What is self-respect? Is it different from self-esteem? Why does self-respect building matter in the realm of youth development? The Respect Institute Visiting Professor Dr. Nancy S. Niemi explores the research about self-respect and provides the Institute’s clear definition, which offers new insight about the nature of self-respect. We learn that self-esteem is influenced by outside forces and is more malleable, whereas self-respect is an internal asset that can be maintained despite circumstances.
First we define “respect” as knowing and acting on the foundational belief that: I matter. You matter. We elaborate on this definition further regarding self-respect:
self-respecting individuals are motivated by a fundamental belief that despite their circumstances, they—and others—are equally a “unique contributor to the greater whole. (Lawrence-Lightfoot)” Self-respect is evident in each person’s actions and language. It is not hierarchical, nor is it earned. It is self-caring, reflective, resilient, and rooted in personal power to choose how we utilize our gifts and interact with our surroundings and others. It is always present, though sometimes diminished; yet it can always be recovered. Self-respect is not a product of isolation nor dependence. It is fostered and grown from quite the opposite: interaction and support. It is nurtured through a personal commitment to practicing daily self-respecting acts whether learned or innate.
Click here to read Dr. Niemi’s paper: I matter. You matter: Defining self-respect vs. self-esteem and measuring this critical youth-development asset (Dec. 31, 2012)