Last night I went to my granddaughter’s nursery school graduation.
The seven “graduates” walked onto the stage in adorable dressy outfits and sat in tiny chairs of various colors, (somewhat) patiently waiting for their names to be called.
When the teacher called them up to receive their diploma, she spoke for a minute about each child. “Lucia can solve any kind of problem in front of her,” “Mia has a sweetness and steadiness about her,” “Jason is funny and fun-loving” and “Cecilia is intelligent, kind and curious”.
I was struck by how meaningful it was to acknowledge each child individually, with words revealing the essence of each student.
The parents and grandparents shed a few tears, overcome with pride, and the kids were in their element, beaming with confidence.
Why did this small gesture feel so significant?
Why were we all verklempt?
I believe the answer is simple.
The children felt seen, truly seen, which feels really good. And watching them experience being truly seen was a gift for those of us in the audience, whispering the possibility that being seen and appreciated is not completely unattainable.
Unfortunately, we go through much of our lives feeling invisible, working hard to get things done and never feeling particularly celebrated and/or appreciated for being who we are.
We are not talking about getting an award for something we have done or achieved; we do that all the time.
Striving in our culture reaps rewards but I am suggesting that receiving recognition for just being you, the essential you, is far less common and far more important.
When did you last share with someone who they are to you and what a difference they make?
When did you last feel seen, celebrated and appreciated?
I started to give a lot of thought to the word honor, which came from the Old French meaning respect, esteem, revere, welcome.
I will never forget when the representatives from the United States Army showed up at my dad’s funeral to pay tribute to him by playing Taps and then folding and presenting the American flag to my mother. My dad deserved this honor and it was an honor to watch them bestow it.
How can we honor one another more?
The Japanese tradition of bowing to each other is a simple, yet impactful way to show respect and reverence when greeting one another. In a culture where honor is perhaps the most important attribute, bowing is a deeply ingrained tradition and following the rules of bowing is required. The act of bowing, rather than using words, originated in Buddhist tradition many centuries ago and is essential to Japanese culture. I remember being in Japan many years ago and seeing this tradition up close. It made me feel more grounded and at peace. The truth is it allowed me to be more open to the possibility of a world in which respect and decency are valued. When one observes people bowing respectively to one another, the world feels filled with more honor and dignity.
Why do I feel a tinge when watching an old movie, a man approaches a woman, bows slightly and asks “may I have the honor of this dance?” Putting aside the potentially anti-feminist/heteronormative issue, I wonder why I feel desire, why I want to shout “yes”.
I think that witnessing the honoring of another elevates my belief in the world and the possibility of harmony and mutual respect. For me, it’s the opposite of the sickening feeling I get when I watch someone bully/abuse/harm/be disrespectful to someone else, which then sends me down the rabbit hole of worrying that the whole world is evil. When someone honors someone else, we all feel the positive side of humanity. I need more examples of people really seeing and respecting one another!
I may begin asking: “May I have the honor of taking a walk with you?” "May I have the honor of having lunch with you?” "May I have the honor of talking with you on the phone?” How lovely it would be to feel that sense of being honored on a regular basis..
It’s important to remember the wise words of Lao Tse, “fail to honor people and they will fail to honor you.”
And that includes yourself.
It’s a tricky challenge- figuring out how to honor ourselves.
But isn’t that what would make the difference in all of our lives, if we felt seen, heard, understood, appreciated, and honored without even having to look outside of ourselves?
Mel Robbins, the motivational speaker, and author poses this question in her latest book, The High Five Habit. She asks us to think about what we say to ourselves when we look in the mirror while brushing our teeth. Do you congratulate yourself, compliment how you look, or tell yourself you are doing an amazing job in life?
We tend to be judgmental and critical, noticing what we don’t like about ourselves and thereby starting every day with a negative self-perception.
Robbins suggests that the simple, almost silly act of giving yourself a high-five in the mirror will shift your mood and outlook for the day.
According to research in neurorobotics, combining this common sign of victory (high-five) with the uncommon occurrence (high-fiving yourself after brushing your teeth, can make your brain form new neural connections so that the brain pays attention to your high-five moment and remembers it as a positive event throughout the day. Before reading her book, I often told clients to look at themselves in the mirror when brushing their teeth and choose a word for the day that feels right. Peace, tolerance, joy, acceptance, whatever word they choose, and then make a pact with themselves to honor that word for the day.
The importance is connecting with oneself in new ways, and giving ourselves the kind of advice, love, support, and encouragement we give others.
So go ahead, high-five yourself.
Tell yourself that you have your own back.
Choose a word that means something to you and honor yourself by living consistently with that value. You deserve to be honored.
In her book, Heal Your Life, Louise Hay instructs us to use the mantra, “I love and honor myself. I am safe. All is well,” on a daily basis. High-five to that!
I honor you. With love and light, Nora