Reputation of Self-Respect

Last week was a challenge. I spent several days assisting a family member in the hospital. Not exactly fun, but I was glad to be able to help. I’m happy to say that I have very little experience with hospitals. So, it can be challenging to know what questions to ask, how to be a supportive advocate, and promote respect, healing, and dignity. As I look back and process the last week, I wonder what I can learn about myself having gone through the process of being the primary support for someone with (temporarily) diminished capacity.

skunk
Image by USFWS Pacific Southwest Region

When the situation was unfolding, I kept getting the symbol of a skunk. Often, I utilize decks such as Tarot or the Medicine Cards (by Jamie Sams and David Carson) for clarity, guidance, and focus. I did a spread, and the skunk card appeared. Not only that, but the same evening I thought I smelled a skunk outside, and there was a skunk in the movie that I was watching on TV. I may be slow, but eventually I connect the dots and give more attention to that which is calling out to me. In the Medicine Cards book, skunk represents “reputation.” The description includes: Skunk is teaching you that by walking your talk and by respecting yourself, you will create a position of strength and honored reputation. Project self-respect!

I wondered how self-respect would influence the process that I was going through at the hospital. First, I think that holding the energy of well-being, compassion, empathy, and respect encourage and support the same in the staff. Second, in order to show ourselves respect, we need to honor the authority we may need to bring to a situation. In other words, what do I need to do to take care of and respect my own needs in order to serve another? What boundaries are most beneficial, and how do I assert appropriate and respectful authority if needed?

This was new territory for me. I am not a control freak. In fact, I can easily go the opposite direction by allowing another to guide and dictate the direction I take. For a moment, I was faced with the possibility of a person that I was unwilling to deal with showing up at the hospital. My initial reaction was to tell myself that I would leave. But, as I thought about it later, I realized that leaving or even allowing the person into the room would have undermined my ability to remain an advocate. What I realized is that sometimes in order to serve another to the best of my ability, I may need to say no to something that the person I was supporting may have said yes to.

When responding to another’s crisis, I am extremely concerned with attempting to provide the most beneficial support for them. I realize that what I consider “supportive” is not the same for another. I set aside my own agenda and try to remain open, sensitive, and aware.

What I learned is that in spite of feeling uncomfortable with executing authority, genuine respect may require that I do so. Boundaries are crucial to our well-being. Understanding and accepting that walking my talk may require me to make choices that are unpleasant is the reality of self-respect.

The Medicine Cards book also says about skunk: Have enough self-esteem to recognize favorable characteristics within yourself. Walk tall and be proud of the accomplishments you have made. If I am to honestly evaluate the past week, I have to admit that I genuinely walked my talk. I was calm, allowed faith and trust to support me, and remained realistic. I embraced honest observation without glossing over or overdramatizing. I stood in acceptance and supported respect and healing to the best of my ability.

As I move on and the crisis fades, I allow myself to recognize that I am living how I want to by staying authentic in a challenging situation. I can create drama, or I can walk my talk by genuinely embodying faith, trust, and expanded awareness regardless of the unknown. I can embrace, and hopefully project, a reputation of self-respect. I can foster respect for all beings by showing myself the respect that I attempt to show others.

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