This song by Aretha Franklin, RESPECT, has been a subject of many coaching conversation both past and present. The conversation usually begins like this:
Client: I do not get the respect I deserve from others (Colleagues, clients, patients, family members).
Coach (Me): That is unfortunate. Can you share with me how you show respect for yourself?
Client: I am not sure what you mean by that.
Coach: Do you respect yourself? Do you acknowledge your strengths and gifts? Do you know what you want and have clear boundaries about what you say yes and no to? Do you treat yourself with respect or do you get buried in self-criticism?
And then the conversation begins.
Fact: You cannot demand respect from others if you disrespect yourself. How you treat yourself is how others will treat you. Respect is earned when YOU self-respect.
Darn and double darn! Reality check – this is how the Law of Attraction works, that is ‘like attracts like’. Your inside world will be reflected in your outside world. Example: when you are disrespectful of yourself, you will often disrespect others and they you. Again, like attracts like.
Strategies for Building Self-Respect:
I use the word ‘building’ deliberately. Self-respect is not a switch that you can turn on and off like a light. It is a journey of beginning to see yourself, exploring your strengths and gifts and how you offer these to the world, acknowledging your uniqueness and converting your inner-critic into your inner coach. With the assistance of one of my colleagues Shari, I would like to offer the following ideas for guiding you to a respectful relationship with yourself, using RESPECT as an acronym.
R – Respond and Restrain
Develop your awareness on how you respond to yourself in different circumstances. When you stumble or make a mistake, do you immediately fall into the trap of self-criticism or are you able to shift to a place where you exercise restraint and remember that you are human? Humans can make mistakes and from these you learn. Respect means holding the space for failure and leveraging these as learning opportunities.
E – Emotion
Emotions need to be embraced, not denied. Feel what you feel, whether that is happiness or sadness, elation of grief, peace or anger. Many of us, especially women, are socialized to never express anger. New research shows that when women do this, it feeds the inner critic and, whether you are angry with someone or something, you turn it on yourself. That is unfair self-punishment. Respect dictates that you allow yourself to experience and express your true feelings, living them through and ultimately enabling you to release them
S – Stand in Your Power
In our world, power is generally interpreted as power over something or someone. Standing in your power is different. It means cultivating your inner resources, recognizing who you are and embracing your strengths. Finally, it means knowing you are enough, just as you are, a unique gifted human being. There is only one you. Acknowledging yourself and appreciating who you are is the height of respect. First thing every morning, stand, feet slightly apart, arms at your side and slightly away from your sides, and pushing the arms back allow your power to fill you and ultimately, fuel you.
P – Peace
Find ways to bring peace into your life. Given the fear driven society you live in, this is more important than ever. I recommend a minimum of 15 minutes per day, sitting quietly, breathing, exploring what you are grateful for and sitting in a place of peace. Most importantly, make peace with yourself, be okay with you, then radiate that peace into the world. I personally love to chant peace, peace, peace or Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
E – Empathy
Be understanding. You are an imperfect human being, we all are. By the way, perfection is a myth. When you make a mistake or are less than perfect, take a walk in your own shoes and understand that circumstances beget actions. You respond to situations and people in ways that you may not like. Empathy allows you to understand that you did the best you could given what you knew in that moment and that you are always improving. Respect yourself enough to be less than perfect.
Compassion and empathy are twin sisters. With compassion you continue the work of empathy soothing yourself with kindness, reassuring yourself and recognizing that you, like everyone else, occasionally screw up. Secondly compassion is fierce, the energy of standing up for yourself and taking your rightful place in the world. Fierce self-compassion says, ‘this is not going to happen on my watch. I respect myself too much to stand down from what is rightfully mine’.
T – Trust your Truth
It is unfortunate that the voice of the inner critic is rarely truthful. It is guided by fear, messages from the past, and biased by the opinions of others. Truth lies in your heart and if you learn to trust that, you are entering the realm of respect. When you hear the critic’s voice in your ear, remind her/him that she/he is out of date. Check in with your heart, see the truth of who you are and trust it. Then switch gears and offer yourself something your best friend would say to you, something uplifting and respectful.
Until next time,