Karan was very hurt when his wife Madhavi told him that she doesn’t trust him with money.
Radha was hurt when her husband Sanjay joked about her accounting skills in the presence of a group of friends.
Manasi was upset that her teenage daughter called her a control freak.
Javed was extremely hurt when his parents told him that he will never be able to succeed in life because he scored less marks in board exams.
Priya was hurt when her friends did not include her while planning a lunch date.
Ashaji, a retired school teacher, had tears in her eyes when her middle aged son told her that he is hiring a tuition teacher for his son since her method of teaching is outdated.
If you observe carefully, there is a common reason for all the above people to be hurt or upset. They are all feeling disrespected. Respect, is an important feeling, which is often neglected or not paid attention to, when we are dealing with people close to us. We often take our near and dear ones for granted and do not realize that at times our words or actions may make the other feel disrespected. Our intention most of the time may not be to hurt the other and yet they feel hurt because of what we said or did.
Every day, I get to meet people of different age, gender, background, who wish to seek help for different issues. Quite often these are people who wish to resolve issues with one or more of their personal relationships. Those seeking freedom from anxiety or stress also have a relationship with their family member or boss or team or teacher as an underlying reason that is causing stress or anxiety. In short, most humans get affected easily by the behaviour of others. Many of us, by way of our words or actions are causing hurt to others as well as are getting hurt by others. To avoid getting easily affected by other people’s actions and words, we can learn how to stay focused on the message or the need that our dear ones are trying to convey, instead of getting stuck on words and actions. It is also important for us to learn how to treat others with respect so that we do not become the cause of hurting others.
Respect is a feeling through which we can express our care for the other. However, although we care for our dear ones, there are times when we don’t feel the need to be careful of how we treat them through our behaviour, how we talk to them. We may talk to our colleagues or strangers with a lot of respect and politeness. We are careful that we present ourselves in a way in which we would like to be remembered by them. However, sadly, we do not do the same with our dear ones. We feel they know us, would understand us and hence we can be casual or carefree in our transactions with them. We feel we can be relaxed and express our feelings, the way we are feeling within ourselves at that point of time. If later, we reflect upon the situation, there is often a sense of regret because once the emotional flooding settles, we may feel differently about the concerned situation or action of a person. We need to remember that to be our authentic selves, we need not necessarily be disrespectful. We can be honest while sharing our feelings and yet remember to be careful about the feelings of the other.
Although respect is seen in action and words, it is created in our thoughts first. How we feel about a person or what do we think of a person, reflects in the way we deal with the person. So the best way to be respectful towards others is to check how we feel about that person or what is our belief about that person. We may say that there is tremendous love or affection that we feel for our dear ones. How come then we end up hurting them? Well, there is no denying the fact that we may love or care for our dear ones. Yet, there are certain aspects, where we feel/believe (consciously or unconsciously) that they are either less than us or they are wrong in behaving/thinking in a certain way about a situation or they do not know as much as we do in certain matters or that they are simply very different from us in their thinking or behaviour and which is not acceptable by us. If we note carefully, we will be able to identify the areas where we end up hurting our dear ones as well as our belief system related to those areas concerning that person. Once we can point out the areas, we can discuss about the differences with the concerned person when both are calm. While sometimes the differences will be sorted, at other times, they may not be sorted. If we remember that every human being is unique and that there need not necessarily always be a right and wrong in every matter, it would be easier for us to respect the differences with our dear ones and avoid causing hurt to them.
We often end up in arguments with our dear ones because we want to prove ourselves right. However, in proving our point, we often end up conveying the message to the other that he/she is wrong and hurt that person, even if that is not our intention. Sometimes, we are not very attentive while listening to the other and may end up in an argument because of a misunderstanding created due to lack of attentive listening by us. Hence paying attention on how, what, when, where we speak and how we listen too can reduce arguments and further hurt and disrespect.
Many of us feel that words like “sorry”,” thank you”, “please” are too formal and need not be used in our communication with our close family and friends. These may be words which may be perceived as formal but are they not also offering respect? Using these words also in a way acknowledges the other person’s feelings or gestures or behaviour. Often times we forget to acknowledge the presence of our dear ones in our lives, by never acknowledging their random acts of kindness towards us or their daily acts of care for us which in turn may make them feel that they are taken for granted.
In the last one year, due to “Lock downs” and “Work from home” in pandemic situations, there has been a rise in clients seeking Counselling for relationship issues, besides stress and anxiety. Members of the family are frustrated, anxious and stressed. Being confined within their homes, has led to more interaction and at times more misunderstandings and arguments amongst family members, especially spouses. The time which can be used to support each other and strengthen the family bonding, is sadly spent in disagreements and disappointments. It is sad to see two beautiful people not being able to stand the challenges of tough times together, because of lack of empathy and sensitivity. Let us pay a little attention to our thoughts, belief systems, words and actions, be a little more empathetic and sensitive towards others to ensure that we consciously do not hurt anyone by taking them for granted or making them feel disrespected.