Developing Self-Respect

At the root of many of our emotional problems, including our addictions and mental health issues, is a lack of self-respect. We don’t feel we deserve respect from ourselves or from other people. This lack of self-respect manifests as toxic relationships, self-harming behaviors, and self-destructive patterns of addiction and depression. Developing a sense of self-respect is one of the most important things we can do for our recovery.

Having self-respect goes hand in hand with loving and accepting ourselves. Choosing to have self-respect is making the decision that we will see ourselves not just for the mistakes we’ve made but for our potential to do better. We can choose to view ourselves not just as struggling addicts but as powerful beings capable of change and healing. We have a tendency to feel small, to feel worthless, to keep a mental record of all our wrongs and transgressions. We don’t give ourselves our understanding, our compassion, or our forgiveness. When we choose self-respect it is often because we have allowed ourselves to fall so low, depriving ourselves of respect at every turn. We decide that we simply can’t live like that anymore. We know that respecting ourselves will make the difference between simply living and thriving. We decide we deserve better.

We may have learned to disrespect ourselves from various sources. We might have experienced trauma that we took to mean was a sign of our unworthiness, so we felt we didn’t deserve respect. We might have been abused by a partner or family member, internalizing their disrespect as proof we aren’t lovable or respectable. We might have developed low self-esteem from the messages in today’s media culture telling us we need to look, act and be a certain way in order to be good enough, attractive enough, respectable enough. When we don’t meet these standards, we think something’s wrong with us, rather than with the propaganda trying to brainwash us into altering ourselves for companies’ profit.

Self-respect comes from within. We can’t hope the right relationship will make us love and respect ourselves. We can’t think that changing our image or how much money we make will guarantee that we’ll respect ourselves. It has to be an internal change, a choice that we deserve our unconditional self-respect. Start affirming that you are deserving, that you are worthy, that you are a manifestation of your higher power deserving of your respect.

Treatment at Riverside includes various kinds of therapy to address these and other important issues. Call (800) 871-5440.