What Are Self-Esteem And Self-Respect And How Do I Improve Them

Last updated on : February 20 2023

Close up of an eye - window to the inner you

Article Summary

Self-esteem and self-respect are two critical concepts that are crucial to our emotional and mental well-being. Self-esteem refers to how we see ourselves and our worth, while self-respect is about valuing ourselves and setting boundaries.

When we have healthy self-esteem and self-respect, we are more confident and resilient and better able to handle life's challenges. However, many struggle with low self-esteem and self-respect, impacting their relationships, work, and happiness.

In this blog article, we will explore what self-esteem and self-respect are, how they are related, and offer practical tips for improving them.

Click on the links below to learn more.

What Is Self-Esteem

What Is Self-Respect

What Is The Difference Between Self-Respect And Self-Esteem

Examples Of The importance Of Self-Respect And Self-Esteem

Things You Can Do To Improve Your Self-Respect And Self-Esteem


Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Self-Esteem

Self-esteem relates to how you think and feel about yourself and how you value your abilities and skills. When you have high self-esteem, you feel secure within yourself and with the people around you.

Your self-esteem levels are critical for the relationships you have with people - with romantic relationships needing high levels of self-esteem for love and respect to flourish. They are also vital to the relationship you have with yourself.

If you have low-self esteem levels, you may experience unhappiness as you battle with low confidence levels and insecurity.    

What causes low self-esteem

Your self-esteem can be damaged by what other people say about you and your abilities.

Additionally, you can damage your self-esteem with your inner voice, for example, by persistently telling yourself you are not good enough or other things negative.

Lastly, your upbringing may affect your self-esteem too. 

Signs of low self-esteem

People with a lack of self-esteem tend to lack confidence and feel bad about themselves. They have a fragile sense of self, often coming across as awkward or incompetent.

They feel unloveable and extremely sensitive to rejection and might imagine these things happening to them when they are not. As a result, they look for reassurance and validation from others.

The three types of self-esteem

We generally recognize three types of self-esteem:

  • Inflated self-esteem. People with inflated self-esteem think they are better than others. 
  • High self-esteem. People with this type of self-esteem accept and value themselves appropriately.
  • Low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem often lack self-confidence and are insecure.

What Is Self-Respect

Old constitutional building - showing respect

On the other hand, self-respect defines your morals and boundaries. It defines attributes like your honesty, confidence, humility, dignity, and integrity. You can also think of self-respect as self-love. 

If you have high self-respect, then the opinion of others will not easily sway you.

High self-respect will also boost and protect your self-esteem. In other words, high self-respect provides a protective barrier to the actions of others towards you.

With high self-respect levels, you are less likely to be negatively impacted by others' criticism of you, and so are unlikely to suffer the symptoms of low self-esteem.

When you have high self-respect, you also control your inner voice better. 

Conversely, low self-respect and low-self esteem go hand in hand and can drive each other. For example, With low self-esteem, you might easily be swayed by others to do things you otherwise wouldn't want to do - damaging your self-respect. 

The three types of self-respect

Psychologists argue there are three base forms of self-respect:

  • Self-respect from human recognition. This form refers to how we gain respect from how others recognize our qualities and accomplishments. 
  • Self-respect from status recognition. Or how others recognize our status. 
  • And a third which relates to self-respect from our appraisal needs.

What Is The Difference Between Self-Respect And Self-Esteem And How Are They Related?

Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself and your abilities, while self-respect is all about your morals and boundaries. You can think of self-respect as the gatekeeper to your self-esteem levels.

How self-esteem and self-respect are related.

While self-esteem and self-respect are different concepts, they are closely related. When we have high self-esteem, we are more likely to have healthy self-respect.

This effect happens because when we view ourselves positively, we are more likely to set boundaries and treat ourselves with kindness and compassion.

On the other hand, when our self-esteem is low, we may struggle to believe in our worth and may put up with mistreatment from others, which can negatively impact our self-respect.

How low self-esteem affects self-respect.

When we have low self-esteem, we may feel like we don't deserve respect and may tolerate mistreatment from others. These feelings can lead to a cycle of negative self-talk and a lack of self-care, further exacerbating our low self-esteem.

When we don't value ourselves, we may find it challenging to set boundaries or prioritize our needs, leading to a lack of self-respect.

How improving self-esteem can boost self-respect.

Improving self-esteem can help to boost self-respect. When we believe in our worth, we are more likely to treat ourselves with kindness and respect and set healthy boundaries.

By practicing self-compassion, focusing on our strengths, and challenging negative self-talk, we can shift our self-perception in a positive direction.

As we begin to value ourselves more, we are more likely to prioritize our needs and treat ourselves with respect, which can improve our self-respect.

In summary, improving self-esteem and self-respect go hand in hand. By enhancing our self-esteem, we can begin to value ourselves more and set healthy boundaries, improving our self-respect.

Examples Of The importance Of Self-Respect And Self-Esteem

These examples illustrate the importance of self-respect and self-esteem.

1. Your Moral Code And The Type Of Person You Are

If honesty and integrity describe part of your moral code - then the boundaries you set for these behaviors demonstrate what type of person you are.

For example, suppose you have unhealthy self-respect. In that case, you'll likely have easy to break honesty and integrity limits. In other words, you might lie easily or misbehave when no one is watching. 

2. Self Respect And Relationships

Mutual respect, or the respect we have for each other in a relationship, is a critical component of all relationships. 

In romantic relationships, love is unlikely to develop or flourish without respect - you cannot love someone if you don't respect them. In other relationships, you can say the same but substitute love with trust. 

If you respect yourself and carry healthy self-esteem levels, others are more likely to respect and appreciate you. And so, your level of self-respect and self-esteem is integral to having successful relationships.   

3. Your Ability To Progress In Life

Unhealthy self-esteem levels are likely to impact your ability to progress your life.

You might struggle at work or any other endeavors you choose to take up. Or you might not take up new opportunities because of a lack of self-confidence.  

4. Breakups Of Romantic Relationships

A breakup of a romantic relationship can have a significant impact on your self-esteem, often hurting it quite quickly and badly.

For most people rejected or dumped from a romantic relationship, their first instinct is to plead or bargain with their ex-partner, begging them to reconsider, and "come back" to them. This behavior is instinctual because, in our history, being rejected or cast out to the wilderness meant almost certain death - the support of the clan being critical to the individual's survival.

However, begging, pleading, or committing any common breakup mistakes, demonstrates a severe lack of self-respect in today's modern world. And suffering these breakdowns can severely damage your self-esteem and mental health, particularly if harmful contact with your ex-partner is allowed to go on indefinitely.

A sure-fire way to demonstrate high internal value is to immediately cease contact with your ex-partner and go into a no-contact period.

When you're in no-contact, you cannot beg, plead, chase, or bargain, so by default, you are not exhibiting low self-respect or self-esteem, and you are allowing yourself to heal.   

Therefore, you must demonstrate high levels of self-respect in a romantic breakup. This behavior will protect your self-esteem and allow your ex-partner to continue to respect you, and thus be open to loving you again. 

5. Peer Pressure

Low self-respect is likely to lead you to bow to negative peer pressure and lead to low self-esteem. When you do things that only other people want you to do, it can damage your self-esteem. 

6. Your Standing In The Community

If you behave in a way that demonstrates unhealthy self-respect in your community, it will affect how they perceive you. For example, if you have an affair, this might show others that you have low self-respect, damaging your reputation.

This point demonstrates the importance of having self-respect levels above or at least equal to your peers - if you value them, of course. 

Things You Can Do To Improve Your Self-Respect And Self-Esteem 

Girl holding a heart indicating slf love

The following steps can help you improve your self-worth. 

  • Practice the principles of self-love. Don't look for validation and love from others. Do the small things you need to do, from brushing your teeth to watching what you eat and getting enough exercise. Pat yourself on the back often, be positive and celebrate life. 
  • Always show respect and friendliness for others, and be quick to forgive. These behaviors are respectful and will keep you positive.   
  • Consider and refresh your boundaries and don't violate them. If you break your boundaries too often, you'll expect less of yourself, diminishing your self-respect. Set high standards for yourself, and stick to them. Don't lie and develop good habits and decisions.   
  • Tune into your needs. Don't let other people's opinions sway you. Don't compare yourself to others.
  • Turn your inner voice positive. You are your most prominent critic. Practice telling you how good you are and make it a habit. Strike a hero's pose every day and write positive affirmations. Surround yourself with positive people. 
  • Don't succumb to peer pressure. You don't want to do things to get other people's approval. 
  • Control your emotions, especially negative emotions like anger, jealousy, and resentment. When let out, these emotions can be damaging, not only to our relationships but to ourselves. If you're angry all the time, you'll accept it as a way of life. Focus instead on being happy and cheerful. 
  • Increase your knowledge and develop a passion. Expand your mind and your boundaries by learning more. Being more knowledgeable allows you to interact with a broader range of people intelligently and broaden your perspectives. If you live in a small world, you might not feel others will value your opinion. 
  • Show gratitude and volunteer to help people. These two behaviors are proven to increase your mood and sense of self-worth. 
  • Seek the help of a therapist. If you're struggling, don't fight the battle alone. Instead, seek the use of a therapist. 


In conclusion, self-esteem and self-respect are both essential aspects of our overall well-being.

When we have healthy levels of self-esteem and self-respect, we are more likely to lead fulfilling lives and enjoy positive relationships with others. By understanding the differences between self-esteem and self-respect and how they are related, we can begin to work on improving both.

Improving self-esteem and self-respect takes time and effort, but it is well worth it.

By practicing self-compassion, focusing on our strengths, challenging negative self-talk, setting healthy boundaries, and valuing our own needs and feelings, we can begin to shift our self-perception in a positive direction. It's important to remember that self-improvement is an ongoing process and that setbacks and challenges are a natural part of the journey.

By making a commitment to improving our self-esteem and self-respect, we can begin to enjoy more fulfilling relationships, greater self-confidence, and an overall sense of well-being. So let's take action today and begin to work on building a healthier, more positive self-perception.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the questions most frequently asked by our readers.

1. What's the difference between self-esteem and self-respect?

Self-esteem refers to our overall sense of self-worth and how we view ourselves. Conversely, self-respect is more about how we treat ourselves and whether we value ourselves enough to set healthy boundaries.

2. Can low self-esteem and self-respect be improved?

Yes! While it takes time and effort, you can improve self-esteem and self-respect with practice and intention.

3. What are some signs of low self-esteem?

Some common signs of low self-esteem include negative self-talk, comparing yourself to others, avoiding challenges or new experiences, and feeling like you don't deserve good things.

4. What are some ways to boost self-esteem?

There are many strategies for improving self-esteem, including practicing self-compassion, focusing on your strengths and accomplishments, challenging negative self-talk, and setting achievable goals.

5. How can I develop better self-respect?

Developing self-respect involves treating yourself with kindness and compassion, setting and enforcing healthy boundaries, and recognizing and valuing your needs and feelings.

6. Is it possible to have high self-esteem but low self-respect?

Yes, having high self-esteem (i.e., feeling good about oneself) and low self-respect (i.e., not setting boundaries or tolerating mistreatment) is possible. Some people with high self-esteem may overcompensate by putting up with disrespectful behavior to maintain a positive self-image.

7. How long does it take to improve self-esteem and self-respect?

Improving self-esteem and self-respect is a lifelong journey, but you can improve with consistent effort and practice. The timeline for improvement varies from person to person and depends on many factors, such as the severity of the issue and the strategies used to address it.

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