In Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving, he lists respect as the third component of love.
Fromm retraces the element of respect to its root form, written in the Latin as ‘respicere’ or ‘to look at.’
Respect, then, is the absence of exploitation because there is no more the need to wring that person dry of what you think they can give you. There is no need to pick apart their being in an attempt to reshape them according to your image and ideal.
Because to look at the one you love is to see their individual value, to see them grow and unfold as they are, and to accept that that is enough.
You look at them and you look with them. Respicere, too, is to look with your heart.
Four Reasons Why You Should Stop Trying To Fix People:
You want them to be their own person. You should want people to be able to think and make choices independently. It’s how responsibility and courage are honed, both vital elements for people to be able to live out their individual purpose. But this muscle can atrophy without the exercise of independence. Essentially, it is the freedom to choose that makes a choice a choice. How can people do that if you’re always breathing down their neck?
You want their experiences to be transformative. You have to let people grow through what they’re going through. Take a step back. Give them space enough to experience and reflect on the event, but not too far back that the space becomes abandon.
Growth is a personal journey. As far as support goes, yours can go a long way. But for growth to be a journey, one must walk the path themselves. You can share the load with them, but you can’t and shouldn’t carry them on your back.
You don’t always know what’s best for people. Now, this can be a hard pill to swallow, especially if you’ve gotten used to always getting your way. I’ve tried playing judge and jury many times in the past. Maybe I’ve even thought about how the world would be a better place if everyone were like me or if they just listened to me. Sounds a bit tyrannical, no? In a sense, it is.
It’s easy to conflate the idea of wanting to fix people with wanting to help them. The distinction lies in where our intention surges from. Being a fixer-upper can sometimes flow from a self-gratifying place but helping people should come from a place of compassion and love.
As good as the good may be, it’s not something we can force down people’s throats.
It seems that our labor towards meaning, towards what is upright and worthy, can only be measured to the extent by which we, the individual, voluntarily undergo the necessary but painful process of shedding the ignoble self, the old self, as a form of submission to the ultimate Good.
So we bear with those we love through the worst of times, and we let them know of a kind of compassion that sees every shade—the good, the bad, the ugly—and still chooses to stay. Because this is our response to the love we seldom acknowledge but to whom much is owed.