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“The ability to respect oneself and others is an essential part of healthy emotional development”. Most people in our society do not understand that respect of self is not only imperative but is used as a guideline or a path to how we create our everyday life. When you are respecting yourself you are drawing boundaries. You are caring enough about you that others will notice and very often give you the same”. Let’s dive a little deeper on this subject of respect, shall we?

I was raised in a very small town in northern New Jersey. I grew up with my Parents, grandparents, great grandmother and my Uncle. That was just our household.

Being respectful of my Family and authority was not even a discussion it just ” was”. It all began from the time I was born. Every once and a while I’d mouth off. I’d always get the speech; ” you better watch your tone young lady, you are not to be disrespectful to anyone, nor will you behave that way”.

I looked up to those around me. My interactions with others helped form my personality as to being a respectful child therefore a respectful adult. I knew my limits, I knew the difference between right and wrong. I understood that being rude or disrespectful was not acceptable behavior. Consequences would come swiftly if I misbehaved. My family was strict but loving.

When children are raised in such environments with love, encouragement, kindness and consequences they customarily tend to grow up being better people. As an adult they are more likely to celebrate and appreciate life as having a sense of self value, self worth, love and self respect. If they have children of there own they will more then likely instill those same core values and beliefs.

Developing the capacity for respect is a lifelong challenge. Our sense of self tends to be fragile. It can be an up and down ride with varying degrees of success. The development of self-respect, or, in essence, self-esteem, is guided by how we see ourselves. Those in our lives act as a mirror in this process. The people who are important to us those we love and look up to give us attention and encouragement, we see a positive figure when we look in the mirror.

The opposite would hold true if we are surrounded by condescending negative influences in our lives. We may look in the mirror feeling negative.

These days It’s virtually impossible to not see or hear what is going on around us. The lack of respect for our family, friends, co-workers, animals and yes, authority figures. Our society is out of touch with what respect really means.

There are several components of respect and how it affects our world and each of us in a positive or negative way. Here are some:


Empathy, consideration, caring and thoughtfulness toward one another could help create a culture where people would feel they belong, one where enjoyment and respect can thrive. Everyone would be more understanding and supportive when we experience problems. Our differences may not be so different. They really aren’t. Generally speaking we all want the same things. You can always use the work force as an impressive example. Most people do not feel valued, appreciated or respected at their jobs. Imagine if each supervisor and employee had to take courses in self- respect and empathy? It would be interesting to see the results.


The key to any successful relationship is trust. Hard to earn, once broken, nearly impossible to regain. However with trust comes respect. People that have trust and respect for another have a far better relationship as well as the simple fact that each party wants to do more and help the other. It flows better, feels good and creates stability.

What You Can Do

Set the tone. Be the change you wish to see in this world. Let others see how you show respect for all people, including the elderly, authority figures such as police officers, and people who are different from you in terms of ethnicity or religion.

Strive to live what you teach. Be patient, consistent, caring, honest, and attentive. If someone is truly struggling, give them opportunities to be successful. Be encouraging! Use positive comments and behave in such a way that others want to learn from you, admire you and listen to you. When you lead by example it is then that you become the image of admiration which in turn makes it very easy for others to respect. People have said charity begins at home. So does respect.

Respectfully yours, Michelle M. Caporale

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