Today is a special date
And today, the fourth of January 2022, is for multiple reasons. All of them have to do with the energy of the universe, sliding doors (of the “what if…” variety) and angels in heaven, the ones we remember with sadness or nostalgia and always with love, the ones we invoke when we seek comfort and support, the ones who come to earth and disrupt lives.
It is a personal day of connecting with the unseen, of nostalgia, of birth and rebirth, of relief:
7 years ago today is the day a friend turned into an angel with wings,
Today today, is the day that an angel ( and I do believe her) took a heavy backpack off my shoulders,
and today today, January 4th, 2022, is the day when the long-awaited baby of a dear friend decides to leave the safe nest and venture out onto this planet.
All these reasons, which make this date special to me, relate to love, the big one, the shocking one – for better or worse – the indefinable one, the one that gives meaning to life because it makes us give new meaning to life.
Although love, by far, remains the word with the scepter, the one I elect “My Word 2022” is another:
The thought has been swirling around in my head for a few months now that, perhaps, we are using the word love too often. I’ll admit that just typing this sentence alone brings up that little voice over my right shoulder, the one dressed in blue and with the halo on her head, with the must-ask question:
“But when is the word love ever said too often???”.
When it’s done superficially. And it’s not the little voice on the left shoulder, the one dressed in red, with the tail and the pitchfork, that says it, it’s me in the middle.
Are you familiar with the American hug? For us Europeans it’s not really a hug, it’s more like a pat on the shoulder. I had probably always perceived it, but it came to my consciousness when Katie, a friend from Boston, so very American, pointed it out to me:
” You Europeans when you give a hug you do it for real, you can feel that you really want to hug! It’s a gesture of affection. For us it’s more of an informal gesture than a handshake but with the same transportation…zero or almost!”
On the other hand, if you happened to notice, even their “How’re you doing?” which by the way for the majority of times – has no interrogative tone whatsoever, is more like hey-ciao-i-saw-you, and it goes without saying that a hug-pat-on-the-back is actually a great gesture of closeness for them!
So, the word love, so frequently said and used as a parsley that fixes any flavor, I believe is assuming the value of the American embrace: it does not provide for affection, it does not provide for transport, it is just a “yes, come on, it’s okay, we can get away with bringing out that undefined but indisputable thing called love”.
Is this what we really want?
Perhaps, if love is so important, so untouchable, so above all else, we should endow it with the character of exclusivity and use the word only on purpose, only when it is appropriate, only when it is conscious, only when it is felt.
So how do we fill a (possible) void?
Pina Fantozzi (a character created by an italian actor) has tried so much to teach us that before, after or beside love there is respect. And she showed us, with facts, that respect has a value in itself, besides making us think about the role of a guarantor of love that respect has:
If there is respect, there can be love, but if there is no respect, love is probably just deception. And it’s a matter of time before it reveals itself as such, there are no “sweetheart, honey, sweetie, darling” or big declarations to the universe that hold.
Instead of talking about love for oneself, love for others, love for the world, love for nature, love for one’s work, love for … we could try replacing the word love with the word respect.
If we all agree that respect is the guarantor of love, then we must admit at this point that it is also worthy of all our attention and especially effort. And why not a promise?
If we commit to practicing respect throughout 2022, then in 2023 we will be able to go back to using the word love more often, and maybe we will be able to do so again and again in a full sense.
Respect and sustainability of relationships
The word respect originates from “respectus” meaning “attention,” consideration or concern. It can be defined as
“consideration or feeling of the value or greatness of an individual, the quality or ability of an individual, or something considered as an aspect of an individual quality or ability.”
Respect is an important component of both interpersonal relationships and personal identity.
Respect is the sense of worth or personal value we place on someone. Respect is an overall evaluation we give someone based on many factors – what that person is doing in their life, how they treat us and others, whether they are honest or not, and whether they seem to consistently do good things, big or small, for other people.
In short, self-respect is a positive view that is formed based on how someone is living their life. On the other hand, self-love is our view of how we are living our lives.
Il rispetto inizia con il rispetto di sé. Rispettare se stessi significa dare e definire il proprio valore come essere umano: se non rispetti te stesso, sarà più difficile rispettare chiunque altro. Ma come si fa?
There are ideals that when adopted and pursued help develop and master a healthy level of self-respect:
- Being an honest person;
- Value instruction and other forms of education;
- Understand the impact of proper nutrition/exercise;
- Understand financial responsibility;
- Learning to listen;
- Understanding the value of good manners and proper conduct;
- Learning to accept personal responsibility for one’s own conduct;
- Learning when and how to apologize;
- Learning to understand which of your friends are good influences and which are bad influences;
- Have important goals and plans to achieve them!
The same way we are with ourselves, when we show respect for others, value their being and their ideals, and make them feel good.
Without respect, relational connections are laden with conflict and disappointment: if we don’t respect others, they won’t respect us, and if we don’t respect ourselves, we won’t be considered by others either.
It is critical to have a sense of security, to have the ability to communicate without fear of being judged, embarrassed, or oppressed. Being aware of others, loved, and respecting ourselves builds our confidence, self-sufficiency, psychological well-being, and prosperity.
Here are some ways to show respect to others:
- Be kind
- Be gentle and well mannered
- Show gratitude
Returning to the concept of sustainability (mentioned in the article Seven things to throw away, eleven to celebrate, and five to promise) and my belief that there should be awareness of sustainability in relationships as well as the environment:
Respect is one of the essential ingredients of any relationship, we all know it but no one can easily apply it in everyday life:
In order to be always kind, always polite and to always guarantee a basic level of respect, it takes focus in every single moment, it takes awareness as a sender and as a receiver, it takes self-discipline.
A note is in order: respect is one of humanity’s noblest feelings, and the highest levels of respect are always earned – never given. This is true of both respect for oneself and for others. However, before granting the highest level of respect for self or others, let’s make sure the person is worthy of the honor.
Now we’re ready: let’s self-discipline 😉 and at the end of 2022 we’ll tell each other how it went and see if we can take it to the next level, okay?
And what is your word of the year?
Meanwhile Happy Epiphany to all!
For further reading, Enjoy!