Building self–respect
Q⁄A on Human Sexuality for Teenagers

John Ooi Peng Lee
Master of Engineering, University of Singapore
Master in Education, University of Manchester
Reproduced with permission.


Question 5:

I've read a lot of self improvement books. They all seem to emphasise the importance of self~respect and having a good self~image. Is it really that important?

Answer 5:

The root of the problems of many teenagers (and adults too!) is selfrespect. More correctly, it is the lack of self-respect. To have self-respect and a good self-image simply means that you like and value yourself, and you feel good to be who you are. A person who is unhappy with himself because he thinks he is stupid, unloved, and unimportant may try to prove to himself that he is not all that bad in many ways.

The bully may be trying to hide his insecurity.

The show-off may have had no one to tell him he is important or special.

The boy who acts macho and boasts of sexual conquests may be trying to prove that he is a man.

The boy who uses vulgar language may be trying to gain the friendship and acceptance of his peers.

The girl who doesn't say no to her boyfriend's physical demands may be afraid to lose the only one who has shown interest in her.

The girl who pretends she doesn't care about anything may be feeling very hurt that no one seems to care for her.

All these external acts are often only the symptoms of the lack of self-respect and poor self-image of the persons concerned. If you think well of yourself, you will know that there is no need to behave in these ways.


How then can you build-up your self-image, and learn to value yourself? Well, here are some ideas!

Set yourself realistic goals to work towards. Write them down on a piece of paper, and remind yourself of these at regular intervals. As you gradually achieve these goals, you will realise that your life is what you choose to make of it, and that day dreams or self-pity are a waste of time.

Strive to live in a healthy, orderly and disciplined manner. You will feel good about yourself when you find that you have overcome laziness, sloppiness or other vices.

Cultivate your talents, and be creative. If you are good with your hands, make or repair something. Or you can do something which you enjoy (play football, play the guitar, grow flowers, etc) that gives you satisfaction, that you can do in your very own style, and that others can admire.

Involve yourself with others. You can volunteer your services to help out with the handicapped, the disabled, the aged, the sick, etc. You will then realise that you have unlimited opportunities to make a real difference to the lives of others.

Develop good friendships with others who have good values. You can then give each other mutual support and encouragement to make correct decisions. True friends will accept and appreciate you for who you are, and you will not have to put on a mask.


nov 31/Jul/00