As RuPaul famously says “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”
What does self-love entail? Firstly, we need a healthy dose of self-respect. But what does it mean to respect ourselves? And how can we develop this?
Read on to find out all of the important things to stop doing if you want to cultivate self-respect and improve your well-being and happiness.
1) Putting yourself down in front of others
Have you ever met someone who is always putting themselves down?
Sometimes people do it with a smile and a laugh, but if it happens often, it’s a sign of a lack of self-respect. Now as a British person, I do love a bit of self-deprecating humor, but I don’t take it too far!
Why does this matter?
Because if you keep putting yourself down, the chances are that you and others will start to believe it!
Another insidious way this manifests is through downplaying your achievements, even when you know you worked really hard – “Oh, it was nothing; anyone could have done it”.
No one likes a braggart, but don’t take it so far that you reduce your wins to nothing.
Other similar things to avoid are negatively comparing yourself with others.
Remember that you are a worthy person who deserves love and respect from the world!
If you’ve mastered the art of not putting yourself down, then make sure you are also not doing the next point which is…
2) Negative self-talk
This sneaky little behavior is a really toxic one. There are numerous studies on the detrimental effects of negative self-talk. These inner voices lead to increased anxiety, lower motivation, stress, and depression.
In this scientific study, the researchers discovered that it actually affects physical performance too. They revealed that people who listened to their inner critic did worse at dart-throwing than those who did not.
If you find yourself thinking negative and limiting thoughts about yourself, what should you do?
- The first step is to become aware that you are doing it. Mindfulness might help you with this, or even just setting an intention.
- If you still find it difficult consider wearing a hairband or something unusual around your wrist.
- Once you identify a limiting thought such as “I wouldn’t be good at this because…” or “I’m a bad/selfish/worthless person because…” ask yourself is it true? If that inner critic says yes, check where that belief comes from.
- Now give that critical voice a name. In one of Starhawk’s books, she explains how she names difficult inner voices things like Negative Nancy and Angry Amanda. This technique is supported by psychology. Naming these parts allows us to see them for what they are, just a voice, rather than who we actually are.
We can then actively choose to try positive self-talk, which can improve our confidence and abilities.
3) Being overly critical of others
You might be asking, what does this have to do with self-respect?
Well, the fact is that if you judge others you are more likely to judge yourself.
Like negative self-talk and putting yourself down in front of others, this habit is something that becomes ingrained in your brain. That critical part of you won’t just stop when it comes to others.
Some of the reasons for being overly critical may surprise you.
Neena Lall says that being critical of others can develop as a result of a subconscious wish to calm one’s own anxiety.
Naturally, this doesn’t really work and just creates two anxious people instead of one!
Another reason stems from low self-esteem. This is something that is closely linked to self-respect. People with low self-esteem may end up projecting their fears and negative beliefs onto others.
If you want some help with self-esteem, watch this excellent ted talk by Dr Kristen Neff. If you resonate with what she says, take a look at her website for helpful free guided meditations.
4) People pleasing
If you’re a people pleaser, you probably score high on the agreeableness scale which is part of the Big Five scale that psychologists use to measure personality.
Being agreeable is generally a good thing! But like anything, it can go too far.
If you are overly concerned with people pleasing it can be a sign of a lack of self-respect.
It might lead you to not stand up for yourself or to neglect your well-being. This in turn can cause a downward spiral.
There are many reasons for being a people pleaser, from a desire to avoid conflict, to anxiety or a trauma response.
The remedy really depends on the cause, but here I’ll share with you a true story about a man and his father, and how a type of counseling called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) was able to restore his self-respect.
This man, whom we’ll call Arnold, always felt that he wasn’t good enough in life and especially for his father. When he didn’t get the promotion he wanted, he was dreading his father’s reaction. The EFT therapist realized that his relationship with his father was damaging Arnold’s self-respect.
So he used the ‘empty chair’ technique.
Guided by the therapist, Arnold imagined his father sitting in an empty chair. He then expressed his feelings and thoughts to this imagined presence. This allowed Arnold to feel and express anger that he had never dared to feel before. In turn, he felt free from a lack of self-worth, and his self-esteem grew as a result.
5) Learn to say no
Another habit of the people pleaser is feeling that they have to say yes to everything that someone asks them. Naturally, this can be draining. But it can also lower people’s self-respect and sense of autonomy.
If you find yourself saying yes to everything:
- Consider where your boundaries are.
- What do you really want to do and what don’t you want to do?
- Identify times when you have said yes to things when you shouldn’t have.
- Ask what were the negative consequences for you.
Once you have this clear, you can start by reimagining these situations, and how you could have said no. You can rehearse future situations and how you can say no tactfully and kindly, whilst staying true to yourself and your needs.
As with other aspects of people pleasing, it may help to explore this with a counselor or therapist.
6) Don’t be a hypocrite
Ok so that’s a dramatic sentence but I want to shock you into positive action!
If you set overly high standards for yourself, you will probably fall short.
Living up to your morals and values is a great way to boost your self-esteem, but only if they are realistic. Don’t be a perfectionist!
For example, imagine you’re all about promoting a healthy lifestyle. You decide to eat clean, exercise daily, and get plenty of rest.
But then, life happens, and you have a crazy busy week with work deadlines, family obligations, and unexpected events. Suddenly, your plan goes out the window, and you end up ordering pizza, skipping workouts, and staying up late to finish tasks. You might start feeling like a failure.
That’s not helpful for your self-esteem.
So what can you do instead?
Instead of aiming for perfection, you can set more realistic goals.
Remember that life is unpredictable, and it’s okay to have some off days. Maybe you couldn’t stick to your ideal healthy routine for a week, but you managed to do a short workout, choose a healthier snack, and do a few 5-minute meditations. Celebrate those wins!
By being kinder to yourself and having more realistic expectations, you’ll find that you’re more motivated to keep going and genuinely boost your self-esteem.
7) Neglecting self-care
If you want to prove to yourself that you have self-respect, you can do this by showing yourself love in the form of self-care. And by caring for yourself it will be easier to keep an eye out for those negative habits you want to avoid.
Why is that exactly?
If you take the time to eat well, sleep well, and exercise a bit, your overall well-being will improve and your mood will be better. This increased alertness and mood-boosting will help you to catch any negative thought patterns or behaviors that you might normally succumb to.
Here are some other self-care ideas that will help to build your self-respect:
- Try relaxation activities. Explore meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises through apps or wellness programs. Make time for activities you enjoy.
- Focus on what you’ve accomplished rather than dwelling on what you couldn’t finish.
- Practice gratitude daily.
- Stay connected. Reach out to friends or family members who can offer emotional support and practical help when needed.
- Treat yourself to something good and healthy like a yummy snack, or a nice bath with essential oils and candles.
To develop self-respect there are various steps to take, from analyzing your beliefs to putting certain things into action. If you follow the steps in this article or even just some of them, you will find that your self-respect increases. You’ve got this!