R.E.S.P.E.C.T.: What does it mean to YOU?
by Dolores Chandler
“I speak to everyone the same way, whether it is the garbage man or the president of the university”~Einstein
I tried but just couldn’t resist using this song for the Blog. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. just plays through my head not just occasionally but always when I hear the word respect. Why? Music is such a powerful tool for self-expression on all levels. It’s a rare individual that doesn’t know this song - it’s relatable. “The Grammy award-winning song has passed down through generations, crossed cultural divides and volleyed through musical genres” Beyond the catchy, primarily R&B song playing in my head (and probably in yours now!), this song expresses something that we all want - RESPECT!
Respect is a word that we use in varying circumstances. What respect means to you is guaranteed to be different than what it means to me. For sure, the definition is derived from culture, beliefs, values, experiences, environment, activities, and even eras of time.
Respect is a matter of perception, what one person feels is respectful may totally be disrespectful to someone else.
Observe, ask questions and listen ... it’s amazing what we learn by recognizing the answers and signals we receive. Respect does not mean that you agree with someone, however, acting with due regard to the beliefs and values of others is implied. The ride can become a little foggy especially as it relates to beliefs and values drive with respect, follow the signs.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve gained awareness (maybe a little wisdom) through observation, listening, and living with compassion. I do my very best to live with a heart at peace, not war, to see people as people whatever the situation. I’ve had many opportunities to reflect on my personal beliefs in regard to respect and will continue to do so. I respect all humans as sentient beings.
Take a turn on to the highway of thought for a new perspective. While cruising along, with the wind in your face, belt out the song, “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” from the bottom of your diaphragm! Go full throttle and ponder these questions:
Every single day we are faced with an opportunity to learn something about respect. Some days, the lesson is based around giving respect to someone else, and other days it is about receiving respecting, even if it is self-respect. If we are wise, no matter how difficult it is, we look inward and learn something about ourselves that can help us better understand how we interact with the world around us.
Some of the most difficult lessons I have learned have been about respecting differences. As someone who kind of prides myself on being different, it should have been easy for me to respect the differences in others, but that isn’t always the case. I have found that the closer I am to someone(s), the more difficult it can be to give the respect deserved. After talking to many people about how respect plays out in relationships, I am comforted to know this isn’t just a challenge area for me!
*A friend once shared that she has trouble at family gatherings because many people in her family seem to resent her for getting a college education. Rather than applaud her accomplishment, they disrespect and belittle her because she is different from them. In turn, she has difficulty respecting them because she feels so disrespected – so the cycle continues.
*I once worked with a woman who could easily accept and respect her friends who had different religious beliefs, but chastised her daughter for not going to church. Family members are often held to stricter expectations, but why?
In my own relationships, I have found that it is sometimes easier for me to respect a difference of opinion when it’s from a friend than when it is my partner. It’s not that I don’t respect my partner, so I had to really dig deep before I realized that I felt threatened by our difference, and feared it would create a chasm between us. (Lesson: the fear created the chasm, not the difference of opinion!)
The key to respect is recognizing when we are engaged in it versus when we are not, and then asking ourselves helpful questions.
I DO believe that respect is a 2-way street – the more you give it, the more you get. You can’t expect someone to respect your feelings, actions, and opinions if you are standing in judgement. And, I believe that when we are judgmental of others it is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves….. But, that is topic for a future blog!
For today, I encourage you to look at someone you have disrespected/judged in some way and dig deep to identify the fear in you that is at the root of your disrespect. Let me know what you dig up!