the World Needs Now is Respect
According to Jackie's DeShannon's song "What the World Needs Now is Love," it's the only thing we have just too little of. While I agree we need more love in the world, there can be no love without one simple pre-requisite: RESPECT.
The definition of RESPECT is to esteem, honor or show a sense of worth toward a person or personal quality. Every person deserves respect, and because they do not get it at crucial, formative times of their lives, they develop coping patterns which evolve into persnally and collectively destructive behaviors.
In his book, "Metaphysics of Morals" Kant described his belief that, as a human being, everyone has worth, independent of "social standing or individual merit." He argued for a basic respect for human beings that is not based upon heredity, social rank, behavior or even moral goodness.
That doesn't mean we have to agree with what a person believes or the actions they take, by respecting them we aren't condoning behaviors we don't agree with or letting them off the hook for hurting us. Respect is simply affirming that a person has worth. And no matter what a person has done, no matter what mistakes they have made, that does not detract from their worth.
Our whole world is fixated on the idea that a person's worth is derived from their actions. Rewards and punishments were invented because we value some
beliefs and actions more than others. Our societies try to decide for us what is
worthy and unworthy of respect, and punish those who don't follow these standards. This punishment is in and of itself disrespectful.
So then they say, use rewards for the behavior you DO want. But this backfires because you still are not focusing on what you really want. You REALLY want for people to do the "right" thing because it is right, but what they end up learning is to do what is right only when there is a reward.
The only way to engender unconditional respect in another person is to GIVE that person unconditional respect as a model. Unconditional respect has NO strings. No punishment or rewards, no coersion, not even trying to make the person feel guilty because they didn't do what you wanted. The person MUST be convinced that no matter what they do, their worth will not go down in your eyes. And that is where people fail. They are unwilling to give others that kind of respect, and so they will never get it in return.
This is very logical and has been proved again an again in research, as well as my own personal and professional experience.
For those who must approach this discussion from a spiritual perspective in order to give themselves permission to change their beliefs, this is exactly what Jesus did in his life. He said "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." In other words, no one has the right to punish someone else because we all make mistakes, therefore none of us is qualified to judge someone else. No One. And even Jesus, a spiritual being, refused to judge her either. In his whole life, Jesus refused to judge a whole array of people who were doing socially unacceptable things. Prostitutes, theives, adulterers, userers, he spoke to none of them about their behavior, he simply treated them with a respect that the rest of society refused to show them, and by doing this, won their love, respect and allegiance. Without punishments or rewards.
Jesus also made it clear that the basis for punishment - an eye for an eye - is also not a valid or desirable way to live. Instead of punishing those who hurt us, he said to "Love your enemies, bless them that hate you, do good to them who persecute you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). How much clearer can it be? When someone behaves toward you in a way that you don't like or that hurts you, you are NOT to punish them in any way, but show good to them in return. THAT is unconditional respect. The way you behave toward someone else should NOT be affected by the way they treat YOU.
When someone does something you don't like or that hurts you, there is a way to tell them that you don't like what they are doing without judging them, shaming them, or punishing them. An example:
Your 6-year-old son agreed to always pick up his Legos if you would buy some some. He usually does put them up, but on three consecutive days he has forgotten to put them all away, and you stepped on one of them and hurt your foot.
The old way would have been: "Son, you promised to pick up your Legos and you haven't done it. As a punishment, you will not be able to play with your Legos for a week so you will remember to pick them up."
(Logical question: if he can't play with them, he can't practice remembering to pick them up).
The respectful way: "Remember when you stepped on that piece of glass and cut your foot? That hurt, didn't it? When I step on Legos that are on the floor, it hurts my foot and makes me cry." You have only told how stepping on the Legos concretely affected you. You have not shamed, blamed or pointed fingers. You have not made the child feel humiliated or dis-respected by shaking your finger at him or taking away something that belongs to him. You have not put him in the corner or made him go to his room or withdrawn your presence, affection or esteem from him. You have simply helped him empathize with you.
When you are learning to speak and respond this way, do NOT use the word YOU in your statement. Do not say "YOU left the legos out and YOU hurt me" just focus on what happened. "When I step on Legos, it hurts and I cry" tells what happens and how it affects you personally and concretely. Try to make these statements without referring to the child himself with the word YOU. Because once you make the child feel small and humiliated or disrespected, you have activated a negative emotion in him that is now paired in a stimulus-response type conditioning. Instead of focusing on what he did wrong, he focuses on the negative feelings he is having. And that's what you get more of, negative feelings and behavior, because that is what you are focusing on.
After explaining the behavior, let the child find the solution to the problem.
DON'T TELL HIM WHAT TO DO OR GIVE HIM ADIVCE. Just say,
"I need to find a way to keep from hurting my feet. Can you think of a way that you can play with your Legos that would keep me from hurting my feet?"
Then BE QUIET and let him respond. Listen to his ideas, and let him pick one to try. He came up with the ideas and he chose the solution, and most of the time he will stick to it better because it was his own idea and nobody forced him to do something or punished him.
Giving advice, telling people what they should do, punishing, withdrawing attention or affection, or forcing someone to do something unpleasant all set up the situation in a way that FOCUSES ON WHAT YOU DON'T WANT. But the Law of Attraction says, what you focus on is what you get more of. So the more you can focus on what you DO want rather than the bad thing that happened, the more you will get that.
AND.....your child must ALWAYS know that no matter what they do, you are NEVER going to withdraw attention, affection, or respect from them, and you are NEVER going to yell at them or physically hurt them, and that you will always preserve their dignity and personhood. Never make them feel like they are wrong. Because this is NOT a value judgment. What they did was not WRONG, it was just unpleasant.
AND....when you make them feel they were wrong, you have made a value judgment. Would Jesus have gone up to the child and said "You shouldn't have left your Legos out?" No, that's not how Jesus did it. He never made people feel they were small. He always made them feel they were worthy. Even the woman caught in adultery, he lifted her up and affirmed her worth.
Many parents say, "It IS wrong for my children to disobey, I DO want them to feel this is wrong." Once again, you have made a value judgment that what you wanted was more important than what the child wanted. Neither is more important, neither is right while the other is wrong. They were just two behaviors that collided. Now we just have to figure out how for both people to get their needs met. One person does NOT have to win at the expense of the other. This is the fundamental error society has made. It doesn't have to be either/or. Everyone can have their needs met if we think respect rather than obedience. It's much more important for a child to learn that things can always be worked out so that both people get their needs met, than to make them feel that they always have to give in to other people simply because they are younger, smaller or weaker, or have less social standing.
Isn't that what most of the power struggles in the world are about - those who are bigger, stronger, richer, have more weapons or are more culturally or socially powerful, they try to force their will on the rest of the people who have the right to live their own way. So you can see how changing the way we approach every single fundamental human interaction can change the world.
SO - yes I AM saying that obedience training for children is not good and is fundamentally flawed both in practical , theoretical and spiritual terms.
Also, punishing people for crimes does NOT rehabilitate them or deter them from doing it again. Should we let them continue to hurt people? NO - but we don't have to punish them either. There are ways to rehabilitate people respectfully so that they won't commit the same crimes again. ABT - The Accu-Balancing Technique - is a wonderful rehabilitative tool.
So the point is, respect your children, your partners and spouses, your employees, and your neighbors. Don't take the opinion that if your child, partner or friend believes differently than you, that this is wrong. You shouldn't expect your child to follow in your footsteps, but instead to thoughtfully choose their own beliefs and respect the beliefs of others. If you are a Christian, you child does NOT have to become a Christian to be acceptable. If you are a Republican, your child can be a Libertarian and still be acceptable. If you are a husband, do not expect your wife to unconditionally submit to you. If you are government, do not punish your citizens for having ideas that differ from the beliefs and laws of the state. Let this TRULY be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
That's what this website is about - UNHINDERED LIVING - living without the restraints others would place upon you, living a life that works for you - no matter what anyone else says. Unhindered living is a life style characterized by UNCONDITIONAL RESPECT. I respect your choices, you respect mine. Live and let live. It's funny, but when someone knows that you respect them no matter what, suddenly that generates a huge amount of respect for you. When a person learns that there is absolutely nothing they can tdo to diminish my respect for them, there is no point in them trying to hurt me - the whole reason for people to hurt each other disappears. People hurt each other in a usually futile effort to gain respect on some level. When they learn that you will not hurt them back no matter what, suddenly they are interested in finding out what makes you tick, and they watch closer to see exactly what you believe and how it works. That's when you will be able to teach by your example without preaching what you believe. It's when people willingly model what you do. And then you have incredible power to change the world.
Come learn more about how to embrace UNHINDERED LIVING in many different areas of your life. Learn how to embrace the lifestyle of your dreams.
Copyright 2007-13 Judie C. McMath and The Center for Unhindered Living
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