Growing up we learned that respect is saying please and thank you, making eye contact when shaking hands, or calling someone by their surname. While each of these is an example of practicing it, they only skim the surface. Looking at the big picture, respect is the act of showing consideration or regard to something or someone.
However, it can walk a fine line in certain situations. For instance, I am not saying you must learn how to respect your abuser or a leader destroying your nation. I’m talking about the respect you have for yourself, your neighbor, your partner, your kids, your teacher, your therapist, the grocery clerk, and the list goes on.
The Language of Respect
Language and context might be the most important piece when it comes to respecting. In fact, the way we communicate through words and actions is probably the most powerful way we show respect. It’s through both verbal and nonverbal communication that we portray our common ground with others.
Another way we communicate our regard for others is through modeling. Modeling is showing somebody the way you want to be appreciated and recognized by practicing the behavior toward them. However, it’s a two-way street because we cannot demand somebody’s respect if we are not showing them respect in return. To understand modeling better, let’s think about when we started learning respect.
Our first experiences learning respect were based on our environment. For you, maybe lessons in consideration came from watching the way your dad interacted with your mom’s parents or the way your peer acted towards the teacher. Think about your past experiences with respect. Recall a time you displayed it toward someone, a time you felt disrespected by a fellow human or a time you were being disrespectful to yourself. It’s likely these were all based on communication and modeling.
Below you’ll find a few examples of (1) respect vs disrespect (2) how to respect ourselves and (3) language of respect. These lists are tools to utilize when reflecting on respect this week.
What is Respect vs. Disrespect?
Examples of Respect
Saying please and thank you
Setting appropriate boundaries
Complying with someone’s appropriate boundaries
Offering to pay for someone’s gas or treat them to something when they drove you to the airport
Not yelling/raising your voice at your partner during an argument
Holding the door open for someone
Noticing the trash is full and taking it out
Hearing someone out when they have something on their mind or appear dysregulated
Not being on your phone during a group session, spiritual/religious service, when someone is trying to have a meaningful conversation with you, on a first date, etc.
Examples of Disrespect
Not letting your partner talk or share their side when having a deep conversation or argument
Making a mess in a shared kitchen and not cleaning it up
Making inappropriate and harsh statements to someone when you’re angry
Not valuing another person’s opinion (doesn’t mean you have to agree with or adopt their idea)
Not helping your partner take care of shared responsibilities (kids, home duties, etc.)
Not asking before doing something that could be hurtful to you or another person.
Not resolving detrimental conflict
Unreasonably critical of authority
Going out of your way to make others look bad while acting innocent
Undermine another’s position, status, value, etc.
How to Respect Yourself
Knowing your worth
Holding yourself in esteem
Knowing the way you should be treated
Not tolerating people lying to you or mistreating you
Doing your coping skills intentionally
Saying no to going out so you can stay in and recharge
Doing things that make you happy (that don’t put yourself or anyone at risk)
Not abusing substances
Letting yourself express emotion
Self-acceptance and forgiveness
Opening your heart to knowledge and new experiences
Prioritize your needs to support good health, secure respect-based relationships and growth
Raising your self-confidence or self-esteem
Ways to Show Respect
1. Words of Encouragement
Description: When you or someone you know is feeling discouraged or having negative self-talk, you remind yourself or this person that they have the ability to overcome this challenge and recover from the negative feeling.
Example: “This is not permanent, you are capable and can make it past this. I am here for you.”
2. Words of Grace
Description: Instead of blaming yourself or others for mistakes, use acceptance or forgiveness for the mistakes and misjudgments. Give yourself or this person a chance to make things right.
Example: “You are not the same as your mistake. I know you to be a kind, caring human being. I forgive you and I’m here to help you learn from this setback.”
3. Words of Guidance
Description: Don’t just assume you or someone will find their way. I encourage asking questions or giving someone words of guidance.
Example: “Your questions help me know and understand you better. Please never think you have a dumb question. I want to help whenever I’m able.”
4. Words of Respect
Description: This speaks on the words and environment you have. For example, keep a climate of consideration and appreciation, allow others and yourself to know that you can have differing opinions, or admire someone simply for where they are at the moment. Likewise, admire someone because they are trying their best.
Example: “While I care about the outcome and other external measures of success, it’s also important to have a climate of mutual respect here. I plan to work hard to see that each of our opinions, thoughts, and feelings are respected.”
5. Words of High Expectations
Description: Rather than allowing yourself or someone to feel discouraged when they don’t show their best abilities, encourage yourself/them to pursue their goals and tap into their passion.
Example: ”I want you to achieve your potential, in whatever way you choose. What goals do you most want to achieve?”
6. Words of Hope
Description: In addition to helping yourself or someone through a hard time, help yourself/them envision a better tomorrow.
Example: “Today is hard but tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities.”
7. Words of Love
Description: Nurture your heart or the hearts of those close to you. Demonstrate how much you love and care for them or yourself, every day.
Example: *Looking in the mirror* “I love you and I am proud of how far you have helped me get in life.”
8. Words of Relationship
Description: Use words that build connection, such as sharing feelings and thoughts. Also, allowing the other person to recognize that their feelings matter.
Example: “I want to know and understand how you feel. Can you tell me?”
9. Words of Understanding
Description: Do not make assumptions and approach each situation with a perspective of empathy.
Example: “I want to understand your perspective. Please tell me what you think if you feel comfortable.”
10. Words of Unity
Description: Expressing words of unity requires you to shed the mindset of “it’s my way or the highway.” Foster the culture of collaboration and cooperation.
Example: “I’m knowledgeable but that doesn’t mean I have all the answers. I respect your role as a part of this relationship.”
11. Words of Accountability
Description: In part, being respectful means holding others accountable. However, it’s most important to hold yourself accountable. Instead of allowing disrespectful behaviors, help others stay on track by having open communication and setting appropriate boundaries.
Example: “How you just behaved was unkind and disrespectful. It really hurt my feelings. Can we talk about it more so we avoid this happening again?”
Mental Health in Costa Mesa, CA
This week, our groups will touch on respect and you will learn about, explore, and reflect on its role in your life. Once you’ve finished this week of growth and exploration, it’s time to talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk of respect.
Safe bets, based on successful old bets, are not bets. You are chasing. We want the fresh, fresh. We want what works now, not then. And how might we align ourselves with that pulse of the zeitgeist of now? Redundancies aside, that pursuit to align is called Tai Chi. That integration with the flow is Tai Chi. The exact style of Tai Chi (Wu style, Yang style, Sun style, or Chen Style) is irrelevant. Styles are just approaches. The pursuit is what matters. Suffice to say, this pursuit takes time. And effort. Like anything that is WORTH it. We REFUSE to cut, copy, and paste. Every day, and every moment, and every theme, is a mirror of what is happening right now. Now is what we are seeking to apprehend and engage with. Now is the goal we wish to get a handle on. It is where we live.
The Filter in Which We View the World
Real life is brutal. Experience is a cruel teacher. Time is the real test, of anything. That being said, Tai Chi is all about practice. Day after day after day, practice. If you literally Google it, it means the art of mind, body, spirit. But the Google Gods left out a key word: Integration. Reality is overwhelming. Tai Chi is the filter in which we view the world, like a Search Engine. We need something to filter out (and in) the gush of reality incessantly flooding around. And, not all information is even germane to OUR particular situation. In simpler terms, not all information is useful to you. Information is NOT the answer. Most of us have access to the information, thanks to handheld phones. How we USE that information is where the “rubber meets the road”, so to speak. Make the information have meaning.
Thoughts into Actions, Actions into Reality
Tai Chi is manifestation. It is wizardry, to put it mildly. Tai Chi is the way in which we restructure reality to serve our individual vision. It is how we conjure thoughts into actions and actions into reality. Tai Chi is your steering wheel to take over your world. Tai Chi is how we get ahold of our “selves”. It is liberation. Freedom. It is “a way” we break from societal constraints, personal constraints and genetic constraints. It is what we all seek, deserve, and reserve as our birthright. But it takes effort. Effort and time is the price. Which is just another way of saying “persistence”. Even a fool becomes wise if she persists in her folly. In other words, if you are feeling sleepy, but you stick with it, you may learn something. Valuable things. Life-changing things.
The Center Point of Now
Tai Chi is the art of living in the “now”. Right now. There are no secret moves. There are no mysterious secrets. The enigma is this, and only this: grab hold of right now. It is all there is and all there ever was, and all there ever will be. A whole bunch of now, now, nows. All the rest is immaterial, not yet realized, yet. That being said, if we can create, together, ways of living in the now and getting real, real good at living in the now, we can breathe much easier. And live much easier. And create environments in which others may live easier. We can become the center point of prosperity. The genesis moment. The center point of now. Which is just another way of saying oneness within the community of many. We are all “ground zero” points of change.
Everyone reading or listening to this can say they have been in a relationship. Some may argue “I’ve never had a partner before.” My response to them is have you ever had a friend? Maybe a neighbor? Parents or someone you viewed as a caregiver? Have you had a pet or a teacher? Relationships are not limited to romantic partnerships. You can have a relationship with anyone from your mother, friend, supervisor, your terrible ex, the stray cat that keeps coming over for food, and most importantly with yourself. This is a subject that comes up almost daily in mental health treatment.
The Lessons of Relationships
The relationship you have with others and yourself is very relative and important. A need for connection appears to be innate as well as learned. Some research shows that the ability to form this connection (relationship) comes from infancy, in that the caregiver reliably meets the infant’s basic psychological needs (food, shelter, etc). As they get older, they engage in relationships that essentially shape who they are. Who agrees that we learn something from everyone we meet? This could be lessons after heartbreak, trust/distrust, a new music artist, or that the parent that was supposed to show us the way didn’t.
The Core Values of Relationships
There are core values in any relationship you are in. These core values are respect, communication, trust, commitment, and companionship. When we break down each value, we see that each one is complex in and of itself. Respect can encompass being kind, polite, thankful, affirming, listening, and respecting boundaries. Additionally, communication is expressing your emotions, paying attention, learning to manage your emotions, and being intentional. Looking at trust, we learn that it also means being open, honest, acknowledging your partner’s feelings, and giving your trust that they have good intentions. We see commitment broken down to showing the person having loyalty, expressing appreciation, working as a team, agreeing to disagree, and showing love. Lastly, with companionship, we simply know we enjoy being around this individual, have common interests, and learn/grow from one another.
A Working Example of Core Values
Let’s look at this theme specifically with that stray kitten. This kitten has been hanging out around the back porch. At first, you might be wary thinking they might have a family or fleas. The next day we look at this kitten a little closer, they don’t have a collar and seem thin for their size. You think, maybe I’ll pick up some food for that kitten. That night you leave out some food on the back porch and watch as the kitten slowly walks forward and slowly/cautiously eats the food. As winter approaches, you start opening the door for them to come in. At first, the kitten gets scared and runs away. You start worrying about them but keep leaving the door open until one day the kitten comes in and the rest is history. Do we see the core values in this story?
It’s Never Too Late
Now you must be reevaluating every relationship you’ve been in and thinking “Do I even have a relationship with myself?” The answer is it is never too late to create a relationship with yourself or grow the one you already have (or leave a relationship that is not healthy or serving you). One of the main parts is self-love (which will be covered next week) and practicing the core values we previously discussed. Below is a list of things you can do to build a relationship within yourself (or even others).
Create your own core values and don’t steer from them (unless you learn a new one you like).
Sit with yourself, learn who you are when you’re not around someone else.
When you are trying to solve something, ask yourself first. The answers are within you.
Get to know yourself. What are your likes and dislikes at this point in your life and what makes you smile? What do you like doing for fun?
Set your boundaries with yourself and others.
Decrease the judgment you have towards yourself and others.
Roar with Confidence in 2022, the Year of the Water Tiger
In addition to evidence-based practices like psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, Barn Life Recovery utilizes Eastern healing practices like yoga and tai chi that have been a cornerstone of mental wellness for millennia. We also use Eastern philosophy and mythology to illuminate some of the concepts our clients learn during treatment. With the Chinese New Year fast approaching, we’re going to take a closer look at the symbolism behind the animal sign of 2022, the Year of the Water Tiger.
A Year of Action and Great Change
In Chinese astrology and mythology, the tiger represents confidence, energy, strength, leadership, and purpose. This tells us it’s going to be a year of action and great change. It also gives us a very good clue as to how we’re to meet these changes. That is, with confidence and purpose. As we move through the months to come, we should be on the lookout for those crossroads of opportunity that arise. We should also be cognizant of how we’ve met these opportunities in the past. Remember: the mind doesn’t like change. It’d be much happier going the “safe” route and maintaining the status quo. For those of us who struggle with mental health issues, though, the “safe” route means dysfunctional patterns of thought and behavior. How many opportunities have we missed by maintaining the status quo? If we’re going to love life again, we must confidently resolve to take the uncomfortable path.
Balancing with Water
The Chinese system also assigns one of the five elements to each year with 2022 corresponding to water. Water is associated with wisdom and provides a nice balance to the shadow aspects of the tiger. Without this balance, confidence and purpose are in danger of slipping into arrogance and intractable narrow-mindedness. How, then, can we cultivate wisdom? We start by knowing ourselves. When we work with our therapists and learn to recognize those thought patterns we mentioned above, we’re cultivating wisdom. When we honestly take stock of our strengths and weaknesses, we’re cultivating wisdom. And when we develop alternative coping skills and strategies to deal with these and put them into action, we begin to move through life with purpose. We’re confidently making choices to engage with what life offers us.
Love Life Again
Barn Life Recovery is a community care facility specializing in major depressive disorders, generalized anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorders, ADHD, ADD, dissociative disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. We are advocating for people suffering from these mental illnesses so that they can receive the same quality and length of care currently only reserved for other disorder types. Healing from mental illness takes time. However, when it is done correctly with a caring staff of professionals, the positive effects
We hope your takeaway from all of this is being motivated, empowered, and ready to start your self-love journey or continue on your path. Remember that you have survived this far and you will continue to thrive.
What is improvisation, anyway? Google a definition and you’ll get “the act of improvising” – helpful, isn’t it? Let’s try looking up “improvising” then: “producing or making (something) from whatever is available.” There we go! That we can work with. Improvisation, broadly speaking, is the art of making something from what’s available. There’s a good chance that thinking about improvisation brings to mind comedians like Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, or Wayne Brady and their run on “Whose Line is it Anyway?” for some folks. You might think of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, or Kate McKinnon. Saturday Night Live is probably up there. Some of the best moments in movies were totally unscripted and improvised. Pretty much all of Robin Williams’ lines in Aladdin (heck, most of Robin Williams’ work). Miracle Max in The Princess Bride. Willie Wonka’s summersault. The jewelry scene in Pretty Woman.
Responding, Not Reacting
So what the heck makes improvisation a good pick for this week’s theme? It’s right up there in that definition – making something from whatever is available. It’s about taking what you have on hand, what you’ve experienced and know, new things and old, and making something else from it all, to deal with whatever it is that’s going on. It would be easy enough to get hung up on the idea that improvisation is just reacting to the situation at hand and hoping for the best. But those folks listed before? What makes them really good at what they do? It’s not reacting but responding. It’s taking everything they’ve done before, everything they’re noticing in the moment, and thinking – very quickly – and offering up a response. It doesn’t form in a vacuum. It’s forged in the furnace of experience.
Some Practice Ideas for Mental Health
Getting through life, in a lot of ways, is about learning to improvise – make something from whatever is available. If you’re a parent, you probably improvise all the time. Forget to go grocery shopping and have a kid’s lunch to put together? Are you in a relationship? Ever forget something important and have to come up with something on the fly? As I sat down to write the theme for this week, I did some online digging about ways to be a better improviser, and I chuckled at how many of those tips mapped perfectly to ways to have a better life or to improve your mental health:
Learning to embrace your power and your fear
Feeling confident that whatever exists inside you is enough to deal with any situation that arises
Being a good, active listener
Being a better collaborator
Learn to be adaptable
Work on creativity and curiosity
Being in touch with your emotions
Be patient and practice
Think about the audience, if it doesn’t make sense to you, it won’t make sense to them
So this week, spend some time practicing those things. Let yourselves be curious. Work on being better listeners. Embrace your power and your fear. Really work on NOTICING. And when something comes up that you need to deal with, remember to take a deep breath, think about your audience, and respond to that situation by drawing on everything you’ve got at hand. For some inspiration, watch just about ANYTHING with Robin Williams in it, especially his live stuff where he interacts with the audience. Google “Whose Line is it Anyway?” and watch an episode or two. To really stretch your muscles, take an improv class some time (a lot of places have ‘Drop in’ nights where anyone is welcome to come.)
We are all heroes, though dormancy does settle in now and again. Waiting dreamily, many of us, for something to rouse us from our slumber so that we may fully awaken into our Hero’s Journey. That moment can be now. Adversaries will be easy to find, as will allies, if you know how to look. Adversaries usually take a form starkly similar to our own, and are driven by a similar, yet slightly jilted, force. Our allies, unexpectedly, may seem foreign, because the truth that our allies often show us is shocking and unlike anything we have stood up to in the past. Our enemies await us in hard-to-reach places. That is where the Kraken, the Grendel, and the Minotaur make their nests. In dark mazes, far beyond the comforts of what we know. Our allies and friends and trusted advisors are usually right here. Always closer than you think.
The Hero of Our Own Lives
We all, every one of us, have an innate destiny to be the HERO of our own lives. Waking up and breaking through to a newer understanding of who we are and who we choose to become. And yes, there will likely be many Hero’s Journeys once we get the hang of it. Each one brimming with new meaning and vistas and friends. Sometimes the journey ends badly. Too often, the hero never reaches the point of defeating her nemesis. Many times, the hero gets lost in the labyrinth or the dark forest and he is never seen or heard from again. Sometimes the hero takes the wrong advice and ends up lost before they ever had a chance to find.
The Mission of Barn Life Recovery
On the other hand, sometimes, against insurmountable odds and uncanny turns, the hero penetrates deep within and vanquishes the darkness around them. Our wish, hope and, practice at Barn Life Recovery is to improve the likelihood of this far too rare outcome. Everyone is the hero of their life. We are all on a journey of self-discovery and “meaning-making”. We all stand at the brink of transforming our lives and mental health forever. We’re here at Barn Life to help each other and support one another in this noblest of human endeavors: to do better, to feel better, and to be better. Even if it’s just a little bit better.
Cultivating the Hero Within
What makes a hero? Is it what heroes say that makes them different or what they do? Are heroes defined by their actions? What aspects or characteristics do most heroes share? Is there a way to cultivate heroic qualities in ourselves? Joseph Campbell is a good place to start when talking about the significance of heroes. Also exploring the world of Marvel and DC comics, who have created many of the modern-day archetypes for superheroes, is a good place to explore. The mirror is a good starting point too. Who were your first heroes? Who were your last?
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