During my tween days, when it seemed like I didn’t have a friend in the world, my mother would say to me, “It doesn’t matter whether people like you. What’s important is that they respect you.”
Webster’s defines respect as “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” We respect someone, need respect, pay respect, command respect. Where does respect live in the body? As I sit with these “feelings” different sensations move through my belly and chest. My breath changes, along with my posture.
I asked a student where she experiences respect, and she placed her hand on her heart. It’s where we pledge, promise, avow. Hand to heart, a symbol across cultures and history. Going back to the definition, the word origin of respect is the Latin: respicere – to look back at, to regard.
As I tumbled down the rabbit hole of respect ramifications: Respect your parents, respect nature, respect for the dead, respect tinged with fear/awe/reverence, I pictured primal respect for the alpha male and female of my pack, respect for my fellow humans….and paused.
Could this be the brass ring that could save us from descending into contempt, name calling, sneering and jibing? And what about self-respect? How do I regard myself? As Aretha Franklin famously sang, “All I’m askin’ is for a little respect…”
It’s interesting that we pay respect and pay attention, as if this kind of regard is a form of currency that is exchanged between us. When I attend to that feeling in the chest, to the cadence of the breath, to the knot in the stomach, could it awaken a feeling of “deep admiration” for the miracle of my own existence? And in that moment of self-respect perhaps a different feeling could arise in the chest, of regard for others, no matter their opinion or origin. That kind of currency would be worth its weight in gold.
Why not take a moment right now?
It’s worth a try.