What You Do To Teach People How To Treat You
This is a series of seven articles about How To Teach People How To Treat You. This series will help you in your journey of self-discovery. Some 15 years ago, I realised life wasn’t working for me. I had reached a point where I couldn’t quite believe where I was. There was no way I had expected my life to be so different from the image I had of what I wanted. I was desperately unhappy, very angry and frustrated. From hitting rock bottom to finally deciding to take responsibility for my life took about 6 months. Since then, I have travelled a journey which has seen me not change much physically, but psychologically I have transformed. The series is based on my own experiences. I share them to hopefully help you. The series is available in both written form here, and as a podcast so if you haven’t much time, you can listen in when you’re in the car, or doing housework, which is when I listen to motivating and inspiring teachings. I do hope you enjoy and I would love to find out what you think, so please comment below.
I wonder how many times this week you’ve either been asked to do something you don’t want to, or you’ve experienced annoying behaviour? You’ve been in a situation which has made you feel despair, sorrow or sadness? Or because of something or someone you simply don’t feel valued; that you belong or just simply disconnected? Do you think you are happy, but underneath you don’t experience much joy? If your answer is no to any of these situations then congratulations, you have probably mastered the art of being genuinely assertive. It has taken me years to be truly assertive and that also means it has taken me years to teach people how to treat me the way I want to be.
I spent far too long in relationships which didn’t really honour me. I would often help people when asked, and feel utterly resentful for doing so. People would let me down and I felt paralysed to know what to do. I veered between people-pleasing and cutting people out of my life because (I thought) they simply made me feel so badly. If any of this resonates with you then there really is another way, so let us get started with some strategies and actions which can help you sort out and deal with these situations.
Today I am going to discuss:
Episode One – Choose Your Thoughts – Choose Your Reaction
Whatever we experience, we create a personal meaning from it. The personal meaning we give to anything can vary depending on our life’s experiences, our outlook and attitude. I often talk about Viktor Frankl the holocaust survivor because he managed to perceive the whole experience in a concentration camp in a way which is unbelievable. In his amazing book “Man’s Search For Meaning” Frankl, describes his experiences and explains how he found a way to forgive his captors and even help them. I hope none of you readers ever have to experience anything as awful as Frankl had to endure, but whether our suffering is because of extreme inhumanity or just day to day thoughtlessness, the way out; the pattern to ease our suffering, is the same.
To help you to understand how we make decisions about how we think, I want you to consider the fact that we have a loving, warm and optimistic self, which is our true self, and we also have a doubtful, critical and fearful self, which is our ego self. When we make decisions with our true self, we feel at peace, know things are right and we are able to feel aligned with our heart and mind. When we make decisions with our ego self, we feel awful, are often agitated, or conversely we have a false sense of exuberance because momentarily we feel better, usually because we’ve made someone else feel bad.
A Story of Separation
I love the UK TV series “Long Lost Families”, it is a heart-breaking, but heart-warming reality show which features people, usually parent/child, who have been separated for many years. The aim of the show finds and bring together the separated pair. The main reason for the separation is because the parent gave the child up for adoption. Most of the people featured who were given up for adoption have a very positive and warm view of the parent who gave them away. This means that when they eventually meet, the meeting is generally very emotional with much relief and joy on either side. However, I have also seen shows and situations where people who were adopted were angry and resentful. This scenario always is a heart-breaking one, and it is one in which the attitude or the meaning the child gives to why they were adopted is fundamental to how they subsequently experience life, and how they feel about the biological parent. The children who were positive and affirming and felt empathy with the absent parent, are generally thinking with their true selves and the others are looking at the situation through the lens of their ego.
And so it is like that whatever we are experiencing. We can choose to think positive, the benefit of the doubt, thoughts and conclusions with our true self, or we can choose to think negative, self-denigrating thoughts, using the ego thought system. Whatever we choose will determine how we feel. The real reason we are feeling so badly is because we are out of alignment with our true selves.
But! You might be saying: What if that child had a terrible life, isn’t the parent responsible for that? What if terrible things happen to good people?, Why should they not blame others? You must understand there is a subtle distinction here between making people responsible for their actions and taking responsibility for how you are feeling. Pain can be experienced by the actions of others, but suffering is always an inside job. It is perfectly natural to feel the pain of loss, or of a terrible experience. It is perfectly natural to want to bring to justice someone who has been involved in causing a painful experience. However, it is always our own responsibility to learn to choose our thoughts about a situation and to find a positive way forward which is healing and loving. And believe me, I’m definitely not saying it’s always easy, but it is always possible. Ongoing suffering is always because we are out of alignment with our positive, loving, life-affirming true selves.
So, what should we do?
When you are feeling negative because of a situation, it is a signal that the thoughts you have decided to think are out of alignment with the view your true self has of the situation. So for example in the above scenario, some adopted children might think, “He/She did it for the best”, “I was blessed with a fabulous up-bringing”, “He/She had no choice, how difficult must it have been for him/her”. These thoughts align with their true self. The children who are thinking “He/She must have been heartless”, “I feel so rejected and abandoned”, “How could he/she have done this to me”, have aligned themselves with their ego thought system. The truth is any action anyone else takes is NEVER about you, it is always about themselves. Other peoples actions are never an attack on you, even if you seem to experience it as so. Even giving a child up for adoption is never about the child, even when the parent believes, and intends that the decision was made in the best interests of the child. The truth is it is because they felt it was impossible for them to bring the child up, because if they could see a way to keep the child, they would have found it. If they could have found a way and still gave the child up, even more so, it is about them and not any indictment on the child.
You teach people how to treat you when you choose to find a negative perspective and blame them for how you are feeling. Bit by bit, people who are close to you will find ways to either avoid being totally honest with you or will avoid you altogether. If they feel attacked, they will either attack back or avoid you and so your relationship will be fraught with discontent. This aspect of your relationship will continue until you find a way to think differently. If this is a pattern you have been involved in, the worst thing you can do is to blame yourself for getting it wrong. You have simply misunderstood. We all have, we’ve all been involved in this misunderstanding at some time or another. Forgive yourself and move on, and simply commit to another way. Commit to owning your thoughts and feelings, and let others do the same. Understanding that you are feeling negative because you are out of alignment with your true self, is the way out of this vicious circle, because then you have taken the power back into your own hands for healing.
Too often we believe that in order to make our life more peaceful to be able to stop our own suffering, that the other person must change, but none of the tips I set out actually involve the other person. Gandhi’s saying “You must be the change you wish to see” is a fundemental principle of “Teaching People How To Treat You”. Watch out in the next week or so for the 2nd in this series.