Maintaining Your Self-Respect

Written by Karyn Hall

May 18, 2021

Values are often an important part of close relationships. Having a conflict in values can sometimes even make the relationship one that cannot work. Yet values may not be something that you pay attention to. There are different ways that a mismatch or a conflict in values can affect you.

Sometimes your values don’t match the values of the other person. If the values that don’t match are primary values for you, addressing this will be an important part of making the relationship work. Sometimes the values are such that the relationship can’t work. But if you don’t address the difference, then not talking about it is likely to be an issue that will underlie many arguments and hurt feelings. You may not even realize that the main issue is a difference in values that hasn’t been discussed. Imagine that you highly value many friendships. The other person is more focused on having one very close friend. If you don’t recognize and talk about this difference, one of you may feel smothered (when the friend wants to share everything with you) and the other one devalued and unimportant (when you do things with other people).

Maybe you are focusing on values you have to the detriment of your own well-being. For example, you may see yourself as being kind to others. That’s great. But you put others above yourself on a consistent basis. You say it doesn’t matter, that you can let the other person have their way. You may label it as being kind to others when in fact you aren’t standing up for yourself. That’s actually not kindness. Most of the time being kind means being truthful as well. Is it being kind to let a relationship deteriorate because you don’t want to bring up an issue? Relationships thrive on honest, open communication.

Perhaps you aren’t clear about your values. You take on the values of other people. This means that you are hiding who you are. You are not being true to yourself. You are likely to be changing from day to day or person to person, and others will be confused. You will have no true guide for who you are and so others won’t know who you are either. There can be no self-respect without having a moral compass and identity–making decisions that are consistent with your values and living your values. That’s self-respect.

If you struggle with liking yourself, consider whether you are maintaining your self-respect and living your own values. Many times, it’s people-pleasing efforts that lead to you not liking yourself or blaming yourself for past traumas.

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