If you don’t know how to respect yourself, all you have to do is search online and you’ll get a bunch of recommendations.
Don’t settle for less than you deserve.
Recite a positive affirmation in the mirror every morning.
Be honest with yourself.
Remind yourself of your worth.
Surround yourself with positive people.
Discard negative thoughts.
Get physically (or if you can’t, emotionally) distant from narcissistic people.
Take care of your body.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Work on building your confidence every day.
And while these are all great ideas if you already have somewhat of a foundation to go off of…
What happens when you’re coming to the table not just looking for a better meal, but completely malnourished?
What happens when you’re in such a deficit that, even though you want to, you can’t eat any of the food on the table?
If you’re severely starved and malnourished, eating a bunch of food right away could be dangerous. If you don’t ease back into it, you’ll get sick.
Or even worse…
Because you literally cannot stomach this food that you are starving for (and know that your body needs), you come to the conclusion that there must be something wrong with you for not being able to digest it.
No matter what you try, you’re screwed. So, you become a victim who no longer believes that they are meant to survive. How can you even try to be a survivor when you know that there’s no way you can survive without food?
When we are emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically malnourished, trying any of the bullet points above will just make us feel more defective and unworthy – even though they are healthy recommendations to follow. One of the root causes of emotional, spiritual, and physical suicide is repeated attempts at trying to eat that proverbial food and do what we know is good for us, but somehow, ending up in a place where we’ve added to our deficit instead of diminishing it.
If you’re trying to figure out how to respect yourself when you are already at a place of having healthy boundaries, decent self-esteem, and an ability to not act on your emotional triggers, the proverbial food will at the very least, be digestible.
If you’re trying to figure out how to respect yourself when you have no self-respect to begin with…
All the food that you so desperately need will still make you sick and discourage you. At this point, it’s indigestible.
You have to start smaller.
How to respect yourself when you have no self-respect
Self-respect starts here…
Knowing how to respect yourself is nothing more than knowing how to follow through with promises that you make to yourself.
It’s that simple. Don’t let anyone (including the cynical audience in your head) tell you otherwise.
Starting small doesn’t mean that you *are* psychologically small. It means that you’re emotionally *big* enough to know what’s best for you. It means that you acknowledge and respect the process.
Make a promise to yourself that you’re going to do something… anything. And follow through with it.
It doesn’t have to be geared toward spiritual and psychological realizations. It could be making a promise that you’re going to drink eight glasses of water a day. It could be saving five percent of every paycheck, cutting a toxic person off, doing three pushups a day, having a two-drink maximum no matter what the occasion, calling your Grandmother twice a week… anything.
Whatever you start with, just make sure that you see it through.
The root of self-respect is follow-through and the root of follow-through is discipline.
Once you prove to yourself that you can keep this promise, you will start to respect not only yourself but the process of it all and the progress that you’re making along the way. Keep progressing and soon, you will become more protective of that progress than you are of scratching the mosquito bite of your triggers. This is where real discipline starts to organically set in (as opposed to feeling deprived every time you try to have this kind of discipline that can only come from the progress of promises kept).
True discipline is: 1) Wanting to do the complete opposite of what you know you have to do. 2) Understanding exactly what’s making you want to do it. 3) Having the discipline to do what you know you have to do. Why? Because you don’t need the alternative (you understand that your insecurities want it). What you need is the self-respect that true discipline breeds.
I used to describe myself as someone who was very disciplined, but I wasn’t. I never took the time to understand why I felt such a pull toward unavailable people, toxic relationships, fake friends, and bad habits.
Because of this, my “discipline” became using my willpower to try and fight that pull. This always ended with me submitting because I had put myself through such psychological hell and was so emotionally exhausted trying to “fight the urge,” I felt like I deserved to do what I wanted to at that point. This is why physical and emotional diets don’t work. As long as you feel deprived and ignore the psychology behind why you need to implement true discipline, you will fail every time.
That losing streak stops now.
Think of the people in your life that you have the most respect for. I guarantee that these people keep their word to both you and themselves. Even the people that you don’t know but admire from afar – athletes, entrepreneurs, celebrities, musicians, professors, doctors, etc., you respect them because of the discipline that they had to get to where they are. And, the discipline that they still have, to maintain a position that very few can reach.
To this day, I don’t know if I can look in the mirror and say:
“You are love. You are light. You are beautiful,” and not feel like a liar. But what I can do is look at the emotional bottom that I started from and respect the fact that those little promises I started with have turned into big ones that have single-handedly changed my life.
When I know that I can’t keep a promise to myself, I’ll call up my Mom or a close friend and make the promise to them. They’ll hold me accountable and I’ll work even harder to keep that promise because of how much I care for them and the mutual respect it builds (that I actually kept the promise and that I trust them enough to share what I’m struggling with and hold me accountable).
This is how you turn your insecurities into the kind of self-respecting fuel that very few people get to run on in this life. You are one of those few or you would not be reading these words right now.
If there’s a promise you’ve been wanting to make to yourself, feel free to write it in the comments below. You can do so anonymously and we are here to support each other, always.
It could change your life.
Written by: Natasha Adamo