Showing respect for yourself does not make you narcissistic or conceited. In fact, it does the exact opposite. When we respect ourselves, we are worth more to receive love and, in turn, to give love to others. Here are 12 strategies for exercising true self-esteem — not the kind that come from social media "likes":
1. Find out what makes you respect yourself.
First, look inside and ask yourself which practices make you feel your best. Then pay yourself the respect of prioritizing them on a daily basis. For example, exercising regularly, starting every day with a green juice and being under the covers at 10 pm are all ways I show myself respect.
2. Be honest about who you are and who you are not.
Once you know what makes you feel good, continue to prioritize it — not just for yourself, but for others as well. Lead with honesty. This means that if you know you're here to work outside on a farm, you won't have to work from 9 to 5 at a desk job for the next ten years. You don't respect your talents and interests, and you hold the office job for someone who really excels at that position.
3. Respect yourself by taking action around things that excite you.
Yes, taking action against the unknown can be scary. We are never assured of our ideal outcome, and that can lead us to withdraw, hugely. But the most successful people are not afraid to try something new. Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard, and the rest is history. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple in their garage. You get the picture!
4. Stop trying so hard to be 'normal'.
The only way to stand out is to be your quirky, genuine, quirky self. It's easier said than done, but think about it: all those people you look up to have taken ownership of what sets them apart and used it to their advantage.
5. Don't let other people set your boundaries.
Many people have good intentions, but their advice is often clouded by their emotional baggage. So when someone tells you, "You'll never be able to do that" or "You shouldn't" or "You can't," ignore them until you figure out what's true for yourself.
6. Learn to say no.
Letting others know what's not okay doesn't make you a bad person; it makes you a strong and respectable person. When you stop saying yes to things you don't want to do, you create more time and energy to focus on the activities and people that do make you happy. Here's some more advice on how to get into the habit of saying no.
7. Choose a partner you respect.
You know where we all tend to throw self-esteem out the window? Yes, you guessed it: dating. I speak to countless people who have so much to offer but are trapped in a relationship that forces them to compromise a part of themselves and live in a state of numbing self-sacrifice. They have to muster the self-esteem to start over. Though scary, breaking up is less painful than being with a partner who won't or can't give you what you need.
8. Let everything you get done today be enough.
Showing self-esteem does not mean being overly self-critical, judgmental, or limiting. It's so easy to chain ourselves to a to-do list and then measure our dignity when it's done. Practice making purposeful shifts toward kindness to yourself by saying to yourself as you complete a task and consider the next, "I could do this, or I couldn't. If I choose to stop now, I will allow that all that I have completed today is enough, and I will not beat myself for it."
9. Know that you are not your genes.
You could spend your whole life untying the knots of your family life, but that's your choice. Conversely, at any time you can reflect on our childhood influences and declare, "This is not my story. I am not my genes."
10. Apologize with self-respect.
Saying "I'm sorry" is rarely a fun or easy thing to do, so if you're going to do it, make it count! An important part of apologizing is learning not to apologize, because that's just disrespectful to the other person and your integrity. So, the next time you're tempted to plead your case, put a hand on your heart, check in with that inner barometer, and listen to the truth. If an apology is boldly asked for, offer one (minus the apology).
11. Be prepared to accept reality.
You have to be willing to see things and people as they are. It can be painful to recognize that there is a problem with ourselves, our loved ones, or a situation. But if you don't approach the problem with curiosity and courtesy, your situation will last longer. And that's not very respectful of your time and energy.
12. Write love notes on your body.
Our health, like everything else in our lives, is a relationship. The more we pay attention to it and nourish it, the more our body thrives. When considering getting healthier, we often find ourselves in front of the mirror looking at our bodies and wondering what to "fix."
Instead of making self-deprecation your morning ritual, stand in front of the mirror and write down three things you love about yourself. Write them down later, preferably on sticky notes. Then pick one or two that will make you feel the way you want to feel every day and leave these love notes on your bedroom mirror, in your wallet, on the TV remote, or wherever you can read them every day.
Self-esteem is all about treating yourself the way you would like others to treat you. By focusing only on our self-perceived flaws and flaws, we are actually giving the rest of the world permission to focus on them too!