Respect is something we all want. Even HSPs.

Why is it so elusive?

Why Respect Is Important

Respect is so important for our well-being that we feel our positive energy grow when around it and we feel our energy become depleted when we are disrespected. For highly sensitive people, the issue of being respected is particularly acute since we are frequently disrespected for our “soft” values and gentle, non-aggressive personalities. Whether we are accepted or not, we still need to experience respect – not just be someone that others put up with.

We all want to be well regarded by the people in our life and also to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with ourselves. Because the HSP nervous system is so easily stressed, we also need to be aware that disrespect damages our health and as a result our ability to function well. It creates emotional injury and more stress for us to deal with. On a long term basis, disrespect will make us ill.

Implications Of Respect

Respect has important benefits:

  • it helps us open to the world
  • it makes us open to listening to others
  • it helps create trust
  • it helps us have confidence in ourselves
  • it creates space for mutual problem solving
  • it creates a feeling of safety
  • it lets you receive
  • it lets you give
  • it helps you to relax
  • it helps to feel one with the universe
  • it helps you heal
  • it helps you forgive
  • it is necessary for love
  • it helps you feel happy
  • it helps you be present rather than want to escape the present
  • it helps you to be with whatever you are involved with so persistence becomes easier
  • it helps you feel less needy so you are more satisfied

Respect is so important that people spend their entire lives chasing it. In a competitive winner-take-all culture like ours, external respect can be very hard to come by, which is why we need to spend time considering the implications of respect in and on our lives.

Do we base it on our values, our performance, our possessions, our relationships? How do we manage respect issues when cultural values mean that external respect is unavailable to us? Can we respect ourselves and have that be enough?

Respect And Wisdom

One of the first lessons that Japanese children learn is the importance of respect. It is not taught to meet the demands of the social structure but because you need respect to learn and become wise. This means that in their culture respect is the beginning of the journey to wellbeing and effectiveness.

In the Western culture, respect is something you earn from others. So it is extrinsic and even rare.

Intrinsic respect or self-worth is something we get from our parents and educators during our childhoods. When we do not receive it we are less able to withstand the negative message of our culture. We may know intellectually that we have worth, but without the experience of it, we have left adrift.

When we lose access to intrinsic respect, we lose our ability to effectively navigate our daily lives. We lose our compass, our capacity for sane and responsible action, and our ability to manage. We have an insatiable hunger and often do not know what it is for.

HSPs are usually “misfits” so often our natural curiosity and wisdom may have been denied to get us not to bother others. We may have been denied respect for the bets f ourselves.  Being treated as a bother is tough to handle as a child, so we may stop believing in ourselves because no one else does. As a result, we may be afraid to learn because we do not receive positive feedback.

The Importance Of Respect For Learning

Respectfulness elevates learning because it puts us on the steward’s path.

In the West, educational goals are often about innovating which is great but there is a pitfall. If we treat current reality with disrespect in order to innovate, then we are essentially shooting ourselves in the foot. We are innovating by competing against and rejecting the present, rather that looking to make the present better. Without respecting the present we lose the ability to discern what is working and what is not. We may treat the present as something to discard, like consumer goods, like the packaging for a loaf of bread.

When disrespect as a basis of “progress” it creates serious issues within our culture.  Environmental degradation, health issues, and social problems are all caused by a disrespect for nature, people and their well being.

HSPs And Respect

None of us can live with disrespect all of the time. It is like dying slowly. For HSPs the situation is more serious than for non-HSPs since we are more likely to be affected by the stress of the inherent rejection in being disrespected. The good news for HSPs is that our natures are very supportive of respectful living even if our culture is not. We have to come to terms with the implications of our nature and what respectful living means for us so that we can forge a path that we want to embrace.

I suspect that we HSPs are here to help our race find its way to a stewards path, a path of respectfulness that has been denied in the interest of economic gain. Embracing respect and the steward’s path is not easy, but it is also essential for our well-being and the well-being of everyone around us.

Everyone benefits in the end.

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program of "sensory processing yoga" using frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers the Emerging Sensitive Movie Club focused on movies and discussions about living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is also an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.


  1. Sherry on December 30, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    Great article thanks. I never knew about disrespect but it makes sense. I am just (at 61) embracing my HSP.

    • Maria Hill on December 30, 2018 at 8:06 pm

      Thanks, Sherry, I am glad you liked the article. The better we treat ourselves, the better our health. Embracing your sensitivity will help also.