“Respect is Just a Minimum”

Respect is a Minimum Requirement

It is very difficult to respect someone who allows themselves to be taken advantage of repeatedly. Most importantly it is difficult for someone in those circumstances to respect themselves.

I am not speaking of those who are legitimately disenfranchised and powerless (like children and people living under oppressive regimes.)  I’m talking about anyone who is capable, who sloughs off their capabilities for the relative safety of “I can’t”  or “I don’t know how”  or “You don’t understand…its more complicated than you think.”

In Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)”, the lead single from her phenomenal and highly awarded album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”, she sings about relationships between men and women.

She describes how, for young women, giving away too much of yourself early in a relationship (sexually or emotionally) can lead to abandoning one’s “self”…essentially exchanging sex in a desire to receive protection or resources.

The lyrics portray some young men who seek respect in the world by engaging in dangerous behaviors: they earn money and provide for themselves (whether or not they also provide for others) to prove their worth and worthiness.

Neither women nor men are willing to set limits with themselves or with one another. Both sides are eager to obtain their most coveted prize, which Hill references as “that thing.”

One of the lines that she sings is: “Baby girl, respect is just a minimum.”  It is reminder that if you don’t respect yourself, no one else will.

This is a great truth. Respect is a minimum requirement in any relationship that works to the greater fulfillment of all involved.

Our Clients…Our Selves

Many people, including our clients, friends, colleagues and even ourselves launch continuous complaints about the same events or the same sequence of events in our work or professional lives.

Many of us have a story about the job that is overworking us or the relationship where we are taken for granted, etc…

The stories sound like this:

  • “They don’t appreciate all of the work that I do;” or
  • “He or she acts like I am made of money;” or
  • “I can’t do the tasks assigned to me because I am doing his/her duties;” and
  • “I can’t say no because I am new to the job;” or
  • “I can’t say no because we are still establishing a relationship;” or
  • “I need the benefits;” or
  • “I can’t do this alone;” or
  • “I always meet people who take more from me than they give” and so on.

The only things that make these stories true is our belief in them.

  • My message for therapists is “Don’t believe your client’s story!”
  • My message to supervisors is “Don’t believe your supervisee’s story!”
  • My message to you is “Don’t believe your own story.”

Respect Yourself, Like Yourself, Love Yourself

This doesn’t mean to lose empathy or regard for the storyteller and their plight. It means to think more of them than they think of themselves. Think more of yourself than the sad story that “no one respecting you.”  The most important thing to consider is whether or not you are respecting yourself.

Is the client respecting his or her self?

Is the supervisee respecting his or her self?

Are you respecting yourself? If not, how can we expect others to do so when we won’t?

If you or your client or your supervisee is not respecting themselves first… there is the place to begin the process of change…by behaving your way into  a new experience.

Make the central focus for yourself and the person you are supporting (client or supervisee) be “What would I do differently if I put respecting myself at the center of my decisions?”

What if you only said “yes” when it was really a “yes” and all other times you say “no”?

If you really can’t take on another responsibility at work without your work suffering or your well-being suffering …why did you say yes?

Stand Up for Yourself

Many say “because I need my job.” In most cases their job is not really at risk. In the cases where saying “no” would put their job at risk, then it is past time to consider a better employment circumstance.

We have so few decent places of employment because people don’t insist on it. Instead we agree to be overworked and underpaid and complain to ourselves and anyone who will listen. All along perpetuating that we are incapable and that respect starts somewhere outside of ourselves.

Some of us are trying so hard not to disappoint or hold a desire to be liked by others so much that we risk losing our core identity! We say what others want to hear without first consulting ourselves. In the process, we become unrecognizable to ourselves and others.

Of course I support healthy interpersonal skills. Saying “no” and standing up for oneself can be done very assertively and with very little to no explanation. It only comes across as aggressive, harsh or angry when we wait to say “no” after our boundaries have been breached. We tend to think that the other party knows what they have done and it is up to them to stop…

No…it is up to ourselves to put a stop to the undesired behavior or practice by not participating in it. We can’t control others…only ourselves.

What good is it to say “yes” when you really wanted to say “no”? You may have spared someone’s feelings briefly by saying yes. However, you are moving forward with a “lie.” A lie that zaps your energy, your joy, your effectiveness, your laughter, your spirit and your self.

  • Say “No I won’t take on another task or assignment. I am open to discussing why if you are interested in the challenges I am facing in this work.”
  • Say “No I will not advance this relationship without clarity of purpose and exclusivity between us for my own emotional and physical safety.”
  • Say “I’ve changed my mind…I can no longer honor what I previously said “yes” too…circumstances have changed for me.”

Be prepared to seek and receive better employment bolstered by the self confidence that there are great places for you to work.

Be prepared to walk away from the possibilities with one person so that you can be open to a reality with someone else more aligned to your well-being.

Be prepared to forsake a promise  to someone else in order to keep the promise to always respect yourself!

Copyright © 2016 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.

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