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.
Forgiveness is not giving up nor is it admitting defeat. Forgiveness is about taking power back. Making a conscious decision to let go of resentments, pain, and anger. Some people are not ready to forgive and rightly so. What about victims of sexual assault and violence as well as people who have suffered physical, emotional abuse, and unearned shame? Is it not appropriate to feel rage or become victimized due to events that have happened directly or indirectly to us?
The Perils of Resentment
We can let suffering consume us. Suffering and resentments can control our whole worldview including our biases and attitude. When we look objectively at how our resentments have power over us, we can see how we engage in belittling ourselves. This can, in turn, increase our own self-loathing and even convince us we deserve it. Additionally, we act upon anger and allow it to dominate our actions and perceptions of the world.
Making a Personal Decision
Forgiveness can begin the process of emotionally disconnecting ourselves from the events and pain that we have used to define us. Forgiveness is not about forgetting. Nor is it about believing that what happened to create our resentments is acceptable. It is about making a personal decision that one does not want to be emotionally controlled by the events, memories, and perception of self that resentments manifest.
How Do We Forgive?
Some of us are ready to forgive. There are many ways to forgive and the least of all is giving the incomplete advice of “Just let this go.” Well, how? How do people “let go”? How do people forgive? For some it is a mere acknowledging that the incident(s) occurred, facing the emotions that arise, and stating forgiveness. Others need rituals or prayer to assist in maintaining the intention of forgiveness. Forgiveness can act like the tide of the ocean or the changing moon. Furthermore, our resentments can creep back in, even after we have made the conscious decision to forgive. In this case, one needs to repeat the action of forgiveness. Take a little more power back until the resentment has eventually been drained and the individual is free from that resentment.
It is our job to help foster forgiveness. More importantly, to help our clients answer the question of how to forgive. It is also not our job to push someone to forgive when they are not ready as those individuals may still need to be further defined or come to a better understanding or acknowledge lessons to be learned from the experience before they become willing and ready to forgive. Even if that lesson is to realize how much damage and influence these resentments have had in our lives, and then we can pose the question “Are you ready to let this go?”
Get comfortable and let’s try this guided meditation together: Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it, then blow out through your mouth. Do that four more times. Next, I want you to think of a time when you were younger and you felt like you needed someone. Think of where you were living at this time. I want you to picture this house you were living in. Stand outside of this house. Now, take a look around. For example, see the color of the house, notice the yard, the cars in the driveway. Additionally, listen to the sounds of the neighborhood. Finally, walk into your childhood house. Look around. Notice the pictures on the walls, touch the furniture, find your favorite knickknacks, smell all the smells. Walk around the house, trace the walls with your fingertips.
I want you to find your old bedroom. The door is closed. Behind that door is a younger you. A younger you who is having a hard time and needs someone. I want you to open the door to your bedroom and see your younger self. What does younger you need? Someone to hold you? To hug you? To tell you that everything is going to be alright? Do you need someone to make you feel protected? Safe? On the other hand, do you need to be seen? To be heard? To be told that you matter? Do you need someone to just acknowledge you and play with your toys with you? Or do you need someone to help you? Do you need to feel loved?
Spend some time with younger you, doing whatever it is you needed at that time in your life. Sit here for a few moments, holding space for your younger self to feel the things they so desperately crave to feel. After you have sat with younger you for some time, I would like for you to say “goodbye for now” to little you. Take one last look around your bedroom before you leave, closing the door behind you. Take a few last moments looking around your home, smelling the smells, and touching the walls. As you leave your childhood home and find yourself closing the front door, look around your neighborhood one last time. Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it, and let it out through your mouth. Come back to the present time.
Carl Jung and Inner Child Healing
Last week, during a group, we did this exact meditation with the clients. With Halloween being this past weekend, it was a perfect time to shine a light on those inner children. Candy, decorations, costumes, games, pumpkin carving. All things that tickle the kid in us! Carl Jung first proposed the idea of inner child healing after he examined his own childlike inner-feelings and emotions. When wounded, these inner children negatively influence who we are as adults, holding enormous power over our relationships and decisions. However, your inner child can also lend you strength. In fact, regaining youthful feelings of wonder, optimism, and simple joy in life can help with confidence and your well-being!
The Little You Inside
Your inner child is exactly what it sounds like. Specifically, little you inside of adult you. In other words, the you that comes out when you see a rainbow, go to a theme park, play a board game, etc. Everyone has an inner child. However, if your inner child is wounded, they may not feel safe enough to come out and play. Your inner child may feel damaged or forgotten about. “Inner children are the lens through which injured adults make their decisions.” The first step in healing your inner child is to acknowledge it is there (like any child) and that he or she is wounded. In fact, the harm done to your inner child directly correlates with the ways you feel unsafe in the world. For example, here are some signs that you have a wounded inner child.
A deep feeling that there is something wrong with you
Being a people-pleaser
Rebelling and feeling alive when in conflict with someone else
Being a hoarder
Not being able to let go of possessions and people
Experience anxiety with something new
Feeling guilty for setting boundaries
Driven to be a super-achiever
Being ridged and a perfectionist
Having problems starting and finishing tasks
Exhibit constant self-criticism
Feel ashamed at expressing emotions
Ashamed of your body
Having a deep distrust of anyone else
Avoiding conflict, no matter what the cost
A fear of abandonment
If you ignore it, your inner child can manifest in anxiety, depression, PTSD, emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, addiction, difficulty functioning, and isolation from others.
Allowing Ourselves to Heal
Our inner child wants to be happy, but we have to make it safe for them to do so. Try exploring new and old things in life that may excite and bring joy to little you. Additionally, allow yourself to explore these new or old passions with a childlike wonder and intentionally find ways to bring more laughter into your life. When we allow our inner child to come out and play, we allow ourselves to heal and be truly, genuinely happy from the inside out. So, whether you focus on the wounds or look for the glimmering sparkle of optimism and hope, let little you come out and play.
Have you ever been in a situation faced with an important challenge that felt insurmountable by your usual methods of coping and problem-solving? Into every life flows crisis. Every breath rides on the brink of upheaval. Every human beat of a heart holds within it a turning point, a crossroads. A time, when the “old way” or the “comfortable way” or even maybe the “only way” we know, is threatened. Threatened and challenged and possibly found to be unusable. What once was our key to our future has become a useless artifact of a past once perfectly fitted.
The Many Forms of Crisis
They can take so many forms: You catch your husband cheating on you! Maybe you have a week to live! Or you got fired! Or you ran out of money! What you thought was true is not. What you thought was not, is. These are cataclysmic crisis situations. At these crossroads, we must make a choice. Continue to use old ways and methods that are no longer working? Or, I shudder to speak it, change…our…ways. Ouch, no thanks. Most times I would rather blame outside forces who are conspiring against me than admit that I myself may need a course correction. The audacity of such a thought! Hubris will get you every damn time. To think that I myself may hold a key that is now rusted and no longer works? Despite my best attempts, it just won’t turn! These are sacred, life-altering times, these so-called incipient moments of crisis.
Wei and Ji
This week, we will crack open our moments of crisis. We will try to train ourselves to view these moments of collapse as opportunities to find new and encouraging paths we never saw before. We will use crisis to reveal new vistas and possibilities that never existed before. Most all know about the Chinese word for crisis and how some people say it means “danger” plus “opportunity”. Some disagree with this translation but I believe they are splitting hairs. Here are my 2 cents. Wei means “danger”. Ji means “a point of juncture”.
危 – wei
机 – ji
Danger is easy to grasp. It means something that is potentially harmful, risky, or not preferred. Danger is mysterious and requires your full undivided attention if you wish to go unscathed. A juncture is where two things join. The joining of things generally seems to be risky business. So much can go wrong…or go right. Any union can be challenging and fraught with difficulties. Try unifying anything and observe what happens. A juncture is a place where two different things come together. A seam. A moment of conception or connection. When two become one and that one is, at the same time, a product of what came before. Yet, at the same time, it is new and altogether itself!
A New Way of Thinking
What two things are coming together in the Chinese idea of crisis? That’s right, you and your new way of dealing with your life! You and a new way of thinking. A revised method of living. You loving your life again and in new ways never fathomed before. This is a crisis on a monumental level. Your old ways have admittedly failed. But not all of you has failed. Just certain ideas and behaviors have betrayed our true futures. Luckily, we can learn and apply new methods. It will be dangerous and difficult. However, if we “refuse to let a good crisis go to waste” as Winston Churchill quipped once, we will reap the inevitable boons. We may even learn, like an ancient master, to (dare I say?) welcome crisis. Welcoming crisis? Audacity! Yes. Believe this. Points of juncture are inherently dangerous. They are also inherently rewarding.
New Possibilities and New Terrains
Crisis is a blessing. It opens your mind up to new understandings and informs our body and soul about new possibilities and new terrains to explore. This week, let’s focus on ways of identifying crisis and ways to surmount crisis. What can we learn? Are we perpetuating maladaptive patterns? If so, what are they? What alternative patterns can we put forth and offer? How can we support someone who is in crisis? How can we contain personal crisis long enough for someone to feel safe enough to join in the fight toward a new understanding? What are other models of dealing with crisis?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Can Happen to Anyone
Continuing with the idea that we are not our diagnoses, we want to discuss post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) this week. PTSD has gone by many names: shell shock, soldier’s heart, combat fatigue, and war neurosis, to name a few. By looking at historical terms, it might appear as if it only affects soldiers fighting or refugees fleeing war. However, PTSD can happen to anyone.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops in individuals who have experienced some type of trauma in their lives. By trauma, we mean a shocking or dangerous event that their minds were unable to process completely. It’s perfectly normal to feel scared in these types of situations. In fact, the body often naturally reacts by releasing hormones triggering a “fight-flight-or-freeze” response. Usually, these feelings will dissipate after the threat has passed. However, individuals suffering from PTSD continue to feel this reaction when exposed to events that remind them of their original trauma. For example, a veteran who saw combat may be triggered by the sound of fireworks or a car backfiring.
Treating PTSD at Barn Life Recovery
Barn Life does a very good job at facilitating an atmosphere that is a safe place to share and deal with trauma. Some of our clients have had some really scary things happen to them in their lives. Barn Life staff work very hard to build a rapport with every single person who comes into the program to feel safe, heard, and not judged. It is a special place with dedicated and caring people who are very good at reaching our clients who are struggling. It is important to continue to bring out those uncomfortable topics like someone’s trauma that they are terrified to discuss. Our clients come in giving all their power to their trauma. However, it is our continued role in their lives to show them they are in more control than they believe.
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