The Art of Calmness and Respect - Lowering Stress Levels Naturally
The Art of Calmness and Respect isn't difficult, nor is it necessarily for everyone. It is merely the outcome of a change in the way that a person views life, that can promote lower stress levels, create calmness, and foster feelings of respect - both for ones self and others.
Is it right for you? I'd like to hope so, but I also cannot speak for everyone. I know that it has worked for me and happened almost by accident! All I ask of anyone reading this article is to give it some thought, and try it out - you may be surprised.
Respect - Where It All Starts. Or does it?
It is often said that if a person is to love another, they must first love themselves. But in order to love, respect is also necessary. Another cliched quote is that "Respect needs to be earned", yet for many of us we demand that we be respected - be it our choices, or just us as a person - and do not apply this demand to others, even feeling put out when someone demands respect from us when we feel that they have not earned it. A bit of vicious circle, isn't it?
But what if we started all interactions with the premise that each of us is to be respected, regardless of the opinions we hold, the religion we follow, the person we love, the colour of our skin, our gender - that we are all worthy of respect, and should always be respected? That is for all parties in the interaction - yourself included. Could it change things? Should it change things? I think that the answer to both of those questions is Yes.
Yes, it could change things - if a person can tell they are being respected, regardless of their differences, they feel more valued, more likely to be open to new ideas even if they don't take it on board.
Yes - it should change things. How can we go about our lives, disrespecting other people? Albeit unintentionally for most, possibly intentional for some. How can we feel that others are beneath us, that we are so superior to another that we can be disrespectful to others?
How to do this? Simple. Approach every interaction with the intent to be respectful of the other person - regardless of their difference. AND regardless of whether they are respectful to you.
Sure it's not going to happen every time, but that's okay. You will find, or at least I found, that it becomes easier with time, you'll still slip up and forget, but that's okay - you're only human, we're all only human. It's that you tried that counts
Are You Going To Try It Out?
Are You Going To Try It Out?
Choose Your Battles!
One of the places that I've found this approach works is online.
The anonymity of the keyboard is often detrimental for others - people find it easier to be nasty, downright cruel, and sometimes fatally so, sitting behind a screen, where a screen name hides their true identity, and the consequences of their actions secret from them. People say so many things, without being able to gauge the reaction from the other person.
Sometimes we get into heated exchanges of information, or even arguments - attacking one another for opinions, or things that we differ in - sexual orientation, political affiliations, skin colour, religious beliefs or lack thereof.
I've taken to partially writing an answer or a reply to something that has touched a nerve - then stepping back. Asking myself three questions:
- Do I really need to say what I'm typing to the person I was typing it to?
- Will it help them understand or will it inflame the situation?
- Can I be bothered with the fall out from saying it?
Often, I delete the piece I was writing, and move on. Calmer, quieter, and MUCH happier than if I had entered into the debate. Now, I'm not saying walk away from all arguments - I'm saying CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES.
It works in "Real Life" too. In fact, the first time I heard that particular piece of advice was in relation to parenting - parenting a toddler in fact. Having applied this wee rule to my own life - we are all happier - my wife, myself and our toddler.
Is it something that you need to fight over? Is it something that you need to stand your ground on? If you don't will it affect someone's safety, or upbringing? If yes, then by all means, stand your ground. But if not - is it really worth it?
Now, I'm also not saying don't be an activist - I'm saying don't fight every battle as though it's the biggest you are fighting. Pick them - put your energy into the one/s that will affect the most. You can get to the others later - you CANNOT do all things at all times. Nor can you be all things at all times.
Pick Your Battles!
Consider the Other Person/People
As humans, we naturally have other things going on our lives than just that which is in front of us at this present time. We may have a sick child at home, a toddler who refuses to sleep, a parent slipping into the clutches of dementia, parents divorcing, a troublesome teenager, missed mortgage payments, a spouse with an addiction problem that is affecting the family, health problems - the list could go on and on. We try not to bring these things along with us, but they are always there in the back of our mind.
Now, pause for a minute - think of those who we interact with - do we ever consider that these people may also have a plethora of things playing on their mind when they interact with us? Do we stop to consider what they may be struggling with, which is affecting their way of interacting with us?
Should we? Probably. Again, it's about respect, and even more about understanding. Understanding the nature of being human, with failings and flaws, and problems.
Consider the Person - Again
Who we are is made up of a lot of things - large and small - and which parts are large or small is personal, and decidedly individual. How those things affect us is also very personal, and individual.
What may be important to you may not be so important to someone else, just as what is important to someone else may not be so important to you. To consider how important something is to someone is another way of respecting another person.
For example, you may not be religious in any way, but be conversing or interacting with someone for whom their faith is one of the most important things in their life. Whilst it may not be a part of the interaction, it is something that if you are aware of it, you should consider it (and vice versa - but hey, we're working on you here, not them...yet) as such. I have tried to implement this in my every day interactions with several colleagues - whom I am aware are devoutly religious - I am a bit of a curse word user at times, and I am aware this upsets these colleagues - I have dropped the swearing from my vocabulary most of the time - which as the mother of a parroting toddler is a good thing!
My colleagues also unintentionally have taken the same thing on board - we are known for controversial discussions - being a gay atheist in a room full of people who are of faith is interesting! However, I have noticed that where there may previously have been very little thought into how an opinion, whilst entirely valid and entitled to be held by the holder, may affect me (or others) in a negative way. It is interesting as to where being respectful can take you.
An Example of Being Considerate
Don't Forget About You
Sure, this has all been about respecting others, but you need to remember to respect yourself as well. Without respecting yourself, it's impossible to be able to respect other people. Remember that you are a human worth respecting and that your opinions and the things that make you you are worth respecting.
If you find yourself forgetting this, take some time to be with yourself. To think about what you enjoy, what makes you you. Maybe this is some quiet time on your own - for parents, this could be bliss! Time to think about yourself. Pamper yourself occasionally.
Take time to think through your thoughts, opinions, and feelings on those things that are important to you - why are they important? If you didn't hold those opinions, or having those feelings, or believe the way you do - would it change who you are? What are the parts of this that make you you?
Remember that you deserve respect. It may take time for others to realise it, and I'd say give them this time - let the respect that you are giving them sink in, and change their behaviour - but if after time, and repeated interactions they do not respect you - think about how important the interaction or relationship is to you? If they cannot respect you - are they worth troubling yourself with?
So, Give It A Go
All I ask is that you give it a go - see how it feels, see what happens.
On a personal note - I've found after applying these ideas to my own life - I'm much calmer, and no longer get so wound up about divisive conversations, my interactions with others have changed to - as has their interaction with me. It appears that those who I interact with feel respected, and whilst we may disagree, we all go away happy, calm, and respected.
Let me know how you go!