Respect! Now there is a word we bandy around endlessly; usually with a demand that other’s are the one’s who should be giving it to us.
As usual, today I found myself thinking about the things that we mostly take for granted with the usual habit of not having a clue of what a thing means. Some things, like the concept of respect is one we have heard since we grew ears to hear, and more often than not, heatedly as someone or another feels that they have been disrespected. This isn’t the first time I have thought about this word; respect.
I have often considered it frivilous, social, and more often than not, without any sincere meaning as I don’t believe that most people carry themselves in a respectworthy manner nor do they freely respect each other. If we did I’m sure the world would not be in the condition it is in. Not only this, I also believe that respect is not something that is merely suppose to be applied to our relationships with our fellows, but also with our enviroment. This lack of respect is also evident in the conditon of our planet.
Today, however, I decided to take this premise a step further and began by researching the word “respect.” The gist of it is that respect (noun) is a relationship or reference to a particular detail or point in relation or reference to esteem for the value of a thing and respect (verb) is to hold in esteem or honor ,to consider worthy of high regard, show regard or consideration for and to refreain from intruding upon or interfering with. I further queried myself ( I do this to maintain the balance between me and them to prevent arrogance) regarding what things should be held in such esteem or high regard.
As I have stated elsewhere, the need for alignment is absolutely necessary or the intent is lost in opposing thought or action. With this in mind, I wondered if thought, word and action were aligned as evidence of single-mindedness in the show of respect. In my observation of myself and others, I find that often we are often in opposition regarding the matter of respect. That is we say one thing and do another. One example of this might be persons who say they desire or perhaps demand respect, while at the same time exhibiting behavior that attracts disrespect.
As always it is so much easier to point the finger at them and they and what they are doing as an example of the dysfunctional aspect of a given behavior. Unfortunately, it’s like counting someone elses’ money, no matter how often we count it, we’re never going to be rich. So let’s bring this to someplace where we can do something about it; back to ourselves.
I also believe that a respectworthy person is one who respects everyone, regardless of their situation or choices in life, but simply because they are respectful of themselves. When one respects themself, than respect for others is merely second nature. Conversely, if you do not hold yourself in high regard, it makes it quite difficult to hold anyone else in high regard. Therefore, I would think that the place to start demanding respect is of oneself. Our level of self respect can be ascertained by the alignment of our thoughts, words and actions toward ourselves, and unlike when judging others, we often know what we are thinking. When we look at others, we can only hear their words or see their actions, but we can’t judge their thoughts. Some may say that the thoughts are judged by the words and actions, but I beg to differ because so many of us are not aligned and do act contrary to what we think.
In reviewing our thought, word and mind processes, we have to exam ourselves to find if we are truly in alignment. It’s sort of like the person who says, “I love you,” and than proceeds to respond to you with unloving behavior. In a like way, if we say we love ourselves, if we are in alignment, than we follow through with loving words and loving behaviors toward ourselves. We can apply this process to every aspect of our lives in order to bring ourselves into alignment regarding the concept of respect: holding self in high regard.
Hypothetically, if I am holding myself in high regard, than I think, do and say nothing that is contrary to this belief. If I am respectful or respectwrothy, than I think, say and do things that show that I hold myself in high regard. The concept of arrogance is one that belies this feeling of high regard for self.
If one is arrogant, they are not aligned as they are not thinking, feeling and doing things that hold themselves in high regard, but acting in a braggadoccio manner so that they can hoodwink others into believing what they ultimately do not believe about themselves. However, when one is confident, they are thinking, speaking and acting in a way that is evident of their confidence and it is others who are offering accolades as proof of their level of confidence in any particular arena. Given this understanding, confidence is alignment, arrogance is not. I would think that this is the underlying meaning of, “walking softly and carrying a big stick.” You are not respected merely because you have a big stick. You are not respected because you say you have a big stick. You are respected because you are known to have the confidence, the reputation and the capacity for using your big stick without stomping around and making a whole lot of noise about it and this is why you are respected.
When we think one way, say things another way and do them an all together different way, we do not inspire esteem. We tend to be repetitious in our behavior of speaking of our intent and either not acting on that intent or acting in someway that belies our words. Consistancy from the beginning thought, through the word, through the action is evident of our esteem for both self and others.
If for no other reason than that we are human, we must always hold ourselves and others in esteem, regardless of their behavior. In so doing, we prevent ourselves from becoming caught up in the weaknesses of others as well as examplifying how are person of respect behaves. Most of our patterns of behavior are modeled: that is we learned to do what we do by watching others do it. This is why each faction has its own identifying socio-cultural behavior patterns. This being the case, than it is possible that somoene who is not holding themselves in high regard, not holding others in high regard, might learn over time to do so if everyone else around them is acting in an aligned way when it comes to holding themselves and others in high regard. Sadly, part of the human condition is to have an ego.
Ego is the most prolific reason for us to not hold ourselves or others in high regard. When our ego is bruised, we tend to think that this gives us the priviledge of treating that person the way they “deserve” to be treated based upon their behavior. In essence, ego places the other person in control of our thought, words and actiton. It is also ego that justifies the reactionary thoughts, words and actions that we propose to exhibit and in doing so, our egotistical reaction becomes the “model” for others to emmulate. Fortunately, everything has both a negative and a positive aspect. In the same way that ego can be a force to relinquish control of ourselves to others, it can also be used to place a greater control for ourselves in our own hands.
The series of questions I like to ask myself (once I’ve regained control of my thought processes after a particularlly horrendous bruising) are these: Who am I? (kind, loving, decent, badass, warrior woman, etc) Are the thoughtsss, words and actions that I desire to respond with in alignment with who I know myself to be? Do I like the words/actions that person is exhibiting? If not, why do I want to be that person? How do I, with aligned thought, words and actions based upon the knowledge of knowing who I really am, respond to this situation? With these questions I am once again calm, capable of placing things in their proper perspective and displaying words and actions that are mine and not the other persons (my ego reactionary self). This allows me to hold myself and the other person in a place of esteem; giving us both the respect that we deserve.
I am still in training for this process and find the shorter response time between recognizing my ego and me evident that I am growing. I was going through a lot of affirmations and other techniques to try to implement the appropriate behavior when I heard some folks who were into Sado-masochistic behavior talk about “safe” words. Apparently the submissive has a “safe” word in order to stop the circumstances from accelerating and thereby preventing damage. I thought, what a wonderful concept! What I need is a “safe” word. A word that tells me my sadistic self is going to far in creating pain for myself or others and need to stop. It works!
My “safe” word is “brakes” and I use it in this way. Before the situation gets to the point of no return (the point when you stop thinking and just start to react to the situation) I say to myself “brakes”. This process brings me back to my control center whereby I am aware of what is going on inside of me, how I am reacting to the person and what I need to do to extract myself from the situation. In this way I don’t think, say or do anything that is the opposite of what I in my true form (who I know myself to be) would never do. Of course this takes time and practice but, like meditation, in time the mere word will cause you to immediately relax and once again ground yourself and respond as from the heart of who you are.
At this stage I guess you’re wondering how did we get from respect to safe words and what does one have to do with the other. The fact still remains that we must hold ourselves in esteem. This means aligning our thoughts, words and actions at all times in order to do so. This in turn means that when we allow ourselves to become reactionaries to the circumstances we are involved in than we are no longer aligned and therefore no longer respecting who we are or placing ourselves in the highest regard. In fact, we are now placing that person and/or thing in an elevated status above ourselves. We have now given them permission to use us, through our bruised ego, to implement their program of behavior. The only way to stop and correct this process is to realign with the knowledge we have of who we are through our thought, word and action. In order to do this we are using a ‘safe’ word as a mnemonic device to remind us of who we are and that we need to realign ourselves. Herein lies our victory.
I suggest that you choose a ‘safe’ word and begin practicing to implement it in situations in which you are likely to become angry, hurt, outraged or bitter enough to lose yourself, practice using that word in your mind by dredging up past memories in which you lost control and using it in the scenerio to determine what you might have done if you had been using your ‘safe’ word. In this way, you are using the past experience to shape the responses of the present, thereby preventing the loss of control in the future. Good luck and my deepest respect.