People talk about self-respect all the time, but what is it really? After doing a quick Facebook questionnaire, it was obvious to me that each person defines it differently.
The dictionary definition is “a proper respect for oneself as a human being” and “regard for one's own standing or position.” To me, the first one seems pretty doable, the second can sometimes be challenging. But wait, there’s more. One Psychology Today writer defines self-respect and self-esteem together – she suggests that people focus more on self-esteem, which is evaluating the self, while self-respect is accepting the self. Well, we all know how easy it is to analyze ourselves to the point of obsession, but acceptance is a whole other story.
Here is how a writer from www.selfgrowth.com defines it: “It means honoring my values and principles before anyone and anything else. It means trusting myself to say and do only what feels true and honoring. It means listening to and respecting that precious little voice inside when it feels a little fearful, reluctant or unsettled; trusting that there is a legitimate reason for me to be feeling that way and if I just get quiet and listen I’ll figure out what it is that isn’t feeling good and also, what it is that I need to do to honor myself.”
Mathilda B. Canter, a clinical psychologist and former president of the Arizona Psychological Association, has some opinions on the matter.
“Self-respect is, I think, a feeling of one’s self as a person of worth who deserves the respect of others, who has earned respect of others,” Canter said.
There is some difference between self-esteem, though she agrees they are linked.
“Self-esteem is the level at which one thinks about someone on a scale of negative to positive,” Canter said. “It’s how we view ourselves, the value we place on ourselves. Self-respect is basically another way of talking about how you see yourself.”
If you respect yourself, you probably have high self-esteem because there is that association between the two. One thing to consider is that many people view these things differently.
“One may respect oneself for different kinds of things,” Canter said.