What does it mean to truly respect?

by Irina Gladushchenko
photo by Martine Negro (Provence, May 2016)

The word respect comes from the Latin respicere – to look back at, regard.

I feel that respect is one of the strongest manifestations of unconditional love. It is as if I’ve missed something first time around and the Universe is giving me another chance to revisit, reconnect and to regard myself and the other. To respect is to embrace the uniqueness of each and every one of us, our togetherness or our differences. To respect is to acknowledge each other’s presence even if our paths have crossed only for a moment.

Why is respect so important?
To me respect is a “behind the scenes” encouraging force that motivates us to take actions in accordance with our highest purpose. I remember my first conscious encounter with the power of respect – it was expressed by my mother 22 years ago. We were planning to immigrate to Australia as the situation in Ukraine was quite unpredictable and the ‘honest living’ was becoming a thing of the past there. We had gone through all the stages of the long and costly process (the cost of the application for an independent migrant visa was equal to my annual salary as a computer programmer) and there was just one more step left, the medical examination… We had assessed all our resources and there was nothing more to sell and no budget to cut. We had no more money and no way to get any more. So, I decided to ask my mum for the money we needed to complete the process. The twist was, that because of the need to ask, I had to disclose the truth of our probable departure. Mum listened to me, sighed, extracted $50 from her special (funeral expenses) box and gave it to me saying, “I don’t think it’s going to work, but yes, go ahead, so there will be no regrets later on”… At that moment I felt heard, understood, valued and truly respected by my mother.  I will always cherish this experience as it was a transition for me from “respecting the elder person by default” rule, to experiencing a feeling of respect for who I was.

How do we cultivate respect?
As with every skill – starting with self-respect; remembering my thoughts and actions when I truly respect myself. This is the golden seed to be planted!

When I first started to enquire about my own self-respect it was very shy and it was only willing to give me little glimpses of itself every now and then, eg I felt it when talking to a neighbour for the first time, supporting a friend in crisis and allowing the stray cat to adopt our household…

On the other hand my respect for others was always there. I’ve always noticed little and big gestures of kindness, love, generosity and acceptance. My heart would sing with joy and the feeling of grand respect would be there… It reminded me of a bouncy ball, ready to be played. Many of these people had a very special influence in my life – they were my mentors, holding a safe space for me to develop self-respect and I am forever grateful to each of them!

Mutual respect is one of the key aspects of the mentoring relationship, the first step towards trust, of deeper connection and sharing.

In life there are no authorities; at most, there are experts and each of us offers our unique expertise to be valued and respected.

Would you like to connect deeper with the power of Respect? Please click on the image below for information about our next retreat program in September 15-19 2016