At some point, you may have gotten on the self-care bandwagon. You:
- Exercise on the regular – yoga, Pilates, weights, running – whatever
- Eat all of those “good for you” foods
- Go in for your annual health screenings
You continue to do these things – with a blip here and there – because they make you feel good and may even contribute to a healthier, longer life. At the same time, you may give little thought to something even more fundamental: your self-respect. With over 500 LinkedIn connections, countless Facebook “friends,” and a boatload of Instagram followers, all of that outward attention can gradually become the barometer of your value and worth. And that’s a dangerous place to be because it is based on the approval of others, always conditional.
Self-respect is the opposite. It is about “holding yourself in esteem and believing that you are good and worthy of being treated well.” It means genuinely valuing yourself always and regardless of what anyone else thinks. To me, self-respect is the quintessential “inside job.” And just as with our physical well-being, self-respect requires some tending, maybe even some regularly scheduled maintenance, the kind that pays off both in the moment and in the long run.
Behaviors That Support Self-Respect
Stay connected with you
Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings as they come up. Instead of judging yourself, think in terms of being your own best friend. if you were speaking to your BFF you’d be caring, open-minded, supportive, honest, and kind, right? By going inside with this approach, you are more likely to stay with and explore what you find there. Meditation, stillness and nature walks are great ways to stay connected with the thoughts and feelings that come up. For others, journaling, painting, and other creative activities do the same.
In a heartbeat you can list the many qualities about your BFF that you admire. Do the same for yourself. You may find this a challenge if all you can think of are the things you don’t like about yourself. That can be a huge drain on your self-respect. Shift your thinking by looking at yourself objectively. Small things matter and may even be the “big” things: I am kind and tenacious. I make a bad-ass Bolognese and am a great sister. I raised an awesome fur baby. I can rap! Keep going.
Accept your imperfections and love yourself anyway
This is so important, so don’t skip over it. Embrace the truth that no one is perfect. The key to self-respect is to be 100% accepting of your imperfections and flaws. Start to look at them with curiosity and compassion as you work on them.
Review your relationships
Be honest about which relationships enrich your life and which don’t. Channel your time and attention to those good relationships as much as possible.
Learn to love your own company
It doesn’t matter how many friends and followers you have if you can’t enjoy being with yourself. Really think about how you can be your own best company. Maybe it’s while gardening, walking, reading, doodling. You may realize that being alone and being lonely are two very different things.
Consider how you spend your time and resources
Just as you would encourage your BFF to channel her time and resources to the people and things that matter most to her, send that same message your way. Start to say “no” to what no longer works for you and “yes” to what does. That’s how you can be good to yourself.