Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Our Land: Feeling Respected


Today’s Our Land Series post was authored by the introspective and compassionate author Yvonne, of Inquiring Parent (and book Drawings in Sand).  Yvonne is the amazing woman who taught me that the difference between self esteem and self compassion is actually not only significant, but is super important. Yvonne practices what she preaches, and documents the process in a way that is inspiring and relatable. If you don’t know her, please check out her websites.

Our Land: Feeling Respected

Respect is good. We know that. We love when people respect us – it feels wonderful. 

In an ideal world, everyone would respect each other and Finding Ninee’s Our Land series is a great way to work towards that ideal. Working towards it is also the purpose of my Inquiring Parent blog, the reason I wrote my novel, and what motivates me to get out of bed most mornings (that and making my daughters’ packed lunches!). 

Stressful beliefs about respect 

However, we run into trouble when we think our ideal should be happening and it isn’t, when we have thoughts like these:

People should respect each other. 

They should respect me. 

Children should respect their elders. 

I want respect. 

People should respect my child. 

These thoughts are so universally believed, that you might not think of them as causing stress. However, I will explain…

Why apparently “positive” thoughts can be stressful

In his e-book Letting Go, Leo Babauta, writes, “Holding onto our ideals of how everyone should act – which isn’t reality – is what causes our anger, frustration, stress, disappointment.”

Byron Katie, founder of the process, The Work puts it even more simply. She says, “When you argue with reality, it hurts.” 

“But, but…” I hear you say. “If I don’t want people to respect me, they never will.”

I can relate to that. Yet the more I think I need respect, the less I feel I have it. The more I think I need respect, the more I’ll whine and wheedle and manipulate to try to get it. (Now, really, why would people respect me when I do that?) 

Several years ago, my daughter had a teacher who did a bit of shouting. My daughter didn’t like her, and nor did I – though she’d never been other than polite to me, and saved her shouting for the classroom. I believed she should respect the children more. 

One morning I noticed that I spoke differently to her than to the other teachers. I wasn’t as friendly, didn’t smile as much. I wondered if other people did that too, and it was partly why she felt so grumpy? 

I wondered when it all began. Perhaps as a child she was left out; perhaps she thought: “Nobody listens to me. Nobody cares.” Perhaps now she went into school each day determined to be different, but feeling terrified she couldn’t. Or maybe she woke up dreading the kids’ behaviour. Almost certainly she didn’t feel respected.

Of course, I don’t know what she actually thought, but the point is her beliefs drove her, just as everybody’s do. How do I react when I think I’m not getting respect? Sometimes I’ve shouted; I’ve been defensive. And yet, I thought she should behave differently! What a crazy world it is! 

How questioning our beliefs can help

If holding onto an ideal causes stress, then letting go brings relief. That sounds simple enough, but for most of us, trying to let go can feel like a huge challenge. My experience is that trying is what causes our difficulty. It’s as if some part of us clings tighter, the more we want to change. (If this seems hard to grasp, remember trying is synonymous with struggling.) When we stop struggling and instead just open to the possibility of change, then somehow it happens. 

One way to open is by questioning stressful beliefs. There are many ways to do this, and I often use the process I mentioned earlier, The Work (which did change my life by the way.) Rather than telling you about this, it will be more effective to take you through an example. 

A few weeks ago, a friend rang up. She’d been to a meeting and was furious with a guy she thought hadn’t respected her. Although she felt annoyed, she also wanted to let that go.  

With The Work instead of try to change beliefs or think positive thoughts, we look for what’s true in any situation. Afterwards, you’ll usually find that your thoughts do change, but it’s not always instant, so a belief might reappear. If that happens, it doesn’t mean the process hasn’t worked, and it doesn’t mean you’ve done it wrong. (You can’t.) 

All it means is that the thought came into your mind again. How you then react is far more important than whether or not a thought reappears. Even then, if you react in your old way, but realise you’ve done it – that’s fine too. It’s part of the process of becoming more aware. The goal is never to force change, but to grow in awareness. 

This is, perhaps, an unusual way to think in a world where we are constantly reminded to “think positive,” “step up to the plate,” or any other slogans our culture uses to try to force change. In my experience, while the changes that occur after an inquiry may initially seem small, they are natural and lasting. 

Does he respect me

Inquiry in Action

Let’s go back to my friend. She’s been hanging on that phone for a while. 

She’s annoyed, and she believes, “I need him to respect me.”

I ask her, “Is that true?” (The first question of The Work.)

“Yes,” she says. “It is damned well true. He intimidated me. He said…” 

Notice she is no longer doing the process, but back in the story that caused her so much stress. When you do The Work, it doesn’t matter whether you answer yes or no to that first question – just so long as you stop there. 

I remind my friend of this, and then ask the second question: “You need him to respect you. Can you absolutely know it’s true?”

She sighs. “No. I can’t totally know that’s true.”

“And how do you react when you think this thought?” (The third question.) 

She laughs. “It try to justify it and look for evidence to prove it. I feel angry with him. I remember things I’ve heard about him being rude to other people, and I expect him to the same with me. So before I even meet him, I’m expecting him not to respect me.” 

My friend pauses. Then she says, “I probably don’t hear all of what he says because I’m so busy listening to my own thoughts, to things like: ‘He doesn’t respect me. He’s rude.’ I suppose I don’t respect him.”

The last question of The Work is, “Who would you be without the thought?”

As my friend talked, I started to think about my own reactions when I believed someone didn’t respect me. Times with my children came to mind. If realised that if I think they should respect me when it seems they aren’t, I feel hurt and defensive. Without the thought, I wonder if something is bothering them. I realise that their behaviour doesn’t mean anything about me. 

With the thought – it’s personal. Without the thought – it’s not. 

My friend realised much the same. 

Turning stressful beliefs around

The last part of The Work is to turn the original thought around. First you do this to its opposite, and then to yourself. This might sound as if you are blaming yourself, and if you try to do the turnarounds without going through the rest of the process first, it can feel as if you are. But, somehow, after you’ve answered the 4 questions, the turnarounds generally feel good! 

When we believe something, even if it’s stressful, our lovely human brains look for evidence to back our belief. If feels familiar, even if it hurts. Finding reasons why the turnarounds could be as true or truer than the original thought helps the mind to loosen its grip on that belief. Again, we don’t try to make ourselves believe something new, we just allow the changes to happen as they do. 

The first turnaround my friend found was to the opposite:

I don’t need him to respect me.

She looked for three reasons this was true. 

My friend realised that she didn’t need this man to respect her because:

She got through the meeting okay.

Her thoughts and beliefs create her fear, not what he does. 

The encounter led her to look at this belief. 

A similar turnaround would be:

I need him not to respect me. 

This was true because:

When he didn’t respect her, she realised the way she’d not listened to him. 

She realised she could cope with that situation, and so she felt stronger. 

Sometimes when we do a turnaround we will see reasons it is true that applies not just in the situation we are dealing with, but other times too. So it’s fine to look more widely. My friend noticed other times she’d thought she needed respect, and saw these times had made her feel stronger. This reminded me of the few unfavourable ratings my novel had, and how much stronger I feel knowing I can cope with those! 

So yes, we needed those people not to respect us. 

Keeping that wider perspective, let’s look at the last two turnarounds. 

I need me to respect people.

I feel happier when I respect people. 

I show them how to treat me. 

When I respect myself, I am more confident and so I probably garner respect. 

And finally:

I need me to respect me

Because I’m the one I live with every moment. 

Isn’t it funny how we expect everyone else to do this for us, and don’t realise that the respect we most need is our own?

It’s okay to get respect from others

Using this process does not mean we let other people walk all over us, or that we have to empathise with them and forget our own needs. This morning our house had a few “bears” in it. When one of them snarled at me for the third time, I noticed I was feeling a little irritated. I also remembered that snapping back has not yet been effective, so instead I said, “You feel rushed and would rather not be back at school. It’s okay to feel that way, and I don’t deserve to be snapped at because of it.”

Guess what? The snarling stopped. 

If I want to change the world, let it begin with me. 

Changing the world begins with me

Yvonne is awesome, right? Here’s some more about her:

YvonneAbout her blog Inquiring Parent:  The aim is to encourage others to  grow in compassion. That includes self-compassion! If there’s one thing I am passionate about it is spreading compassion, and including ourselves in that.

Perhaps I feel so passionate about it because for much of my life I didn’t treat myself with kindness. I judged myself constantly and didn’t measure up. I thought I wasn’t good enough. As a teen and young woman, I thought I was too shy, too stupid, and just generally too everything. I also hated myself for how I tried to deal with those feelings of inadequacy – by avoiding them, getting defensive and sometimes by drowning them.

Please also check out her author blog: Yvonne Spence.

  • Considerer - *taps mic*


    *is overcome by sudden stage fright*August 27, 2014 – 7:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - My mother always taught me I should treat others the way I would like to be treated and refill to this day I try my best to heed those words, because probably one the best pieces of advice I ever got. Reading this, I could truly relate and like I said I very much always try to respect others and think of how they would feel before I do react for the most part.August 27, 2014 – 8:18 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I try to think of how other people would feel, too, Janine but I don’t always do a good job of not assuming that they don’t respect me or something. If that makes sense.August 28, 2014 – 12:06 pmReplyCancel

    • Yvonne - Janine, how great that you have been able to follow your mother’s wise advice.
      As a child I remember reading “The Water Babies” in which were Mrs Do-as-you-would-be-done-by, and Mrs Be-Done-By-As-You-Did. You can imagine the latter was a bit fierce and I aspired to be Mrs DAYWBDY! Yet, I didn’t always find it easy, partly because although many adults tell children that’s how to live, they don’t follow it themselves so kids get punished. This process has helped me a lot.August 28, 2014 – 4:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Karen Perry - Yvonne is awesome! She recommended a children’s book by Byron Katie called Tiger-Tiger Is It True and I bought it for my kids. It really helped my 5 year old turn around his thoughts so that instead of saying things like, “You never lightsaber fight with me,” he says, “You lightsaber fight with me sometimes after you cook dinner.” He really caught on to how our thoughts affect how we feel. I tried the same technique with my 4 year old daughter and she said, “Mommy, stop talking like the book.” You can’t win them all!August 27, 2014 – 10:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Rogers - Where the hell IS everyone? This is BRILLIANT 😀

    Ohhh Yvonne – you make it all sound so INCREDIBLY simple 🙂August 27, 2014 – 10:34 pmReplyCancel

  • Katia - This is what I needed to hear today, this week, this summer:

    “Times with my children came to mind. If realised that if I think they should respect me when it seems they aren’t, I feel hurt and defensive. Without the thought, I wonder if something is bothering them. I realise that their behaviour doesn’t mean anything about me.

    With the thought – it’s personal. Without the thought – it’s not.”

    I’ve been bothered with the emergence of the term “respect” in my dialogue (which is really more of a monologue these days) with my son. As you know I come from the Middle East where part of the culture is evaluating yourself, the environment etc based on the concept of respect. I often found talk of respect and the demanding of it, as you describe in your post, a bit laughable. As you suggest those who deserve respect don’t get it by demanding it. And now I’m a parent to a five-year-old boy and I constantly demand respect. I demand respect and cringe.

    This was precisely what I needed, as I was starting to feel this dissonance with myself. As usual, I am bookmarking this and will be coming back to it. What a WONDERFUL addition to Our Land, Kristi I think it brings a totally new dimension to the series by offering some practical advice on our way to wonder and compassion.

    You, Yvonne, are my guru (or to quote rap, Respect. 😉 )August 28, 2014 – 8:17 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I so agree, Katia! I think it’s hard to not demand respect from our kids at times when demanding it goes against getting it really. I love how Yvonne breaks it down here and makes me realize that whatever feelings I’m having are my feelings, not the people who I attribute them to. Thanks so much!August 28, 2014 – 12:07 pmReplyCancel

    • Yvonne - Oh Katia! “I demand respect and cringe.” Been there, done that! I can definitely relate, and to what you write about teh dissonance with yourself. It can be such a challenge to step away from the way our culture predominantly behaves, and I definitely struggled with that a lot when my girls were small. (And occasionally do now.) Sometimes we know something in our hearts, but because all around us seem to see it differently we don’t trust our knowing. That’s why it’s so wonderful to have this amazing tool the internet!

      I love what you wrote here; it’s so wonderful to see how this is resonating with you (and with others!)August 28, 2014 – 5:19 pmReplyCancel

  • Allie @ The Latchkey Mom - Wow, that was a lot to take in – all of it good stuff. Honestly, I printed it out because I think it’s something I need to read again (and again). I love the concept of the turnaround! And I agree, I think our fears and insecurities get in the way of how we perceive reality. wow, wow, wow…August 28, 2014 – 10:14 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Allie,
      I love the concept of the turnaround, too. So true that our own fears and insecurities form our perceptions which really may or may not be accurate. Thanks, Allie!August 28, 2014 – 12:09 pmReplyCancel

    • Yvonne - Allie, the process can take a while to get used to. But so worth it.
      The turnarounds are powerful and do be sure to go through the questions first, because otherwise they can sometimes feel like self-judgments – which is never their purpose. Instead it’s to see innocence in ourselves and others.August 28, 2014 – 5:27 pmReplyCancel

  • Chris Carter - Wow Yvonne! This is amazing. I think I need to re-read it a few more times to totally understand it though. It is wonderful that this book changed your life and this process seems liberating!!August 28, 2014 – 12:51 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I think I need to read it at least weekly, Chris and thank you so much for coming by! Here’s to all of us learning and growing.August 28, 2014 – 4:48 pmReplyCancel

    • Yvonne - Chris, yes liberating is the word I’d use too! I remember not long after I’d read the book, realising that almost everything I thought was probably a lot of nonsense, so I didn’t have to take it too seriously. Now, if only I had remembered that all the time! 🙂August 28, 2014 – 5:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Deb @ Urban Moo Cow - I loved this and I love yvonne. I think the practice aspect is the most important. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense but you just have to do it. In a car so can’t be too eloquent. 🙂August 28, 2014 – 1:09 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Me too, Deb. Me too. And yeah, here’s to the practice, over and over and over. xxooAugust 28, 2014 – 4:49 pmReplyCancel

    • Yvonne - Aw Deb, you are so sweet. Practice is important, yes. And I agree with you that even if doesn’t make sense it does when you do it. Perfectly eloquent! Thank you for that addition!August 28, 2014 – 5:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Yvonne - Kristi, THANK YOU so much for having me on your blog and for letting me share this wonderful tool. I am so thrilled that people are finding it resonates.
    And thank you everyone for your comments.August 28, 2014 – 5:42 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yvonne, thank YOU so very much for your awesome Our Land contribution! I love it and am honored that you shared it here!August 29, 2014 – 10:10 amReplyCancel

  • Samantha Ryan - I am being reminded that I really need to return to The Work. I love how easy Yvonne make things sound. So encouraging!!!! I loved this all over the place.August 28, 2014 – 7:17 pmReplyCancel

  • Anna Fitfunner - Intriguing post. Yvonne, I am just now becoming aware of your writing (initially through FTSF and now through Kristi). Not sure about what The Work is, but I’ll check it out. Thanks for sharing!August 29, 2014 – 1:41 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yvonne is great, Anna. She’s the one who let me know about the difference between self compassion and self esteem, which is really a huge difference.August 29, 2014 – 11:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah Rudell Beach - Indeed, it’s about not taking things so personally. When we feel “disrespected” it’s often, though not always, not at all about us. And we have to realize we can’t change what that other person is doing, but we can learn not to take it personally. We can question why we are demanding that someone else make us feel a certain way. Lovely post, Yvonne.August 29, 2014 – 4:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Smith Sprenger - Yvonne, I love this so much. I also love The Work and Byron Katie in general. Reading that book changed my life. I love how you brought that practice to Our Land today- thank you! August 29, 2014 – 5:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Marcia @ Menopausal Mother - Very interesting perspective—especially on the “turnaround.” I think respect has to start within ourselves. We can’t expect others to respect us if we don’t respect ourselves.August 29, 2014 – 9:17 pmReplyCancel

  • April - I actually stopped getting angry with people when I started believing the quote from Maya Angelou, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” The reason for that is, when they act a certain way, I know that’s who they are. I can try to change them, but I also realize that it’s not about me. I have enjoyed immensely learning about other people in this process, some people are closer to me than others because of it. I don’t expect everyone to respect me, nor do I demand it, especially if it’s a person in passing. That story of the teacher reminds me of the issue with blacks and tipping. There’s a whole “thing” where blacks don’t tip, yet blacks tend to get worse service. It’s not bad or rude service, it’s just not as good, not as attentive as you can visually see from other tables. But where did it start? Someone started, and others continued. I know when I get good service, I give a good tip (great = great too!). I actually had one server hug me after a rough service with our table. She was great, even though there was a lot of us and a couple of orders changed. Our tip was about 25% on a large bill. Before she looked at it, she was irritated and upset. I had a feeling she expected less than great because we did have so many issues. But she actually hugged me. It was really sweet. I just remember, it’s not about me.August 31, 2014 – 7:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - Phenomenal! I am going to read this one over and over!September 1, 2014 – 12:45 pmReplyCancel

  • Sandy Ramsey - Yvonne , I cannot tell you how eye opening this is! I sat here reading this and could point out so many parallels in my own thinking and how I need to change that thinking. The point is truer than true that when I expect people to act a certain way, treat me a certain way, and that doesn’t happen, I get angry, frustrated. This is going straight to my Pocket because I know this will not be the last time I visit this post! Thank you!September 4, 2014 – 2:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Mardra Sikora - Ah Yes! Yes!Yes! That’s what I have to say about that. September 8, 2014 – 5:29 pmReplyCancel

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