Have you ever felt surprised or shocked when someone treated you with a lack of respect for no apparent reason? You may be the best at your job, and maybe even acknowledged for your skills and competency at what you do but still find yourself frequently on the receiving end of disrespectful behaviour. If that is the case then it may be time to take a look at yourself. Instead of feeling like a helpless victim of other people’s negativity take a moment to consider that our external circumstances and interpersonal interactions are a reflection of ourselves. We attract to ourselves experiences of the same vibration as the attitude we project into the world. When we understand this and take the time to observe it happening, we are no longer powerless in how we shape our lives. On the contrary we become immensely powerful in creating the environment around us that we wish to live in. By taking responsibility for our experiences we are empowered to improve the quality of our life.
Respect vs Invalidation
How many times have you invalidated someone by saying or doing something disrespectful? At first glance it’s easy to think that we are usually respectful to those around us. However it can be difficult to see some of the ways we invalidate others, and also to see what are our underlying beliefs causing that. The human brain has a highly effective mechanism for processing subtle information that may be in the form of non-verbal communication or insinuations behind words. In general people pick up negative signals of this type far more than we care to realise. It’s all too easy to go through life at home or at the office in a mindless way, projecting subtle negativity towards others. Unkind remarks, tetchy tone of voice, lack of eye contact, or aggressive posturing can all manifest in our every day behaviour when, out of tiredness or even sheer laziness, we act in a semi-conscious way. Through habit we may have grown accustomed to living without an awareness of how our manner is impacting on those around us, and consequently shaping our experience of life. Nevertheless, with a little consistent effort we can become aware of the signals we are giving out and we can learn to live more mindfully. This mindful living is a step towards creating harmony in our environment, and is essential if we want to improve the quality of our lives. A good starting point is to consider some of the most common ways people fail to respect others. I came across these following points in the material for my coaching studies at ICA:
Top 10 Ways We Invalidate Others
- Not believing or trusting others
- Lying to people
- With-holding thoughts from people
- Being late
- Being critical without being constructive
- Not listening or paying attention
- Yelling at someone
- Not returning things borrowed
- Demeaning achievements or things people say, for example through sarcasm.
“Do unto others what you would have them do unto you”
This classic teaching from Christ can be found in nearly all the teachings of the major religions, and is really based on common sense and respect for others. If you want others to treat you with respect, you should show respect to others. It’s amazing when you think how many problems can be caused by those things mentioned in the list above! Once you start consciously modifying some of these behaviours it’s quite surprising how your life begins to be more harmonious in your relations with those around you.
But to be able to show this respect to others you have to truly respect yourself. If you don’t value yourself then it means that you don’t really care about how others treat you; but deep down a part of you will care and will feel trodden on. Respecting yourself means not tolerating when others try to walk over you. When you stand up for yourself then others will learn to respect you.
Top 10 Ways We Invalidate Ourselves
- Not following through on what we say we’ll do
- Eating poorly
- Not exercising
- Driving recklessly
- Living in surroundings that don’t support our growth
- Hanging out with people who don’t treat us well
- Not pursuing our dreams
- Not asking for what we want
- Having a messy room/house
- Poor personal grooming (hair, clothes etc)
Respect: A Spiritual Perspective
In the monastery I was taught to recognise that all living beings are sacred, and are expressions of that which I would call “Divine” but which could equally be called Spirit, Universal Consciousness, God, Nature, or whatever name you choose to give it. Perhaps more importantly I realised that I am also Divine by nature and as such I should treat myself with the same respect I should show to other expressions of the Divine. Respecting yourself is to acknowledge the Divine in you, to recognise and believe that you are special, an embodiment of something Sacred. To maintain your self-respect by changing those actions listed above is to present yourself to the world with dignity, and gives expression to the Divine within you.
It sometimes takes courage to act on valuing yourself, especially when you have to establish boundaries to stand up to those who try (often without realising) taking advantage of you. In the short-term it may be easier and more comfortable to avoid the conflict of upholding your boundaries, but regularly submitting to the will of others and suffering in silence will diminish your spirit and attract more acts of disrespect. Being bold and standing your ground when it comes to your values is something that naturally inspires respect. Try it… you may be pleasantly surprised.