Why Compliments Are Hard To Receive

If you’ve ever felt uneasy about a compliment that someone has given you I think it’s because you’re starting to understand that you don’t – and never have required the validation of others to live a good life. The trouble is the way you’ve grown up makes it really hard to shake the feeling that you need to be complimented – otherwise you’re doing badly.

I think we’ve all grown up in a world where we have this messed up social reward/punishment system that’s drilled into us from a very young age. Our personalities are twisted, pulled, shoved and totally manipulated by the people who raise us to the point that most of the time we actually don’t understand how to practice self-belief – unless we’re indulging someone else’s wants and needs rather than our own. We seem to mostly rely on others to validate our actions with praise – or punish our actions with negativity. Have you ever had someone tell you ‘You just gotta have a bit of confidence in yourself’. Damn man, I wasn’t raised to have confidence. External validation was all I knew – my confidence literally was other people cheering for me – none of it came from me. If my teachers said I was wrong or that I wasn’t good enough – I believed them. If my parents said I should to do something, I did it. Personally I rebelled a lot and it messed me up big time because even though I knew I was trying to do the right thing and believe in myself – everything else in the world was telling me NO NO NO.

Good advice is good advice, but I think that we’ve become quite socially backwards. Like we’re totally selfish when it comes to what other people do – we often want to control them with our influence to benefit us rather than them. We’re also totally neglectful of what we really want because we allow everyone else to make our decisions for us. All of this because we were taught that it’s not ok to be ourselves and do what we want to do. We’re also told what the consequences of our actions will be before we take the action – and in an attempt to make us ‘see the light’ our peers and parents manipulate our situation so that we learn a lesson as close to what they said we would as possible – which is a way for them to validate themselves by telling you you’ll screw up and almost ensuring that it happens rather than supporting you. Most advice is selfish – I rarely come across advice that doesn’t have a hidden agenda. Why? Like I said, I think our practices of love and caring for others is just structurally backwards.

With where I’m at in my life now I’ve come to the conclusion that compliments are nice – they do feel good but I do not need them to be happy within myself. I know that I’m good at what I do and I know that I’ll do well in whatever I choose to pursue. My advice is to stop asking people if it’s a good idea to do something. You already know if it’s what you want to do – which makes it a good idea even if it’s a mistake. Stop trying to validate your life – just live it and love how crazy it can be. Also be kind to those who try to fuck you up. I don’t think they truly want to – what they really want is to be able to love themselves – they just don’t know how to live life any other way.

Thanks for reading!

Sean ❤

It’s Ok To Have A Bad Day *NEW POST*

Dr. Eric Perry

By Dr. Perry, PhD


“Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I believe in maintaining a positive attitude in my life. But I also acknowledge that life is not perfect. It is impossible to live your life in an inexhaustible positive state of mind similar to a sugar high. Everywhere we look we are being told to be happy and that we have the ability to manifest our perfect life. Keeping up with the wave of positivity can be exhausting and at times, depressing. We can’t allow ourselves to be pressured to live a life constantly rushing from one positive high to another and avoiding any sadness or negative emotions.

Surrounded by the illusion of eternal positivity, it is normal to blame ourselves when life takes a downward turn. It is also normal to develop an aversion to anything but happiness…

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Are we all acting?

I recently had a pretty wild thought that has been staring me in the face for years on end, only I never knew what it meant. I’ll give you some context before I explain this crazy – but perhaps not so crazy notion.

I’ve always loved drama, theatre, music – any kind of performance or public demonstration and I’ve always wanted to perform. I applied to go to acting school back in 2016 and I didn’t get in – which was upsetting at the time because in my mind it was all I wanted. I think part of the reason I didn’t make it through is because I’m not actually very good at acting when it is my intention to act, because I’m constantly thinking: ok Sean, don’t think like you – be someone else. Immediately, I’m unconvincing. The best ‘performances’ I’ve ever done are when I’ve been totally myself , but joking around and assuming that people will know that I’m not serious – but I so frequently do get taken seriously. It’s almost like it’s easier to believe what’s false than what isn’t.

I’ve thought a lot about why I seem to have this ability to reverse-act and never managed to come to any tangible conclusion about it…until now. I’ve always wanted to be myself – to live and breathe as an individual and to have my own thoughts and opinions. As a child this caused me some trouble at times because I never understood why I felt that people didn’t value me. As I’ve grown up I’ve learnt how to better be myself, and also how to have a more relevant opinion – essentially one that isn’t just directly quoted from a book or parent or other role model. Something I’ve actually thought about.

Why is this relevant? Well I believe that people who spend a lot of time and effort trying to be an individual often become repressed by the social roof that we live under – in other words it becomes a lot easier to share the opinions and beliefs of the masses than to have our own genuine understanding of things. Through this repression we manufacture an identity – one that fits in with current social regimes and from a very young age we are all ‘acting’. There’s an incredibly big difference between wanting to help someone clean up their house after a party – because you want to – than to do so because you feel obligated. This is one of many examples where even though the act is the same – the emotion behind it and the emotional response you receive in return is totally different. We have simply been taught by society to feel obligated to behave in certain ways rather than to respond genuinely.

If you look at children, younger children especially, you so often see such a strong desire to give, participate and to be present in the moment. That’s not something they learn, it’s something they want – a reflection of how we are naturally, without large amounts of external influence pounded into us over the years. The older we get, the more we learn about how we are supposed to behave. It’s with this logic that I can only conclude that we are all acting, every day. And the best actors are the ones whose behaviour is impeccable…exemplary…

So perhaps many of the authentic actors that we love in Hollywood and Broadway are actually just very well-practiced at being themselves. They’re not trying to be anyone that they are not, they simply display themselves disingenuously – how they have learnt to display themselves for the role. They are so convincing because we seem to believe what is false more easily than we see the truth. We want to be fooled. If you create a false image on top of a false image – like if you were literally trying to embody a different person for a performance – this is where you become unconvincing. People don’t want to be lied to about lies – they see through it. They want to be lied to about the truth.

This is certainly something worth thinking about. Just how much of our personality is manufactured and how much of it is who we really are on the inside.

Thanks for reading!

Sean ❤

Irrational Anger, Mindfulness and Growth.

I reckon that we’re all going to meet a few (if not many) people who make us angry. Like irrationally angry. It’s these people who bring out a side of us that we very rarely see, and even more rarely acknowledge. I believe that the reason these people bring such strong emotion out of us is not at all because they’re mean, selfish or just all-round bad people (though they may well be some of those things) – but because they reflect a part of our own personality that we simply cannot accept. The result is often angry rants to friends, defensive comments, going out of our way to prove that they’re the ‘bad guy’. If you haven’t caught yourself at this, there’s a good chance you’ve seen this kind of behaviour in others. It’s when we’re exhibiting this kind of behaviour that we’re right on the edge of dealing with an emotional issue that we haven’t quite been able to get to grips with yet – only it’s so easy to turn what could be an experience of emotional growth and development, into a raging emotional battle. A battle almost entirely fought with ourselves, I might add – though it probably doesn’t feel that way at the time. The way I see it, this is a large part of the reason people say that there’s a fine line between hate and love. In fact it’s often the people we do love who bring out those irrational feelings of anger. I think this should be viewed as a positive thing – an opportunity to acknowledge a part of your life that you haven’t been able to accept, one that doesn’t have to be negative either. It could well be that we need to admit to ourselves that ‘I am good enough’ or ‘I do deserve to be treated better’ just as easily as it could be ‘I’ve always been selfish in this area of my life’. The only way to understand and accept what’s really going on in these situations is to be mindful and to take responsibility for our own feelings. I think we generally know the truth to some degree – it’s more just a matter of unlocking it through understanding. Sometimes we don’t manage to uncover the truth and it stays buried, ready to emerge at a moments notice when the next ’emotional opportunity’ arrises. (I think this is why some people avoid certain situations like the plague – they know what’s coming and they’re trying to run away from the feelings.) Sometimes we achieve truth by yelling and screaming until it eventually comes out – but it’s often easier than that if we’re consciously looking for a solution and not attempting to run or blame others for our feelings.

Being mindful of your feelings is not all that different to being mindful of your surroundings – like making sure to be consciously aware of traffic when walking near busy roads. Much like learning to look out for traffic, you also have to learn how to calm your mind and take a moment to understand what’s going on inside your head before ‘blindly walking out into the road’ – so to speak. I actually find thinking of traffic very helpful for this. Imagine your feelings are big cars and trucks driving loudly around you – then turn off the sound, place yourself in a protective bubble and watch your feelings drive past you and back the other way without the stress of all that noise. This way you can observe the chaos of your emotional state without feeling like a direct part of it.

You’re also going to meet people (younger and older) – who are more ’emotionally experienced’ in certain aspects of their life than you are. These people can make you irrationally angry too, only in my experience they are the people who are easier to learn from – because they generally don’t throw your feelings back in your face. This can be a really positive experience if you see past the potential feelings of jealousy or inferiority you might experience in the presence of someone seemingly more confident or composed than you are. The phrase ’emotionally experienced’ could easily be replaced with ‘tolerant’ or ’empathetic’. So if you meet someone who’s emotional experience is much greater than yours in a given situation that you’re not coping with well – you’re much more likely to receive kindness, care, or at the very least a neutral response from them because they understand what you’re dealing with – and likely have no care to indulge your irrational behaviour.

Try to think of a time that you’ve been treated kindly when you know you didn’t deserve it. It’s one of the most humbling experiences you can have in life – to have someone take all of that anger and pain you’re throwing at them and rather than getting emotionally involved themselves, they give little attention to how rude you’re being and simply acknowledge what you’re really saying to them – that you’re upset – quite likely not because of them and that perhaps you need some help. I’ve experienced kindness like this several times in my life and it’s these experiences that make me want to be a better person more than anything – that make me want to be as good to other people as this person was to me, even though I didn’t deserve it.

My message here is to embrace all interactions, perhaps even try to enjoy the raging battle of emotions life can throw at you – just try not to take it out on other people. Take responsibility for your own feelings – believe in yourself and your values enough to know that you’re not directly responsible for the way others feel. If you find yourself in a situation with someone who is equally emotionally inexperienced as you, take a minute to be mindful of your feelings before you say or do something regrettable. If you’re confronted by someone less emotionally experienced in a particular area than you are, and they’re taking it out on you, don’t bite back or antagonise them – be the bigger person and imagine what kind of an impact you might have on them. Consider how much they might seriously benefit, learn and grow from not being chewed out for being an asshole, and simply being understood – or at least listened to.

Thanks for reading!

Sean ❤

Why Do We Need to Socially Label Each Other?

The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” – Chimamanda Adichie

Labels can be immensely helpful, they bring clarification and they help us to make judgements and decisions. For example, if wool has a tendency to irritate your skin, you’re unlikely to purchase clothing labeled as woollen, unless it is specifically designed with sensitive skin in mind, which will also be indicated on the label. Other labels I find useful are those that you might find on a jar of peanut butter stating that what you are consuming or purchasing, is in fact, peanut butter – perhaps with no added sugar and a 97% peanut content.

My point here, is that labelling something that isn’t going to change, makes a lot of sense, but we have developed this system of social labels which tend to be single words or small groups of words that make large generalisations about a person or activity. These statements often relate to diet, lifestyle, political stance, religious belief or gender identity – and many more I’m sure. I think that as a society we’ve become far too reliant on these labels and as a result have created a kind of ignorant toxicity that thrives so easily because of the internet, where it’s also a lot easier to create a false image for yourself or others.

So, whilst it’s very easy, and relatively obvious to say that a bottle of gin is a bottle of gin, or a one-legged man is a one-legged man, people often forget to label themselves correctly – for example, ‘I am a vegan’ is a label that indicates that one does not use or consume animal products. Many people who identify as vegan actually do use or consume animal products of some sort, so a more correct label might be ‘I am a vegan but I wear leather shoes and I’m also finding it really hard to give up cheese so I eat that occasionally too’. Now this creates a bit of a dilemma because for starters the initial label of ‘I am Vegan’ is now null and void, not only for the people using it incorrectly, but also for the people using it correctly, because it’s now become difficult for others to distinguish what a person actually means when they label themselves as something. Because of this, you’re likely to spend more time trying to work out the finer details of a label, like which parts of the bible a devout christian chooses to adhere to, than if they had briefly explained what matters to them – if it’s even relevant in the first place. To put an end to a social tide of ignorance, like the incorrect use of hashtags or other such labels, would be like trying to use sign language to convince an iguana that it was an Eskimo – so what’s the solution?

For starters I think it would be much simpler to explain our own personal values when making a point. For example, you have decided to share a post on the internet about cruelty to whales and in the description column you post #vegansagainstanimalcruelty. Instead of this, you might use words like #Icareaboutwhales which can only really mean what it says, so that when you later post a picture of the steak dinner that you made for you and your bestie, you don’t look like a complete tosser.

Now for the more serious stuff. Peoples everyday lives and emotional states are subject to such immense change over the course of a lifetime that it honestly seems silly to place specific labels on everything. While the fish I purchased from the pet shop is likely to remain a fish, the cisgender male I met last week may well be identifying as transgender now.  When we label ourselves, especially publicly, we subject ourselves to immense personal and social pressure to live up to the standards of these labels. This can very easily slow down or limit our personal progression, and whether it be spiritual or intellectual, change and growth is important to us as human beings. While I believe that it’s important to have values, and to uphold them – I think it’s also important to evaluate those values and subject them to positive change as we grow and learn individually, or in the case of organisations like the church, as a collective. I’d also like to point out that flippant use of labels regarding things like mental health or sexuality can have very serious emotional consequences, especially when talking about other people, because labels stick – and when they’re stuck to our back, we often don’t find them for a while.

A brief personal example could be that I am writing this post because I think that the way we label ourselves is creating a more narrow-minded public rather than an open-minded one. I could of course say that I’m writing this because I’m a #liberal4life but what that means to me, most certainly isn’t what it means to you – I can’t even begin to imagine what it might mean to other people if I said I was a liberal – given the amount of information there is on the internet about politics. So I’m just saying what I mean in a few words that are true to me, rather than putting a label on myself that could be interpreted as anything.

To conclude, I honestly think the best label you can have for anyone is that they are a ‘person’ – a person who believes in a God or Gods, a person who likes walks on the beach. Should any label for a person really matter more than our human connection? I think we could all benefit by simplifying labels back to their original dictionary definition and not attempting to use them as a means of understanding what a person is like as an individual – or to give an understanding of what you are like as an individual. I think we should un-simplify our use of language that we describe ourselves with, so as to stop confusion, prevent the feeding of internet trolls and most importantly prevent ourselves from ever feeling like we have to live up to a standard that we are not comfortable with.

Thoughts?

Sean

Are You in Control of Your Life? *NEW POST*

Dr. Eric Perry

Crossroad in rural landscape on meadow hill in sunset timeBy Dr. Perry, PhD


“It is our attitude toward events, not events themselves, which we can control.” ~Epictetus

Every morning before I head to the office, I go online and check the traffic report. I mentally rehearse my drive, avoiding all congested roadways, and check my backup route just in case. I have a cup of coffee, check my watch, and briefcase in hand, dash through the front door. I try to control my exposure to traffic as much as I can but unfortunately, traffic in Los Angeles is uncontrollable and unavoidable. Upon arriving to work, I park in my designated parking spot and begin my day.

Every day we make decisions. To whom or what we attribute the results of these decisions has much to do with our locus of control. Locus of control of reinforcement referred to as locus of control was conceptualized by psychologist Julian B. Rotter…

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Must & Want. What’s the difference?

I’ve realised that in life I never seem to enjoy or be satisfied by anything that I feel I MUST do, even if it appears essential. Events and situations can be subject to incredible and rapid change, so surely my potential expectations should be too. I think that the feeling of need or desperation to do something is often created by a fear of not being good enough, so I believe that even if something I am doing is necessary, I’m still doing it because I want to – at least in some way, because of where it will lead me in the future. I find thinking like this both empowering and productive!

If what I really want to achieve in the long term means that, in my current emotional state, I should spend an hr sitting on my ass watching T.V to collect my thoughts or take a break, then sit on my ass I shall.

I think the real insight here, comes from understanding the difference between what is helpful to us, and what is actually just an excuse we make to self sabotage. I’ve never felt more focussed, determined or capable than when I’m being kind and really listening to myself.

Thanks or reading.

Sean. ❤

Decision Making And External Influence. Are Your Feelings Always Your Own?

The short answer is yes, I think we’re all responsible for our feelings. We may not be responsible for the things that have been said or done to us which can affect our feelings, but we are certainly responsible for how we respond.

There have been times in my life where I have been sure of something deep down, but at the same time insecure about the decision that I want to make. Insecurity plays a big part here, typically with the involvement of others. People have a tendency to project their own insecurities at you, especially when you are talking about making decisions that they themselves would have trouble with. Unfortunately it’s very easy to allow these situations to get the better of you and affect your actions.

To give you an example – Harry was really concerned about going to university, in fact he didn’t really want to go because he was far too unsure about what he wanted to study and felt that it would be a waste of time and money. He was pretty certain about this and tried to communicate it to his parents. However, being high achievers themselves who always pushed their kids to do well, it was hard to get them to receive his feelings about higher education clearly. They only saw where he was coming from through their own filters – insecurity about not doing well in life and wandering off down a bad path you can never come back from. Insecurity about their child not having a good career or enough money for the future. Fear of failure in general – you get the picture. Naturally Harry had some of these concerns too – it’s pretty hard not to take on-board at least some of your parent’s feelings, especially when you’re young and impressionable. Harry hit a brick wall whenever he tried to broach the subject. His parents simply saw him as nervous, just like they had been, and concluded that he would get over it. In time, Harry actually started to believe this too, and besides, all his friends were going to uni so he figured he would feel pretty left out if he didn’t go. Harry uneasily applied for an accounting course he wasn’t really sure about and attended the university his parents wanted him to go to. 3 years later he walked out with decent grades but no idea what he wanted to do with his degree. More than anything he just wanted to get away from the subject and get a job doing something else because he never went to university with a purpose other than to satisfy his parents and keep up with his friends, so he felt a bit lost and resentful about the whole thing. It’s possible that, had Harry listened to his instincts, he may well have attended university later on and studied a subject that he was passionate about, one that would allow him to build the career he wanted on his terms. Obviously he may not have chosen to go down that path, but as long as whatever he chose to do was his own decision, he would be able to learn from his situation rather than become embittered by the fact that he never felt in control.

These situations can include really simple decisions like attending an event that you feel is important to you or perhaps spending an hour with a friend, sibling or parent, but allowing yourself to be convinced by others that it’s not the right decision even though you know it’s what you want, or perhaps what you need.

I guess sometimes it can feel like you’re not even living your own life and I suppose this wouldn’t feel like much of a problem if you weren’t, in some way or another, aware of the fact that it was happening. There’s a lot to be said here for people thinking they know best. In my personal experience, people who are adamant that they know what’s best for you and press this belief firmly on you are the very people who are most afraid of being wrong, failing or simply not being good enough.

I also want to talk about responsibility. This is because, like I mentioned earlier, we are not responsible for how others behave, but how we allow that behaviour to affect us and dictate our actions is absolutely within our control. I was bullied in school, I complained about it, suffered with it, and the next day you’d find me in the principals office having bullied someone myself. I’d deny it completely of course, argue my case badly and worse yet i’d believe my own words because I could not and would not accept that I was also a part of the problem – that I was at all responsible. I think that those of us who are aware of an issue, owe it to ourselves and the rest of the world to consciously take care of our responses. I know from my own experience that it is absolutely a choice to allow other peoples insecurities to dictate your decisions. If you roll over and indulge the insecurities of another person, you might be giving them what they want on the surface but the fact that they are projecting these issues onto you in the first place is, in my view, an opportunity to defy fear and ‘break the cycle’ for all parties involved. If you do not indulge someone else’s insecurities and thus do not indulge your own, you grow, learn and develop, not only within yourself but you also help others who couldn’t see things as clearly.

The best advice I can give to anyone who feels like they are in a situation like this is to live purposefully, and not only for other people. If you don’t understand the purpose of your current situation and why it is important to you, then try to find out. If it turns out you’re in this situation for the wrong reasons then try to change the way you look at it, or change the situation completely. I think that the hardest emotional decision you can ever make is not to do what other people feel you should do, or what feels easy, but what you feel is right, deep down and underneath all the filters. In the end I think we almost always know what’s right, we just don’t believe in ourselves, or trust ourselves enough to follow through. It is developing that trust and self belief that we should work on most of all, both for our own benefit and the benefit of everyone we come into contact with.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading!

 

Fear of Failure & Not Being Good Enough.

I often think that a fear of failure or not being good enough is the root cause of so many problems we face. If we’re afraid to fail then we are essentially afraid to do, or at least afraid to do anything meaningful. This doesn’t mean to say that we should put ourselves in situations we don’t want to be in, but I think that people often struggle to differentiate between what they don’t want and what they are too afraid to pursue.

I’ll give you an example of a situation I’ve been in where I was in a job that I didn’t like and I felt like I was going absolutely nowhere with it, which was frustrating and depressing. The reasons I didn’t liberate myself from this position were numerous, but the one that stands out the most for me was my fear of not being good enough, which directly correlates with a fear of failure. So I found myself in a position where I felt directionless and even though I tried pursuing hobbies or other activities outside of work in the hope that they would lead to something – in the end I felt like I was right back where I started, like there was no hope of anything ever being different. Sounds extreme I know, but fear can do that to you – it can cause an anxiety that makes irrational thoughts feel frighteningly real and inescapable. Essentially I became so afraid to fail that I ended up subconsciously self sabotaging and ending up in the same place over and over again. Fear creates the anxiety and the anxiety causes us to refuse change, which I believe is our instinctual way of protecting ourselves. The trouble with this is that it’s pretty easy to get it wrong, owing to the immense pressure we place on ourselves. So even if we truly desire change – when we’re afraid, what we truly want becomes distorted. I desperately wanted to get out of the job, but my fear held me back. It took me a long time to realise that I was convincing myself that I couldn’t do better because I was too afraid to try.

The point of my example is that I believe if you’re going to successfully break away from a situation where you feel stuck, first you have to accept why you’re stuck in the first place. I think a lot of people focus on the consequences of being stuck rather than why they are stuck. For example; a consequence of being stuck might be hating your job and/or the people you work with. Why you are stuck is more likely to come down to your lack of self belief and the self-destructive attitude that goes with it, but all you focus on is how much you hate going to work each morning. I think the hard option here is to spend time understanding the situation and digging for the real reason you’re unhappy. Unfortunately, I think it’s much easier to choose to believe in our own excuses – like the job is beneath us, our colleagues are assholes, or ‘that’s just how it is’. Whatever the excuse, I think we have to consider that there is often an underlying emotional cause – like being afraid that you’re not good enough, that you won’t fit in, and thus making it so.

It’s so important to be able to admit to yourself that you’re afraid to fail or that you don’t think you’re good enough. The joy of putting yourself outside of your comfort zone is the learning process involved – win or lose, I don’t think you can ever truly fail, because you learn something about yourself, what you need to improve on and what works well for you. Fear of failure is naturally built into most of us to some degree but I think the main difference between people who succeed and those who don’t even try, is all down to how much they let the fear control them and dictate their actions. The way I see it, you are ALWAYS good enough because you are you, there’s only one of you and you are the only real measure of your own success. Sure, other people can appreciate and recognise what you’ve done or what you stand for but they’ll never deeply understand everything that it means to you and your own journey. Like I said before, you can NEVER truly fail either, because with every failure comes an opportunity to learn and grow. What do you think?

Thanks for reading!

Sean

Respecting People As Individuals

Firstly, I’d just like to say that I believe respect to be the core foundation of any positive relationship and I also believe that respect, especially for a person as an individual, is incredibly undervalued in society today. I’d also like to mention that everyone is different, and as a result we can’t possibly expect to get along with someone if we only like and respect them for the labels we place on them or the assumptions we make about them.

Respect is an interesting concept. You can show respect for someones abilities with words like “That was very impressive, well done!” and really mean it, however this doesn’t necessarily mean that you respect them as a person, or individual. Respect for someone as an individual means accepting who they are, who they might be, what they do and what they might do in the future. Obviously it’s hard to know all of these things for sure, which is why respecting someone is essentially like having faith in them. Now you could be wrong about a person and they might, in your eyes, change for better or worse. This is not of major importance because if you respect yourself then you can accept that you could be wrong, things might change and that it’s ok either way.

Respect is very give and take. You’ll often get respect from those whom you respect and vice versa. The trouble we often run into is expecting or perhaps demanding respect without first offering it. Giving respect to someone as an individual – having faith in them – can feel a lot like giving the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t matter what experiences you’ve had in the past that might cause you to make assumptions about a person – allowing your assumptions to dictate the way you treat them is, in my eyes, incredibly disrespectful. I’ve seen it a lot between children and adults, where the adult will demand respect from the child in a totally disrespectful manner. These conversations tend to manifest from the assumption that ‘this is how you speak to children’ – as if there’s some sort of formula for dealing with a child like you were mixing concrete or calculating your tax return. I’ve often found that this demand for respect comes in varying forms of verbal and/or physical abuse, and the resultant behaviour from the child is either retaliatory or mindlessly obedient – neither of which I would view as healthy. I’ve seen it between couples, where one party is being totally unreasonable or difficult and just expecting the other person to know what they want without explanation. The response is, again, retaliation of some description, or mindless obedience. In both examples the underlying problem is the same. You have a child who is responding to a lack of respect with, you guessed it, a lack of respect, or perhaps they are too afraid to confront the disrespect and simply accept it. By doing this they are essentially admitting to themselves that they don’t deserve to be treated better. Having been a child in this situation, I know that sometimes you feel powerless to question things so you just accept the situation and the baggage that goes with it. Exactly the same applies to the couple, only in my experience irrational expectations are often caused by feeling disrespected in the first place – interesting thought huh?

In regard to these examples, my solution consists of two parts; firstly you have to respect your own feelings and values. I believe this is absolutely imperative to being able to respect others. If you don’t respect these things, or you compromise your values, the result is generally just giving in and quietly accepting the situation as mentioned in the example. If you only respect your own feelings then you end up retaliating in an attempt to defend yourself and your values – which brings me to part two; respecting the feelings of others. If you can do this then you put yourself in a position where, even though you may feel the desire to retaliate, (chances are they’ve said some hurtful things), you are able to give them the benefit of the doubt and allow them accept that their feelings are their own. Whether you want to or are able to help them or not, your respect for their feelings will, at the very least, never worsen a situation. For couples it generally only takes one person to break the negative back and forth, and as time progresses I think you learn to help each other, even when you’re both having a bad time.  In my experience with relationships of any kind, the ones that last do so because mutual respect is present. If one party in the relationship believes themselves to be above (or perhaps below) the other, a bitterness tends to develop between them that will inevitably end the relationship, often not on good terms. In the case of children (at least young children), I think it can be different and more difficult because the responsibility lies primarily with the adult to initiate a respectful interaction. You can’t teach someone to be truly respectful by demanding respect disrespectfully – am I right?  I’d love to know what you think.

Thanks for reading!

Sean