Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A little r-e-s-p-e-c-t, please? "Get Real" topic #1

My mind is such swirl of thoughts from day to day experiences and general observations. But, where to start? Wheeeere to start? If I try to hit on everything all in one post I'll have a novel (Hey, though! Isn't that one of my life's goals)?! So I guess for now I'll begin this new year with a post about something that I think should be so obvious and so integral in all of our lives but something that is obviously so incredibly squelched: the subject of respect--common courtesy--a spirit of caring for others and giving a darn about something other than our own agenda. I'm going to 'get real' with this post and with several to come. I've always been forthcoming with my intentions but I may be a little more bold in these next few writings.

I think it's fairly common that most of us experience moments of 'Me-ness' where we become so blinded by our own problems, feelings, ailments, goals (you fill in the blank) that we dive so far within ourselves...so much so that we forget to notice how our words (or lack of them), our facial expressions, our body language and all other actions and interactions are impacting those around us. Granted, some of you may NOT give a royal rat's patootie about anybody else. I'd be willing to bet, though, that most of us DO want to be involved in healthy relationships of all kinds. We'd like to foster relationships with immediate family, extended family and friends--friends both inside and outside the realm of work. But relationships are hard. Let me clarify. LASTING relationships (of whatever kind..family, spousal, friends, whatever) are hard!

Because we are human, this whole 'we are not perfect' idea enters into play and muddies things up. All sorts of STUFF gets in the way of our experiencing smooth sailing relationships. Some of it's external and out of our control but I'd be willing to lay down a chip and bet that if each of us focused more on giving our all when it comes to relationships and not worry so much about what WE are NOT GETTING then seas actually WOULD be incredibly smoother. It's that darn "ME-ness," though. That ever-intrusive "Me-ness" mist floats on in. It clouds our senses and assaults our very core.

At the school I work at, part of the motto that we teach our children is that we will be "respectful, responsible problem solvers." It's a GREAT motto! It is critical that children learn to embody these 3 elements. Ideally, they should be learning them at home as well as at school. I'm so very honored to work with so many fine individuals, be friends with such incredible people and am proud to have fantastic people in my family who embrace this way of life. Then there are those--along with so many strangers that I simply observe in daily life--who fall short in one or more areas--regularly. (Again, we ALL have our days. It goes along with that whole not being perfect thing). The "respectful" piece of the pie is the one that's particularly disenchanting for me these days. How can children learn from us if we are falling short? Actually, they're learning alright. But they're learning to live by the opposing forces: negativity, disrespect, lack of commitment, inability to hold face to face conversation.

Ok, you're sitting there by yourself reading this post. Nobody's lurking over your shoulder...let's just quietly and with an OPEN MIND think about a couple of things. Do you do any of these things:
~Interrupt often or even completely ignore somebody when they are trying to talk with you in casual conversation...or get defensive and jump in with 'your story' before hearing another person out when it's a touchy subject for you?

~Do you greet a person--even just with a smile and polite head nod--when they enter a room or an area in which you are or do you just ignore them and keep going about your business or your conversation without acknowledging that somebody just entered?!

~Do you SMILE at people as you walk or drive past or do you think most people would notice a scowl or furrowing of the brow or other irritated look on your face (or even a blank stare)?

~When somebody offers to help you with something do you SMILE at them and say "Yes please" or "No, thank you" or are you gruff and short with them?

~Do you latch onto and harbor grudges forever and a day?

~Do you effectively communicate (this is a topic for a completely different post!) with people or do you take shortcuts in communication or ignore it all together because you feel uncomfortable with it (a clue that you might want to improve communication might be if people are often misunderstanding what you mean or your intentions...perhaps you THINK you are communicating well but...well, as I said, we'll talk about that later)

~Do you delete friends from social networking sites or simply refuse to call or write friends or family rather than simply having a conversation (written or spoken) about a topic that has upset you? Did it occur to you that YOU might have misunderstood?

~For goodness sake, are you following the golden rule?? Are you treating people the same way you would like to be treated? Seriously?

~Do you find it hard to be respectful of a friend or loved one when their ideas or beliefs are different from your own? For example, would you run to your computer and delete a friend because they mention they hate dogs if you're a dog lover?

~Are you friendly or, let me be frank, are you a drag to be around. Is it possible that you are really friendly with those folks you're 'tight' with but, for whatever reason, do you turn into that character with the stripey tights in Wizard of Oz (hint: she's the one with the black, pointy hat) if somebody you're not close with OR somebody you're trying to 'teach a lesson to' enters the room?

~Do you cop out of commitments routinely (not talking about the occasional scheduling conflict that pops up...I mean, are you a 'no show' continually to important things and/or things that you commit to)?

I could sit here for a few more minutes and think of more but I think this gives us enough to chew on for now. All of these things somehow tie into being respectful of other people. Holding good relationships starts with the awareness of all other people around us and a desire to create positivity and balance with others. We're not going to enter into relationships with every person we come across but pretty much every contact you have with another person has the potential to make or break their day. How we carry ourselves throughout our days, how we interact with other people speaks volumes about the kind of person we are. How we treat our friends and loved ones lets them know, directly, how important they are to you. We like to say, "He/she is such a wonderful friend we don't have to communicate with eachother; we just KNOW we're there!" This IS true, to a certain extent, with some relationships. It's sort of like the ability to be next to somebody you care about and not have to SAY something every second...it's SORT of like that...but not really. You see, people that we are in relationships with DO want to hear from us. They DO want us to show up to gatherings or make plans, from time to time, to get together. They DO want us to write letters and to chit chat. These actions DO SHOW THAT WE CARE...that we respect the people in our lives.

For many of us it's that we've gotten out of the habit of being responsible, respectful loved ones and friends. We've allowed this busy culture and our own agenda to deceive us into thinking we can't allow any spare time for the relationships in our lives. As I said, it's HARD to keep the fire burning. It takes effort. It takes effort to smile sometimes. It takes effort to hold a conversation that you might initially feel nervous about having. It takes effort to write a letter (and mail it), to schedule a workout/play/tea/coffee date with a friend, to say 'hello' to people when your mind is on your problems. Let me tell you, though....it is so worth it! AND...and...it gets easier the more you do it. It's like embarquing on a marathon training program. It seems overwhelmingly impossible in the beginning then gets a little easier. You experience highs and lows along the way but you get so strong at the end and glean such a sense of gratification when you stick it out and achieve your goal! Your medal for all of your efforts will be the lasting relationships in your life...the people who will be there for you through thick and through thin because you treated them with respect. YOU stuck it out with THEM and that gets reciprocated!

If we could all just think about taking this respect thing day by day. Make the absolute most out of each day you are blessed with. Sure, it's easy to linger in the doldrums but it's so much more fun to rise above it all despite the hard work! Try something I like to do and go into Walmart sometime (that infernal place!) and just smile at everyone! *Note* It works better if you make the smiles genuine "How are you doing today?" sort of smiles as opposed to raving lunatic grins...I'd hate to have my readers following my blog from loony bins across the country! :) Anyway, I'm simply asking you all to join me right now in making the commitment to really thinking about the feelings of others and acting accordingly. We know we're not perfect but we can certainly try to fall into our beds each evening knowing we did our best to bring a bit of joy to those who crossed our paths that day as opposed to dropping a wet blanket over their heads.

~In peace~
Oh, and P.S....It's really important that you be GENUINE in your kindness toward others...not patronizing, fake or superficial. REALLY LISTEN to people! People know when you are really listening and paying attention to them and when you're faking it. ;)

1 comment:

  1. I HAVE to remind you all, too, of the importance of REGULAR exercise and how it plays into all of this. I don't want you to be a FANTATIC but we all must exercise regularly and of high enough intensity and duration to do our bodies good. This, in turn, does our MINDS a great service and makes us better equipped to deal with all else!