The work / book of love, sex and relationships made me understand the importance of self-respect.
Why talk about self-respect?
Because if we're not the first to really respect ourselves, the others won't either. Whether it occurs between known people or complete strangers, disrespect takes various forms and manners in daily life of personal and professional relationships.
And there are people actually capable of overtaking other human beings with tractors full of indifference, arrogance, poor empathic capacity, if not outright cruelty.
The problem is that each of us can experience a lack of respect even without calling others into question, and certainly long before reaching extreme situations. Such as?
We are usually the first to disrespect ourselves.
And we do it in so many ways, even though it may seem strange.
For example, every time we do something even if we don't want to do it. When we don't feel like meeting a certain person but accept the invitation, or when we try hard to do something we don't really like.
Why do we do it? How do we know what's good for us?
Simply, by listening to us: one of the most difficult things for the average human being.
Distinguishing what we like from what we don't like, as well as feeling our instincts, is usually the first problem.
The second is to decide to follow what feelings and emotions tell us.
It is not obvious that recognising what it means to take action to obtain it, on the contrary!
Another way we don't respect ourselves is by judging ourselves.
From the softest comments to the most outrageous offences, we are often our own worst enemies.
We are human beings and, as such, we are not perfect.
Not even after years of psychotherapy are we exempt from repeating those dysfunctional behaviours that we know so well by now. It's natural.
On the other hand, we don't like it and this can lead us to make even very ferocious judgments about ourselves.
In reality, this only takes us away from a real possibility of change, since “only by accepting ourselves as we are can we change” (Carl Rogers).
At the same time, self-acceptance does not mean self-indulgence, otherwise we will hardly take action to change what we don't like.
So, how to check if we are people who respect their tastes, their (real) needs and who have the ability to question themselves without condemning themselves?
We could start by asking ourselves a few questions:
Do I like what I do? If not, what leads me to do it?
When I see something about myself that I don't like, how does it affect me? Do I feel tenderness or disgust / anger?
Self-respect, therefore, starts from the foundations: listening to and following more what we feel, accepting ourselves even if we are not always as we would like.
And then we come to relationships.
Even within a relationship with another person, whatever their nature, we can ask ourselves if we respect each other or not.
This issue can become very sensitive, for example when it comes to real violence (physical, sexual, psychological, economic and / or in the workplace), exploitation and all forms of racism and discrimination.
And there are situations or relationships where violence is so subtle and pervasive that it becomes extremely difficult for the person to escape from it without outside help.
The fact remains that within him/her every human being has the power to create a better world for himself/herself, even if he/she does not believe in it or does not know how to do it.
If we do not recognise this power, the person is doomed as he remains a victim with no hope. And also asking for help when you can't do it alone, is a gesture of great strength and respect for yourself.
To avoid reaching dangerous escalations, whenever in our opinion the other person disrespects us, we must ask ourselves: what do I do to make myself respected?
Because if it is true that we do not have control over the other, we can decide how we want to be treated, to the point of moving away from a situation or a person that we cannot change and that we do not like.
And in case of severe difficulty, ask for help.
Unfortunately, even in small things today there are still die-hard stereotypes and prejudices, such as gender, racial, sexual orientation, to say the first of a list that is still too long. And the only antidote is to express ourselves. Express our point of view even if different from that of others. Express our disappointment at anything that passes as a joke or joke but hurts us. Affirm the freedom to be unique and unrepeatable, although all the same when it comes to rights. This is respect.
In a healthy relationship, despite popular beliefs, it is not serious to have different ideas and to discuss, as long as there is the sharing of free expression.
Personally, it took me a long time to be able to reassure my fear of being wrong and / or rejected and to grant myself the right to express my opinion even in the presence of people with different ideas.
Especially in contexts or relationships where different opinions are not welcome.
When I speak of free expression, I mean the affirmation of one's own thought and point of view, not the offence and judgment of the other.
There is a rather big difference between expressing oneself and acting, as well as between freedom of thought and pursuing discriminatory, devaluing or even racist ideas and ideologies.
The only way to make others respect our individuality is to be the first to give ourselves permission to exist.
Do you feel entitled to exist and express yourself?
Do you respect yourself?
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