Self-respect can be a confusing thing to understand because if you don't already have it - you've probably been subjected to more disrespect than is good for you. That is a difficult reality to endure but it won't keep you from developing the self-respect you need.
Think of self-respect as the invisible armor that keeps you protected. It is like a forcefield that you turn on when protecting your ideas, beliefs, values, goals, boundaries and sense of self. Protecting these things doesn't mean you are unapproachable or distant from others. Being detached (or walled off) often occurs when self-respect isn't employed. When we get hurt enough times, we start to think we can't protect ourselves, so we pull away instead of engaging others.
Pulling away or walling off doesn't make us more capable of self-respect because we practice respecting ourselves in the presence of others. We are made to connect with one another and being close to each other means we make the wrong moves sometimes - moves that trespass, annoy, or hurt people.
That is no reason to stop interacting with people but it's a great reason to learn how to monitor your own experience while interacting with the people you care about. We give some power to people we love, to friends, to family, and even to leaders who we allow to influence us. We can heighten our awareness of what is kind and what is unkind. We can use our personal power to teach people how to treat us by what we allow or not. We don't have to disrespect others to get them to listen or honor our boundaries.
Self-respect is about what we let in, how we let it impact us, when we block something or someone from using their power against us but also knowing ourselves so well that we can tolerate differences that aren't being imposed on us. Self-worth is kept safe when we are self-respecting.
Image by Xan Griffin - Unsplash
If you are unsure about what self-respect is, these articles may help:
I really appreciate the definition of respect from Old English used in this article.
1. The Forgotten Trait of Self-Respect. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-2800/The-Forgotten-Trait-of-SelfRespect.html
2. This is Why Self-Respect is Crucial for Happiness. https://blog.mindvalley.com/self-respect-crucial-for-happiness/