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Relationships: teaching others how to treat you

Updated on July 30, 2012
Actions speak louder than words.  How we treat ourselves and when we choose to engage or disengage with others is more powerful than what we verbally communicate to others.
Actions speak louder than words. How we treat ourselves and when we choose to engage or disengage with others is more powerful than what we verbally communicate to others. | Source


Many times we hear someone say to us, "I just don't understand why guys/girls treat me like this" "I just attract the wrong people" or "All the good guys/girls are taken." Statements like these show us that the person saying them does not accept the role they play in each social interaction they have. We teach others how to treat us. This may sound funny and this may also lead others to the false conclusion "therefore, how they treat me is my fault" or "therefore, I deserve to be treated this way" when these two statements are the furthest from the truth.

"We get what we deserve" is not as true as "we get what we believe we deserve." Our beliefs about ourselves are so powerful and so ingrained into who we are that they dictate our lives and influence our every step without our notice. If we believe we deserve something good, we are more likely to find something good. If we believe we do not deserve anything good, then we are more likely not to find anything good within our lives. How is this true? Is there some sort of magic or power in the universe that secretly listens to all of our thoughts and intentions? I can't really answer that but I can explain why a person who believes they do not deserve anything good in their lives finds that they do not have what they want in their lives.

When we walk around with these negative beliefs about ourselves (if we are aware of them or not) we ignore or deny the positive opportunities. We may meet the man or woman of our dreams and become excited only to think we either do not deserve them or that they could not possibly be interested in us-- unless of course there is something wrong with them. When we approach a person with the idea that we do not deserve them, our behavior towards them shows this. We do not attempt to talk to them, we do not attempt pursue them, and we do not act like our charming selves. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy and we either do not get the chance to ever socialize with them or we drive them away. When we believe there is an innate flaw in anyone willing to give us a chance-- we look for it and will find flaws sometimes where there are none. We create a self-fulfilling prophecy by treating the person differently because of our beliefs, treating them as if something is wrong, acting suspicious, and overreacting to their reactions to how we are treating them. We may leave thinking the person is rude yet we may not understand that our actions led them to react that way towards us.

How to get people to treat you better

This brings us back to the title of this article- we teach others how to treat us. So what exactly does that mean? It means that each time we interact with another person, we are directly or indirectly teaching them how they should treat us if we mean to or not. In this case, actions speak louder than words so when we tell someone we would not put up with something or we request they treat us a certain way, we need to ensure our actions send the same message.

When we do not react and do not communicate our disapproval of someone treating us in a way we do not like we are indirectly teaching them that it is ok to treat us this way. How we react or not react teaches others what is acceptable or not acceptable. Unfortunately, not everyone is out there to make us happy but our reactions can teach them that they cannot get away with treating us a certain way.

If we are wondering why someone continues to treat us a certain way, we need to take a new perspective, take the emphasis off of how the other person is acting and begin to focus on ways we can change our behavior towards the person to invoke a change. It feels counterintuitive and almost self-blaming but when we begin to look at ourselves and recognize the powerful role we play in our lives, we begin to see ways we can change our life and our situation for our benefit. When we change, the world around us changes. Some people will bend and change with us, while others will not be able to handle the change, become angry and may leave. Either way, we are improving our lives. To make room for the people who will treat us how we need to be treated, we sometimes need let go of relationships that are not growing with us and are not supportive to the life we want to lead.

Relationships are about balance. We cannot feel responsible for each person's behavior yet we cannot forget that we have influence over our lives and how we are treated by others.


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  • Jlava73 profile image

    Jennifer Vasconcelos 6 years ago from Cyberspace and My Own World

    Your words really struck a chord in me. If we are responsible for how we are treated and setting the ground rules - we can own our emotions and thus be happier. Thanks for Sharing :)