Tessa was an accomplished chef and wonderful hostess, but her sisters in law and mother in law did not appreciate her talents. They simply thought 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 if she felt worthy of respect.
Tessa wanted to be worthy, but she found it hard to say the word. It seemed easier to believe she was unworthy, than admit she actually deserved respect. She made a list of reasons why she should be respected by her in-laws before the next family dinner.
They barely began to eat before her sister-in-law made a snarky remark about her roast. Tessa took a deep breath and asked her how she would feel if a guest did the same thing at her house. Her sister in law was stunned. She had no more to say until they were clearing the dishes, then she asked if she would like some help in the kitchen. Tessa said yes, but her hands were shaking so bad the china rattled.
In the kitchen, instead of a tongue lashing, her sister in law apologized for her rude behavior. She realized she’d been following the cues of her mother for years without thinking for herself.
If you are dealing with a malignant narcissist such a friendly resolution might not happen, but taking a stand for your own dignity is always worth it regardless of how others might respond.
Disrespect can be blamed for 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 pick on people who aren’t present to defend themselves.
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.
At the heart of disrespect for each other, often lies a lack of self-respect. People tear down others 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.
While a deficit of disrespect has sickened our families, respect is the vitamin to restore them 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. 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 if they don’t.
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.