By: Wendy Knight Agard / October 2009

Three women cheerfully hugging Respect is one of those words that we throw around without much thought. Some of us hope for it, others tentatively ask for it and still others firmly ask for it. We teach children to respect us as parents and to respect their teachers and adults in general. But what about the respect we give our friends, partners and other adults we have personal or work relationships with? How do we insure we are treated with respect?

Perhaps a starting point is to discuss how we know when we are not being treated with respect. Sometimes it is glaringly obvious because someone treats us so badly that there can be no mistake. But often, there is a more subtle, underlying current of disrespect in our relationships. This subtle disrespect is more dangerous because we may allow it to go on for weeks, months or years since we aren’t even aware of it. Typically we only become aware of it when something dramatic happens that forces us to “wake up”. The old expression “you teach people how to treat you” applies here. How does this happen?

The answer lies in our lack of focus on our sense of self. As soon as we are old enough to understand instructions from our caregivers, we learn what is required to cope in different situations. This coping mechanism becomes part of the personality we present to the outside world. This is usually not a conscious process it is a subconscious development that happens as we learn to navigate through our lives and it is affected by physical and emotional traumas as well as our inherited predispositions. The result, by adulthood, is often an individual who hasn’t been able to focus adequately on their sense of self and therefore hasn’t fully developed their ego.

Our true ego defines who we are in the world as an individual. This “true” ego defines a healthy sense of self, and should not be confused with the “false” ego. The lack of development of the true ego can lead to a host of emotional and physical symptoms, as well as unhealthy patterns in relationships, such as being treated with a lack of respect.

The good news is that a pattern such as being treated with a lack of respect can be changed. Heilkunst treatment addresses the life traumas, the coping mechanisms and inherited predispositions described above in a way the helps the true ego develop fully to its healthy form. As the “true you” emerges out of treatment, you will develop the changes and the tools required to be stronger within yourself and command more respect from others.

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How do we insure we are treated with respect?

Wendy Knight Agard

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