focusing only on our self-perceived faults and flaws, we’re basically giving permission for the rest of the world to focus on them too.



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  1. A great read! So glad I happened upon this at the perfect time! I struggle with muvh of this, and know my self respect has suffered in evrrg way. Along with my self esteem and confidence I did have at one time.
    I’m 54, and found myself starting over from rock bottom after a miserable long and mean divorce. And yes, to the exact definition of a spousal narcissist. 18 years of a marriage that was going nowhere but downhill faster than I could keep up. After finding a great counselor and psychiatrist years ago searching for help with depression, my eyes were finally opened as to what I was living with and beating myself up over daily. It’s been a long and hard road with many bumps and setbacks. People I thought would never give up on me did. My mother a narcissist as well, who I could not escape from with Thr constant criticism, belittling, and being called a failure for as long as I can remember, had to become a “No Contsct” person for my own health and sanity. Not once has she asked me how I was, while going through the worst time of my life. NOT ONCE! What I did hear was how shameful I was and how uncaring and unloving of a daughter I was! And how could I embarrass HER and shame HER with her friends and our family! My family has also all kicked me to the curb at my darkest moments. Never asking me any questions normal people would do and have. I have no one now but my loving Golden Retriever, Sophia, and a handful of good friends that do care about me. That has proven to be the best thing of all to find out. Who is real and who is not you find out quickly. And I treasure those who’ve stood by me and helped me when I couldn’t even ask for help. They KNEW. These people are my family!! And yes, I have found that it’s most necessary to respect yourself. If you don’t who will??
    Great read for me and I’ve shared it on everything but Facebook. I felt I had to leave FB unattended for now. Privacy concerns I’d rather not have right now. Thank you again for such a much needed thing in my life!

    • Hi gorgeous, Nancy! That you so so much for your heartfelt, raw response. I am extremely sorry for all the pain and disappointment you have experienced over the last few years–it sounds quite disheartening and my love goes out to you. I am, however, so proud of you for seeking the help you needed and being courageous enough to deem certain toxic people “not contact” individuals. This can go against our natural biology–especially when it comes to parents yet, it is essential to recognize when someone, family or not, blood or not, is a cancer of sorts and must be cut out. Good for you for stepping up and being willing to be your own best friend. I know this gorgeous, delicate and thrilling life will honor you in return. My love to you and thank you for commenting! xx

  2. Thank you so much for this. I have a narcissistic mother who lives in the same town with me. She triangulates my relationship with my siblings to make herself important, she hasn’t asked how I or my two small daughters are in over 3 years, she acts disgusted with me over everything from my taste in music to my friends to my house being “too clean, ” to efforts to gain more self-esteem. Anything I am good at or accomplish she takes credit for or tears me down and has treated me like a rival since I was at least 5 – I remember as a kid knowing that she hated it when my Dad was nice to me, but it took me decades to figure out why. I know I would be better off with her out of my life, but I have a husband who is also narcissistic and abusive at times and since I can’t support myself due to disability I feel like a ping-pong woman flying to the lesser of the evils. I feel like she is killing me and until my book “Will I Ever Be Good Enough” gets here, I am just hanging on by reading this and some of your articles to myself over and over again. The only good thing I can see about all that is happened is that it has made me very hardworking, loving, and compassionate because I see how much it hurts people when you’re not. I am going to break this cycle, I have never hit my kids like she hurt me, I’m not jealous of them, I exalt in their happiness and success. Thanks for helping me feel good enough about myself for a while to get started looking for other things that will help me get healthier, respect my boundaries more, and get her out of my life before she hurts me or my family any more, or at the very least to severely limit contact and not try to be emotionally close because that’s when she sticks the figurative knife inn my ribs the hardest.

    • Oh, Mary Jane! Thank you so much for being so open, vulnerable and courageous enough to share this with me and all of us! I am sorry for your pain but SO admire your resilience and dedication to choosing the loving path. When I am working with my clients who have similar relationships as you do with your mother I am always a fan of initially trying to heal and have a more empowering relationship together however, I am also a fan a walking away and severing the relationship when one has done all they can do to heal it and the healing is just not possible. YOU ARE ENOUGH and the only reason she makes you feel like you are not is because she does not believe she is enough herself. You have full and complete permission to severely limit contact if that is the kindest and most loving response for yourself and your children. I heard a great quote once– “Forgiveness doesn’t mean you need to stick around.” I believe this is so so true. We can make lots of excuses for bad behavior by family members because they are “blood” and we are expected to work it out. But what if working it out is the least kind and loving thing you can do by yourself? Well, then I don’t think that is what God or Universe would want. Thanks for popping in! xoxo

  3. Also, thanks to Nancy above for the comment. I know how you feel, an I am so sorry you were put through that! It’s probably dumb, but I was starting to think I was the only one with a Mom like this aside from creepy movies! No one in my personal life seems to have problems with their parents of his severity, and I’m really sick of them telling me “you have to be in contact with her because she’s your Mom.” They don’t line up to be verbally abused, were never physicallly abused, and have parents that adore their grandkids. They just don’t get it, and it hurts that they’d rather shove me in a box of misery than even listen to how much I am hurting for 5 minutes.

  4. I’ve just discovered your site Danielle & I’m already addicted!! I’m loving the down to earth, no fuss, REAL-ness of your writing!
    This is a seriously powerful post and I can’t wait to get to work on it – but there is one area of self-respect I really struggle with and I’m wondering if you can help…….. I love food!! (who doesn’t?!) 🙂 but I know I eat far more than I need, and don’t always make the healthiest choices, but I feel I am not strong enough to stop myself… or maybe I don’t care about myself enough to treat myself a bit better. I know when I eat in secret I’m not kidding anyone but myself, and it makes me feel weak, miserable, guilty and out of control. I don’t seem to have the self-discipline to be able to say no and resist cravings, or ultimately to get to the point where I don’t even want certain foods. It’s an ongoing everyday war within me and its wearing me down. I feel stuck, static, unable to move on in life. But I’m only 26 and I REALLY don’t want to waste any more of my life being like this, than I already have!!
    The frustrating thing is – or maybe the good news is – it’s not like I’m obese, I probably only need to lose 10kgs or so to feel a million times better…
    though I think the main issue here is my mind, if I could get that sorted, everything else would fall into place. Can you direct me to any of your blog posts that may help me?? xoHannah

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