According to the dictionary, respect means ‘a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements’.
This ties respect to a sense of self worth and self esteem.
When you have a healthy sense of self worth, you are aware of your abilities and qualities, and usually will have a fairly good sense of the things you may achieve. And building your life on this foundation, it is easy to extend this respect to others, without the need to know about their abilities or qualities.
It seems a contradiction in terms; looking at ourselves we need to be ‘worthy’ to gain our respect, yet as we respect ourselves we tend to respect others at face value.
And turning this around, when we see great qualities or abilities in the other person, more often than not we seem to let this take away from the respect we have for ourselves.
Either way, it seems we put a greater importance on the other person than we put on ourselves.
On the other hand, when we get into a situation where we cannot respect ourselves, it becomes almost impossible to respect the other person; independent from their abilities or qualities. When we can’t respect ourselves and are confronted with a person who has great abilities or qualities, the lack of respect to ourselves is all too often expressed as jealousy toward the other...
Respect is a two way street.
Respecting ourselves makes it easy to respect others; in respecting others we gain respect.
Respect assumes equality.
This doesn’t mean that we are the same, or should do the same things, achieve the same goals; it means that we are equal in value, equal in worth. It means that we are not more important than the other person, but neither is the other person more important than we are.
Respect allows us to celebrate our differences.
It creates a space in which interaction can occur, based on equality, allowing each of us to be true to ourselves while admiring the the other person’s abilities, qualities or achievements.
Having said all that, respect is something that is earned. When we are told to respect something or someone, it is not respect that is needed from us, what is needed is that we follow the rules. Whatever they may be. Also, when we are told to respect someone who doesn’t deserve our respect, it is not going to work.
The real question then becomes; are we worthy enough to respect ourselves? To hold ourselves in high esteem?
Well, as respect assumes equality, this makes me different, unique, yet equal in worth to anyone else, I would say: “Absolutely!”