I start with this question at all of my No Respect, No Relationship talks. How do you define respect?
Don't Google the definition, just write, how do you define respect?
Aretha Franklin and Respect
Did you know that this song, this anthem, was originally written by Otis Redding about a man? Aretha Franklin changed it into a female anthem, and it is still iconic today. Ask yourself why is it so iconic? Yes, Franklin was a powerful performer, but the song resonated so strongly with the civil rights movements of the 1960's and still today for a reason.
Why is respect important?
The problem with bullying and abuse is, the abuser is manipulative. I cannot give you a checklist. If there was a checklist then the bully would simply make sure they don't do anything on that list. There are so many ways to belittle, demean, control and coerce a person. I often hear from clients 'but he never hit me', which is clearly a learned response. They are told this by their bully, their bully is telling them that there is a check list (such as physical violence) and since the bully isn't doing that (being physically violent) then their behaviour must be acceptable.
The thing about respect is all people deserve respect. Even if a person is more powerful than you, they should still treat you with respect. Yes a student should respect their teacher but also, a teacher needs to treat the student with a certain amount of respect. The teacher cannot simply humiliate or denigrate their students. The teacher can exercise authority, and needs to exercise authority, but they need to still show respect to the student.
Our legal system operates in a similar fashion, in fact, one might argue that the entire concept of civil liberties is founded on the basis that all human beings have certain inalienable rights BECAUSE all human beings have inherent worth and value and should therefore be treated with respect.
But what if a person is abusive, should I respect them?
If your abuser figures out that respect is your measure they will try and use this against you. For instance, they will try and convince you that respecting them means forgiving their bad behaviour (and continuing to submit to their bad behaviour). Be careful here, respect is not submission. Respect is not authority. Respect might be forgiving, but forgiving is not the same as continuing to accept and subject yourself to bad behaviour.
Respect is reciprocal. A teacher deserves your respect, including respect for their authority. However, if the teacher is not showing respect for the students then some response is needed for the benefit of the students because even the badly behaved student is a human being who has certain inalienable rights.
In answer to the question I posed, yes everyone deserve respect BUT everyone does not deserve your submission, your presence, your support, your time or your love.
What should I do?
You should be able to define respect for yourself. You cannot identify it if you don't know what it is.
You should be talking about it with your loved ones, all your loved ones. It should be a natural conversation because you are actively identifying respectful and disrespectful behaviour as you go about your day, and so it is natural for you to mention that in conversation with your loved ones.
If a person is disrespectful remember, respect cuts both ways. You deserve respect too. You do not have to give them your time, you do not have to submit to them, you do not have to continue to hang around repeatedly forgiving them when they have no apparent ability to change their behaviour.
You should end the friendship, find a new job, speak with a superior (like at school, the Principal), or leave that romantic relationship. If it is someone you cannot avoid, like your Uncle, don't be left alone with them and ask a trusted family member for help with that.
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