"The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself." ~ Mark Twain
Self-respect comes from an inner understanding of one's inherent worth, not from an egoistic feeling of superiority. It's a fine, fine, line, and one worth monitoring closely.
How? Here's 10 ways.
1. Be True to Yourself. Understand your inner calling and have faith in your value system. Remember what is important to you and have the courage to stick to those convictions -- even when its inconvenient.
2. Our Behavior is Not Our Self. There will be times we screw up. Many times. But what we do is not who we are. We have the ability to change our behavior to seamlessly reflect the person it represents. Which brings me to...
3. Learn to Handle Criticism. No matter how finely tuned your sense of worth is, criticism is tough to take. Detach from it and know the difference between your behavior and your self. The key is to be able to take an honest self-assessment to determine if the criticism is justified. If it is, then see if for what it is: an opportunity to grow in character.
4. Look After Your Appearance. Don't we all have that favorite suit, shirt, or outfit that just makes us feel a little better? The same goes for our personal grooming, and our physical health. What we eat, when we sleep, and how we stay fit all contribute to the respect we show ourselves.
5. Avoid Jealousy. Kierkegaarde once said, "comparison is the source of all unhappiness." That's a reminder I trot out when I'm feeling unhappy about something and can't identify why. Generally I come to realize it is because I'm comparing myself to someone else and feeling a bit jealous. Jealously insidiously shreds our self-respect by whispering in our ear, "you're not enough." Other people's success and happiness should never diminish our own.
6. Remember to Learn. There will be times that we work hard towards an outcome and come up short. Self-respect is not bound solely by the outcome, but also by what was learned in the process.
7. Respect Others. Again, self-confidence is not superiority. If anything, the magic formula must include a healthy dose of humility. Building ourselves up by tearing another down is simply wrong.
8. Forgive. Forgive others. Forgive yourself. Learn from the past and move on. Anne Lamott once wrote, "holding onto anger is like swallowing rat poison and expecting the other person to die." Try a chaser of forgiveness instead.
9. Be Selfless. As has been noted a couple of times here, self-respect is not about superiority. It's not about a bloated sense of pride. It is about having enough confidence to focus outward, knowing that there is enough of you to allow yourself to surrender your needs for the sake of someone else.
10. Keep It Inside. If your primary goal is to "keep up with the Kardashians" then your precious time, energy, and wealth will be tied up in outer displays. If you're hanging with a group of people who are impressed by material wealth and social standing, they are probably not worth impressing. Be comfortable with what you have, not with what you think will impress others.
That's a lot to chew on on a Monday morning. Rather than trying to digest it all in one sitting, keep this list around and do a regular self-assessment to see how you're doing. Be honest with yourself, and if you took my previous advice and found a personal advisory board, ask them to provide an honest assessment as well.