What does it really mean to earn respect? Running an establishment, owning a lovely home, being in charge of a department, or having a prestigious job? Perhaps. There is a more lasting method of earning respect than may be possible through public indications of success. There is a deep inner state you can cultivate through earning respect for yourself. This can be a long journey but it begins in small steps.
One of the first steps to earning respect is learning to tell the truth. This takes practice. First, you have to recognize the truth for what it is to you. The extremes fueled by emotions nor the extremes fueled by wanting to please others rarely represent the truth. Truth is found between the extremes of our unexamined feelings and the fear of not pleasing others. Truth is between these opposites and only you can determine what your truth really is. Only you can call yourself to the full picture of truth for you. This is a step in developing respect for yourself. A few exchanges help to capture this.
Heart-felt emotions, not full truth
George, you are a slimy jerk having RSVP’d saying I was coming to this party. What gave you that right without even asking me? You just totally ignore my wishes, set me up for failure, and expect me to bow and scrape because you want me to. Just leave me alone! You make me so angry!
Giving in to pleasing others, not full truth
George, I know you really want me to go to this party. I am not happy about this but I will go. I will put a smile on and act as if I like these people and what they stand for. If this is what you want, I will go. But you owe me!
Beginnings of speaking truth
George, I already told you, I am not going to this party and pretend to be happy about who these people are and what they stand for. It is not something you have a right to expect of me. You may have the finesse to pull this off and be comfortable yourself. That is fine. I know I do not and I will not put my self in harm’s way in order to present a united false front to these people.
To even get close to the third example of beginning to speak truth, you have to determine what truth looks like. It changes through time, through your experiences, through your failures and through the conscious development of who you truly are and how you show that to others. You are the only one who can begin to see the balance between your strong emotions and the desire or perceived need to please others. Somewhere in between the extremes, truth can be found.
Further along the path to speaking truth
George, I know you want me to go with you to this party. I get that. If I could find anywhere within me that I could do that, I would, for you. However, I feel so totally like I am play acting when I am in those people’s company. I can not put myself in that environment without feeling I have let my own self down. I hope you can understand this. I am sorry to disappoint you, truly, but I won’t be going.
When you speak from a place of deep and full truth, you earn respect for yourself. As you earn respect for yourself, you can hold that space for others you encounter. Search for the full truth of a situation. It is likely to be found between the strong emotional reactions and the total giving into what is expected by others. Earning respect for yourself is something you can cultivate, grow and get better at. It also has longevity and solidity not to mention that the process of earning respect for self enables you to be your best person.