I used to love watching Scared Straight. You know that show? They start with a bunch of juvenile delinquents on a path to crime, throw them into a prison and scream at them until they cry. HAHA!! I love it.
Wait, I used to love it.
At the end of the show they follow up with kids and seriously, like half of them don’t turn out well. It’s kind of sad how many of them fall back into the same patterns. I have a theory why this is and it has everything to do with respect.
The show starts with a bunch of little badasses showing you their life and how they are real criminals doing big kid crimes and talking back to everyone. They are the toughest kids in school, not afraid to fight and have big attitudes that can face off with any enemy. Then they go to jail. A place most of them have already visited either by crime or because of family. Jail is a place they aren’t scared of to begin with. Then they meet criminals who try and scare them. Most of these kids are 14 and weigh about 85 pounds, so it doesn’t take long before they cry. They cry and cry and then the mean bullies cry with them and they all hug and leave “reformed.” Until they get home where they are the big fish and tell all their friends about what they saw.
What scared these kids are scary people bigger and badder than they are. What they have learned as a result is that they will quickly give respect to the person who is bigger and badder. As a result, they have learned that to earn respect they must be bigger and badder.
You know where else this principle shows itself? When you yell at your kids. Yes, they are infuriating, especially between 12 and 24. They push every button until you feel like all you can do is yell. From 12-14 this might work, because you will likely be bigger than them. But if you resort to yelling and making a spectacle, eventually they will learn how to make a bigger spectacle. Then you’re screwed.
So what the heck do we do?! How do we stop the cycle?!
Often at the root of these arguments is our desire to be respected. I want respect, you want respect and little Timmy wants respect. We do what we can to force it from others and are left unsatisfied because, if we’re honest, we don’t respect ourselves.
That void that we are walking around with isn’t because our kids don’t respect us, or our employees don’t respect us, or our students, clients, customers, friends, teachers…keep the list going if you like. The void exists because we don’t respect ourselves. We don’t keep promises to us. We abuse our bodies, fill ourselves with garbage both nutritional and informational, we don’t take time to rest, or we abuse some avenue of self medication.
I would bet money that if we start to have some self-respect and treat ourselves with some kindness, that the rest of the world would follow suit.
If you would like to talk to someone about ways you can start taking better care of yourself and treating yourself with respect, schedule an appointment with a local therapist and get to work already.