Dialectical Behavioral Therapy/Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills/Self-Respect Effectiveness

Self-Respect Effectiveness: Keeping and Building Respect for Yourself

The interpersonal effectiveness skill "Self-Respect Effectiveness" emphasizes asking for what you want or need while respecting your values and beliefs. The objective is to build your self-respect by not "selling out" to get what you want and need.

When you practice self-respect effectiveness, you feel better about yourself and increase your self-esteem. Self-respect and self-esteem are related—what you respect is what you consider worthy of esteem and what you esteem is what you respect. To build self-respect, you must have the conviction of your own value. Value yourself as you would value other things you treat with care.

Self-respect will get your opinions taken seriously by other people who matter to you. You have to honor who you are, how you think and feel, and what is going on in your life to get your opinions taken seriously.

Self-care and self-respect effectiveness go hand-in-hand. Self-care supports your well-being, your most valuable asset. Without self-respect, self-care won't happen.

Self-respect entails the expectation of friendship, love, and happiness as natural, as a result of who you are and what you do. Self-respect includes the belief that you are good, worthwhile, and deserving the respect of others.

One way to remember self-respect effectiveness is FAST

  • be Fair
  • no Apologies
  • Stick to values
  • be Truthful

Be Fair

You are fair when you treat others nonjudgmentally. In other words, to be fair don't judge others. Judgment creates bias, prejudice, and preconceived notions; it gets in the way of the facts. The skill, "Nonjudgmentally" focuses on the facts (who, what, when, where) rather than your opinion of the facts (why). That is being fair. Fairness is evenhanded and impartial as it deals with the facts of reality. You are more likely to be respected if you are true to the facts of reality rather than give in to your bias.

You are fair when you focus on effectively dealing with reality without favoritism, deception, or bias. Trust is built upon fairness with others, mutual satisfaction, equality, and understanding. Someone who is trustworthy will treat you fairly. Solving a problem with a fair person is easy because you trust that they are not going to take advantage of you. We should be able to expect people to treat us fairly, honestly, and be governed by the Golden rule.

Being fair is a non-polarized way of being, it tends toward the middle. Fairness creates a synthesis between extreme or polarized points of view. All-or-nothing thinking tends to be unbalanced, and go to one side or the other like black-and-white, right and wrong, good and bad, idealized and devalued. Fairness finds a balance between the extreme points of view.

No Apologies

Over-apologetic behavior erodes your self-respect. Do not say I'm sorry if you have nothing for which to apologize. Do not apologize for being alive, needing food to eat, water to drink, are going to the bathroom. Do not apologize for making a request for what you want or need. Do not apologize for having an opinion. Do not apologize for having an honest disagreement. Apologies imply you're wrong or made a mistake. Unwarranted and inappropriate apologies reduce your sense of self-confidence over time. But, recognize when apologies are warranted and appropriate.

The antidote to apologies is responsibility. Take responsibility for being alive. It is your responsibility to get food to eat and water to drink. You need to go to the bathroom, do it without apology. Take responsibility for making a request for what you want or need. If you have an opinion, speak up and let others know your opinion. If you have an honest disagreement, let the other party know what's on your mind. Being respectful is a two-way street, you respect yourself by taking responsibility for your wants and needs and you respect the other persons wants and needs and responsibility for taking care of themselves.

Stick to Values

Your values are the principles by which you live and the beliefs that guide your behavior. Values and value-judgments are based upon your moral beliefs or what you believe is "right" and "wrong". Your values determine your correct course of action. Your values are ideals that guide your thinking and behavior.

You act with integrity when your actions conform to your values. Integrity is a holistic feeling you get when your actions are congruent with your values. Acting with integrity may not feel right, but your wise mind knows this is the proper course of action. You might be tempted to compromise your integrity to get what you want: being a "doormat" to keep a person liking you, shoplifting to get what you want, or lying to stay out of trouble. Acting in a way that you value will pay off with increased self-esteem and self-confidence.

People who have a healthy self-respect feel proud of and satisfied with their moral choices. To turn right or left at a street corner is not a moral choice. Keeping promises and following through on commitments are moral choices. If you tell someone you are going to do something—do it! Following through on your word builds trust. When you do it, feel good about your follow-through and know it will have a positive effect on your relationships.

To build self-respect by sticking to your values requires mastering all the skills , because sticking to your values is the hardest thing you are ever going to do. Sticking to your values requires assertiveness, self-control, effective stress management, and strong enough inner reserves to overcome adversity. You can do it because, basically, it means being yourself. Being yourself is living the life you value.

If you value standing up for yourself, you must practice this skill with others. Start by asking for what you want or need.

Be Truthful

Truthfulness has a strong reality orientation. A truthful person aligns himself or herself with reality. To a truthful person, facts are more important than opinions, and the truth is more important than being right.

Of course, lying, exaggeration, and dishonesty distort reality then opinions become more important than reality and being right trumps acknowledging the truth.

Many people have a problem saying no to unwanted requests. Think about how truthfulness can be useful to decline something that is not manageable for you at this time. Be gentle, yet firm as you explain the reality of your situation.

Putting It All Together

Self-respect is respecting yourself. If you respect yourself you tend to act in ways that confirm and reinforce self-respect. It is appropriate to require others to deal with you fairly, without apology, with integrity, and truthfully.

If you do not respect yourself, you will act in ways that lower your sense of your own value even further. Without self-respect, you will let people treat you unfairly, irresponsibly, and dishonestly.

If you want to raise the level of your self-respect, you need to act in ways that will make it rise. Increased self-respect begins with a commitment to the value of your own person which is then expressed through congruent behavior. Treating others with fairness, without apologies, responsibly, with integrity, and truthfully.

When it comes to self-respect effectiveness, think of the Golden rule with this twist: expect others to treat you as you would treat them. Treat others fairly and expect fairness in return. Do not apologize for things that you would not expect others to apologize. Expect others to treat you with respect, kindness, and patience consistent with your own values. Finally, expect people to be truthful with you, as you are honest with them.