what is respect? A black and white image of an aikido practitioner showing respect.

Weekly Theme: What is Respect?

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.

Interested in learning more about respect and its power to change your life? Learn more about Barn Life Recovery and our Mental Health Treatment program. Give us a call at (714) 798-9081.