Respect is two-fold – you need to respect yourself and others. Both are important, and sometimes they conflict. But it’s important to take time to figure out a balance between the two.


Respect for Yourself

What’s that rule about treating others the way you want to be treated? A lot of times we can treat other people better than we treat ourselves. But if you don’t respect yourself, how can you expect others to respect you?

Be You

There’s a lot of pressure to be a certain person or act a certain way. This pressure comes from a lot of different places: friends, family and teachers, to name a few.

But remember – your life is about who you want to be. Part of having respect for yourself is living according to your beliefs. Recognize what’s important to you and live your life honoring your values.

It’s great to take other people into account. Just know that at the end of the day, the only person you really answer to is yourself.

Make your own decisions

By all means, ask for advice from trusted resources. You are surrounded by people with different ideas and experiences who may be able to help you find your way. But make sure the decision you make is something you can not only live with, but also what’s best for you.

How do you come to the best decision?

  • Stop and think. Weigh your options and consider the positives and negatives for all possibilities.
  • Listen to what your conscience is telling you. Deep down, you know when something is right or wrong for you.
  • Make your decision and stand by it. If your choice is the best option for you, those who know and love you will respect your decision.

Handling criticism

Everyone has bad days, and sometimes other people can lash out at you when they have one. By the same token, sometimes you have bad days. It doesn’t matter if criticism was called for or not – no one likes to be criticized. Because criticism can be rough, we have to learn how to deal with it while holding on to our self-respect.

How do you deal with criticism in a healthy way?

  • Don’t take it personally. Criticism doesn’t mean you are a bad person.
  • Hear the criticism and take a step back. Is what the other person saying true?
    • If the criticism isn’t true or if it’s just not constructive, ignore it and move on.
    • If there is some truth to what was said, try to listen and use the criticism to improve yourself and your life.
    • No matter what, don’t let it get you down!

Avoiding jealousy

Jealousy is a pretty common emotion. Sometimes you look around and it seems like everyone has it better than you do. But besides feeling miserable, what do we really gain through envy?

Instead of feeling upset about what other people have, redirect this energy into making the most of what you have! Jealous of the guy on your team who can shoot hoops like an NBA star? Get out there and practice. Envying that girl who aces every test? Crack a book and get to work. Don’t hate. Do better. You’ll be more productive and feel happier.


We hear a lot about forgiving other people, but don’t forget to forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. Forgiving yourself helps you avoid negative feelings. Don’t let your past mistakes continue to bring you down.

How do you forgive yourself?

  • Admit you made a mistake. This can be the hardest step. We may want to blame others when we’ve messed up, but if it was your mistake – own up to it.
  • Learn from it. If you mess up, that’s fine. Just make sure you learn from the experience and try not to do the same thing in the future.
  • Move on. You’ve admitted the mistake and figured out how to avoid making the same mistake again. What would obsessing over it achieve? Nothing.

Respect for Others

Let’s go back to that rule about treating others the way you want to be treated. What can you do to respect others?


Having empathy means you can identify with what someone else is feeling. In other words, you can imagine what it would be like to be in that situation. So what does empathy have to do with respecting others?

Say you know someone is having a hard time. Maybe there was a death in the family or her father has lost his job or she is being picked on at school and online. Having empathy means you can see that person is struggling and you can imagine what that must be like.

You can show empathy and respect by:

  • Recognizing how circumstances can affect people
  • Understanding that there are times when people need your care and support
  • Making an effort to treat people the way you would want to be treated if you were in their situations

This combination of empathy and respect results in compassion for others. Compassion means you see and understand what other people are going through, and you do your best to help out.

Community Involvement

When we help out in our community, we make it a better place for everyone. By pitching in, we are also showing respect for others by working to improve everyone’s situation.

What are some ways you can get involved?

  • Volunteer doing something that really speaks to you. Love animals? Help out at an animal shelter. Excel at school? Be a tutor. Helping out is easy when you love what you do.
  • Join a group that works to address issues that concern you. There are tons of groups in your community for every kind of issue you can imagine.

Not sure how to connect with volunteer opportunities or community groups? Ask around. Your school counselor might be a good resource, or maybe you have friends who have already gotten involved.

Just remember – you don’t have to save the world in a day. Little things can still make a big difference. If you see some trash on the ground, pick it up and recycle it. Or if you see someone loaded down with groceries, open the door for them. A small act of kindness can really make someone’s day.