Is self-respect as important as it is made out to be? Let’s find out why self-respect or dignity is so essential to life and to our well-being. Self-respect is holding yourself in high esteem and considering yourself worthy of being treated well; it is when you know that you deserve to be treated well, and won’t allow yourself to be treated unfairly. In short, self-respect is respect for oneself, and belief in one’s character and conduct.

We all crave for respect, no matter who we are, or what we do or have done in our past. One thing is clear―when you don’t respect yourself, it becomes difficult to give respect to another person. When you don’t love or respect yourself, you always find a way to blame situations and people in your life for your current state and start feeling a sense of loss that ultimately leads you to anxiety, anger and depression.

Dr Parul Gupta

The best therapy instead is to forgive yourself for whatever you have done in the past and to move on. If your mind keeps on focusing on the bad actions done in the past, then you will ensconce yourself in a shroud of darkness. Focusing on negative thoughts leads you nowhere. You might find it hard to come out of such situations, and that is why you might need help from an older person, a spiritual counsellor or a therapist. You can also try looking into the mirror and telling yourself that you are an amazing and beautiful person; such a positive affirmation, trust me, will soon change your perspective towards your life and your own self.

There are other methods to build a healthy self-esteem as well, and that is the reason why you need professional help. A trained therapist will analyse the root causes that have made you this way. Many people allow themselves to be affected by what others say to them. If you are one such person, all you need to do is to build your sense of self-respect. That is the first pointer to being able to break free from the grip of others.

Always remind yourself constantly about your strengths and good qualities. Never ever speak bad words or say anything negative about yourself as slowly these words will get lodged in your mind and soon you will start to believe that you are a loser. Neither must you ever let anybody force you to do anything that is against your will and choice, simply to gain their approval or love. Instead, work on yourself. Make a list of your personality traits, strengths, weaknesses and emotions, then systematically work towards improving your traits.

There is a saying: ‘if you think better, you will act better and if you will act better, you will feel better.’ Better can easily replace anything negative, so it is completely in your hands to see which side of the coin you prefer to be. When you have a sense of damaged self-respect, you are frustrated and angry. These anger outbursts further lower your self-respect.

But do not despair, for there is a way to shed this negativity. And that is by expanding your hobbies, and developing your interests and passions. Be curious and try to learn more from and about the world around you. There is so much knowledge to be gained in this world and you can forever be busy expanding your brain power and learning. The way you see yourself is the way you will eventually act.

To strengthen our own sense of dignity, we also must seek a relationship with the Supreme Power. After all, nobody knows us better than our Creator, who will always love us, no matter how we are. Have you ever tried to draw, then felt amazed at what you made? Now imagine how God must be feeling about creating his beautiful art―man and nature.

In brief, healthy self-respect is based on viewing yourself in a positive light. The rest will follow.

Dr Parul Gupta holds a Masters in Physiotherapy (orthopaedics) and has eight years’ clinical experience. She believes in self-motivation and is always keen to expand her learning through books, religion and spirituality.