The Zen of Respect

Trees in autumn

I don’t recall ever seeing a Hallmark (or other) greeting card with a message expressing respect. We often want to convey thoughts of love, gratitude, or well wishes. We (or at least I) hardly talk about respect.

Most people want to be loved. But can we really love anyone without respecting them first?

“Respect is love in plain clothes.” ~Frankie Byrne

Respect is:

  • Love without attachment.
  • Acceptance without judgment.
  • Surrender without giving up.
  • Admiration without hype.
  • Appreciation without expectations.

And all respect starts with:


Respect is interesting because it has its own cycle.

![cycle of respect](/images/respect.png)

If we don’t respect ourselves, we won’t be able to genuinely respect others, and we won’t get the respect we deserve from others.

Self-respect is something we owe ourselves. It’s the message that we send to the world quietly asserting our truth, and how we’d like to be treated.

We can’t expect others to respect us if we don’t respect ourselves. This means we treat ourselves the way we want to be regarded by the world.

When we respect ourselves, we:

Affirm our right to exist and be as we are. This is an inalienable right dictated by all of life that cannot be stripped away.

Appreciate the value of our being, by accepting our abilities and weaknesses alike … the ordinary and unique in us … the inner and outer flaws and beauty.

Allow ourselves to live truthfully—without fear of not fitting in, or not living up to the expectations of others. We live from the clarity of our own convictions and values.

Treat ourselves with dignity,which is something no one can strip away from us without our permission.

Trust our abilities to be, to achieve, to overcome, and to thrive.

 “Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.” ~Clint Eastwood

When we respect ourselves, we exude calm confidence and ease. Yet, we remain humble and compassionate.

We cannot but respect others for the same reasons we respect ourselves.

Respecting others

“Respect is what we owe; love, what we give” ~Philip James Bailey

To respect others is to grant them the same rights that we award ourselves. We owe them that much. This means we:

Allow others to be, without judgment and prejudice. We let them express who they are their way.

See the beauty and value in every being, and appreciate their strengths and imperfections … their similarities and differences.

Accept others’ truths and way of life, without expectations of compliance to rigid social conventions or personal views.

Treat others with dignity, because everyone deserves to be treated this way.

“This is the final test of a gentleman: his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him” ~William Lyon Phelps

Trust their abilities to live the life they’re meant to live, without our control or opinions.

Respecting life

“Being brilliant is no great feat if you respect nothing.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

To respect life is to deeply appreciate every creation and form of expression the way it is. When we respect life, we:

Truly see everything—balance and imbalance, fear and joy, love and hate, wrath and calm—as part of the energy of life.

Surrender to the seasons and changeability of life: birth, renewal and decay, unpredictable moods, transient blessings and passing misfortunes.

Stop chasing time. We enjoy the energy and enthusiasm of youth and welcome the wisdom and vulnerability of old age … and everything in between.

We may need to change something, if we can. But we do it from a life affirming position—not from a forceful and reactionary impulse. And we accept the power of life and the things that we cannot change.

“He who wants a rose must respect the thorn.” ~Persian Proverb

When we respect life, we won’t destroy life.

When we respect life, we won’t exploit life.

When we respect life, we won’t hurt life.

When we respect life, we won’t judge life.

When we respect life, we cannot but love all of life.

I could never love where I could not respect” ~Charlotte Elizabeth Aisse

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