Why self-respect and not self-esteem or confidence?

The term ‘self-esteem’ is a well-known concept heavily researched in the pyschological literature and a widely used metric for personal wellness. Indeed the Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale was first developed in 1965 and still remains to be one of the most widely used measurement of a person’s evaluation of self.

However an even more vital but neglected ingredient exists: self-respect. Drawing on my research I’ve found that self-respect, more than self-esteem or confidence, creates the bedrock for how we live, love and lead.

Yet 60% of individuals, according to a recent survey spanning 21 countries, wished they had more self-respect, highlighting the urgency of exploring this topic together.

Now, more than ever, the world needs to cultivate self-respect and challenge existing notions, but first we need to redefine how it actually sounds, looks and feels like to enable us to live, love and lead at a higher level in both our personal and professional lives.

If your organisation is experiencing an exciting time of growth and would benefit from the advantages of The Self-Respect Revolution, I’d love to work together! Send me an email here or explore more exciting options the ‘get in touch’ button.

Data Source: GoogleNgram Viewer, frequency of words used in the world’s collection of books.

The Research

Reference: Iscoe, K.E., (2023) A Paradigm Shift in Understanding Self-Respect: Exploring Contemporary Perspectives. Manuscript in Preparation.

The Components of Self-Respect

Self-respect, a complex and multifaceted concept, has been a subject of great interest and debate among psychologists, philosophers, and scholars across various disciplines. Rooted in moral and ethical considerations, the notion of self-respect has traditionally been associated with adherence to societal norms and values. However, my recent qualitative study conducted on self-respect among a diverse group of adults challenges this historical perspective.


Instead of focusing on moral and ethical dimensions, the study identifies themes that emphasise individual agency, personal growth, and well-being. This shift in understanding self-respect raises intriguing questions about the nature and dynamics of this essential psychological construct.

Research Methods

The study included interviews with 11 highly successful, mentally healthy adults aiming to capture a diverse range of experiences and perspectives regarding self-respect.

A mixed approach utilising both inductive and deductive methods was employed to analyse the data and identify themes. 783 significant quotes from the transcripts were extracted and coded them according to their relevance to self-respect.

The final three themes represented the rich and diverse perspectives on self-respect that emerged from the data.

The Findings

1. Seek to understand yourself

Discovering who you truly are, through self-awareness and honest self-reflection, is the key to embracing and accepting every part of yourself, leading to a deep sense of liberating self-acceptance.

2. Stay true to yourself

Making choices aligned with your values, taking responsibility for your actions, and staying true to yourself brings a profound sense of internal validation, knowing that you’re living authentically and in harmony with your beliefs.

3. Stand up for yourself

Setting healthy boundaries and prioritizing self-care empowers you to stand up for yourself, creating a space where your needs and well-being are valued, ultimately leading to a stronger sense of self-empowerment.

“Self-respect is the unwavering commitment to embracing, honouring and protecting our true selves.”

The Self-Respect Model

Self-worth, self-esteem and confidence are all critical ingredients to feel whole and of value. Yet no one (until now) has looked at the critical concept of self-respect, and where it fits in to the recipe of self.

The Self-Respect Sisters

How we live, love and lead is a mixture of how we see ourselves (our self-concept), if we feel good about ourselves and how valuable we believe we are. While my specific focus is on the highly neglected concept of self-respect, it is important to know how self-respect interacts and influences with its ‘sisters’.


How would you define self-esteem? How is it different from self-respect? Have a think, then click on the box to reveal the meaning.

(p.s. I’ve also included an example of doing a cartwheel to explain how each would sound like, feel like and look like.)


Do I feel good about myself?

How do I feel about myself after everyone saw me fall doing a cartwheel?


Do I feel like I am of value?

Do I still deserve to be loved after everyone saw me fall doing a cartwheel?


Am I staying true to myself?

Do I even want to do a cartwheel?


Can I do it?

Do I believe I can successfully do a cartwheel?


Do I trust myself to try?

Am I willing to attempt a cartwheel?


Do I possess the skills?

Do I have the specific skills to do a cartwheel? Yes or no?


Am I willing to take this risk?

I might get injured doing a cartwheel, but am I willing to take that risk to try something new?

Work with me

Ready to start a revolution?

Now, more than ever, the world needs to cultivate self-respect. It is a critical moment to challenge existing notions, contribute to this vital discussion and become an agent of change.

So, if your organisation is experiencing an exciting time of growth and would benefit from the advantages of The Self-Respect Revolution, I would be delighted to hear from you. Let’s work together creating an event that challenges your audience to think differently and live better.