• Nicole Bentley, LCSW

Let’s Start With Self-Respect

The concept of “self-love” is often present in movies, TV shows, books, and is very prevalent in self-help materials. It sounds amazing, and is certainly attainable, but the idea of self-love can also be overwhelming to some, or feel like it is light years away from how you might currently relate to yourself. As a means to move toward self-love, self-respect can help you learn to better relate to yourself, learn about yourself, and respect yourself in a way that builds up your self-esteem over time. Here are 3 techniques to foster self-respect:

Respect your body’s basic needs

Having a healthy, well-functioning body is a privilege and it is up to us to treat it well. This means feeding yourself in a way that works for you and your body, moving your body in ways that feel energizing and fun, cleaning your body regularly, nurturing your body when it is sick or in pain, and attending to any pre-existing conditions or illnesses per your doctor’s recommendations.

Respect what you truly want

There may be times when everyone else is going out, and you are feeling tired and in need of some self-care and rest. In that moment, feel free to honor what you need, and respect those needs enough to follow through. Another example might be setting boundaries with friends or family members. Especially around the holidays there can be a lot of pressure from others about how we spend our time, but if you feel like spending time with certain people is unhealthy for you in any way, practice respecting yourself by not seeing those people and making other plans that will build you up. Acknowledge that doing things that don’t serve you positively can be disrespectful of your needs, and work towards focusing on what truly serves you well to help build up your self-respect.

Think about how you show respect to others

This is a great trick to practicing self-respect: simply consider how you show respect to others, and then try applying it to yourself. While this might be a bit challenging or even feel weird at first, if you keep practicing, it will eventually get easier and feel more authentic! One example might be listening and offering compassion. Really listening to what someone has to say and responding compassionately is a great sign of respect. Consider if you ever do this for yourself, and if the answer is no, think about how you can begin to change that.

These self-respect techniques are meant to get the process of self-love started. Once you are on the path to respecting yourself more, you are automatically on the path to self-love if that is a goal of yours. Practicing these techniques, while also making sure to avoid any language or behaviors that are disrespectful towards yourself (ie judgmental self-talk, self-injury, eating disorder behaviors, substance abuse), will help you on the journey to building self-respect. If you are practicing alone and finding it difficult, feel free to reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional to offer support and help guide you on this process.

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