Disrespect can be a difficult thing to endure. Ideally, everyone should have some basic human respect for everyone else, unless they act in a way that is not respectable. Many feel that respect must be earned, not given.
This makes sense because it provides a merit-based philosophy. You get the respect you earn through being respectable.
A hard pill for many to swallow is that nobody owes anyone respect automatically. Not for your title, identity, profession, or anything else about you. No one is automatically entitled to respect.
One can only treat others accordingly and inspire respect. Like love, respect can’t be coerced, forced, or demanded. Trying to do so would only earn a semblance of respect. It would be a lie.
The control is in your hands.
“Taking disrespect personally is a great way to disempower oneself.”
So many people love to lament how they were disrespected. They were “dissed”. So what? If it upsets you, that’s okay. You’ll survive. No one has ever died from being disrespected. The only harm that comes from it is an injury to one’s pride. It is merely temporary butthurt.
You can control how much butthurt you suffer. You can completely lose your temper, or you can find it to be a source of amusement.
Taking disrespect personally is a great way to disempower oneself. Those who are prone to taking things personally and seeing themselves as a victim can be hurt by anyone. Why give the whole world that much power over you?
The Wisdom of Tyrion
There’s a scene in the show Game of Thrones where the dwarf Tyrion is talking with a bastard named Jon Snow. Tyrion has spent his entire life being ridiculed and disrespected for being a dwarf. Jon Snow has endured the same for being a bastard.
Jon was feeling beaten down for yet again being excluded by his family, and wasn’t allowed to sit with them at a feast. His being a bastard was a constant sore spot. Tyrion gave him crucial advice: “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.”
Laughter is the best antidote.
Laughter is, in many cases, the best response to disrespect. If there is some aspect about you that has drawn a lot of ridicule or hate, you’ve probably heard all kinds of mean jokes. Come up with some of your own. I’m sure most of the things said to you have not been very creative at all. I bet you’ve heard a lot of the same things repeated so many times that you’re sick to death of them. So, get creative. Come up with some real zingers about yourself. The more brutal, the better.
Memorize these jokes. From now on, when someone trots out one of those tired old lines, laugh and say, “Really? That’s all you can think of? How about…” and then lay out one of your zingers about yourself. They suddenly won’t feel so clever.
If someone says something that’s actually creative, say, “Oh, that’s a good one! That’s almost as good as…” and then say one of your most brutal jokes about yourself.
If someone is so uncreative that they are simply calling you names, just laugh and say, “You say that like it’s a bad thing!”
When you laugh at yourself and joke more brutally about yourself than they do, you take the power away from them. Their attempted attack simply evaporates.
If you are having a hard time coming up with some self-deprecating jokes, find a funny friend and tell them you need some brutal jokes about yourself and explain why. Tell them to not hold back and that you’re not going to take it personally. Tell them you want to use it as ammo when people try to insult you.
Respect can’t be expected.
“There’s nothing respectable about suffering on purpose. “
When it comes to respect, if you are expecting it, you’ll generally be disappointed. There will never be a shortage of assholes in the world. It’s better to learn how to deal with disrespect then let it tear you down. The alternative is intentional victimhood.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but flipping the power dynamic is likely to earn you the respect that the other person previously did not have for you. Showing hurt or anger generally has the effect of attracting more disrespect.
If the type of disrespect you are receiving is not based on insults or ridicule, but is more situational or systemic, and there is nothing you can do about it, it’s still your responsibility to deal with how you feel about it. Laughter can be employed here, too, even if it is bitter. You can laugh at the sheer absurdity and stupidity of the situation.
Resistance simply causes more pain and stress, which will compound your suffering. There’s nothing respectable about suffering on purpose. Nor is there anything respectable about wallowing in whatever suffering you endure.
No on respects someone they can rile up. If you react with anger, grief, or hysteria, or if you try to act tough, then you are seen as easy manipulated, and therefore unworthy of respect.
Even, and especially if the person disrespecting you is someone whose respect you don’t want, you probably don’t want their disrespect either. So, the same tactics apply. Laugh it off, flip the power dynamic, and let it go.
It’s not easy, but it’s worth it!
“Why seek from another what you can provide for yourself?”
One might say, “It’s not always that easy!” I know! I’ve been there. I was severely bullied all the way from preschool through high school and for years after. Sometimes you laugh it off in the moment only to cry alone later. There’s nothing wrong with that. No one enjoys being disrespected.
Every time you flip it around in the moment, you retain your power and self-respect. Self-respect is the most important respect to have. If you have that, you don’t need respect from an external source. Why seek from another what you can provide for yourself?
A life bereft of disrespect doesn’t exist. A life of total and complete respect also doesn’t exist. Expecting either of these scenarios is unrealistic. Instead, expect that you will be disrespected from time to time. Now that you know how to deal with it, you’re prepared. It’s no longer something to fear. It’s just another of life’s annoyances of zero consequence. A buzzing fly rather than a stinging wasp.
Go forth, and respect yourself!