14 August 2015 13 Comments

Managing Your Energy, Part 57: The Shadow of Respect

“Those who try to make virtues out of their faults grope further and further into darkness.” ~ Inayat Khan

I recently overdosed on platitudes about respecting people. I would like to explore a counterbalancing perspective—stating the things we just don’t say.

What does it really MEAN to “respect” someone?

In my last post I described one of the things that respect means to me, among friends. It has to do with honoring one another’s ability to hear and receive insight, through open interaction.

The rest of the world isn’t necessarily thinking the same thing when they talk about respecting people. P1140314Respect is one of those words, like love or god, that carry a lot of freight and mean different things to different people.

I have a sneaking suspicion that often enough, that when someone talks about treating someone with respect, underneath this honorable and sincere intention there is often a shadow. This shadow will be reflect an internal struggle, or in the ambivalence that made them think that more respect might be required. If respect was already present, what called forth a need for respect? Can we own what is going on inside?

In support of wholeness and integrated growth, let’s get past being too politically correct or spiritually correct to look at how we really operate and feel inside. Coming to grips with that makes our values authentic.

Most of us are fairly versed already in all the nice parts of what we mean by respect. Let’s explore more of the shadow side:

What if treating someone as they want to be treated amounts to being asking to respect something for which we do not have inherent respect?

Abusers, for example, often demand “respect. What they often mean is to allow them to control you, or to overlook their behavior. They also mean not to hold up any mirrors. It may also be necessary to pretend one is not in distress.

This reminds me of a brief passage I read decades ago in an Ursula LeGuin book: “The giant Groff was hit in one eye with a stone. That eye turned within. He died from what he saw.”

I love that quote! It speaks eloquently to the Achilles heel of the part of us—which is so often HUGE—that can be aggressive and problematic. The only thing that can bring it down is self-awareness. And how mightily one may resist.

Lots of people take respect to mean, “Don’t disturb me with a view that would expand my understanding.” They will not, of course, TELL you, or even tell themselves that this is what they mean—not in so many words—but it bears out in conversation.

Obviously, there is a difference between respecting someone as a person, and respecting their behavior. We generally do not respect all of our OWN behavior. When we respect someone but do not find their behavior respectable, they may take objection to feedback to this effect. This opens a can of worms. I’m not planning to dive into that can wholesale, but I have a few further comments, which I will make in subsequent posts.

For someone in the business of furthering Awakening, it can be a dance to respect (to have sensitivity to) the defense structures of an individual, while intentionally expanding his or her perspective. Professional boundaries simplify interaction. Day-to-day interactions with persons who are not actively pursuing spiritual growth are more complicated. More complicated still are interactions with persons who believe they are pursuing growth while simultaneously resisting it.

What makes YOU feel respected?

What do YOU do when you respect someone but cannot respect some of their behavior?

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13 Responses to “Managing Your Energy, Part 57: The Shadow of Respect”

  1. Tom Dietzel 14 August 2015 at 10:18 am #

    Thanks again, Teresa !

    I think it’s better if I just NEARLY die, and survive to seek another glimpse later 🙂


    PS the paragraph in Bold letters, right beneath the photo, is a bit hard for me to understand. But I think I get the gist.

    • Teresa Dietze 15 August 2015 at 5:04 pm #

      Ha! Cute answer, Tom. Most of us feel that way sometimes.

      The point was that when people have to start thinking or analyzing about whether or not we are being respectful, we are probably not FEELING respect. When we feel it, we are not inclined to question.

      All Good Wishes and thanks for your participation.


  2. Therese 14 August 2015 at 11:08 am #

    Your first question, “What makes YOU feel respected?” sent me on a little journey. I was looking within for an answer but there was a blank space. I have decided I don’t worry about people respecting me. This comes from years of not having my thoughts or feelings respected and knowing the disrespect (?) has nothing to do with me. The question mark is there because how can I feel disrespected when the actions have nothing to do with me? If I have a reaction, it is because I’m expecting something from the person they are unable or unwilling to give. As we know, our reactions are about us.

    Now, I’ve had many situations where others refuse to honor my boundaries. It is my job to figure out how to get my boundaries honored anyway. For instance, my neighbors use to have their friends and relatives park in our front yard when they had a party. I asked them to not do this but they escalated the situation by parking exclusively in my front yard; no vehicles were in their driveway. So, I put brush in my front yard and would burn a fire any time they had a get-together. Now, this kept people from parking in my yard and, sadly for my neighbors, meant all their party’s had smoke drifting through them. Of course they considered my actions unconscionable and I considered my actions a peaceful way to make my point.

    Okay, on to the second question. Oh, upon reading the second question again, I see my story has already answered your question.

    If I’m simply in conversation with someone whose words I can’t respect, I will test the waters to see if the person is willing to think outside their box. If yes, I step into the conversation with questions designed to let the person come to a different way of thinking by themselves. If no, I usually leave the conversation. If it’s a middle ground answer, I plant seeds which can grow into their idea so they never know it came from me.

    This was fun! More, please.

    With Love,

    • Teresa Dietze 16 August 2015 at 12:17 pm #

      Dear Therese,

      I agree with your elaborations on the points.

      At close range, when I get worn down, it can be hard to remember that the disrespect does not have to do with me.

      When the person insists that they are willing to think outside their boxes, takes the seeds, and does not water them, I may become confused for a while. I’m catching on.



      • Therese 16 August 2015 at 2:47 pm #

        Yes, I must remember to watch the actions. Actions are always more telling than the words. My problem lies in my optimism; I so want the words to be true. Sigh.

        With Love,

  3. Kelly 15 August 2015 at 6:06 pm #

    We are in the midst of bed bug drama, which does not scream respect, and I’ve missed the back stories and posts, but I found this idea of respect interesting.

    I think that there is a native saying,’it is non of your business what another person thinks about you.’ This is pointing to projection.

    I think I measure respect within. Do I respect myself, meaning do I live up to my ideals and goals. I’m not sure we can respect others out of nothing, something not explicitly stated. If you speak of boundaries like the above example ( sorry for your trials!! And love your eventual handling of the matter!) then yes, you can respect another’s wishes or not, but that is seperate from admiration or trying to respect something that was not requested. That seems like an over reach. Does there need to be an expliciit request before respect? I think it’s a response to a measurement within yourself or another. For instance, I may respect another’s integrity which is entirely within me. Does this make sense? To ask you to respect my wishes to let me speak with the kids first….that is requested and can be honered or not. But to expect respect about your character or anything when it is unspoken is an overreach in all directions in my book. I think this brings up direct communication that is honest and requests another to participate. They can choose not to and that means nothing about how I feel respected. Many people don’t see or get boundaries and it is arrogant to assume they think like me, so I have to explicitly state my wish. If they can’t do it, I move on. That would be the case with abusers. When it is a neighbor, I repeatedly set the boundary and if it goes too far I bring in a third party. With children we can give time outs and behavior changes. Not so with adults. You meet them where you can and let the rest be. If you can’t escape it you enlist help. If that doesn’t work you have a different lesson that may take you to the next level.

    I don’t think I ever really think In terms of respect. Rarely use the word…. I wonder if other words are brought into this conversation? Integrity, admiration, boundary-ish things….personal responsibility and over reach, projection…

    When I get away from the bug issue I may go back go the start of these to see if I’m on track… :). The post was challenging for me to follow but these are my first thoughts on respect.

    Hope everyone is enjoying the last bits of summer!!

    • Therese 16 August 2015 at 8:48 am #

      I enjoyed your take on this post. I now have some thinking to do about what words I use when speaking at all times. Being accurate in my words is something I’m trying to do more and more. Your comment has helped me see how I need to be accurate in not just grammar type contexts but in emotional and spiritual contexts as well. Thank you!

      With Love,

      • Teresa Dietze 16 August 2015 at 12:27 pm #


        That’s why it takes me so long to write posts. And it looks like I’m still unclear sometimes.

        Culturally, our loose use of language leads to a lot of confusion.

        Interesting that given things I was dealing with at the time, my chewing on your words spun into a bunch of my expression in this part of the series. At the same time, I did not feel or believe in any conflict in our viewpoints, and knew it was just words. You gave me a chance to unwind some of that, which I hope was useful to more than just myself.



    • Teresa Dietze 16 August 2015 at 12:22 pm #

      Dear Kelly,

      Sorry about the bed bugs! That’s so unpleasant.


      Yes: “a response to a measurement within yourself or another. For instance, I may respect another’s integrity which is entirely within me.”

      I’m at the “different lesson that may take you to the next level” phase.

      I rarely use the word respect either. I tend to reserve it for the feeling I have when I revere someone so greatly that I would lay my ego chatter at the feet of their insight.

      Thanks for participating and I hope you are bug free very shortly!



  4. Kelly 16 August 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    You and me both, Therese.

    I think that knowing ourselves is difficult but worthy of effort because it becomes how we measure things internally and externally, which may be the same!!’ And to do so honestly we will find that things are always changing.

    I think for anyone following current politics and the spectacle of Trump this topic of respect can be Interesting. I could say I do not share his values or appreciate how he expresses himself But I would say that I respect that be remains true to himself. He would be termed a bully in my inner books, but he is clear and decisive in much that he does. I don’t believe anyone can push him from his center, no matter how much I may find the way he behaves personally offensive.

    There is no way to have blanket respect that covers all of a person. I have to say Jesus may not have been perceived in today’s world as he is retrospectively. He was somewhat of a badass kicking over tables and speaking his mind… Jesus and Trump in the same thought stream! Love it!!

    There are never easy answers, just more inner work.


    • Teresa Dietze 16 August 2015 at 12:29 pm #

      I enjoy your point of view on this and feel similarly–although I can’t help but wonder whether his comb-over would be running for VP?



    • Therese 16 August 2015 at 2:59 pm #

      I can only smile when presented with the Trumps of this world. I smile because I’m happy they are so sure of themselves. I smile because I know things are rarely as they seem. I smile because I have learned, while it’s nice to be sure of myself, my perception can change on a dime given a more complete picture. I smile because to be so sure and to never waver takes an ability to be so inner focused, I have no concept or understanding. It’s a naïveté I have lost. I’m grateful for my loss but the loss left me always questioning. The loss led to me understanding that life is made up of Love and Fear and that Love really is the answer. I smile for the moment when the Trumps of this world lose their naïveté.

      With Love,

      • Teresa Dietze 16 August 2015 at 3:09 pm #

        Well put.

        Dis-illusionment is often painful, but can also be relieving to those of us who are open to life.



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