This is part of a series of short posts on what we, at Alethya, believe are the four key values of conscious relationships: honesty, authenticity, respect and kindness. See our TEDx talk too for a short insight and a happy ever after story.
I disagree about people needing to earn respect. Respect is a human birthright. I don’t have to agree with you or like you but I should not behave disrespectfully to you. By disrespectful I mean by abusing you, exhibiting negative behaviours such as sighing, eye rolling and face-pulling, talk behind your back/gossip about you or otherwise behave badly.
Respect is about accepting difference. You do not have to talk to or be in the same room as the person who thinks the flaws of the dairy industry means they can compare the experience of black people to the experience of cows. Or who refuses to accept your relationship (type / framework / lack of, whatever). It is truly okay to choose to not be around these people if you do not want to be. But it is not okay to be disrespectful. You can be honest and open but not disrespectful.
I have lacked respect in the past. MY anger made me mean and nasty. I am sad for that but I also accept that was where I was at the time. It’s vital to tune into our own need and presence for respect and act with others accordingly. Think about how disrespect makes you feel? Then act in a way that means no one else has to ever feel that way.
You can be angry and respectful. You can be calm, courteous and yet also RAGING. It’s vital to know the harm that your disrespect causes to the cause you are passionate about. There is never, ever any excuse for calling anyone stupid.
Respect is not about taking the moral highroad. It’s about accepting that everyone is a human being and to respect their right to be treated with respect. And that all starts with you. With self-respect.
What does self respect do? What does it look like? It has been modelled to me so rarely that I thought a few examples might help me as well as you.
Self respect is about committing to and keeping agreements with ourselves. It is about compassion and kindness to the self but also about knowing when to be firm, to be strict. It is about reflection and critiquing of the self and the ways in which we behave. Self respect can look like taking a nap or doing an extra 1,000 words. It can be getting a take away or cooking a home-made meal. It can be both and all of these things based on the context, feels and needs. And this is why it can be challenging: it is context dependent, it is nuanced and it is complex. It is about you learning to listen to your inner needs and your body’s innate wisdom rather than a social media feed or a social norm. It is about you trusting yourself and acting on that trust with compassion. It is about honesty and kindness. It is how we love and it is how we live a full, conscious life.