BIO-Jeff Yalden is a renowned Youth Motivational Speaker & Teen Life Coach. His message “About Life” has been heard in 48 countries and all 50 states to youth and educators.


Want respect? Try respecting yourself first

One of the biggest things I see teens worrying about is being accepted and liked by their peers.

You hear so much from teachers and parents about not getting into risky behaviors like drug and alcohol use, sexual promiscuity and violence. But this often misses the point.

Because the thing that gets kids in trouble more than anything is being totally focused on what other people are thinking, saying and feeling about them. Maybe you’re thinking: what’s wrong with that? Doesn’t everybody want to be liked? Doesn’t everybody worry what other people think of them?

The problem is this: You can get so caught up in wanting to be liked, wanting to be accepted, to have a cool reputation, whatever, that you start trying to shape yourself so you’ll measure up in other people’s eyes.

And when you do that, you lose yourself. You lose sight of your character. You forget who you really are.

Here’s what I want you to remember. You don’t discover who you are by trying to see yourself through the eyes of others.

In fact, you don’t discover yourself at all. You create your life. You create the person you want to be.

What I’m talking about here is character. Character is the basis for self-respect, and it’s only when you respect yourself that you’ll earn the respect of others.

Here’s something else important to remember: No person, place or thing can give you what you need to give yourself – respect. If you want to be respected, start by respecting yourself.

Now the next thing I’m about to say may sound like a contradiction. It’s not, so hear me out.

The way to create the person you want to be – the way to become a person you respect – is to surround yourself with people who will have a positive influence on you. Now maybe you don’t have a clue what kind of person you want to be or what kind of life you want for yourself. This is not a problem. Keep an eye out for people who are upbeat and positive, people who seem to know where they’re headed and who have goals for themselves. Start hanging out with them.

Pay close attention to how they lead their lives. Ask them what they think is important in life. Talk to them about relationships and character. I guarantee you, you’ll learn a lot!

I’m going to give you a three-step guide that will help you create a life you can feel proud of.

1. Accept yourself. Acceptance is about living your own life and letting other people live theirs. Everyone is different. Accept yourself for who you are. 2. Surround yourself with people whom you admire, whose opinions you respect, and who seem excited about life. 3. Listen and learn. Then begin to live with the attitude and goals that will make you feel respect for yourself.

What we’re really talking about here is creating your identity. It’s about who you are now, and who you’re going to become in life. This goes straight back to your character. And the only way you can be a person of character is to be true to who you are.


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