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Self-Esteem vs. Self-Respect

Many people do not realize that there is a difference between
self-esteem and self-respect. Discovering the differences and
incorporating them into society is vital in building a better future.

Literature Review
Self-esteem can be defined as the extent to which an individual
likes, values, and accepts the self. (Schacter, Gilbert, Wegner, & Nock,
2015, p. 371). Self-esteem is a learned behavior originating from our
family; it is not an inherited trait. Global and social are the two
different types of self-esteem. Global self-esteem centers on how we
feel about who we are as a whole and is generally constant. On the
other hand, situational self-esteem can fluctuate based on different
events and circumstances. It is also possible for someones situational
self-esteem to be up in the clouds one minute and down in the
trenches the next. This could be from feeling great about their
performance at work, and not feeling good about a situation at home.
(Gross, S., 2013).
In order to determine ones self-esteem we evaluate ourselves.
Evaluating ourselves negatively will give us low self-esteem, and
evaluating ourselves positively will give us high self-esteem. We
generally evaluate ourselves when an event or circumstance causes an
upset, whether bad or good, of our feelings. We take these events

personally and experience physical, emotional, and cognitive
arousal. (Gross, S., 2013). If the experience was negative we become
confused and alarmed and react in a self-destructive or self-defeating
mode. These reactions are usually impulse-driven due to feeling upset.
This emotional block results in a loss of sense of self, becoming selfabsorbed, and narrow thinking. (Gross, S., 2013)
Over the course of our lives we raise our global self-esteem by
learning from challenging experiences and facing fears that we have.
Other ways to raise global self-esteem include: (Gross, S., 2013)

Practice self-care Exercise positive health care and healthy

lifestyle choices.
Get sober Utilize a 12-step program. Recognize addictions and

substitute them with practicing self-care.

Develop Skills We can help ourselves and raise our selfesteem by utilizing these important skills:
o Experience feelings Feel feelings in your body and
identify your needs. When we do not respect our feelings,
we are left to rely on what others want and believe.
(Gross, S., 2013)
o Optional thinking Stop black/white thinking. Give
yourself options and possibilities with how to deal with
o Detachment Saying no to any assumptions or
misrepresentations can help you end all abuse by
maintaining your personal boundaries.

o Assertion Voice what you see, feel, and want by
making I statements. By expressing our thoughts,
feelings, and desires in a direct and honest manner, we
show that we are in charge of our lives. (Gross, S., 2013)
In todays society we are so focused on self-esteem, which is
important, but what about self-respect? Self-esteem and self-respect
are similar, but the distinction between the two is critical. To esteem
anything is to evaluate it positively and hold it in high regard, but
evaluation gets us into trouble because while we sometimes win, we
also sometimes lose. To respect something, on the other hand, is to
accept it. (Langer, E., 1999) As you can see, self-esteem sounds like
more of a gamble and self-respect sounds like more of a sure thing.
Self-Respect can be defined as a proper respect for oneself as a
human being. (Merriam-Webster, 2015). Someone having self-respect
likes and accepts him or herself. Their self-respect does not depend on
whether they are successful or not. People do not gain self-respect by
comparing themselves to other people because there are always going
to be people better than them. Self-respect is very black and white in
the way of, you either like yourself or you dont. Its a very simple
concept. With self-respect, we like ourselves because of who we are
and not because of what we can or cannot do. (Langer, E., 1999) No
promotion, sexual act, or marathon can change the fact that selfrespecting people respect themselves.

Self-respect is not fluid, like self-esteem. People that are selfrespecting are not as open to experience stress, guilt, blame, regret,
secrets, and lies. Those who have high self-esteem experienced these
more than their self-respecting counterparts. Without a legitimate
foundation of good behavior and actions, self-esteem is a delusion.
(No Nonsense Self-Defense, n.d.) We need to have a foundation built of
self-respect in order for self-esteem to be more than a selfrationalization.

In our world today a very obvious example of self-esteem vs. selfrespect would be the pornography industry. More people visit porn
sites each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. Two to
Tangle Productions, LLC (2015). Due to this constant demand for fresh,
new faces recruiting for young girls is high. Thousands of 18 to 20
year old girls enter the amateur porn industry each year. Two to
Tangle Productions, LLC (2015). Women and men are used and abused
on camera for a few hundred dollars per shoot. From what Ive learned
about self-respect, I would have to say that if you respect yourself you
would not do that to yourself or your body. I would also say that you
would have to have a level of self-esteem that is pretty high in order to
feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera. Recently, I

watched a documentary called, Hot Girls Wanted. It follows several
amateur porn stars detailing how they went from high school
cheerleaders to having sex on camera for money. Its startling how
many young people are falling victim to porn and prostitution due to
not having enough self-respect to stay away and build a better life.

I believe helping people, especially young people, discover selfrespect is going to be one of the most important things we can do to
change the direction our world is headed. This world is so full of selfdestructive behaviors that dont encompass self-respect. These
behaviors are leaving people psychologically damaged and alone to
pickup the pieces. It is a downward spiral for many of them. My hope
would be for these people to learn that the only person who can take
self-respect away from you is you. (No Nonsense Self-Defense, n.d.)

Schacter, Gilbert, Wegner, & Nock. (2015). Introducing Psychology.
New York, NY:
Worth Publishers.
Gross, S. (2013). How To Raise Your Self-Esteem. Psych Central.
Retrieved on June 14, 2015, from
Langer, E. J. (1999). Self-Esteem vs. Self-Respect. Psychology Today.
Retrieved on June 14, 2015, from

Merriam-Webster (2015). Self-Respect. Retrieved from
No Nonsense Self-Defense (n.d.). Self-Esteem vs. Self-Respect.
Retrieved from
Two to Tangle Productions, LLC (2015). Hot Girls Wanted. Retrieved