Please know the phrase CONSIDER THIS SOLUTION means I’m about to recommend a less than appealing approach to the problem of THOUGHTLESS behavior on the part of others…..It’s simply: take a look at yourself! You’ve perhaps heard or read that “we teach people how to treat us.” WHAT? It makes no sense that I’d TEACH my ________ to treat me badly! I agree that most of us would not do so intentionally. Consequently it’s important to dig into the meaning of “teaching others how to treat me.”
The underlying psychology in the statement directs us to examine the ABILITY TO SET BOUNDARIES. Far too many people have squishy, sloppy, wish-washy boundaries in relationships….not exactly sophisticated psychological language, I know. But the phrases perhaps resonate. Another “definition”….many of us let people “walk all over us” and do too little, if nothing, to stop the behavior! And more specifically, many of us allow others to “invade” both physical and emotinal/psychological space.
Translate all those thoughts to self-understanding with these basic questions:
— When someone speaks to you in an inappropriate manner, what do you do? Do you protest? Do you express your thoughts and feelings about what was just said? Or do you simply keep quiet and feel growing resentment?
— When someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do or don’t have time to do, do you say NO or accommodate the person feeling resentful?
— When you need something/help from another, do you ask for what you want?
— Do you say no easily? Or is it a struggle? OR does a needed “no” seldom get expressed?
— Can you give negative feedback to another individual?
— Can you receive negative feedback from another person and pursue it in detail that is helpful to you?
— Are you comfortable giving and receiving positive feedback from others? And clarifying it when necessary?
These questions help you to test your boundary setting behavior. A very “tired phrase” … “good fences make good neighbors”… is actually about defining and managing boundaries. All of us need to learn to build healthy relationships in all areas of life by building and maintaining good boundaries. In the absence of boundaries, relationships grow to be one-sided…. the OTHER person gets more of what he/she wants in the relationship or partnership and it then becomes easy to say “______ is not a good friend, family member, co-worker” vs pausing to look at the ways in which we contribute to the breakdown in the relationship.
I know it’s far easier to hope someone in our life will change! But to avoid the breakdown in any relationship, self examination is essential. Just remember: if I learn to say NO; ask for what I want and need; and give and receive both negative and positive feedback when important, I increase the CHANCE (no guarantee) that the relationship I’m struggling with will improve! Remember expressing yourself, thoughtfully, is a major accomplishment, even when you do NOT get what you want!
If this all seems too annoying — do some reading in the field of assertive training. Phelps and Austin, The Assertive Woman, and Alberti and Emmons, Your Perfect Right are long standing helpful books on the topic. And my books: RELEASE FROM POWERLESSNESS: TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE and YOUR PERSONAL STRESS ANALYSIS have a great deal of similar information.
And questions are always welcome. You deserve to feel good!