R-E-S-P-E-C-T (and what that means to me)
(If you didn't sing that Aretha-style, I am for sure judging you.)
But, seriously, let's talk about this word: respect. Seven little letters that, when strung together, carry a lot of weight.
What is respect?
Complicated question, huh? Respect has many meanings to many people. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2018), "respect" is a noun that means, "a high or special regard for someone or something" and "an understanding that someone or something is important or serious."
It's also a verb that means, "to regard as being worthy of admiration because of good qualities." Other words associated with "respect" include "thoughtfulness," "consideration," "good," "valuable," and "esteemed."
All good things, right? Right. So given those definitions, let me ask you a more challenging question:
Do you respect yourself?
A lot of you may answer this question, "yes, Claire, of course I respect myself." But I want to challenge you to apply those definitions we just talked about to how you think and talk about yourself.
Do you "highly regard" yourself? Do you think you are "important?" Are you "thoughtful" and "considerate" with yourself? Do you think of yourself as "good," "valuable," and "esteemed?"
If the answer to those questions is no, then maybe you need to reevaluate what respect really looks like in your life.
This is hard stuff, y'all, and I get it. For most of my life, I did not respect myself. I was not considerate of myself; in fact, the opposite was true. I punished my body with food (or lack thereof) and exercise. I did not consider myself "valuable" or "good." And it showed. I didn't stand up for myself in friendships or relationships because I didn't believe I was worthy of better. To believe that would make me selfish and narcissistic, which I did not want to be. So I settled often.
Listen closely here, y'all, because this is important:
SELF-RESPECT IS NOT SELFISH. IT IS ESSENTIAL.
Think about it...the golden rule says to treat others as you wish to be treated. How can you respect others if you don't respect yourself?
My life changed when I began to respect myself. A lot of things happened all at once that forced me to take a good look in the mirror and ask, "is this really what you want from your life?" And the answer was no, it wasn't.
I was really tired of settling...for not taking care of my body, for pursuing someone else's idea of success, for not liking who I was, for letting people treat me like crap for no other reason than I must have deserved it...for everything! I was done with it.
I decided I was worth something. I was valuable and important. I had bad qualities, certainly, but more importantly I ALSO had good qualities.
I decided to respect myself and my life started to change. It didn't happen overnight though. It's a process. Each and every day is a new opportunity to grow. Which is kind of the best part when you think about it!
Y'all, in our society, we are so quick to demand respect from everyone else, but we rarely take the time to look in the mirror and demand it from ourselves.
I say this with so much love, STOP disrespecting yourself! It benefits no one, least of all you.
Are you punishing your body with poor food choices and excessive or nonexistent exercise? Are you stuck in a bad relationship, afraid to move on because you fear no one else will want you? Are you sitting at a job that you hate because pursuing your dream job won't be easy? Do you let people walk all over you because you don't believe you're worth fighting for? STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT. I mean it!
Practice a little self-respect this week. Believe you're good, valuable, and worthy of thought and consideration. Because you are.