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Self-esteem and respect are closely connected, for self-esteem is a form of self-respect, and the Self-same Self of all human beings agrees on what merits respect. First, we owe a certain amount of respect to EVERY human being. Beyond that, other people, and we ourselves, must earn our respect through good actions, generous contribution to life, and constructively helpful thinking.

We can develop healthy self-esteem by treating ourselves as a good parent treats a child. We give ourselves the love that any parent would give their child as a free gift, and we give ourselves the discipline and high expectations that any loving parent would also give their child. By doing those two things in balance we provide ourselves both the unconditional love we need, and the reasonable and right discipline and appropriate expectations that we need, to succeed in life.

Just as a child who is completely undisciplined and self-indulgent will not command the respect of others, others cannot be expected to respect you if you don't earn the respect of the Self-same Self that you -- and they -- are. You earn respect by being a respectable person, acting in a respectable manner, and, in fact, thinking in a respectable fashion. It takes more than good behavior to earn respect: Most disturbing and depressing and problematic things that you ever notice about another person are not what they do, generally, but how they think. In the same way, you earn your respect and the respect of others mostly by how you think, and in a very, very distant second place, what you do.

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