Respect is about valuing another person, holding them in regard, that they are of worth and have rights, paying attention to them and what they hold as true for them without dismissing them, belittling them, berating or condemning them as a person.
Being unconditional also means that the respect that we have for another human being (or animal, plant, insect or object) remains present and in place, no matter what they present to us.
Respect is sometimes the difference between knowing that we and others are not our behaviour, that there is good and bad in all of us. We may disagree with another’s actions or behaviour, but still maintain a sense of worth for their humanity. What we or others may do is not always about whom we are at our core, especially with regards our true selves. There are many numbers of conflicts and hypocrisy that we may live daily, whilst still trying to have good intentions and none of us are perfect.
Self-respect is about separating our own actions and behaviours and mistakes by not condemning ourselves judgementally as being a human who has no worth and deserves to be berated and hard on ourselves. It might be about learning to leave behind the thoughts that making one mistake are about the whole of us, or another. In this sense, black and white thinking leaves very little room for respect. The idealising of others, by putting someone on a pedestal and then their rapid downfall if they make a mistake, also leaves little room for respect. Feelings of anger can make it difficult to remain respectful of another.
Respect may be something which every living thing (and non-living) deserves, to be cherished, rather than as something that is earned. I noticed in a TV programme an elderly man berating the younger generation, saying that they had no respect for their elders. He was cursing them, and it illustrated that he had no respect for them and perhaps this was the issue. It’s often said that we should ‘respect our elders’. If our elders are poor role models at demonstrating respect towards `youngers’, then the `youngers’ will surely perceive a confusing mixed message. How can we be expected to learn something if it is not adequately demonstrated? It is an unreasonable request which does not make sense, and neither does gaining respect through fear or the rod which is fallible and creates false, rather than genuine respect.
Generally we may find ourselves respectful of others, but then our disrespect may suddenly rear its head in other circumstances such as towards those who are disrespectful of others (judgement upon judgement). It can be useful for our personal and spiritual development to notice where we are able to maintain respect for another and when we might lose respect and fall into the realms of judgement. So how do we remain non-judgemental?
Respect can include respect for other people and their differing points of view – without feeling a need to ridicule their views, or change their mind, but just allowing another to hold a differing point of view.
Respect may also include respect for our environment, picking up litter – even if it is someone else’s, treating plants and wildlife with care.
And what about self-respect? Do we belittle or berate ourselves when things don’t go well, or to plan? How hard and judgemental can we be on ourselves? Do we have enough self-respect to say no to others, even when it means being or doing differently?