Madonna sings about it (Express yourself. Respect yourself.) and so does Aretha Franklin (R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me.) What does it mean to respect yourself? As a parent, I recently explained the definition of respect to my 10 year old son. For me, respect is thinking and acting in an uplifting (or positive) manner with yourself and with others. It is about honoring your feelings while honoring the feelings of others. It is allowing yourself space to be and giving others the space to be as well. Respect is about being courteous to yourself and to others.
There is a lot of conversation about a lack of respect in society and how folks are not respectful with others (private property, ideas, religions, etc.). While this may (or may not) be an accurate observation on the state of our society, I have noticed that when some folks are not respectful with others, they are first and foremost not respectful with themselves. Being disrespectful with yourself can manifest in many different ways and in many different scenarios. For example, it is a definite sign that you lack self-respect when you place yourself in risky situations (physical, sexual, and/or emotional—driving at high speeds; multiple sexual partners while under the influence; allowing someone to be manipulative when you know that this person is not healthy for you). Kind of obvious, huh? But what about in more familiar, intimate settings where the energetic exchanges are subtle? The lack of self-respect can be a bit more difficult to notice because we are typically dealing with people we trust and want to be around (our friends, colleagues, family members). For example:
- Not stating your preferences for a movie or restaurant because you don’t want to rock the boat with your spouse.
- Sitting in a business meeting, waiting for a colleague to show up (because they are late, again), when they arrive they offer with the same excuse as before (they were too busy), and you do not express your concerns and frustrations.
- Always being available and being the team player at work at the expense of your own needs.
These examples are not that big of a deal, if it happens occasionally. However, if a pattern develops and you do not address the small stuff and exercise some self-respect, there will come a time when all the small stuff builds into something big, and usually with a lot of energy. If you are new at creating boundaries and developing your self-respect, the process of owing this can be messy, terrifying, and uncomfortable. However, by giving others exact information on how you wish to be treated allows an opportunity for others to treat you with the respect you deserve. Although people are free to treat you as they wish, you can most definitely express your boundaries (a very clear sign that you have self-respect) and let others know that you are not a door mat to walk all over (or that your time is just as valuable as theirs or that your preferences are just important). If the people in your life are not respecting your needs, your boundaries, or your unique gifts, maybe it is time to reassess what you want out of life and who you want to associate with. Think about this empowering quote:
“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or loves you” (fyoured.com).
If you are interested in learning more about self-respect and how to create respectful relationships, register for Healthy Relationships: How to Heal from Toxic Relationships.
- With love, light, and unlimited joy,
- Dianne Hamda