The past few weeks I have been pondering the meaning of the word respect. It seems that a fair amount of posts on social media are written about this subject. In fact, the last post I read said, “Once you lose my respect, it’s gone. I will never respect you again.”

Once, after I had spent a few months in my new widowhood, someone said to me, “If you do that, I will lose all respect for you.” Looking back, I have come to realize what that person was actually saying to me was, “If you do that, you will be going against what I want you to do, and I will be upset because I no longer have any control over you.”

What does a statement like that have to do with respect? Nothing! Moreover, it wasn’t even about me but rather about the person saying it.

In truth, it’s a statement of control, and it asserts something to the effect of: “I do not approve of your choice, and I am using the threat of losing my respect in order to control you so you make the choice I think you ought to make!”

Anyone who embraces the concept of respect would never hold respect over someone’s head as a form of manipulation or control!

I am learning more and more that respect is not something you win or lose, earn or take away, or something you can hold over someone’s head. Respect is something you either have or do not, and it all begins with you. Making a choice based on someone holding the concept of respect over your head means you have no respect for yourself, so you attempt to gain it through others. I know that the more I do that, the more I feel something missing inside of me – that being respect for myself.

Respect is not a defiance of others either. It’s simply a form of honoring yourself and recognizing that, even as a widow, you’re still alive – that you still have worth and your life has purpose and meaning AND that you respect yourself enough to pursue your dreams – even if others don’t believe this to be true. When I respect myself, I automatically respect others.