Selfless respect: who is it really about?

I’m back to working full swing in the service industry and boy, is it a 180 turn from my non-profit work back in the city. The rhythm of multi-tasking through the daily tasks of a restaurant came back like riding a bike (thank god!) and it has been thoroughly joyous to connect with the locals. This is definitely one of the few benefits of living in a small town besides FREE parking: a tight-knit community of people who you build sustainable relationships with. In the city, it took me about two years to start to see the same results that I now see in a week here in Tahoe. Proving that size does matter!

Since I’ve been in my new chapter in Tahoe, I have been faced with two situations that point to one common theme: respect and service to others! The most obvious of the two is my job — literally serving people amazing food. Being a manager is the bigger picture view to any of my previous service experience. When it gets busy and I just can’t get around to doing it all or some hungry, annoyed customer comes in with an attitude, how do I learn to not make it about me and how stressed or defensive I feel? Chances are most times, I will forget that it is not about me, and will want to respond with the same attitude back because I feel hopeless in providing great service.

However, I believe that it is possible to stay selfless in the midst of chaos. The only way to make change is through consciousness!! So, back to the basics. I know that when I have one million things on my plate, the only thing to do is clean one off at a time and breathing through it with honest effort is what prevails over being a hot mess. It’s funny how in our own lives, we can get away with being an internal ‘hot mess’, abusing the most genuine parts of ourselves. But when it comes to serving others, people get turned off by us when we try to do it all without direction or intention. That’s one of the beautiful parts about connecting — we realize that we shouldn’t have to put up with some of the stupid sh*t we do. We learn from others those things about us that are out-of-balance.

Sometimes it feels like we’re right and they’re wrong (ok, most times). So what I’m talking about here is actually seeing ourself in the situation and taking responsibility for our attitude, especially those moments that are not our best. Uniquely, can we respect ourself enough to respect others? And is showing genuine respect for others a gateway to respecting yourself? I think the more I slow down, the more I see the correlation that binds the two: self and other.

Feminists, biologists, hippies, and buddhist spend hours and books talking about the relationship between self and other. I find that the only time the normal layperson is forced to analyze and build off this limitless connection is when one of two things arise: tragedy/hardship or extreme love. The other 90 percent of the time, we are all walking around subconsciously thinking mostly about how our personal ego feels.

And this is where my second situation comes into play. Despite being surrounded with this new sense of community, adjusting to a long-distance relationship brings up random feelings of longing, jealousy, frustration, and wonder.

As much as I am coming from trust and acceptance of where our lives are at, my ego still tries to bring up the doubt card when I least expect it! So I pose this question: can we love enough to respect others’ needs and circumstances? Can I honor our relationship for what it is rather than wanting more? Because we all know why I want more…for myself.

In my life, I am beginning to see that service can be beyond the normal definitions from which we assign it. Service can be as simple as respecting others needs while removing your own. Most times, it is our own wants and needs that cloud the truth for another person. Then, we end up feeling alone and not good enough. And the vicious cycle continues until we are willing enough to invite in other’s perspectives.

Whether it is someone significant to me or just a customer along the way, our path is not the same, we are simply crossing (and hopefully connecting). As much as I want to cling to made-up ideals, everlasting love from another, and happy customers who are more patient than I am!, the only truth is honesty, breath and love. As corny as it sounds, we have to surrender to the service of respect or we will be of disservice to our own happiness. So ask yourself who is it really about?

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