Everyone needs dignity, and when someone tries to rob you of that the effects are staggering. In fact, one of the most central tools of the abuser in a relationship is to attack the dignity, or the feeling of self-worth, or their partner. When we lose our sense of self-worth and personal pride—the central components of dignity—then we are vulnerable to being taken advantage of and our ability to perform throughout the day usually drops significantly. What is more prevalent a source of depression then the loss of self-worth?

As our human birthright, we are all born with great potential and value—at least this is the common, modern philosophy. It might be more tempting to be more cynical about the worth of people in general, but it is the idea that all people have value and a right to dignity is what has lifted up many Western societies to Democracy and more humane legal procedures. Just like art and sunsets, people have as much worth as we give (or gift) to them, and since worth is a subject of human perception, I put to you: why not give them great worth? As a society, giving all citizens a strong sense of dignity benefits the individuals and the society as a whole, transforming it into a more virtuous group. When we support the dignity of our loved ones, their capability to perform well and their mental health will be much improved. If we insist on and develop our own sense of dignity, then we start becoming healthier and more successful.

I hope you agree with me now that dignity is too important to be denied to anyone; if you want to be a successful person, you need to find a strong sense of self-worth, if you want to be a good person, however, you need to see that value in your loved ones and those around you. Maybe I would be rash to depict this as a ruler for goodness, but I definitely believe that your ability to give (and allow) others their dignity is a good watermark of how good one can be.

To work on your personal dignity, you first need to understand that you have a right to feel good about yourself and develop personal pride. Now, I'm not suggesting that you don't criticize yourself—if you're reading the rest of the site, you know that I, in fact, strongly encourage self-criticism. What you need to understand is that being a human being alone makes you a beautiful creation (whether by deity or not). The only measures you should judge yourself beyond that are how you improve the faults you have control over, and how your life improves the well-being or yourself and others. Do not deny yourself dignity for any other reason. On the other hand, I do want to reiterate as I have done elsewhere that if you have a serious problem out of your control, such as anger, depression, or anything else, you need to seek out professional help to avoid hurting yourself and your loved ones as a consequence.

Once you believe you deserve dignity, there are several steps below that may help you work on this virtue. If you believe others deserve to receive the gift of dignity from you, but just don't "feel it," then there are other activities that I hope will help you as well.

Here are some recommended activities. If you have a serious issue considering this virtue, however, it truly is worth it to find help from a variety of sources.


  • Keep a Positive Journal: You really need to let your feelings out in general, but sometimes we have a tendency to focus on the negatives or our self-doubts. If this is the case for you, keep a journal filled without nothing but positive thoughts about how you lived your life that day. Then, write positive things about what you will accomplish the next day—and then do them so you can write about it tomorrow! If you think positively and follow through on improving yourself, then you will develop a better sense of self-worth. You can return to the negative aspects of the journal, if you wish to keep it up, when you've got a better sense of self-worth.
  • Surround Yourself with Positive People: If you can. Spend more time with the people who help you keep your sense of worth. You don't want a whole bunch of "yes men" necessarily, but you want to be around people who value you even when they criticize you. You can return to the non-abusive, negative people in your life after your dose of positivity. Of course responsibilities can get in the way of keeping those negative people out, but try to accomplish this as best you can.
  • "Your Record" with a Twist: Make a list of all your positive traits and things you think people should love abut you. Then make a list of some weaknesses. Read your list of positive traits before you read through your negative traits, and make a goal to make a small improvement each day—make it realistic. At the end of the day, read the list starting with the positive traits, and put a check by them when you believe you demonstrated your good trait. Then put a check on the list every time you improve upon a weak point. I guess you could call this a positive version of the record used on this site that could be used instead when you are developing your dignity. It's just nice to visually see your good qualities as a list of growing checks (or stars, if you've always wanted a gold star).
  • Treat Each Person You Meet Like They're Important: Dust off the skills from your high school acting class if you need to. You will gradually begin to feel that others are indeed more important over time and this is a good way to appear more "charismatic" to other people.
  • Try to Look at the Problems of Other People as Important as Your Own: You can't give all people an equal part of your time, but I'm sure you always wished that more people paid attention to you when you were feeling down. Start giving others what you've always wished for yourself. This might mean spending quality time with a loved one that is suffering, helping a colleague who is struggling from a small catastrophe, or giving a kind word or smile to an acquaintance or stranger who seems to be feeling down. This is a great way to see outside of yourself and develop your sense of dignity in regards to others.

Your Record

Whenever you let someone else let you feel worthless, correct that problem and give yourself a "fault" for the day. Whenever you make someone else feel worthless, or diminish their dignity, then mark yourself at fault. Make some goals based on the activities above, and mark yourself at fault when you fail to keep up with an activity or fail to reach a goal.


I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, human liberty as the source of national action, the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th American President

What should move us to action is human dignity: the inalienable dignity of the oppressed, but also the dignity of each of us. We lose dignity if we tolerate the intolerable.

Dominique de Menil, French-American Museum Founder and Supporter of Human Rights

I would say that the surest measure of a man's or a woman's maturity is the harmony, style, joy, and dignity he creates in his marriage, and the pleasure and inspiration he provides for his spouse.

Benjamin Spock, Well-Known American Pediatrician and Author

When you're a beautiful person on the inside, there is nothing in the world that can change that about you. Jealousy is the result of one's lack of self-confidence, self-worth, and self-acceptance. The Lesson: If you can't accept yourself, then certainly no one else will.

Sasha Azevedo, American Actress and Model

Golden Mean

Arrogance, Superciliousness, Condescension, Snobbery, Snootiness, Pretentiousness, Conceit, Pomposity

Recommended Reading

Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life — by Judith Orloff

The psychiatrist author of this book teaches how to develop your positive emotions and reduce your toxic ones. She intends to help you overcome your negative emotions such as fear and anxiety and find emotional balance.

The Self-Esteem Workbook — by Glenn R. Schiraldi

This workbook is written as a course on building self-esteem along with tips and activities to help you reach your goals. It also has advice on avoiding relapse into more negative thinking.

Learning to Love Yourself: Finding Your Self-Worth — by Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse

Finding Your Self-Worth: Learning to love yourself is important, and this book aims to do just that. Written by the director of a clinic that treats chemical dependencies and family problems.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.

Perhaps the surest test of an individual‘s integrity is his refusal to do or say anything that would damage his self-respect. Thomas S. Monson