4 Effective Self Respect Exercises

You can develop greater self respect by using simple, proven effective, exercises. In this article, you will learn a set of exercises that allow you…

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You can develop greater self respect by using simple, proven effective, exercises.

In this article, you will learn a set of exercises that allow you to respect yourself more.

Self Respect Exercises

This article focuses on exercises to help you build, and maintain, self-respect which come from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

Related: An Essential Therapy Skill: Wise Mind from DBT

DBT is a therapy model proven effective to help people develop more self-worth and self-respect while also reducing depression, anxiety, and trauma symptoms. This is done with many exercises fundamentally designed to help a person be balanced and Wise.

One specific self-respect skill is called “FAST.”

Learning to Respect Yourself More

The FAST skill is a combination of many exercises to help you live with self-respect. FAST is an acronym that stands from: (be) Fair, (no) Apologies, Stick to your values, and (be) Truthful.

self respect exercises

Throughout the rest of this article, you will learn the specific exercises to respect yourself more.

Be Fair to Yourself and Others

The first exercises to cultivate more self-respect center on fairness.

You want to practice being fair to yourself. This means giving yourself grace and being more self-compassionate. (By the way, research proves that people who practice self-compassion are significantly less anxious and depressed while being happier than those who are too hard on themselves.)

Often, when people lack self-respect, they may be too hard on themselves. They may expect themselves to be perfect, for instance, or never fail. This isn’t fair, of course, because no human being can be perfect. It’s just not how we are designed.

Related: 4 Practical Tips to Learn How to Be Nice to Yourself

Being fair to yourself means being kinder to yourself even and especially when you make a mistake.

Be Fair to Others

How you treat others also impacts how you feel about yourself. Have you ever noticed that you feel bad when you say something hurtful to someone you love? Exactly.

And sadly, you can only love – and respect – others to the degree to which you feel this way towards yourself. If you’re hard on yourself, chances are you can be hard towards those you love. You may, for instance, be judgmental or critical even when you don’t want to be.

Related: 5 Ways Low Self-Esteem Impacts Your Dating Life

To cultivate more self-respect, it’s important to also be fair to others. When you treat others with kindness and respect, you naturally like yourself more. You become someone you can respect!

Furthermore, when you’re fair to others, you naturally have closer, healthier relationships. Treating others with respect is a win-win creating a positive cycle in your life.

self respect exercises
From: Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself 

Don’t Apologize for Existing

The next part of the FAST skill to respect yourself more is to avoid apologizing. Of course, to be fair to others, you’ll want to apologize and be accountable when you’ve been hurtful or offensive.

Related: My boyfriend yells at me but then apologizes. What should I do?

But to respect yourself more, you don’t want to say “I’m sorry,” when you’ve truly done nothing wrong. For instance, if you’re doing something at work and using a specific area, you don’t need to apologize if another person walks up and needs to wait. You may say “Excuse me,” or “Thank you for waiting” but you don’t need to apologize.

You’re not doing anything wrong. When you apologize in these circumstances, you act as if just your existence is a burden. Of course, this degrades self-respect so you want to avoid apologizing when you’re not at fault.

self respect exercises

Stick to Your Values

To respect yourself, it’s also important to live according to your values. When you stick to your values, you live with integrity.

Integrity means wholeness and living according to your values lets you live as a whole person. When you act in a way that’s aligned with your values, you naturally respect yourself more. For instance, if you value kindness and you treat others this way, you naturally are happy with yourself.

self respect exercises
From: Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself 

However, when you don’t live with integrity and don’t live according to your values, this degrades self-respect. For example, if you value honesty, it’s going to hurt your self-respect when you lie. And when you violate your own values to fit in or get what you want, you’re not going to respect yourself as much.

Identifying Your Values

Sometimes, when a person struggles to respect themselves, they’re disconnected from their values.

If you don’t exactly know what your values are that’s completely ok. Take your time to practice mindfulness. You may do this by meditating, practicing yoga, or doing anything else that gets you to be quiet doing one thing at a time. Another example could be taking a nature walk where you don’t listen to anything and just pay full attention to the sights and sounds around you.

When you do this, you give yourself the space to hear yourself more. You may also contemplate various values to see which stand out to you.

Be Truthful

Living with integrity (wholeness) is crucial for self-respect. Therefore, you will want to practice being an honest person. This means not lying of course.

At the same time, you also want to be honest about your capabilities and mistakes. For instance, it’s important to not pretend that you can’t do something just because you want someone else to do it for self-respect. Instead of pretending you don’t know how to change your air filters, for instance, you could directly ask your partner to do this task.

Related: Good Communication in a Relationship: A Couples Therapist Explains

Also, if you make a mistake (which remember you will – you are human and it’s important to be fair to yourself), you want to be honest about this. It’s important to not make excuses or be defensive. An honest apology for a mistake can go a long way to helping you respect yourself more and keeping a relationship healthy.

self respect exercises
Related: Why is Trust Important in Relationships? 3 Surprising Reasons

You are Worthy of More Respect

With time, as you consistently practice the FAST skill, you will respect yourself more. You are cultivating a practice of self-compassion by being fair to yourself. This helps you accept that you are just as worthy as any other person – even though you aren’t and can’t be perfect.

You also respect yourself more when you stop apologizing for existing and live with integrity.

Related: What are Healthy Relationship Boundaries? A Therapist Explains

Finally, to respect yourself, it’s essential to have healthy boundaries. Setting boundaries is the number one way you can protect yourself from mistreatment. Without the practice of identifying, setting and maintaining your boundaries, it’s impossible to fully respect yourself. For more information, please read: Setting Boundaries: 100 Ways to Protect Yourself, Strengthen Your Relationships and Build the Life You Want…Starting Now!

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About The Author

Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist and author with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to find their voice, deepen their ability to self-love, and improve their relationships.

Her newest book, Setting Boundaries: 100 Ways to Protect Yourself, Strengthen Your Relationships and Build the Life You Want…Starting Now! (Therapy Within Reach), gives you the tools necessary to identify, set, and stay firm with your boundaries.

Her other books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many overcome people pleasing, self-neglect, and resentment to have a healthier relationship with themselves and others.

If you have any personal dating or relationship questions, Krystal is happy to provide advice using her expertise and compassion. If you feel comfortable, feel free to leave any questions in the comments of this post. Otherwise, you may send an email to krystal@confidentlyauthentic.com or DM her on Instagram. We will always keep your name and other identifying information confidential.

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