What about me? It isn’t fair. Or is it…

Sick of people taking you for granted? Feeling let down or shut out or lied to?

It gets old very fast when you’re always placed last in the priority order, when others seem to get what they want, every time, and when things just don’t seem fair.

Maybe you’re always the one on the cake stall? Or always on drop-off and pick-up for parties. Maybe you’re the person staying late in the office every time or the one doing all the housework.

It’s easy to fall into a pattern of casting blame or staying in denial about these things: falling into a ‘victim’ mindset. But — outside serious cases of abuse of a vulnerable person, which this article is not about — how much of how we’re treated in daily life is caused by our own expectations, and our failure to communicate these assertively?

This discussion arose in our private members’ Facebook group recently and we were asked to turn the topic into a blog post. (We also included it in our one-hour webinar on relationships, which was released for VIP members this week.)

Here are some ways that we can teach others how to treat us:

Set the example

We can’t expect others to respect our boundaries if our boundaries are invisible. If we’re always saying ‘yes’ and if we always have our hand up to help regardless of what’s going on in our own lives, people will accept our offers. Why wouldn’t they? They’re not privy to our ‘big picture’.

Better responses from others begin when we treat ourselves the way we would like others to treat us.

We communicate this by:

  • What we allow
  • What we stop
  • What we reinforce

The messages we send by saying ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘thank you, I appreciated that’ are how we shape others’ opinions of who we are, what we want and need and what we expect of the people around us.

This works both ways, and relationships are deepened when we’re attuned to what others will allow, stop and reinforce.

It boils down to this:

If something is getting you down, have a conversation about it. We’re walked over when we ‘put up’ with things, silently (resentfully in many cases).

If an interaction works well for you, have a conversation about it. Tell people when they treat you well, and reinforce that.

If it’s not good for you to take something on, say ‘no’. It doesn’t mean you won’t offer to do something next time. It just means that, right now, you’re saying ‘no’.

Finally, focus on the times when someone lets you in, or picks you up, or helps you. Look for more examples of that, and build a ‘case’ in your mind that you are treated well.

Be aware that the curt email from your colleague may not have malicious intent: it may be about her circumstances that day, and not about you at all. Give the benefit of the doubt once, but step in and interject if something turns into a pattern. You have to ride in on your own white horse and rescue yourself.

In these small ways, over time, we can shape a very different experience of life. One in which we’re cared for and thought about as much as we care for and think about the people around us.

That’s how it’s meant to be.

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About The Author

Emma Grey & Audrey Thomas

Audrey Thomas and Emma Grey are productivity experts, authors of 'I Don't Have Time' and its forthcoming sequel 'I Can't Be Bothered', and co-founders of the popular online program, My 15 Minutes. They help busy women reclaim their time and energy around the real-life challenges of modern life.

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