Teaching People How To Treat You

Yesterday, I had two conversations that stuck with me. They were completely different, but they both put me in that introspective mood that had my wheels turning all night.

The first conversation was with a woman who was upset with her boyfriend. His social media usage (specifically towards other women) bothered her, but she didn’t want to seem petty or “psycho” by asking him to stop liking/commenting/following other women on his various apps.

The second conversation was with a friend who had received an uncomfortable and hurtful comment about her body. She brushed it off at the time because the situation was so unpleasant, but privately she was in complete distress over it.

Here’s a little fact about me: I have zero patience with people who hurt someone I love’s feelings. I’m sure everyone has a protective streak, but my streak is on steroids. There are times when this quality is a good thing, but other times it get’s me into unnecessary trouble.

During both of yesterday’s conversations, my protective streak was screaming. However, I had no business getting involved in either situation directly. All I could do was repeatedly say, “STAND UP FOR YOURSELF!”  

Last night, though, I was stewing over how much easier that is to say than do. Often times, it’s easier for me to stand up for my friends than it is for me to stand up for myself. As an outsider, it’s easy to feel self-righteous and indignant when I feel like an innocent person has been harmed and only I can save the day.

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It’s so much harder when you feel like you are being disrespected. How many times have you said, “I don’t want to seem crazy,” or, “I don’t know, maybe I’m overreacting”? And don’t get me wrong, it’s good to take inventory of the situation and your feelings before reacting. However, I also constantly see people talk themselves out of their extremely valid emotions for fear of stirring the pot or seeming uptight/sensitive/etc.

I remembered a quote I’d read (told you I’m a quote hoarder) that said:

You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce. –Tony Gaskins

Every time my sweet friend gave her boyfriend a pass on his social media flirting, she was teaching him that it wasn’t really that hurtful, and he could get away with it.

Every time my friend laughed off a disrespectful and inappropriate comment, she taught people that she was the kind of woman they could say those things to.

Every time we talk ourselves out of our feelings of hurt, betrayal, or violation, we allow the situation to continue.

I thought about this example. In high school, every single one of my teachers told us we couldn’t text in class. By the second week of school, I knew which teachers would give me a detention and which ones would look the other way. I knew exactly which teachers I could disrespect by texting in their class and which ones expected complete attention and respect.

Don’t be the person who lets everyone get away with sh*t. Teach people how you deserve to be treated. Speak up when you feel like you’re getting less than what you deserve, and trust that your feelings are valid. Tell someone when they’ve crossed a line with you! Tell people what you will and will not tolerate, and stick to your guns.

Stand up for yourself, because you really don’t want Psycho Protective Caroline getting involved.

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