Number 13 in a Series
What does being respectful mean to you?
Although respect is a universally acclaimed value, what it means to be respectful is subject to many interpretations. I used to have a very narrow definition that included things like adhering to accepted protocols and following through on my commitments. For example, I prided myself in knowing that when I told someone I would be someplace or do something, I would be there or do it. If something got in the way of following through I would be respectful and let the other person know.
Although things like that are important parts of being respectful, looking up the word in the dictionary greatly expanded my horizon. I found definitions like “treating something as sacred” and “the behavior that nurtures the well-being of oneself and others.”
When I put my behavior through the filter of those definitions I was shocked at how often I was disrespectful. For example, yelling at or denigrating another person is not treating them with the behavior accorded a Divine being and does not nurture their well-being. Nor does such behavior nurture my own well-being.
So, once again I began focusing on the behavior that flows naturally when heart-connected. An open heart honors us by knowing that as expressions of the Divine we treat ourselves and others with the behavior accorded to a Divine being. Honoring always includes feeling compassion and a desire to learn more.
When I’m connected to my heart I know that I am always doing the best that I can. I know that any disrespectful behavior toward others and myself is the result of a fear that is fueled by a disconnected belief. For example, given a fear that “If I am wrong I’m inadequate, unlovable and will be rejected” may result in denying my behavior or blaming someone else.
When heart-connected, I do not judge behavior or feelings by applying labels such as wrong, a jerk, or stupid. Because I know that we all are always doing the best we can, I do not try to change others or myself, even when a behavior results in difficult feelings or situations.
I do seek a deeper understanding of the beliefs and fears that determine thoughts and behavior, and maintain the faith that when beliefs change, behavior changes.
Respectful behavior is the unconditional acceptance of love. As I’ve previously confessed, even with my best of intentions, when the fears and heart-disconnected beliefs that are part of the package of being human hold sway, I fail at expressing that kind of acceptance.
Working to remove the baggage that keeps me from being connected to my heart and the respectful behavior that naturally follows, is how I keep moving toward the ideal of unconditional love.
Most people agree with respect as a universal principle. It is a pillar of all the world’s major religions. But, talking the talk of respect and walking the talk, especially in the face of upsets, requires the most unusual paradigm that is presented in the next post. Until then, the attached list that contrasts Respectful and Disrespectful Behavior may help deepen your understanding.
For Your Journey
- What does the expanded definition of respect from paragraph two mean to you?
- Think of situations from your past where you have behaved disrespectfully toward yourself and others in which today you would not behave that way. What has changed? Deeply knowing the fears and beliefs that were driving your behavior will remove any negative self-judgments.
- Think of situations where others have behaved disrespectfully towards you. Deeply knowing the fears and beliefs that fueled their behavior will help you, without condoning their behavior, lift the burden of your negative judgments. (If you have trouble doing this you can not judge yourself negatively by understanding the very important fears and beliefs you have for not being able to give up your judgments.)
- Share-it-forward. Make a copy of the Respectful and Disrespectful Behavior list and discuss it with another person.
First in the Series: From Head to Heart
BECOMING YOUR OWN HERO illuminates a path available to us all to attain the kind of personal power demonstrated by our most revered and inspirational heroes. Marianne Williamson, #1 New York Times best-selling author said, “I highly recommend this illuminating and touching look into the possibilities of staying connected to our hearts, even when facing difficult situations.”
Photo: Flickr/ arjuna tetuko