Respect is a powerful thing. I realized today that I’ve been learning the same lesson about respect over and over and over these past few years. Mainly, that it is not worth working with those that don’t treat you respectfully.
It finally dawned on me today that I could tell whether or not a person was valuing me based on how I felt about myself. This is a big breakthrough thought for me. I cannot reliably judge someone on their behavior due to my trained tendency to rationalize and excuse poor treatment. What I can keep an eye on is how I feel. Looking back at the working relationships I have had in the past several years, whenever I remember feeling intensely inadequate or incompetent, it was always around specific people. When I examine their behavior now, I can recognize that much of it induced those feelings due to a lack of respect. Now that I’m working with people that respect me, I usually feel confident, valuable, and capable. My sense of self is reflecting their healthy behavior.
I want to emphasize respect in everything I do, in part to reinforce its importance to myself. Today is the first session of my creative writing course at a new school. I’ve decided to start with a discussion of the following Writer’s Pledge:
Respect…My fellow writers, my teacher, & myself!
Listen…To the stories and ideas of others!
Join in…so I can learn lots and have fun creating!
It’s a simple pledge, but one of the things I want to talk about for respect is how broad and encompassing it really is. It’s hard to create in an unsafe environment, and if there’s no respect, there’s no trust or safety. I plan to talk about how a creator also needs to respect their own ideas, even if they may seem silly or stupid at the time. What is a “bad” idea, really? Ideas that we might dismiss at first can often lead to better, more exciting, more creative ideas. A “dumb” idea might be the first step to a truly momentous breakthrough. I want kids to respect themselves and their own process. To explore thoughts fully, and not look down on their own creativity. Too often we dismiss ourselves, and miss something important.
How do you show respect to yourself?