Respect Yourself. We hear it all the time, but what does it really mean?
What does it look like to be compassionate, loving AND empowered? It means many things, but definitely includes being unafraid to be your authentic self, and trusting that those who will be in your life, will be the people who are meant to be there. And it includes respecting yourself.
I recently had a beautiful lesson that came quite unexpectedly, but profoundly. It came in the context of a conversation in which a person didn't agree with a particular viewpoint I had. I thought that several of us were having an engaging, fun, interesting discussion. I was excited that people care enough to chime in on issues that matter. I was interested to read the opinions that differed from mine. I always learn a lot from those conversations. I already know my viewpoint, so I'm always curious to see why/where/how others arrive at totally different conclusions.
It's one reason I loved university so much! The exchange of ideas without letting emotion get in the way of learning. But what was a great conversation, quickly turned into one person judging me for my opinions, and not only judging me, but rudely stating that because of my opinions which she disagreed with, she would no longer like to do business with our family.
Sucker punch. Me being honest, and transparent, led to a thinly veiled threat to cease doing business with us!
To be honest, my first reaction was shock. I'm always shocked when people are unable to understand that not everyone thinks like them. Then, disappointment. Disappointment in feeling that if intelligent, loving, women and mothers can't even come to the table and speak kindly, express different opinions, without resorting to threats and judgment, what hope do we have for humanity?
I turned to my husband to have him read the conversation. He was particularly shocked, as he informed me that this was a person who wasn't actually technically even "doing business" with us, as we had extended a tremendous amount of kindness to this particular person. Without going into details which I feel would be unkind, suffice it to say, it was shocking.
So, I messaged her privately to let her know she would be missed from our communities, and honored her request to no longer do business with us. I wished her well.
But, that wasn't the end.
Interestingly, she was very unhappy that I had actually followed through on her request. But in our community, there are ground rules of: kindness, compassion, and non-judgment. For everyone.
Her private comments read like a Twilight Zone episode. The entire exchange between us took place in the "public eye", and in the public eye was where she stated she no longer wished to do business with us. But in private, she was angry! Angry that I followed through on her request. Mostly, angry that I have boundaries. She attempted to say that my boundaries were somehow "unloving".
She believed that she could threaten and judge me publicly, while fully expecting that I should continue to have my kindness abused.
Sadly, it's not the first time this has happened. I have had a couple of other wounded women who honestly believed they could bash, disrespect, and behave in an inhumane manner, while still expecting and DESIRING to stay in our communities!
Here's the message: If you've ever had a person in your life who can turn actual facts around, taking actions they did, choices they made, words they used, and use that to say you are somehow at fault, unloving, or unkind when you respect yourself, see through it.
Respecting yourself is never unloving. Being empowered means having boundaries. It includes not allowing others to abuse your kindness. It includes seeing where others create a story that is unrelated to the actual facts.
I believe that women are the key to a peaceful future. And I am immensely grateful to have some amazing women friends, and a beautiful tribe of intelligent, caring, awakened women.
There's a big hurdle ahead of us as a humanity. To achieve peace, we have to be peace. To achieve love, we have to be love. But as women, we also have to understand that being love, and being loving, MUST include ourselves. Love and respect yourself as much as you love and respect others.