“If you want others to respect you, the best thing you can do is respect yourself. Only then, only through self-respect, will you force others to respect you, ”wrote Dostoevsky. The Russian writer's words are similar to those of Confucius: "respect yourself and others will respect you".
Respect is an important value in most societies. Not only does it facilitate coexistence, but it also shows consideration for others. Therefore, from childhood they teach us to respect others. Our parents teach us to respect adults and other children, they tell us when our words or actions can harm them and, if we disrespect them, they encourage us - sometimes even force us - to ask for forgiveness. However, something important is forgotten in the equation: self-respect.
In many cases, the constant outward projection can make us forget the most important person in our life: ourselves. When we are educated not to disturb others, little by little the conviction is generated that our ideas, feelings and needs are not so important, precious or worthy of being taken into consideration. As a result, it is quite common for us to end up disrespecting ourselves, saying very harsh and even humiliating words to each other.
A study conducted at the University of Chicago revealed that there is a link between acceptance and respect for oneself and those directed towards others. Therefore, this study suggests that if we educate children to respect themselves, respect for others will come almost automatically.
Sacrificing self-love on the altar of self-esteem
Centuries ago, self-love was central to the ideas of philosophers such as Aristotle. For them, self-respect was the basis of the ability to think and behave in ways that foster our autonomy, independence, self-control and tenacity.
Unfortunately, psychology has neglected this concept a lot, promoting the importance of self-esteem in its place. Self-help books and personal growth gurus are obsessed with self-esteem, but in reality self-respect could be the real key to achieving the peace of mind we seek. Both concepts look very similar, but they have basic fundamental differences.
First of all, we must start from the fact that self-esteem always involves a form of judgment, which means that sometimes we will win, but others we will lose. Self-esteem is the introjected measure of the value that others recognize in us. In fact, the word derives from the Latin aestumare, which means to evaluate, judge and appreciate. Respecting something, on the contrary, implies accepting it, without value judgments.
Of course, having good self-esteem is important, but that just means that we care about ourselves, which also means that if we make huge mistakes or fail to meet our expectations and those of others, we may stop liking ourselves and suffer a lot. lowering of self-esteem.
Self-respect, on the other hand, does not depend so much on mistakes or success, because it is not the direct result of comparison with others. Self-respect implies that we accept ourselves beyond our limits and mistakes.
In fact, even people with high self-esteem are trapped in a framework of judgment, while those who develop self-respect are less likely to be influenced by the opinions of others, to be victims of manipulation and to feel guilt.
You can take a little test to know your level of self-esteem and self-respect. Imagine for a moment that someone congratulates you on your accomplishments on a project. What's your first reaction? If you feel euphoric it probably means that you have doubts about your abilities and that you are very dependent on the point of view of others.
Of course, it is normal to feel flattered and even happy when someone congratulates us and acknowledges our work, but if we see that our mood varies according to the opinions of others, we will have a serious problem of personal respect.
Self-love is the basis of assertiveness
Psychologists at the University of Kiel in Germany say that one of the fundamental pillars of assertiveness is respect for ourselves. These researchers recruited 643 people who completed a series of tests that assessed self-respect, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-acceptance, perceived competence and assertiveness. People also had to respond to how they would act in hypothetical situations where their rights and dignity were violated.
Psychologists found that self-respect was the best predictor of assertiveness. They also found that self-respecting people chose more assertive solutions to resolve conflicts, while those who only thought they had the "right not to be trampled" but actually didn't respect themselves tended to adopt coping strategies more aggressive.
In reality, self-respect does not simply imply the assertion of our rights, it is the belief that we are people who are worth as much as others. Respect for oneself always generates a virtuous circle that allows us to react much better to circumstances.
The signs of disrespect towards oneself
Respect for oneself is the belief that we have the same fundamental rights as others, it means recognizing that we are worthy of being loved and taken into consideration, feeling compassion for ourselves. However, there are subtle signs that may indicate that we don't respect ourselves enough, such as:
- We apply degrading labels to ourselves, especially when we make mistakes or don't live up to our expectations. These labels do not help us grow, on the contrary, they turn into beliefs that limit us and make us feel bad.
- We treat ourselves with extreme harshness, leaving no room for indulgence, to the point that we end up humiliating ourselves. Instead of being a little more compassionate, like we would be with a friend, we treat each other really badly.
- We continually prioritize the needs of others over our own because we believe we are less important, to the point that we practically forget about ourselves.
- We believe we are less valuable than others and deserve less than them, so we often do not claim our rights.
- We remain silent for fear of upsetting others, preferring to bite our tongues rather than put an end to a situation that causes us discomfort and discomfort.
The 3 fundamental points for developing self-respect
“The worst loneliness is not being comfortable with yourself,” Mark Twain said. Instead of repeating empty phrases to yourself that will have little impact on your existing idea of yourself, you need to do deeper psychological work that lays the foundation for solid self-respect. In this regard, it is essential to start with these 3 beliefs:
1. Assume that you have the same rights as others and, therefore, treat yourself with the same compassion, affection and respect.
2. Understand that you are worth as much as other people who share life with you, therefore, you deserve to have your needs taken into account as well.
3. Be aware of your weaknesses and mistakes, so that they do not affect the relationship you have with yourself.
What do you gain by respecting yourself?
- You are true to your needs, wants and values, so you don't allow others to step on them.
- You feel you have the right to say "no" when something goes against your interests or needs, setting reasonable limits to protect yourself.
- You feel empowered and have more self-confidence, so you are more likely to follow your dreams and achieve your goals.
- You feel more satisfied with your life and this is reflected in your interpersonal relationships.
- You will be better able to take care of yourself, avoiding falling into self-injurious and harmful behavior.
Finally, remember that love for yourself implies not only respecting your dreams, needs, values and illusions, but also your limitations, fears and failures. Treating ourselves with kindness and tolerance goes through the awareness of our limitations and loving ourselves despite everything.