How Can We Change the Rampant Disrespect in Our World?

Beginning a positive ripple effect

Posted Aug 14, 2017

rrafson licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Source: rrafson licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

When I trained in aikido, we’d begin and end each class by bowing at the edge of the mat and saying  “rei”—the Japanese word for “respect.” With all the disrespect in our world today, what would life be like if more of us began each day with our own ritual of respect?

Personally, respect for ourselves brings us back to center, where we are most deeply, most authentically ourselves. Uniting our values and actions, it builds integrity. Self-respect can transform the world within us--silencing the inner critic, preventing us from treating ourselves as “less than,” from compromising our values, falling victim to manipulators, or enslaving ourselves to external demands.

As a creative catalyst, self-respect helps us make wiser decisions and develop greater respect for others (Dreher, 2002). Research has shown that our emotional energies are contagious, creating a ripple effect in the communities around us (Barsade, 2002; see Kravetz, 2017). So by cultivating greater respect for yourself, you can gradually cultivate greater respect in your world.

Some ways to begin cultivating greater respect for yourself would be to: 

  • begin the day with a personal ritual of respect—what would that look like for you?
  • maintain a regular contemplative practice,
  • unplug and spend some time in silence each day,
  • read books that center and inspire you,
  • see a therapist to work through old disrespectful patterns,
  • spend more time in the natural world, renewing your connection with nature.

What can you do to begin creating a positive ripple effect in your world today?


Barsade, S. G. (2002). The Ripple Effect: Emotional Contagion and Its Influence on Group Behavior. Administrative Science Quarterly,47, 644-675.

Dreher, D. E. (2002). Leading with the Tao: The Energizing Power of Respect. The Learning Organization, 9, 206-213.

Kravetz, Lee Daniel. (2017) Strange Contagion: Inside the surprising science of infectious behaviors and viral emotions and what they tell us about ourselves. New York, NY: HarperCollins.


Diane Dreher is a best-selling author, positive psychology coach, and professor at Santa Clara University. Her latest book is Your Personal Renaissance: 12 Steps to Finding Your Life’s True Calling.

Visit her web sites at and