by Larry Barsh, M.S. C.H.T.
When you are stressed, everything hurts more, and everything seems more upsetting. So, if you are experiencing pain or upset, it makes sense to identify stressors in your life, and eliminate or mediate them.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to ask one simple question: “Does this respect me?” Whenever you are about to make a choice, and ask this question, you are deciding whether or not you will create conflict or resistance, or balance and satisfaction in your life. If your decision does not indicate respect for your true desires, beliefs, commitments, ethics and morals, then the disrespect you show yourself will cause stress.
For example— You have planned to go out and do some errands that have been waiting for weeks. Now you have the time to do them, and because you do them you will complete some pressing tasks around the house. As you are leaving, a friend calls begging you to come over and help move some furniture (there is no urgent need for it to be moved right now). You say you are just leaving. The friend begs even more, claiming he/she REALLY needs your help. You answer that you want to finish these long-standing chores that are now irritating you. He/she pathetically continues, and you agree. Now you are angry with yourself, and the friend, because you compromised your intention. And you continue to be irritated by unfinished work.
If you had asked yourself, “Does this respect me? Does this choice show respect to me? Does this choice express love towards myself?”, then you would have honored yourself by truly doing what served you best, and eliminated a cause for stress (and possibly pain and injury).
Many people are stressed, and consequently experience greater pain, because they put themselves second to others. It’s fine to be of service, of course, as long as you are absolutely clear that the choice is the one you want to make. By asking, “Does this respect me?” at every opportunity for choice, you train yourself to be mote self-fulfilling, and less anxious. After a while you won’t have to consciously ask the question, the process will be automatic, and you will be making favorable decisions which will help relieve stress and pain.