There are numerous reasons we relate to others — four of them are like, adoration, surface respect, and deep respect. Of these, only deep respect has essential value in relationship.
- Like is when someone is agreeable to us — they are those we stand with, laugh with, share stories with, enjoy hanging out with, and feel good around. Nothing wrong with this, but it doesn’t hit the core.
- Adoration is intimacy — they are those who are your doll, your baby, the recipient of your joy, warmth, and affection. Nothing wrong with this, but it doesn’t hit the core.
- Surface respect is honoring those who have a certain status. They are those who have wealth, fame, seniority, good looks, charisma, wisdom, or enlightenment. These qualities might seem great, but they don’t empower us. Nothing wrong with this respect, but it doesn’t hit the core.
- Deep respect in honoring those that have qualities that actually transform, engage, and move us. They are those we listen to, reflect on, and challenge. They are those whose words, actions, and presence empowers us, whether agreeable or not. This, and only this quality, hits the core.
Very often we get these jumbled up in choosing the relationships in our lives, as well as the relationships we allow in. Yet, time and time again, it comes down to deep respect, and I’d say deep respect alone, that has any redeeming quality in a relationship. The other qualities aren’t necessarily bad, and can even be fun and refreshing. However, they can only be supplementary, not the core, of a relationship. If they are the core of a relationship, we’ll be dragged down.
Note: this applies to everyone — from friends and partners to parents, siblings, and even children. It can be very difficult to question the value of our lifelong relations, but we might find being honest with their value more important than simply pretending or assuming what it is.
The follow up question — can we learn to cultivate deep respect, or is it something that is just there or not? My friend @renzagliarobb once shook me up — yes, we can and should seek out the redeeming qualities especially in our family members. And I do agree. Flipping it around, I do feel a great many others could not offer deep respect because they couldn’t see past clouds in front of their eyes. So I do know it works both ways.
That said, deep respect cannot be forced, demanded, coerced, or even earned, contrary to popular notion. It doesn’t work that way. It can only occur as a natural result of clarity and wisdom, not obligation.