Tessa was an accomplished chef and wonderful hostess, but her sisters in law and mother in law did not appreciate her. They simply believed her husband should have married someone else. No matter how beautifully she set the table or how delicious the food, the conversation with her in-laws was always strained.
No one complimented Tessa unless it was backhanded. At the end of family gatherings she could barely fight back the tears and as soon as the door was shut, she cried. Her husband’s family treated her like she was worthless for over ten years, then one day she went out to coffee with a friend who asked her a question. She asked if Tessa felt worthy of respect.
Tessa was surprised by the question. It seemed like the answer should be yes, but if she was totally honest, the answer might actually be no. What does it mean to be worthy? Tessa even found it hard to say the word. It seemed easier to imagine she was unworthy, than admit she actually deserved respect.
Tessa began to think a lot about respect. Some of her friends had different political and religious views, but this didn’t stop her from showing them respect. She realized her favorite people always showed her respect regardless of their differences. Tessa made a list of reasons why she should be respected by her in-laws before the next family dinner.
A few weeks later, they had barely begun to eat when her sister-in-law made an off-the-wall snarky comment about Tessa’s roast. Tessa took a deep breath and asked her how she would feel if someone did the same thing to her. The sister-in-law seemed caught off guard by Tessa’s question and had nothing to say until they were clearing the dishes from the table, then she asked if Tessa would like some help in the kitchen. Tessa said yes, but her hands were shaking so bad the china in her hand rattled. What would happen in the kitchen? Would she get a tongue lashing?
As soon as they entered the kitchen, her sister-in-law apologized for her rude behavior. She realized she’d been following the cues of her mother and sister for years without thinking for herself. That was the beginning of a deep friendship between them. Tessa realized later that her sister-in-law might never have thought twice about her behavior if she hadn’t have called it out, but first Tessa had to find respect for herself and realize shew aw worthy of respect.
Disrespect lies at the heart of most dysfunctional family conflicts. It shows up at the family party by excluding someone, arriving very late or making demands on the hostess. Disrespect gossips, triangulates and ridicules whoever is not in the room because it likes to scapegoat whoever is not present to defend themselves.
At the heart of disrespect for each other, often lies a lack of self-respect. People who bully others and tear them down do this to make themselves look better. Those who lack self-worth, allow others to abuse them because they don’t respect themselves enough to stand up for themselves. If every person could realize their own worth and recognize the value of others, respect might go a long way toward healing many dysfunctional families.
Disrespect is a toxic family legacy. Like a dark cloud hanging over the room it poisons every person it touches. Without respect for ourselves and each other, we’ve got nothing to build a healthy relationship on.
While a deficit of disrespect has sickened our families, respect is the vitamin to restore us back to health. Regardless of the past, regardless of the pain, if the members of a family can learn to treat each other with mutual respect, they will lay a foundation and build a bridge for better relationships in the future.
When your family doesn’t respect you, the best thing you can do is face your family and stand up for yourself. If you are dealing with a malignant narcissist, such a friendly resolution might never happen, but taking a stand for your own dignity is always worth it regardless of how others might respond.
Respect is the foundation for every relationship and even if others treat you with disrespect, you can always respect yourself. The best way to do this is to face your family and let them know you respect yourself even when they don’t. And sometimes having self-respect means walking away from those who continue to disrespect us.
I am worthy of love and respect
You have permission to call people out when they treat you with disrespect. You always have the right to stand up for yourself even if it means conflict. This probably won’t change the narcissistic family members, but those capable of understanding will respect you more because you have shown respect for yourself and them.
Prayer: Thank you for the respect and freedom to make my own choices. Empower me to respect myself and give other people respect and dignity regardless of their behavior.
What Others Are Saying:
No one can make you feel inferior
without your consent.
You may be no better than anyone else,
but no one is better than you.
and others will respect you.
They cannot take away our self-respect
if we do not give it to them.
When you realize how much you are worth,
you’ll stop giving people discounts.