10 Good Reasons to Obtain and Maintain your Self-Respect

Joan Marques - MBA, Doctoral Student
Burbank, California

No more duty can be urged upon those who are entering the great theater of life than simple loyalty to their best convictions. (Edwin Hubbel Chapin)

As Chapin indicated above, self-respect is what it all boils down to. It's about loyalty to your own convictions. And, as Clark superbly adds to this, "self-respect permeates every aspect of your life."

Whether in business, on vacation, in matters of the heart, or in various work- and personal processes, self-respect should be the foundation to every decision you make. Call it selfishness, but you are the one you have to live with in the end. If some part deep inside you is not happy with the decision you made, it will continue to bother you until you either correct it, or do something drastic to stop the nagging feelings. This may lead you to wonder how some people can still mentally and emotionally get away with hiring a killer to eliminate the ones they are in a clinch with, or why some people choose to leave situations unresolved, although they know what dreadful consequences can come from them. These people must have an exceptional inner-strength (or weakness) to simply shut down their conscience. And it's this conclusion that leads to the analysis that self-respect and conscience go hand-in-hand: one stimulates the other.

If you are one of the people who have decided to place self-respect high on their value list, you will definitely agree with the following reasons to do so:

    1. Self-respect simplifies the process of decision-making: First you start eliminating the solutions that will make you feel bad about yourself. Then you eliminate the solutions that will make others feel bad, because deliberately making others feel bad will influence the way you feel about yourself as well! What's left should be limited enough to bring you to a rapid decision.
    2. Self-respect leads you to the right place.
    • At work, your sense of worth will not allow you to accept denigration by superiors for very long. You will, fortunately, be among the ones who cannot understand that "some people have so much respect for their superiors they have none left for themselves." (Peter Mcarthur)
    • At home, your self-esteem will not allow partners of other loved ones to take advantage of you beyond any acceptable level. This, of course, does not mean that you should leave every time that something does not feel good, because communication still has the tremendous potential of correcting situations that seem to grow crooked.
    3. Self-respect will positively affect your sense of honesty. Who wants to live with a self that has been lying his/her way to the top or to wherever you wanted to get? What satisfaction does that give you when facing yourself in the mirror? And, as mentioned earlier, what effect does it have on your conscience? You are the only one who knows the whole truth about yourself. You know what you are capable of, how reliable you are, how far you can afford to go in order to prevent from getting into an emotional debacle. You are always on the safe side if you "study to be what you wish to seem." (John Bate)
    4. Self-respect generates self-respect. As a self-respecting manager in the workplace, your subordinates will perceive you as their role model and adapt to your characteristics. As a self-respecting parent, you will teach your children to use similar criteria when making decisions in the future. When practicing your acts this way, you will exclude yourself from falling into effectuating the statement that says, "He that undervalues himself will undervalue others, and he that undervalues others will oppress them." (Johnson)
    5. Self-respect stays with you long after everything else has been stripped from you. It is therefore the single most important mental state to be preserved. Like Frederick Douglas once stated, "The soul that is within me no man can degrade."
    6. Self-respect motivates. This goes for yourself, as well as others. Morel (2001) mentions self-respect, as a people motivator on the work floor, in one breath with economic security, emotional security, recognition, and self-expression. Morel thereby explains, "Workers want to be treated as individuals, as opposed to statistics." Emmerich (2001) adds to that, "Positive reinforcement allows people to understand that their performance adds value to the organization. Receiving positive strokes gives employees a sense of satisfaction that creates the initiative to try new ideas and take bigger risks."
    7. Self-respect affects your attitude. It does not only have a positive effect on the way you carry yourself mentally, but it enhances your physical presentation as well. People with self-respect will enter a room as if they own it, yet without any sign of arrogance. It has to do with feeling good about yourself: confidence.
    8. Self-respect affects your self-image. If you respect yourself, you will accept the way you look more easily. Once you accept the way you look, you will be at peace with yourself. Once you are at peace with yourself, you will start looking even better...
    9. Self-respect rearranges your perspectives. It will prevent you from running out of control, becoming arrogant, and degrading others. It will also encourage you to view everything from a positive angle, and obtain a thorough understanding of others before judging them.
    10. Self-respect drives forth. When the discouraged ones are hanging their heads, the self-respect devotees will pull themselves together, and go one, two, three extra miles. They will not easily give up.
    Because self-respect is the single emotion that we can only determine for ourselves, it is important to examine it regularly, and find ways to maintain it once gained. The ground rule for maintaining our self-respect is given to us by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves."


Emmerich, R. (2001). Workplace commandments. Incentive, 175(5), 79-81.
Morel, R. (2001). How we motivate. Occupational Health Safety, 70(9), 26.
Various. (1997-2001). Quoteland: Quotations by Topic. Available: http://www.quoteland.com/topic.asp?CATEGORY_ID=131 [2002, June 16].
Various. (1999). Cyber Nation International, Inc. Available: http://www.cybernation.com/victory/quotations/subjects/quotes_selfrespect.html [2002, June 16].
Various. (1999). Cyber Nation International, Inc. Available: http://www.cybernation.com/victory/quotations/subjects/quotes_selfesteem.html [2002, June 16].