The terms self esteem and self respect are often used interchangeably. Many in today’s society believe that they represent the very same thing. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Read on for the differences between these two terms, and how to increase the both.

What is Self Esteem?

For most people, self esteem is how they feel about and view themselves in relation to others. A person many feel good about themselves, for example, if they have a better education, job, house or car than a sibling or old school friend.

This is an unhealthy reality of today’s materialistic world. True self esteem is very closely related to self respect, but has become warped as we lose sight of what really matters in favor of having the latest and greatest possessions. True self esteem should come from realizing your gifts, talents and other non-financial assets.

What is Self Respect?

A very simple way to think of self respect is to think about somebody you hold in high esteem. This may be a leader, either religious, political or otherwise. It might be a celebrity, or a well-known mind in fields of complex research.

While you hold this person in high esteem, you may know things about them which make you lose respect. Perhaps a high-ranking political official – whose political agenda you completely agree with – cheated in their marriage. You still agree with their policies, but you don’t respect their personal actions. The possibilities are endless, but the idea is simple. You don’t have to respect a person in order to hold them in high esteem. The two are not necessarily linked.

Now, put that logic to work on yourself. Ideally, we should all respect ourselves. Unfortunately, however, we’re often our own worst critics. We tell ourselves each day that we’re not good enough. This negative type of thinking is often linked to poor self esteem. We have poor self esteem, for example, because many of our college peers currently have better jobs than we do. Our self respect, in turn, takes a hit because we’re placing our ideas of self worth on financial achievement instead of our basic personalities.

Self respect is, simply put, how we feel about ourselves when all achievements are stripped away. Do we like ourselves? Would we want to sit down and have lunch with ourselves? If the answer is no, it’s time to do some searching into what and who we are as people.

Increasing Self Respect

Psychologists have devoted entire careers to this subject, but there are some quick exercises you can do to slowly and steadily increase your self respect.

Start by assessing your natural talents, gifts and abilities. Avoid anything related to power, money or finances. Instead, focus on who you are. Can you sing beautifully? Are you always quick to comfort a grieving friend? Do others come to you for an understanding ear when they’re having trouble? These are all inner qualities – ones which can’t be bought with all the money in the world.

Once you’ve assessed and identified your best qualities, remind yourself of them on a daily basis. This may feel silly at first, but keep at it. Lastly, eliminate any negative self-talk as well as negative friends and acquaintances. It’s difficult to rebuild a lifetime of broken self respect – you don’t need anybody holding you back!



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