Respect does not come easily for most of us. Often times we either don’t know how to ask for it or we get angry that someone isn’t giving it to us. Perhaps, at the root, we are not sure what respect authentically means outside of cultural references which imply that it is a type of honor given to someone who is worthy of it. However, are not most human beings — and arguably all living things — worthy of at least some respect, whether they have earned it or not?

The etymology of respect literally means: the act of looking back at something or someone who presumably inspires this second look. If respect is about a person being eye catching enough that you do a double take, does that mean that most of the spectacle on the Internet, TV and movies is worthy of respect? I doubt it. A lot of what has been carried over from old moral and religious structures is respectable by many people’s standards.

For instance, if you are a person who keeps your promises and pays back your debts, you are often considered respectable. Respectable actions though, don’t imply that what you are doing is selfless, ethical or benefits humanity. Many self serving and cunning people are “respectable” in this way, without necessarily being worthy of it. Conversely, you can be a respectable individual because of your selfless acts of kindness or duty, but often this comes at the cost of your own desires and wants.

Can you respect others and the world, without respecting yourself?

I work with people who experience frequently what they call disrespect. According to the definition, disrespect means that they are not given the second look that they deserve, often for their hard work at home and in the world. Feeling disrespected creates all kinds of havoc in the emotional body. We each have our own brand of defense strategies that come into play when we feel hurt or slighted. It’s been my experience that these strategies do not provide any of us with the resolution we are seeking. When we find the ways to respect ourselves, respect begins to be mirrored back to us.

Finding a daily practice of essential self care while switching your allegiance to yourself above all others, is a radical movement towards earning respect from the world. When you take the time to respect, or turn your gaze towards yourself, you can uncover some ugly belief systems that you might be carrying around with you. Reframing your own code of ethics and practicing it requires self knowledge and discipline, but it is the clearest path towards gaining the respect you might be seeking. At the core of the current climate of the world, it is the centralizing truth that none of us can fake anymore. Each one of our actions matter and each one of us matter. We all deserve a second look, especially from ourselves.

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