Self-respect is really a part of a trilogy of questions about the self: self-love, self-respect and self-confidence. You need all three and each one depends on the other. For example you need some self-respect in order to have self-confidence.
Self-respect is based on self-love. You need to love yourself enough to be able to respect it. When you feel love for yourself, then self-respect comes to you easier. And as you build your self-respect you'll find that your confidence grows as well. So it's a triangle of the self between love-respect-confidence. This is the sum the sum total is your self-esteem.
But why worry about self-respect? What is its significance in our lives?
The significance of self-respect in our lives is that it is about saying I am worthy of existing and that I have enough love and confidence in myself to follow my dreams, my path, my calling to live life according to my inner voice or spirit. If you believe that you are truly a good person then the dreams coming from deep within you are also good. You have to have confidence and respect for yourself to heed that calling.
As with the other two self building blocks, the importance of creating self-respect is that once you create it from within, you'll never depend on it from the outside to live the life that will most make you happy. If you are always looking for the respect of others in your thoughts and actions, then you'll always be eternally unsatisfied, unfulfilled because you'll never be able to always please others.
The journey of self-respect is one of learning to see that you always have choices in life. You always get to decide how you see yourself, how you respond to your inner voice and how much you appreciate your decisions and your talents. Self-respect comes when you keep your word to yourself. And if you cannot keep your word to yourself, do you really think you can keep it to others?
You cannot change how others think, feel or act. But you can change how you think, feel and act. And this is the first step in learning about having enough respect to take care of the body you are in, manage the best feeling thoughts about yourself and that when you respect yourself first, then others will follow your lead. In essence, self-respect is about learning to love and accept you, for you.