This is a guest post by Sara Jacobs
Growing up, the kinds of respect I was initially taught were not helpful to me later in my life. For example, I was supposed to respect teachers who would hit me, which made it seem like respect was born out of fear. My mom, too, was a strict disciplinarian. And in the playground, the bigger kids earned a form of respect by scaring the younger and smaller kids.
As I got older, I saw that the more I respected others, respect came my way. Even when I did not agree with my friends’ behaviors, I did not speak out, thinking this was a way to earn their respect; that it would keep me with the ‘in’ crowd. But that didn’t sit well with me. By compromising my values and beliefs, I slowly lost myself.
Growing wiser, I finally understood I needed to respect who I am and what I stand for, before I could really respect others. The more I saw that, the more I grew in my convictions, and confident in my own skin. I then began to see that respecting others is accepting who they are, and what they believe in. I do not need to agree with everything they say or do, but I can respect them for being the individual they are, much the same way by accepting who I am, I gained respect for myself.
I also learned that when we value people; when we do not put an emphasis on their accomplishments, or what they are good at; when we become mindful of the whole person, it becomes easier to respect everyone.
As a parent, there are times when my son could make me so angry that in moments of frustration, I was unable to understand how he could not follow simple instructions. I would forget to see the good: that he is a sweet kid who means well. All I would see were how his behaviors were driving me crazy.
I have been able to remind myself to see my son for who he is, and that he deserves my respect, regardless of his actions. That allowed me to empathize with him; to reach out to him, and show him that despite his mistakes, my love and my respect for him will always be there.
As a result, I saw a change in him, as he was able to view himself not by mistakes, but by the person he is, and the person he can become.
When we see what it really means to respect ourselves and others, we make a huge impact on our relationships. We become better able to influence others and our voices become clearer and stronger—when we sow respect, we reap respect. When we respect others, we show them how to respect us, too. And when we respect each other, we make a positive impact on each other’s lives.
Success is not measured by the amount of fortune we amass. Instead, it’s the wealth we have cultivated in our relationships, and the efforts we have made to make changes for a better world and a better future, no matter how small. And respect for ourselves and for others, is right in the middle of it all.
Sarah Jacobs loves creating articles that can benefit others. She has worked as a freelance writer in a variety of fields including technology, business, finance, marketing, and personal development. You can learn more about her company here.