The dangers of disrespect and overcoming its consequences
Respect by Aretha Franklin
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Soul singer Aretha Franklin certainly echoes our need for respect in the song that she made popular in 1967. Small wonder that it has become a rousing anthem for raising the need for a little consideration for one’s esteem since those years ago.
We all need a little respect from others and to give it in return. When we do not get the regard that we deserve, how do we cope with it and come out of the darkness? It is a daily struggle in our lives, one which it is hard to let a single day pass sometimes without dealing with in some form, however minor. Certainly a tough question to answer.
What, in addition, are the different forms of disrespect we often encounter? What are the negative consequences of disrespect, how do we cope with it and for the betterment of all, encourage others to recognize the value of others and ourselves?
Different forms of disrespect
There are many ways in which others may show us lack of consideration and leave us feeling a little less than flattered. However minor, these forms of disrespect can leave us feeling rather jaded and make us question our sense of self-worth.
When we extend a courtesy to others and are not acknowledged, we feel the pinch. Being ignored, though seemingly minor, is a form of disrespect that fosters resentment, sometimes to a great degree.
All of us know this well. When we are ignored by someone on a bus in spite of our courteous greeting, we have encountered lack of consideration and rudeness. On board Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit system. Many deliberately ignore those who need seats more than they do to continue sleeping blissfully as they make their way to their destinations.
Being made to feel small can be a very grating form of disrespect. Cutting, belittling words can deal a devastating blow to anyone, especially to those whose sense of self-esteem is shaky.
I used to enjoy the game of basketball despite being rather small sized. One teenage girls used to say “She’s not going to be of much help, being so small.” This remark came even though I was relatively good at shooting hoops. It is an example of a tactless, somewhat belittling remark.
All of us judge to a certain degree, so it is a matter of having the awareness of when we do and managing this behavior. We have felt the sting of being labelled as this, that or the other without the other party never having put much thought into his words. It stands to reason that we should not deliver the sting if we do not want a similar package.
We have seen this many times in different social situations. If a person comes in a certain form of dress, the immediate reaction would be ‘he/she must be a ____________.” When it does not turn out to be the truth, there can be a little moment of awkwardness.
A classic example of misrepresentation would be when a boss of a company is introduced as “one of the staff of.....” instead of having his position being properly explained. It can cause a little dent in one’s self-esteem. All of us have had our positions wrongly represented, in some way or other.
We often encounter this when we meet those who try to “help” us with the view that we are are in a lesser position and incapable of fending for ourselves.
A friend of my mother's recently offered to help to ‘clean’ her home after giving it a negative critique. Though I am not a perfect housekeeper by any means, such patronizing behavior can be imposing and even offensive.
The dangers of disrespect
Experts in the field often call slights and these seemingly trivial forms of disrespect “narcissistic injuries.” Though apparently minor, they can trigger deeply rooted insecurities and can have rather dangerous consequences.
Slight weighs on the mind.
Minor slights can weigh on the mind for days and reopen wounds that are difficult to heal. This is why it can sometimes be difficult to forgive a belittling or patronizing remark.
Slights can also make a person hypersensitive, creating a deep attachment to the need for respect.
Disrespect can cause deep rifts.
Disrespect can instill a deep desire for vindication and hence cause deep rifts. A close family and firm friendships can fall apart as a result of thoughtless, minor disrespect.
A couple I know had problems with their marriage because the wife was rather fed up with her husband’s sarcastic remarks. He was raised in a family notorious for making such remarks as a form of interaction and humor. She, on the other hand, was raised by parents who did not respect their children and had a need to hear more appreciative rather than insensitive words.
To heal this rift, both of them had to acknowledge the effect that the respect, or lack thereof, had on their lives and work forward from that understanding.
They can trigger violent reactions.
This is especially with those with anger issues or deep seated wounds that can be triggered off by a thoughtless remark. Criminologists note that many misdemeanors occur because of a sense of slight.
Fights among young teenage boys often result because of one making a thoughtless remark about another. I once had to break up a fight in a school canteen that resulted from such a thoughtless slight.
Coping with disrespect
Handling feelings of disrespect can be a little tricky, because the wrong response can trigger negative reactions and situations or relationships that are hard to salvage.
When we are disregarded in any way, giving a negative reaction in return seldom, if ever, prompts others to respect us in the way we desire. More often, it causes even more disrespect.
It may seem like replicating Mary Poppins or being too saintly. But it is not so. Teaching teens is a good example. When I was disrespected in class, I found that making them feel the pinch with a positive return and approaching them about their behavior after often had better outcomes.
Tell them how the disrespect made you feel.
This takes a whole lot of courage. When we are disrespected, it can help, in the right context, to have a heart to heart talk with the person who slighted you and let them know how it made you feel. Perhaps they were unaware of the fact that the behavior constituted being disrespectful so it would be good to bring it to their attention.
Find your own place of self-respect.
As a good friend of mine would say in such situations, “work on yourself first.” Often, feelings of disrespect are grounded in our own feelings of insecurity and need for appreciation.Acknowledging your own self-worth and being happy in spite of any negativity helps to dampen its effect.
Be an example.
If we desire the appreciation of others, we have to exemplify that respect. Being consistent in giving respect to all and discouraging hurtful remarks or gossip would certainly help.
Which is the form of respect do you show most often?
What is a trilinea?
A trillinea is an unrhymed three line poem that poets often regard as little micro poems or verses. It resembles a haiku, with the first line of the poem having 4 syllables, the next,8 and the third,4.
Trilinea can be about anything, but must contain the word “rose”. The restrictions can challenge, yet develop a poet’s creativity. For excellent explanations and examples of trillinea, do take the time to read Rosemary Sadler's poem A Bouquet of Roses with a DIfference and Daisy Mariposa's detailed article, Poetry Forms.
The Rose of Regard, a trilinea by Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin
Coming out of the darkness of disrespect takes time, but can be done with a little positivity, self-management and encouragement. We must also be ready to earn the respect we deserve by being respectful ourselves. A respectful writing time ahead for all!
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