Posted by: Judy | March 22, 2012


Over at upsi’s blog, yesterday, she posted about disrespect, and got me thinking. If you want to check it out, click on the word here.

There are those who complain about no one respecting them. Coming from a comedian, it can be funny, sometimes. Coming from a grown adult, one has to wonder about the background story.

In upsi’s case, it appears that those finding her blog through a search engine are trying to find a way to compel or force or coerce someone else to respect them. Mostly, it’s parents demanding children respect them. Mind you, they aren’t looking for why the child is disrespecting them, only how to change the behavior, generally through emotional blackmail, i.e., a poem or quote.

She and the other commenters brought up an interesting point: Several of them mentioned that fear is often considered a sign of respect. It was agreed that fear and respect are not interchangeable. They are separate entities, like forgiveness and trust are not interchangeable, though they are often combined in subtle ways.

I’ve often heard those who are endeavoring to make their point use the military as an example. You want your enemies to fear your military. Well, yes, this is true, to a point. If fear were the sole factor, then you’d have to say that everyone respects pirates.

Respect may include an element of fear, in that those who fear you are those who would be disrespectful and dishonorable, and they know you will stand against disrespectful and dishonorable behavior. However, the fear isn’t about your rage or anger, but about your willingness to stand for what is good and right. Which is entirely different from parents terrorizing their children in order to command obedience. Because sooner or later, the child realizes that either you’re really going to kill them and they’d rather die, or they figure out you’ve been lying all this time, and they’ve had enough. Either way, the ending isn’t going to be pretty.

However, this isn’t what I wanted to focus on. I had an ah-ha moment. Upsi and her commenters all commented that these people needed to develop some self-respect. After all, what self-respecting person would chase after someone who was disrespectful?

I took it a step further: If respect wasn’t about fear, then maybe it was why I’ve had so much trouble developing self-respect, because I’m so afraid of making the right decision… no, I’m afraid of being wrong, because if I’m wrong, then I will have to be “schooled” in what is right, to be sure I never make the mistake again… Because that is how I was raised. If I made the smallest error, or if I was blamed for something I hadn’t done, then I was taken aside and counseled, and “we” discussed ways to make sure I didn’t ever make the mistake again. I’m not talking about smoking behind the house. I never smoked. Ever. I’m not talking drinking or doing drugs. Never did those things either. I’m talking about leaving a light on in a room, or a door open, or a spoon on the counter, or a dish with a spot of food on it. Things my accusers did, and sometimes I was held accountable for what someone else had done. Someone else left a light on, I was blamed and had to learn to do it right.

How do I develop self-respect when I’m in constant fear? Of being wrong. Of making a mistake. Of not doing everything perfectly. Now, isn’t that an interesting dilemma.


  1. Yes it is. I will look forward to discussing it with you. We are working on the same subject…self respect with the emphasis on self. upsi’s post is very thought provoking.

    • Thanks for pointing me in her direction.

  2. I came to the conclusion with my mother that she was jealous of me and saw me as some sort of threat. She would build herself up by putting me down. Never missing an opportunity to point out my mistakes and boy did she enjoy it. It is difficult to overcome the anxiety when you have always to be on your guard. Having every little mistake pointed out to you is tantamount to mental cruelty. Try not to take the bait Judy.
    ‘Everybody makes mistakes; that’s why they put rubbers/erasers on pencils’! 🙂

    Love, Molly

    • 😀 Good reminder, Molly! Thanks!

  3. I don’t know why this post had me thinking of my marriage, but I’ll take a shot in the dark … I think it was because of what you said about always being afraid to make a mistake … it took me a long time (about year 8 into an 18 year marriage) to finally figure out that nothing I did, no choice that I made, and no action that I took, was ever going to be the right choice. My husband had an expectation of what I was supposed to look like as a wife, and how I was supposed to act, (and it looked a whole lot like his mother, but that’s another whole story), and one day I finally realized I was never going to meet his expectations. So I quit trying.

    In that moment, I think I finally began to locate some self-respect. It wasn’t that I gave up, but rather, that I finally figured out how to have some self-respect. Unfortunately, he had married someone with none, so it was a painful adjustment.

    We always hear that “respect is something you have to earn.”

    Apparently, that counts, even when we’re trying to find our way to locating our own self-respect. We have to earn our way to figuring it out. It sounds like you are well on your way. Interesting post.

    • I’m not so sure self-respect is something you earn so much as create and cultivate. I’m still thinking this one through.

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