by Michael Mamas

Many volumes have been written on the topic of relationship – how to develop healthy relationships with other people. We do well to spend some time viewing healthy relationships as all just a matter of respect. Respect comes in many forms. Respect for your children, your parents, your friends, your neighbors, your colleagues, and of course, yourself. But the notion of respect has been terribly abused throughout history. There was a time when respect was often equated with subservience. To respect another person meant that you compromised or belittled or undermined yourself as a display of respect. That sort of respect was used to control other people. In recent history, a backlash occurred. Defiance became equated with self-respect. The notion of drumming to your own drummer became popular. Mistrust of authority became a badge of self-reliance. Nature cycles and that sort of acting out was a natural consequence of the pendulum swinging in the other direction away from one unhealthy relationship with respect (subservience) to another unhealthy relationship with respect (rebellion). The question arises, what does healthy respect look like and what is its basis?

When the physiology is healthy, it rests. The experience of that restful state has many aspects. That is to say, it can be described many ways: bliss, inner contentment, fulfillment, stability, love, strength, etc. It is very important to understand that it is also a state of true self-respect. You rest with yourself. It’s not a militant stance; it’s not rooted in a need to proclaim autonomony or superiority or separation or dominance. It is not an attitude. It is a state of being, other aspects of which were listed above (bliss, etc.). It is simply a matter of being awake to your true self.

As we have discussed in other articles, the Self and God are one. When the physiology is refined, it simultaneously can experience both the divinity of the Self and reverence for God, self-respect and the purest form of respect for another.

We do well to explore our relationship with respect. For example, what is your relationship with authority? How easy is it to show respect for authority? What issues does it bring up? What buttons does it push? How healthy is your relationship with respect in that arena?

Secondly, how do you respond when you feel disrespected? Where do you go? How do you hold it? How do you behave towards another if you feel they have disrespected you? Do you inflame, tolerate, or heal the situation?

You may also want to take a look at the nature of respect as it applies to your parents. Do you respect them? Be the answer yes or no, it merits further exploration. A yes response can be rooted in indoctrination, intimidation, guilt, or genuine love and appreciation. It’s well-known that everyone has issues with their parents, but oftentimes it is difficult to explore the full depth and breadth of those issues for fear that would be disrespectful. That is not a healthy relationship with respect.

It is also very good to take a look at the nature of respect for yourself and what it is rooted in. For many, it is seated in defiance, in a feeling that you weren’t respected, in the feeling of a need to rise up and stand for yourself and proclaim your independence or autonomy so that you will not be walked over or compromised or belittled. For others, it may be seated in a sense of betrayal, a feeling that your parents betrayed you or betrayed themselves and betrayed life.

It’s a rare and precious thing to find someone deeply rooted in genuine self-respect. More often than not, it is propped up in a defensive stance, proclaiming your self-worth based on superficiality.

© Michael Mamas, 12/07