After writing my book, “Regrettably Related: A Guide To Toxic In-Laws”, I was thinking some about it one day. One of the topics that came to mind was respect. I thought I would share those thoughts with you.
As I mentioned in the book, I believe many toxic in-laws are narcissistic. And, as we who know anything at all know about narcissists, they have a fixation with respect. Sadly, they have no clue what real respect is.
Real respect is not treating people like dirt while expecting them to submit to your will no matter what. No one wants to be mistreated. It becomes even more insulting when the person treating you badly demands that you do anything they want. It’s insulting & disrespectful!
Real respect is treating those your loved ones care about with civility even when you don’t like them. This is a big one for me. Probably the biggest part of my issue with my in-laws wasn’t that they hated me. It was that they had so little respect for my husband, their son & brother, that they couldn’t manage basic civility with me. That speaks volumes about their character or lack thereof. I’ve had friends with significant others I disliked, but for the sake of my friends, I would do my best to be polite to the person.
Real respect is earned, & no one can successfully demand it. My entire life, my mother would tell me, “I DEMAND respect!” Well, that didn’t work out well for her. Telling people to respect you never works. Behaving in such a way that people want to respect you is what works. It’s much like trust in this way.
Real respect involves boundaries. It seems to narcissists, boundaries is a filthy, terrible word that never should be uttered. No one in a narcissist’s life is allowed to have those awful boundaries. This is one more piece of evidence that proves they have no true concept of respect. A respectful person has & enforces their own healthy boundaries, while respecting the boundaries of others.
Real respect doesn’t belittle or criticize. Constructive criticism is fine of course, when said gently. Anyone who is making a mistake needs to know that they are making a mistake. However, belittling & harsh criticisms have no place in respect. If you respect another person, you won’t say cruel things to them, & if they respect you, they won’t say cruel things to you either.
Real respect isn’t selfish. If you respect someone, you aren’t selfish with them. You recognize they are an individual separate from you who has their own unique wants, needs & feelings. You won’t insist on having your own way no matter what.
Real respect means you don’t assume you know best. Respectful people recognize that other people are individuals who have their own specialties & talents. They also know that others will know what is best for them rather than assume their way is what is best.
Real respect genuinely cares about other people. Truly respecting someone also means you care about that person. You value that person as the unique person they are instead of only what they can do for you.
Real respect means you care about yourself. Self respect is so very important! It means you won’t tolerate abuse from anyone. It means you won’t demean yourself or compromise your values. It means you treat yourself well. It also means you take care of your physical & mental health. These reasons are why narcissists try to destroy their victims’ self respect. They don’t want them to do these things. A person lacking self respect is controllable, unlike someone with a healthy level of self respect.
As you can see, narcissists clearly have absolutely no concept of what respect really is. So the next time a narcissist calls you disrespectful, take it as a complement & remember they have absolutely no idea what respect really is.