The ABC’s of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

 

inner critic 001

Here is a little riddle for you compliments of www.lifehack.org:

“You can only have it once you have given it.

One of the most misunderstood concepts out there, respect is asked for yet seldom given. Some even try to take it by force or buy it, but if you are unable to show others respect and treat them as equals you will never be able to truly earn their respect. People respect bravery, intelligence, skill, talent, compassion and physical and mental strength, and these things cannot be faked.”

Lately the question of respect has morphed into, how can someone honestly, truly respect you if you don’t respect yourself? I believe respect should at most start within each of us….

You would think that after raising 3 children I would be the veteran of momhood. You would think that after all I have endured in learning my children at every age and stage of their lives so far I would have nothing left to learn except how to co-exist. You would think that when they hit the magic government age of 18 that says, “Hey, welcome to adulthood, but not really”, that I would be able to transition with them from apron strings and purse strings to I’ll-take-care-of-it-mom strings and no more routine bedtime strings.

Yup. You would think all of these things because after all, I’ve been with them since the moment they were conceived. Alas, not even close. I’m learning, what I think is the biggest lesson of my whole life, other than not to be afraid of death, and that is the word and meaning of respect in all its Technicolor dreaminess.

Okay, so here is this posts vocabulary lesson. The dictionary defines the word respect as meaning

1-      an act of giving particular attention or consideration

2-      high or special regard or esteem

3-      the quality or state of being esteemed.

In the case of our first definition I think I did an admirable job of showing respect to my children and their needs such as food, attention, time, education outside of school and moral support whether asked for or not. Just to name a few.

In definition number 2 when the kids did something that went above and beyond their basic level of earned respect, and by that I mean getting homework done well and on time, helping with chores, not arguing when an extended family visit was in order, I made sure they understood why I was calling attention to my “extra” respect. I’m a huge fan of answering those “why” questions.

In definition number 3 I always tried to find reasons to celebrate them. I never enjoyed keeping to the “traditions only” rules of celebrations. For example I always enjoyed celebrating their ½ birthdays. I would serve them dinner on half a plate, I would buy a silly, non-essential gift and not wrap it or give them the first ½ of a gift and then the rest on their actual birthday, I would give them ½ a glass of a beverage, I would even supply half a cake without anything written on it and sing very badly a half version of the birthday song. They thought it was cool and funny but I really just wanted them to know how aware I was of them and their lives.

Now, a mom would think that after a lifetime of showing them how to be respectful, what respect looks like and sounds like and feels like, that they would automatically have it in them by 18 years old to have respect as part of their DNA.

Yes and no.

What I am learning very painfully is that I did so much respecting of them that I never stopped to fully show them how to respect themselves or me. On some basic level I did teach them self-respect like bathing, teeth brushing, care of clothing, and the importance of a thank you whether in note form or verbal but it wasn’t enough. I did teach them to stand up for themselves but it seems not very well.

We all have demons living inside of us that talk trash to us about how we are not good enough, not pretty enough, not worthy enough, not talented enough. Some of us are able to outgrow those little annoying negative voices and some of us are slaves to those voices.

So, here I am dealing with all that I hid from myself and unknowingly did not deal with when it came to my children about how to first and foremost respect myself from the inside out. The most powerful lesson is that even when your children grow up there will always be ways to parent them. The job changes and evolves but the investment never ends. Words, actions, emotions live on long after our bodies do. I’ve learned an important lesson when it comes to integrity of self and of others.

My youngest is going through a very lost, very confusing time in his life and his inner demons are being played out in glorious fashion. His very low self-respect is causing our whole family to want to hide away from all of his negativity but we can’t and more importantly we won’t, regardless of how we feel. His low self-respect shows up in ways such as guilt, blame, lying, secrets, volatile emotions and stress. His body is not responding well to all of his low self-respect and so it is becoming very dangerous for him to continue on this path and that is not healthy for him or for any of us who care and love him so much.

I am forced to see so much of my own insecurities and lack of self-respect showing up in him and I feel at times helpless to empower him and hypocritical to try. But here’s the thing, and it really matters right this moment, we are going through the same thing at the same time and I just might be able to help him and he help me. What wouldn’t a parent do to save their child?

“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” –Mark Twain

What does self-respect look like?

If I were to draw a picture of self-respect it would look like flowers blossoming with hope and integrity in the early cool, spring air. It would look like my boys did when they were young and wanted to wear super hero costumes because that is how they saw themselves that day. It would look like girls in high school who wear real clothes when everyone else is wearing pajama pants and slippers to class. It would look like teenagers laughing out loud at something funny their parent said and they didn’t care who saw or heard them laughing.

What does self-respect feel like?

Self-respect feels like warmth. Self-respect feels like having that superhero living inside of me, All. The. Time. Self- respect feels like knowledge, wisdom, confidence and courage all wrapped into one amazing 6th sense. Self-respect feels like being small in stature on the outside but feeling 6’ tall on the inside and letting the inside out. Self-respect feels like being good enough, worthy enough and just enough.

You’ve heard me say it over and over, perspective is everything. What you concentrate on most is what your life will bring to you. If your perspective is negative about yourself then everything you see from your point of view will have undertones of negativity and hopelessness. If you change just one aspect of your point of view from negative to positive then you are creating a crack in the negative to let the happy, positive light in.

I poured all of me into being a mom and took little to no time out for self-development. In that vein I simultaneously showed my children that being an adult meant giving up on all your personal individual rights and being only for someone else. No wonder my son is having a hard time growing into his manhood/adulthood. It sounds like I’m putting an awful lot of responsibility on my shoulders for who they have become so far and not enough responsibility on theirs and maybe I am, however, I feel blessed in the fact that I can see these characteristics so clearly now and hopefully say something and do something and then back up what I say and do in my own life’s example so that he doesn’t continue to believe that he will have to lose himself completely.

So how can I build self-respect and pass on those building lessons to my children?

Understand that self-respect is a close, very close cousin to self-confidence and self-esteem. Each can stand alone if necessary but they all work better together.

Believe every day in my own authenticity. Always stay in touch with my truth and my inner child. The child that day dreams, plans, schemes and loves to show her individuality. My truth showing up in the confidence of the decisions and choices I make, even if my decisions and choices are not in line with someone else’s. Somewhere in our teens we get it our heads that we equally want to be seen for our individual selves while blending in to the social norms so we don’t look “foolish”. We can’t have it both ways. It will always be more fashionable to choose ourselves over being a clone of someone else.

“Don’t go the distance trying to fit in the crowd and be accepted by others. Accept and respect yourself first.” Elizabeth E. Castillo

I think the most important step to create respect for myself is to forgive myself. I will absolutely, without a doubt make mistakes and have things from my past that I am not proud of. Respect grows from understanding what went wrong, learning from those wrong steps and constantly improving who I am and who I want to be. Self-respect grows from acknowledging wrongs to others as well. As a child I had a hard time saying I’m sorry to anyone but being able to be so vulnerable and humble builds self-respect quicker than anything I have ever experienced. I’ve also learned that once I apologize to myself and/or to others, I need to let it go. Move forward and leave the pain and incident behind. If I keep bringing it with me I haven’t learned anything and I might as well wear a sign on me every day that says “unworthy.”

I have learned that the person I have to ask for forgiveness from the most is: myself. You must love yourself. You have to forgive yourself, every day, whenever you remember a shortcoming, a flaw, you have to tell yourself “That’s just fine”. You have to forgive yourself so much, until you don’t even see those things anymore. Because that’s what love is like.” C. JoyBell C

Know my character strengths, know myself. Character strengths are the building blocks to who I want to be and been seen as; what I believe about myself without a doubt. These strengths allow me to develop my own core standards of living and the talents I can use to actually make that life happen. These strengths allow me to handle criticism with a growth mindset instead of persecution mindset, they allow me to see beauty and excellence in all things, and they allow me to work on values that are not so strong yet because I have a growing understanding of all the possibilities that live inside of me.

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” Maya Angelou

Dress to impress……ME. Treat me as I would treat a stranger or anyone I love. If wearing nice clothes helps me feel good about me then I need to make sure I wear nice clothes. How many times did I tell my children, the boys mostly, that when you dress to learn you will learn because you feel good about your appearance. Feeling good makes you stand taller and talk more and interact more and take responsibility more. When you dress to be slouchy and comfortable you will be lazy in all things. Besides that little nugget it’s so fun to wear clothes that look nice. When you look nice you feel nice and then you act nice.

“If I waited for a proper occasion to get dressed up I’d never wear half of these clothes. Put on the clothes and you make things happen to match them. It doesn’t work the other way around.” Erin Kelly

Best foot forward. This goes beyond what I wear. This speaks to my reputation and integrity. Stay true to who I am and who I believe I am. I may falter from time to time, my ideas may not work out the way I planned but I will always try to pick myself up again each time I fall and that is what people will know for sure about me. If I lose respect for me how can anyone keep respect for me?

“Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.” George Eliot, Adam Bede

Give what I want to get. If I want to have friends, I need to be a friend. If I want people to support me then I have to be supportive of others. If I want respect then I need to show respect, always.

“If you don’t give, you don’t get.” Krishna Sagar, Summit Your Everest: Your Coach for Obstacle & Failure Management

Let bad feelings come and then promise to let them go. Don’t let bad feelings about me linger too long. It takes no time at all to fall down and stay down.

“Self-pity, while it should be accorded due respect, is the greatest of all acids to the human soul.” Paul Hoffman, The Last Four Things

Don’t become dependent on the praise from other people. Sure it’s a great feeling to get those “atta girl” accolades but with all my heart try not to depend on the approval from others. Be confident enough within me to know for sure that I did a great job even if no one took notice.

“Hold dear and true friends close to your heart, it matters not where you find them, only that you treat them with love and respect always.” L.M. Fields

I hope this list of lessons will help you on your journey through self-respect. Need some help? Write to me and I’ll be your helper.

Call to Action

“If you had to spend every second, of every day, of every year of your life with someone, would you do whatever it took to love that person? Would you be a best friend, a teacher, coach and mentor? Would you do whatever it takes to treat that person with respect? Well guess what? That someone is you! Who deserves the best more than you do? Think about it and have an outstanding day…!”James A. Murphy, The Waves of Life Quotes and Daily Meditations

Feeling Diminished in Your Integrity? 5 Ways to Help You Hold On

 

 

willoworig

“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Funny how this pussy willow will never be anything other than what it is meant to be. It’s integrity is in tact and therefore we can count on it to be just as it promised. I like that. Where is your integrity?

What happens when someone you thought was a person of integrity turns out to be someone you instantly learn you cannot trust has no ethical values and doesn’t honor truth?

That is what happened to me recently and it left me with an abandoned, hollow feeling in my gut and in my consciousness. Does this mean that I should put up defenses to everyone in my life? No. It just means that this person I trusted I can no longer trust. Should I stop trusting everyone? No. Each of deserves a chance to start with an “A” and it is up to us to lose that rating.

As a life coach I ask myself how I can affect a moral, ethical mindset if I want to keep this friendship, relationship, workmanship. The quick answer is I can’t. The longer and more introspective answer is to live with integrity myself, always, and be the example. In coaching we call this “walking the walk”.

What is integrity?

Integrity: Adherence to moral and ethical principles; honesty; the state of being whole, undiminished; honorable.

Honor: fairness, distinction, respect, esteem from others and for others.

Grit: firmness of character, pluck, spirit.

“Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

I love that the word grit lives inside of the word integrity. Grit is hard and specific and energetic and purposeful.  Grit demands hard work and mindfulness. There are no fuzzy lines when grit takes hold of your spirit and actions. If you are by nature a moral, ethical, open-hearted person then integrity and grit are part of your core values. And so is honesty. I don’t think integrity can exist without honesty.

Do you know when you lie or are being dishonest?

Last week there was a story on http://www.today.com/health/woman-journey-quit-lying-1D80070855 about Diane Kaplan, a reporter who challenged herself to tell the truth in every kind of conversation every day. It has now been 2 years and she is still telling the truth.

It wasn’t an intentional decision. I’ve always been a literal person, often to a fault; if I say I’m going to do something, I’ll do it, even if it no longer serves my interests. The reality of doing this (experiment) is that it changes you internally as well. It’s tough to put into words except to say that you feel more pure. You start to like yourself more. You are effectively telling yourself that your actions are motivated by good values.” 

Embellishing and “white” lies are 2 forms of lying and dishonesty and both of those words, when played out mean that you are not living with integrity. I used to embellish when I would re-tell a story simply because by doing so it added “meat” to the story and kept people riveted to what I was saying but I must admit that it didn’t feel very good. I’ve practiced at being more aware of when I feel the need to embellish and for years now I simply tell a story as is, no fancy stuff. Admittedly the story lacks something when told flat out unless something absolutely shocking happened but it’s okay because at least I have lived through something and now have a story to tell.

“Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use your power of your word in the direction of truth and love.” Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

On the website, http://www.theartofmanliness.com, writers Brett and Kate McKay discuss, in their 4 part series, what it takes to live a life of integrity:

“When a great man falls from grace, we often wonder how he could have ever messed up so royally. The truth is that he didn’t wake up one day and decide to commit an egregious blunder. It started with a little fudging here, a tiny bit of lying there; from there he just kept on sliding down the slippery slope of compromise. Don’t compromise on the little things, and you won’t on the bigger ones.”

So, what are some examples of situations where you find you are feeling diminished or a drain on your integrity? Brett and Kate say:

“Every day we are faced with little decisions that reflect on our integrity.What’s okay to call a business expense or put on the company charge card? Is it really so bad to stretch the truth a little on your resume in order to land your dream job? Is it wrong to do a little casual flirting when your girlfriend isn’t around? If you’ve missed a lot of class, can you tell your professor a family member died? Is it bad to call in sick to work (or to the social/family function you’re dreading) when you’re hung over? Is it okay to pirate movies or use ad block when surfing the web?”

While writing this short post I thought about how I don’t live with the integrity I want to live with. I find that I behave with integrity in most of my life but when it comes to standing up and speaking for myself I am lacking. I allow other people to speak for me in some very important situations. Because of this I find that my goals truly are hard to reach. Just as a side note, yes, I have called in sick to work even though I wasn’t sick. I think the mindset that gets us off the hook for that phone call is called “taking a mental health day.” How we justify our lack of personal integrity is also something to be aware of.

In the face of all of this information now weighing heavily on your conscience (sorry, but I had to write this article), what are some things you can do to start to live a life of integrity?

  1. Along the lines of a pro/con list or a moral code of ethics, create an integrity list or integrity code. Things you will absolutely not do and absolutely will do that honors yourself, others and your ethical and moral veracity. Display this list like you would the Ten Commandments, in a place that you will see it every day.
  2. Where do your personal values live? Finding out your values will act as a guide in helping you stay the course of a life of integrity, honesty, and authenticity.
  3. Get down and dirty. If ever you could practice honesty this is the place, right here, right this minute. Be as honest with yourself as you can be and highlight the areas in your life where you are not living with integrity. Everything about your life and your values starts within you so get to your truth and start to become who you want to see yourself to be.
  4. As the old adage goes, “Tell the truth so that you don’t have to remember what you said.”
  5. Wear your integrity badge of honor for all to see. Just like tying a piece of string to your finger to remind you of something you shouldn’t forget, wear something every day that reminds you of your integrity code.

Is there hope for us mere mortals? There is no such thing as perfect. The best we can hope for is perfectly imperfect with a side of trying like hell. So if you are feeling as if integrity is just too hard to handle here is what Brett and Kate advise:

“Obviously, not everyone who makes one bad choice ends up morally depraved and utterly crooked. Many of us are able to make a single mistake, or even several, but then get back on track again. This is because various conditions not only make it more or less likely that we’ll make that first dishonest decision, but also increase or decrease our chances of turning ourselves around once we start down an unethical road.”

My interpretation of this last statement: Practice makes almost perfect.

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Call To Action: Be honest now…..

How do you tend to embellish when you tell a story? Where is the trigger point?

What does it mean to you to have integrity?

Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Who do you want to see?

In what ways are you a 24/7 honest person? Where else can you improve?

How are you someone others can count on without question or hesitation?

What other ways can you live a life filled with integrity? Please feel free to add to my list; oh and do let me know how you are doing. We can all learn from each other’s successes.

 

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program.  Not ready yet? Please visit my website at www.journeyoncoaching.com. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.