One of the major hallmarks of self-respect is taking pride in ourselves, knowing our worth, and believing that we are worthy of being treated with dignity and respect. There is a certain amount of freedom in knowing that we do not allow ourselves to be mistreated or be forced to behave in ways that that are discreditable. Self-respect therefore calls for our decision to be in control of our behaviour at all times.
Self-respect also requires that we should be people of integrity, people who know what we are about, who keep our word, and who do not renege on promises because it suits us better to do so. As pointed out, “A person who respects himself or herself and who displays self-respect is a person who is truthful and honest, has integrity, keeps his or her promises, has the courage to stand up for the truth and to be authentic, and does nothing that causes other people’s feelings about him or her to be compromised” (Shockness, 2019).
Self-respect is also based on taking responsibility for our actions, acknowledging and apologizing when we are wrong and making efforts for self-improvement. Besides, self-respect entails knowing who we are and taking pride in this knowledge. Self-respect therefore gives us the courage to face the world, knowing that we will not allow ourselves to be defined by other people’s actions.
Of greater concern to us is that we prefer to like ourselves rather than to have other people like us. When we put other people’s values ahead of ours, we could tend to compromise what we like in preference to what other people like. This is a sure path to compromising our values, and losing control over our decisions. Self-respect demands that we do not deviate from our values, and that we do what we know to be right, not what we think other people want us to do or what other people think is right.
If we show others that we will make our own decisions, and would not allow ourselves to be compromised, regardless of incentives that may be given, then there is great likelihood that others would respect us. “Self-respect is about a person defining who he or she is in terms of values and worth as a human being, and embracing those values that show he or she respects other people and their wellbeing as human beings” (Shockness, 2019).
Self-respect is therefore a prerequisite for respect for others, for if we respect ourselves and expect to be treated with dignity, then we would expect to treat others in the same way: with dignity. We would also not expect others to be treated in a way that we would not allow ourselves to be treated. Self-respect therefore gives us a feeling of being free to be who we really are.