When you were young, you were probably taught to respect others, especially people like parents and teachers but also your peers. Were you ever taught to respect yourself?
In case you weren’t, here’s Self-Respect 101.
What is Self-Respect?
You know what respect means when it comes to other people but what does it mean to respect yourself?
There’s a concept in philosophy and ethics called “autonomy” or “personhood.” Autonomy is the ability to make one‘s own decisions and function without intervention from others. Personhood simply means that you are a human. Everyone has personhood regardless of their abilities. However, people have differing levels of autonomy. For example, a child in school, a retired individual, and someone serving a term in prison all have the same degree of personhood, but they all have different levels of autonomy.
The basic level of respect that you should show to everyone is an acknowledgment of that individual’s personhood. The additional respect that you show some individuals is an acknowledgment of their specific level of autonomy.
So, what does all of this mean for you?
What Does it Mean to Respect Yourself?
For one thing, it means that no matter where you are in your life, you deserve a certain level of respect based on your basic personhood.
Next, it means that you deserve a certain level of respect based on your position in life in addition to the respect that you deserve because of your personhood.
It also means that you don’t deserve unlimited respect. People who believe that they deserve more respect than they do have unrealistic perspectives of themselves but perhaps more importantly are likely to get themselves into trouble by thinking that they require, deserve, or are capable of things that are beyond them.