By Colette Carlson
Chloe, a teeny fifth grade student worked the concession stand for basketball games to honor her student council volunteer requirement.
One evening, a group of eighth grade boys approached the concession stand and proceeded to mock her petite frame. Rather than shrink in the moment, Chloe looked them square in the eye and said, “I volunteer my time to serve you, and I expect to be treated with respect. You can leave until you can address me in a respectful manner.” When the brat pack returned later for snacks, their behavior modeled Chloe’s request.
When Chloe’s parent shared her story with me following a presentation, my heart swelled with warmth at the strength, character, and boundaries shown by such a young girl. Moments later, it deflated while listening to individuals decades older disclose current-day struggles surrounding self-respect.
If you don’t treat yourself with self-respect, others with follow.
Only when you fully respect yourself by owning your worth will you develop healthier relationships and deeper connections. Here’s three ways to show yourself respect:
1. Speak up. Take a clue from Chloe on this one. Whether a colleague consistently interrupts during meetings, or a neighbor’s dog leaves deposits on your lawn, give yourself permission to express your feelings respectfully when you feel disrespected.
Remain calm and stick to observed behaviors. “Jerry, seven times during our morning meeting you cut me off mid-sentence. Perhaps you were simply excited to share, yet I would appreciate you holding your input until I’m finished with mine.” The more uncomfortable the situation makes you feel, the more you need to assert yourself to honor yourself. Even when it’s hard, the truth is always the way to go.
2. Create boundaries. Without clearly-defined boundaries, you’re a sitting duck for overbearing, pushy, or manipulative individuals – as it’s easier to be persuaded, taken advantage of, or harmed. For example, you may let co-workers grab plumb assignments, interrupt you during your time of “flow” or you consistently work late to finish the job while everyone else leaves early. In your personal life, you may let children dictate your schedule, cater meals to fussy eaters and allow a mother-in-law to call the shots. Instead, decide what YOU want. Stake a claim and stand your ground. Remember, there’s a difference between making compromises and being compromised.
3. Self-respect starts with self-care. In today’s world where the hours between work and life are blurred, making time to make yourself a priority has never been more challenging. Some days even I struggle to choose nutritious foods, move my body, and get enough sleep even though I’ve experienced the power of self-care resulting in a 50 lb. weight loss years earlier.
During those moments I stay motivated by telling myself healthy actions show appreciation to my body in return for how wonderful this vessel treats me. I set the clock and give myself 10 minutes to move, meditate, or journal. I remind myself that taking care of myself translates to my ability and energy to be present and care for others. Qualities necessary for genuine connection.
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