“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”
Lao Tzu (Author; Tao Te Ching)
“Knowledge will give you power, but character will give you respect.”
Bruce Lee (Actor and Founder; Jeet Kune Do)
“Respect yourself and others will respect you.”
Confucius (Philosopher; Five Classics)
Respect yourself and others will respect you too.
I was really bad at getting respect in graduate school. My academic advisor called me moron and boob in lab and some of my committee members would fall asleep or catch up on emails during my thesis committee meetings.
To be fair, my research wasn’t that exciting. But I still wanted respect. I wanted other people to see me as important or to at least be polite.
My third year of graduate school a couple of new students came into the lab. They had some early success and my advisor liked them a lot more. It made me resentful. Who do these new kids think they are? That’s what I thought. So I acted tough and bitter because I thought that would make them take me seriously. It didn’t. Why?
Maybe Drugs Will Help
I had a friend in college who started selling a lot of drugs. He got really popular overnight and began posting Scarface quotes on Facebook and Instant Messenger. Then he almost got killed. Things got real and he stopped selling and he wasn’t as popular anymore. People liked him less than before.
Another friend started taking steroids my senior year of college. He thought it would make him wrestle better and get more girls. It didn’t. He was still a horrible wrestler. He might have gotten more girls though. I’m not sure.
Respect Attracts Respect
The only way to get people to respect you is to respect yourself first. I know—it’s weird. But it’s true. Science even backs it up.
A study by psychology professors at Dartmouth University found that having low levels of self-respect alters neural responses in your brain. People with low self-esteem have overactive ventral anterior cingulated (vACC) and medical prefrontal (mPFC) cortices. The researchers could predict participants’ opinions of themselves by measuring the activity of these two brain regions. Other studies have identified vACC and mPFC activity as important to psychological disorders like social anxiety disorder and depression.
The key is that you can condition these regions of your brain to be less active by changing your focus and behavior. For example, you can overlook insults, refuse to feel embarrassed, and ignore the opinions of others. All of these things will act to decrease vACC and mPFC activity, thereby increasing your self-respect.
By respecting yourself, you become happier and less anxious. Other people like that. They respect it. They don’t, on the other hand, respect stress balls with overactive cortices.
9 Ways To Get Respect
Do you really think that anger, worry, fear, or cruelty will make other people take you more seriously? Do you think it will make you more important? It won’t. It will make you a joke.
Happiness, originality, standing up for others—these things will bring you respect and influence. These things will make people ask, Why is he or she so happy? How do I get me some of that? It will draw people towards you and it will give you peace of mind. Self-respect is funny like that. Love yourself and other people will love you too. Here are 9 ways to get respect:
1. Be the source of your own happiness.
Too many people make the mistake of waiting for someone else to make them happy. Or, they spend their lives sacrificing their happiness to other people’s happiness.
No one respects misery. If you require approval from others or any kind of external validation to be happy, you’ll never get respect. You’ll just get misery. And when you’re miserable, it’s impossible to respect yourself, let alone to get other people to respect you.
Learn to create your own happiness. Be a self-sustaining fountain of joy. Imagine what life would be like if you didn’t need anything but yourself to be happy. Imagine if you had an unlimited amount of happiness that you could spread to others. I’d respect that.
2. Don’t pretend to like people who bother you.
No one wants to be a charity case. If someone treats you bad or puts you off for whatever reason, don’t pretend like you enjoy their company. Don’t fake it.
Whether it’s kissing up to your boss or pretending to like a family member who drives you crazy, faking how you feel about other people will erode your self-respect. It will also make other people hate you. Because sooner or later they’ll find out you’re faking it. So either come clean and work it out or call it quits and stay away from them.
3. Ignore everyone who tries to bring you down.
Take all the haters and negative people who are suffocating you, working against you, or just plain dragging you down and put them in a nice little mental box. Now, flush that box down the toilet and never think of it again.
Run full steam towards your goals. Don’t worry about the people trying to trip you up. Some people will never respect you. But it doesn’t matter. Because they’re losers and their respect is worthless. They’d rather bring people down than try to accomplish anything on their own. So forget them and just keep running your race.
4. Turn up the volume on your personality.
Playing small is not going to make people respect you. It’s going to make people look past you. The idea that toning yourself down and fitting in will somehow demand respect is a misconception.
Toning yourself down will lead to people controlling you, not respecting you. Release the full you. Be who you are and then some. Do you really want to die with the real you still buried on the inside? Of course not.
Turn the volume all the way up on who you are. Watch what it attracts. You’ll be surprised by how much more respect the real you gets compared to the almost you.
5. Stay silent when others get dramatic (no matter how dramatic they get).
Drama does not attract respect. A lot of people think that being dramatic or causing a fuss is a good way to get attention. They think that getting attention is the same as getting respect. After all, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? Wrong. The squeaky wheel gets replaced.
If someone is causing drama in your life, don’t engage. Instead, withdraw. If they cause more drama, withdraw further. This is not letting them win. This is letting them fight themselves. Respect yourself enough to stay away from drama and to cut people who create it out of your life.
6. Don’t inflate your title or try to impress people.
Puffing up your job title or your self-importance in general will not make other people take you more seriously. Instead, it will make others resent you. It will put a big target on your back and beckon others to take you down. And they’ll be able to take you down because your true position won’t be as high as you’re making it seem.
Inflating yourself will also limit your options. It will trap you into a role that requires you to sacrifice more without getting anything in return. You’ll be forced to spend your time and energy trying to look important instead of getting anything useful done.
If you’ve worked with high-level people or worked hard to achieve a strong title, use it. Promote yourself and promote your accomplishments. But if you’re just posturing, stop it. Don’t start a business on Monday and call yourself a CEO on Tuesday. Try to be more strategic than that.
7. Break the chain of command (and rules in general).
You can either stay in line and be accepted or step out of line and be respected. You can’t do both.
The world wants to keep you in your place. It wants you to stay put and accept your lot in life. So you want to rise to the top? Forget it. That would mean that people above you might have to be taken down a peg or two. Do you think the people up there want that? Of course not. They want you to do what you’re told—to follow the rules and obey the chain of command.
The world is constantly incentivizing you to stay happy where you are. It praises you for being dependable and reasonable and for playing well with others. That’s what it says to your face. But behind your back it calls you a push over and laughs at you.
Start getting the respect you deserve. Fall out of line. Break the chain of command. Go around or over the heads of the people trying to hold you back.
8. Question people with authority.
Shrinking back from people who have authority over you is the fastest way to lose their respect. Always saying yes is the surest way to be told no.
Don’t follow others blindly, especially when they have some loose pretense of authority over you. Instead, challenge their authority. Make them fight to keep it. Make them earn it every single day. Respect yourself enough to speak your mind.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you act like a jerk or object to everything single thing you hear. It means that you share your ideas openly and stand up for yourself when necessary.
9. Spend 100% of your energy on your strengths.
Obsessing over your weaknesses will kill your self-respect. Trying to correct all the shortcomings other people think they see you in you will not make them respect you more. It will only encourage them to find more shortcomings.
Stop trying to fix yourself. Stop trying to become someone you’re not. Other people’s expectations for your life don’t matter. Be who you are. Do what you’re good at. Do what you love to do. Find your strengths and leverage them toward your goals.
By focusing on your strengths, you force other people to focus on them too. Over time, your strengths will become so strong that no one will be able to see past them. They’ll wipe your weaknesses into oblivion. And the void that’s left over will be filled with one thing and one thing only—respect.
Which of the above points do you agree with the most? Which do you agree with the least?
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If you want to learn more about changing your focus and increasing your self-respect, order my new book: Black Hole Focus