The Web address of this
article is http://sfhelp.org/relate/keys/respect.htm
Clicking underlined links here will open a
new window. Other links will open an informational popup,
so please turn off your
browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site.
Follow underlined links after
finishing this article to avoid getting lost.
This is one of a series of articles in Lesson 4 - optimize your relationships. These articles build on Lessons 1 - 3, and prepare
you for Lesson 5 (evolve a nourishing family) and Lesson 6 (learn
to practice effective parenting).
"Follow the three R's: Respect for self, Respect for
and Responsibility for all your actions."
- the Dalai Lama
Do you - or does someone you care about - have "low self esteem"? Would you like
to raise your self respect and learn how to react to people who don't think
much of themselves - or you? Read on...
perspective on self respect
and mutual respect, including the roots of low self
improving your respect
for another person; and options for...
re/gaining someone's respect
This article assumes you're
the intro to
this nonprofit Web site and the premises
Try saying your definition of respect out loud now. Then think of
yourself and another person you value, and thought-fully rank each of these items from 1 (“very
low”) to 5 (“very high”). Notice your thoughts and feelings
as you do.
My recent respect for
a person: ___
My recent respect for myself as
a fe/male: ___
My recent respect for myself as
an adult: ___
Option: my recent respect for myself as
a parent: ___
In the last
six months, my
self-respect has __ grown / __ declined / __ not changed
My recent respect for
you as a
My recent respect for
a fe/male: ___
My recent respect for you as a
Option: my recent respect for you as a
In the last
six months, my
respect for you has __ grown / __ declined / __ not changed
your special person would
answer each of these statements.
I feel some mix of
centered, energized, light, focused, resilient,
up, grounded, relaxed, alert, aware, serene,
purposeful, and clear, so my
true Self is probably
other subselves now. (True
/ False / I'm not sure). If not "True," your answers above may be
Pause and reflect
- what are you aware of now? Do you see
anything above that you want to change?
Think of two or more living or dead
adults that you highly respect (vs. like or need). Now think
of several adults or kids that you don't respect. Reflect - what's
different about these people? This will illuminate your current criteria
for respect. Did you include yourself in either of these groups?
Premise - All
human relationships are shaped by the primal need to feel
worthy, valued, proud,important, and good –
respectable. For our purposes, let's say thatrespect is a
spontaneous earned (vs. "deserved") attitude of approval and admiration
of some aspects of yourself or another person. It is an essential
ingredient of self and mutual
The opposite of respect is indifference, scorn, disdain, rejection, revulsion, and/or
disgust. Some people label all these together as hate. Paradoxically, we can
dislike a person and still respect
some qualities about them - or like and disrespect them at the same time.
Have you ever felt that?
respect begins in early childhood if caregivers respect themselves, and
family nurturance is high enough. The more common alternative is
shame - a crippling
belief that “I am unworthy, bad, incompetent, and unlovable.”
awareness and skilled help,
childhood shame migrates intact into adulthood. Shame ranges from local
(e.g. “I’m a bad cook”) to global (“I’m a worthless person.”), and from
normal to excessive.
Normal (healthy) shame and guilt
help us regulate
our attitudes and behaviors.
Most kids in
develop a powerfulShamed Child personality subself. To adapt, we also develop several fierce
Guardian subselves who protect
and comfort our intense Shamed Child. Typical Guardians are the
Egotist, Critic, Fantasizer, Magician, (reality distorter),
People Pleaser, Martyr, Saint, Bully, Star,
Liar, Numb-er, Addict, Loner, Avoider, Blocker, andothers.
These normal personality parts can also guard
a Guilty Child, Scared Child, and Lost Child. If the Shamed Child
and related Guardians often control the person’s
true Self (capital "S"), the child or adult may be called
as a therapist since 1981 suggests that many
typical adults are shame-based (wounded) people who don’t (want to) know
Until they choose to admit this and to intentionally grow self-respect, non-egotistical
self love, they
risk unintentionally raising shame-based kids as their wounded
ancestors did. Do you know any parents or grandparents who are doing that?
Once aware of low self respect, you can intentionally improve it over time. Doing
this is learning to
value and act from your
integrity and overcome significant guilts ("I'm too self-centered!") and anxieties
("I'll be disliked and rejected!").
Strengthening self respect is
a major benefit of working at
Lesson 1 here.
This brief YouTube video focuses on understanding and protecting your integrity:
How do you feel about these premises? Could they apply to
you and other adults and kids you care about?
Degrees of Respect
person is a spontaneous (earned) attitude of significant approval, admiration, and appreciation. Respect can vary from...
global ("I respect
everything about Tanya") to...
situational ("Manuel did an outstanding job
handling the crisis."), to respecting one or more...
traits, abilities, and/or
roles ("Pat is such a gifted musician.")
Can you think of examples of all three levels
among the adults and kids you know?
Criteria for Respect
Over time, we grow criteria for awarding respect,
starting with standards we learn from our early caregivers and hero/ines. We (our
personality subselves) ceaselessly measure ourselves and other people against these
criteria. Is that your experience? Try
saying your criteria for "respectability" out loud - "I respect
criteria are awareness, courage, strength, resilience, determination, caring, responsibility,
optimism, reliability, integrity, open-mindedness, dignity, empathy, pride,
awareness, compassion, spirituality, humor, creativity, resourcefulness,
forgiveness, honesty, humility, wisdom, simplicity, and living on purpose. I've never met anyone with all these traits, and still know many
people I greatly respect.
My shame-based father would have emphasized hard worker,
superior,disciplined, persistent, competitive,
professional, logical, humorous, and stoic. I have no idea what my Mother's criteria
for respect were. Can you name your parents' criteria? If so, how do they
compare to yours?
Respect and Communication
After ~50 years' study, I conclude that people communicate
with themselves and others to fill a dynamic mix of up to
five needs. Perhaps the most
powerful is the quenchless need to feel respected enough now and over
time by (a) yourself and (b) important others.
personality subselves constantly
judge others' esteem for us by decoding
"R(espect) messages" from their behavior.
Communication may (vs. will) be
effective only when
each adult or child gets a credible mutual-respect ("=/=") message from the
other. Do you agree?
Recall the last time you felt scorned, distrusted, discounted, rejected, ignored,
humiliated, belittled, invaded, abused, accused, blamed, criticized,
cut off, interrupted,
and dismissed - i.e. disrespected. Remember how that felt?How old were
you when you first experienced these from another person? If you have kids,
when did they first experience these?
If you and
don't feel consistently respected enough by yourselves and each other, your
relationship will be stressful and may decay. Do you agree?
This video clip introduces what you're about to read.
The introduction mentions eight self-improvement lessons in this site. I've
reduced that to seven.
To intentionally convert shame
self respect, healthy pride, and self-love, it helps to understand…
The Roots of Low Self Esteem
Core shame or self-respect
begin in a
child's earliest years before language develops.
Whether shame or healthy pride develops is directly proportional to who leads
Adults guided by their
usually rear kids who think well of themselves and other people. Excessive (vs. normal) shame has wryly been called “the gift that goes on giving.”
of a shame-based personare unmistakable:
avoiding appropriate eye contact; compulsive
defensiveness; excessive fear of failure; chronic
hygiene and health (self-neglect); addiction, including
"egotism;" self-mutilation; living below potentials; and over-apologizing.
Anyone come to mind as you read these traits?
and Shamed Inner Child/ren
The personality of shame-based adults and
kids is significantly shaped by a tireless Inner Critic
(also called the Shamer) and one or more Shamed Child/ren.
When ever the Critic activates, this intense young subself
host person with
agonizing semi-conscious thoughts, feelings, and images which imply "I am
a worthless, unlovable, flawed, bad person / male
/ female / child."
For (illogical) reasons, your InnerCritic feels s/he
must acidly emphasize your endless shameful failings, mistakes,
stupidities, blunders, and lacks "for your own good!" S/He does
this through relentless thoughts and images. Meditation often discloses
that your Critic's "voice" (thought streams) sounds like
an early caregiver. Can you here "the voice" now?
If a subself or other person dares to challenge
our obvious worthlessness and unlovability ("You're such a great person!"), the Critic
relentlessly refreshes the old “truth” ("No way! Remember when you totally screwed up
by...”). If your Inner Critic is overactive, study Hal and Sidra Stone’s
useful book “Embracing
Your Inner Critic.”
A typical Inner Critic has several powerful
teammates. Your tireless Perfectionistsubself
"Perfect behavior is the lowest acceptable standard.
It deserves no praise whatsoever. Anything less, I'm gonna go get the Critic.
And s/he has a l-o-o-n-g memory..."
Inner Kids against re-experiencing the
agony of dashed hopes by ceaselessly insisting "You
won't (or can’t) succeed / get loved / please others / get healthier / stay
And perhaps you have a
tireless Worriersubselfwhose life mission is to generate shrill uncertainties and second guesses
about every decision and action you make. Its well-intentioned goal is to
guard you against all possible failures, according to
Inner Critic, Perfectionist, God, and various humans.
Perfectionist, Cynic, and Doubter subselves are probably supported by
an outspoken Moralizer / Preacheror Judge. Their self-appointed jobs are to provide rigid, right-wrong pronouncements to guide other
subselves (and most other people) on how they should and
Finally, you may be blessed and cursed with an energetic
People Pleaser. Her or his mission is to protect your
AbandonedChild and/orLonelyChild (subselves) from agonizing rejection (shaming)
you constantly focus on filling other people's needs to earn their
Typical Pleasers insist "You
can take care of your needs later. They're not as important to us as
__________'s needs are!" An overzealous Pleaser can (unintentionally) promote the toxic conditions of
self neglect and
and block effective win/win problem-solving.
recovery from childhood
these well-meaning Guardian subselves (a
"false self") distrust the competence of your
Self and other
Their thoughts, images, and feelings "take you over," specially in new,
public, or risky situations.
The inevitable result is ongoing inner
anxiety and conflict, and frequent feelings of shame, guilt, confusion, and
vague or sharp "worry." Does any of this sound familiar?
Notice an implication of the ideas you just read. It is "I have low
self esteem" now becomes "I'm often taken over by a Shamed Inner
Child living in the past, and my protective Critic, Perfectionist, Preacher,
and Pessimist subselves."
Grown Nurtured Children (GNCs)
Adults blessed with
caregivers can be called Grown Nurtured Children
They have Inner Critics and other devoted Guardian subselves too.
However, they're more reasonable and moderate, and are balanced by other
subselves who are sincerely affirming, loving, and encouraging.
GNC’s subselves usually trust their true Self to hear and respect
their needs and opinions, and then to act safely and effectively in every
situation. A GNC's Shamed Child is present, but s/he
usually feels noticed, accepted, and loved enough by other subselves
and people. Other inner kids are usually more active and impactful. Do you
know any Grown Nurtured Children?
Because self-scorn and
self-neglect are socially labeled
"negative," we can feel ashamed of our shame. Other Guardian subselves like
the (your) Analyzer, Blocker, Represser,
Numb-er, Deflector, and
Magician work hard to camouflage these traits
from inner and outer detection and shaming criticism via
reality distortions. This often promotes daily guilts and anxieties, which feel normal.
low self esteem (shame)
begins in early childhood if wounded caregivers can't consistently
provide healthy nurturance. Various personality subselves
learn early to be rigidly perfectionistic, self-critical, self-shaming, and
self-neglectful, and to discount talents, achievements, and successes. When this
dynamic becomes excessive, such a wounded adult can be called "shame-based."
Shame Seeks Itself
experience with over 1,000 typical adult therapy clients since 1981 is that
shame-based (wounded) people
choose others like them for partners and associates. That suggests that despite outward appearances,
divorcing and re/married couples share low self
esteem (shame) as persons, or in some key roles like wo/man, parent,
grown child, friend, wage-earner, and/or neighbor.
If a person (like you) starts
to significantly improve their self respect, shame-based relationship partners
(i.e. their ruling subselves) may
feel increasingly uneasy and unconsciously try to discourage or sabotage your healing...
thoughts and emotions now. Anything like "This sure doesn't apply to me!"; or “Oh NO -
it does! I'm (probably or surely) ruled by shame-based subselves!
What can I do?" Or maybe you're thinking of one or more others in
your life who seem dominated
by shame-promoting false selves.
Status check: See how you
feel about each of these ideas so far. “A” = agree, “D” = disagree, and “?” = ”I’m
not sure, or don’t care.”
Respect, pride, and forgiveness are some of the components
of love. Intentionally improving these components mayor may
not grow love. (A D ?)
I can intentionally assess, discuss,
and improve self respect and mutual respect with any receptive person. (A D ?)
Any motivated, aware person can choose to reduce
excessive shame and grow
non-egotistical pride in their own unique values, abilities, and traits, over time.
(A D ?)
I am responsible for my
self-respect, attitudes, and actions; but not for any other able
self-love, guilt, and shame or pride - and vice versa. (A D ?)
Accepting the responsibility of
nurturing minor kids includes the responsibility for unselfishly
encouraging their self-respect, self-appreciation, and self-love, and their
(A D ?)
I have the indisputable right to decide
whom I respect, when, and why - and others have the same right, (A D
Any aware adultcan choose to
identify, reduce, and avoid excessive guilt. (A D ?)
We can earn, but notconsciously createor force,
self-love and mutual love. (A D ?)
Acceptanceof each other is not being nonjudgmental,
it’s being truly at peace with the judgments we make of ourselves and each
other. (A D ?)
All the ideas above form
a foundation for what you're about to read. If disrespect for yourself or
someone else is eroding your
relationship, you can improve your self-respect. You may or
may not be able to regain respect for or from another person (next page)
Now let's focus on your options for...
Respect for Someone Else
Have you ever lost respect for an adult or child? If so, did you just
accept that, or try to regain your respect for them? How can
you do that? First, admit that...
you've lost significant respect for
the other person, and admit...
how that loss affects your
relationship with important adults and kids.
Option 2) Familiarize
yourself with these ideas about personality subselves and psychological wounds.
assess yourself and the other person for "significant wounds."
Significant is a subjective
judgment. The following assumes your true Self
your personality. If not, you have bigger problems than gaining
respect for the other person. See
long-range viewpoint, and an attitude like
"These steps will protect my integrity
and may help our relationship."
4) Review or draft
Personal Bill of Rights. You
have the right to choose your own criteria for awarding respect to
other people. Unaware people often live blindly by others' criteria -
e.g. "You must honor (respect) thy father and thy
mother," and "You must) always respect God,
clergy, doctors, police, and authorities." If you disagree with this or feel ambivalent,
suspect that a false self controls you.
5) Identify your judgment criteria.
Think of several people you solidly respect (including yourself?). List the
specific things about their attitudes and actions that earn your approval and
admiration. Look for patterns. It may help if these people are the same gender
as your disrespected person.
6) Using your respect criteria,
to clarify specifically what you
the other person to gain respect for them.
Recall - we're reviewing options for improving your respect of another
7) Review your expectations of the other person. If s/he is
significantly wounded, unaware, and in protective denial,
s/he may not be able to meet
your expectations as a person, wo/man, or in some role. If so,
respect the things s/he can achieve, and shift your disrespect toward
compassion. This doesn't mean you must endure disrespectful or harmful
behavior from the person.
you're in a stepfamily, you probably believe some of over 60 common
myths which may be wrongfully corroding your respect. For example, it’s
unrealistic to expect a stepparent to “be an adult” and ignore the pain of
being disrespected, rejected, or used by a stepchild.
Study and apply
Option 8) Study
to strengthen your communication effectiveness,including how to give constructive feedback. Meditate on
how your disrespect for the person
shows in your behaviors
(e.g. lack of eye contact; avoidances, etc.) and identify
specifically how that may be affecting her or him. Option - ask the
Don't let fear of conflict or
"hurting her/his feelings." deter you from offering the person respectful
feedback about what causes your disrespect. Doing this is often
not "thoughtfulness." View respectful
feedback to the person as a well-meant gift, even if it causes
discomfort.If s/he is an able adult, s/he is responsible for managing his or her feelings
(needs), and you are responsible for yours. Do you agree?
10) List specific traits
you genuinely like and appreciate about the person - e.g. honesty, humor,
persistence, creativity... Then identify other traits that lower your
respect for him or her, like indecisiveness, inconsistency, lying, avoiding,
timidity, name-calling, poor hygiene, etc.
Beware of making black-white judgments and generalities - e.g. "All liars
are bad people."
Option 11) If you're recovering from
your own psychological wounds, tell the other person informationally, vs. persuasively.
recovering people may forge deep, fulfilling
relationships as they heal!Whether you do this or not,
"I" messages to assert...
the specific behaviors that diminish your respect for
the other person,
behavior effects you directly and indirectly; and…
what specific changes you need her or him to
make, to re/build your respect.
disrespect you because you're an inconsiderate, insensitive slob!"),
offering information and an invitation to improve your mutual
relationship satisfaction. If the other person mistakes this for an attack, that's a sign of
shame-based false self and
reality distortion. These are not your responsibility!
leading your other subselves, and...
in important situations, guess the person's response to each of your assertions.
Practice responding to any
respect-building needs, with steady eye contact and without defense,
explanation, or counterattack.
Pick an undistracted time and
place, and assert your perceptions and needs calmly and briefly. Allot plenty of time for
interaction. Because communication is cause-and-effect,
ask if there's something you do that promotes the
behaviors that cause your disrespect. Then listen, and be open
problem-solving. Option: as co-explorers,
map your shared interactions that lead up to
such a behavior.
"Sometimes I shade the truth with you because if
I tell my truth, you usually criticize or disparage me and my feelings."
agree with some of your demands just to shut you up. Then you get all
steamed when I 'don't follow through, and you tell me you lose respect for me.
I'd follow through more often if we could
problem-solve instead of
you nagging and harping so much. I don't like conflict!”
Pause, breathe, and notice what you're thinking. Think of someone you'd like
to respect more, and imagine using options like these with them. What do you
(your Self0 think might happen?
just explored options for re/gaining respect for
another person. What if someone's respect for you has
Earning Others' Respect
Think of people
who respect (vs. "like") you - as a person, a
wo/man, a friend, a family member, and/or in some special role. How did you
earn their admiration and value? What is it about you they respect -
specifically? Did you set out to earn their respect intentionally, or did it
occur "by itself"?
Would you agree that in most growing relationships, trust, respect,
approval, acceptance, and genuine interest evolve together via shared
experiences? If so - and you want to earn someone else's respect for you -
then consider these options:
adopt a patient outlook. Earning genuine
respect and trust is a long-term project!
meditate on why you need this person
to respect you. Can you live well enough without it? Does someone else
(like a friend, parent, or mate) need you to earn the person' respect?
affirm or grow your self-respect. It's
hard to admire someone who feels badly about themselves (yes?);
you've been broadcasting to the other person. If your false self
has projected c/overt disapproval and scorn, you may harvest the same
attitude in return.
whether the other person is significantly wounded.
If so, the wounds and distorted perceptions may be causing the
disrespect, not you. If so, use these wise
ask the person (vs. assuming) what s/he
expects of you - specifically. It's possible s/he may have unrealistic
expectations. If so, assert that reality, and then let go.
decide whether you need to forgive
yourself and/or the other person for some past hurts or
disappointments. If so, try that and see what happens.
decide whether there's any value in seeking
to grow trust, approval, and
ask the person (a) what qualities s/he respects in
other people, and/or (b) specifically
what s/he needs in order to
respect you more. Then decide if you can - and want to - fill his
or her needs without losing your
add your own options for meriting respect...
Pause and reflect: how do you feel about what you just read? Is your
or 'someone else'?
Status Check See where you
stand on the ideas in this article: T(rue), F(alse), or "?" (I'm not
sure / I don't care).