Ahh, respect. Everyone wants it, very few people get it in a way that matters. Being ‘respected’ because you have wealth or some other kind of social status is not the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. that I am referring to.

Respect, in my opinion, is about being treated like everything about who you are matters – your feelings, thoughts, body, time, energy, likes/dislikes – EVERYTHING! In other words, when people are interacting with you they take all of this into account – they take YOU into consideration.

In my lifetime there have been few who have taken me into account. This was the cause of much anxiety and frustration as I did try and for a long time I didn’t know what else to do. Everyone I turned to for advice (including therapeutic and New Age circles) said the same thing, “If you treat others with respect, you will in turn be treated with respect.” However, this was not the reality I was living.

“Why are these people behaving so badly toward me? ” I would wonder, “I treat them better than I do myself”…and there it was – the cause of my problem. It dawned on me that if I had no self-respect I would always allow others to ‘dis’ me. I realized that these people were mirrors, not of the way I treated them but of the way I (dis)regarded myself.

I also discovered that self-respect is inextricably linked to self-esteem. If I don’t feel and think that I am valuable then I won’t be valued by others. So with a renewed sense of self-worth my transformation began about fifteen years ago when I walked away from people who were consistently disrespectful. In some instances I confronted individuals who I believed were mature enough to take me seriously – those who changed remained and the rest bit the dust.

This has been an ongoing process as I continue to meet new people. Regardless of the types of relationships I have with them – familial (the blood and non-blood varieties), personal, romantic, social or business – I will not accept disrespect. I simply refuse to be used.

I have often thought about the characteristics and behaviors that disrespectful individuals exhibit consistently even though they may be handled with great respect by others. I use the following checklist as a way of protecting myself from misuse by others:

  • Arrogance
  • Selfishness
  • Spitefulness
  • Huge EGOS
  • Needing to be right all of the time
  • Refusing to listen to or accept another point of view
  • Wanting things their way all of the time
  • Not bothering to communicate or interact unless they need or want something
  • Failing to keep promises
  • Never apologizing
  • Apologizing then doing the same thing they just apologized for
  • Manipulation when they know they can’t have their way by being upfront
  • Lying and using their way through life
  • Not caring enough to be there during the tough times
  • Too jealous to be there during the terrific times
  • Feeling threatened in the face of integrity

Respectful people exhibit the antithesis of the aforementioned criteria. Self-respecting individuals surround themselves with such people.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – What does it Mean to You?

Helen