Self-respect requires a good amount of self-knowledge, and the fastest way to that is prayer.
I saw a saying the other day that struck me:
Selfishness is putting your desires ahead of another person’s needs.
Self-respect is putting your needs ahead of someone else’s desires.
There’s some truth in that. Not the whole truth, because the audience for the adage is people who wrestle with whether or not they are being selfish; the hard-core selfish wouldn’t care. The main problem with the my-desires-vs.-your-needs set-up is that sometimes the issue is my needs vs. yours. Decisions aren’t always as straightforward as social media posts imply.
However, a good deal of those in-between areas can be resolved with a bit of self-respect. I suspect self-respect is about owning three things:
1. I am a child of God and am allowed good things. I am not entitled to them, but I may enjoy and give thanks for the gifts that are given.
2. I have genuine needs. It is healthy and God-honoring to take care of myself, so I am able to step forward to be God’s hands on earth as opportunities arise.
3. I am obligated to know what depletes me and renews me, and to set healthy boundaries with others.
Self-respect requires a good amount of self-knowledge, and the fastest way to that is prayer. “Show me what I need to see, Lord” is a good one, and “Keep me from avoiding the truth” is another. There are others like, “Help me name my fears and give them to You” and “Teach me what I truly need to serve you” and “Holy Spirit, rise up in my heart and show me the way.”
Or, if you’re truly brave and want to know the difference between selfishness and self-respect you can ask, “Father, show me when I’m being selfish, even if it hurts, for I want to put that behind me and become like Your son.”