Needs are respected for everyone in a healthy relationship! Taking care of others and not getting your own needs met is never a good practice, as it often leads to resentments. We all need our needs met and helping and getting nothing in return is almost never healthy. In healthy relationships, taking care of each others always goes both ways. Being respectful, and getting respect is evident in the way you express yourself, with words, feelings, boundaries and thoughts.
How can you be respectful in your expression? One way to express respect is thru your choice of words. Words can be used to be assertive in your communication style instead of passive, aggressive or passive-aggressive. By being assertive you express honestly what you are needing and feeling. “I feel hurt when we don’t spend time together as we haven’t seen each other much this week, are you extra busy?” Another way to be respectful is to speak kindly without using the four horsemen in every day communication. The four horsemen according to Gottman, are contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling. To avoid these is one way to be respectful. The dictionary defines respect as a deep admiration feeling for someone or something because of their abilities, qualities or achievements.
Expressing and acknowledging feelings is another means of respecting others. Some people are uncomfortable with feelings and will avoid mentioning them or will address them as cognitions which can feel disrespectful. At times we may withdraw our feelings from people we think might hurt us based on negative experiences in the past. Our feelings are very important; they count, matter and are special. Our feelings are indicators of our internal self and how we communicate to others in the world as well as ourselves. Our emotions connect us to our truth, our self preservation desires, our self enhancement, our safety and our goodness. Our feelings also connect us to our conscious, our thought process, our intuition and are signs of our energy.
What about our thoughts and expression of them? Remember our minds work well to think, figure things out and make decisions. We can figure out what we want, need and when to do what. We can have opinions and learn to trust our thinking and our abilities.
Setting boundaries is a way we can be respectful of ourselves and others. Boundaries allow us to value ourselves, our time and our space as well as do these same things to others when we express them.
Being respectful, and getting respect is ways you express yourself, with words, feelings, boundaries and thoughts. In a healthy relationship all the people involved give and receive respect.
Irene Haire, MC, RCAT, Registered Provisional Psychologist/Registered Art Therapist is in private practice in Edmonton at The GB Building Downstairs-9562-82 Avenue, 780-232-1055 www.cloverdalecounselling.com