“More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity.” ~Francois Gautier
Pain was my norm; not physical pain, but emotional pain compounded with mental self-torture. I was an introvert without introspection, painfully shy and unable to make eye contact. I caved to all manners of peer pressure.
I was a doormat and didn’t stand up for myself, although I would fight tooth and nail for someone else. It seemed like others often took advantage of my kindness. I took everything personally and cried a lot. Thoughts of suicide lasted for years.
After more than a decade of misery, I decided something had to change and was guided toself-acceptance work.
Gaining self-acceptance was the best thing I’ve ever done. It opened me up to a new perception of myself and to understanding what I did in the past that contributed to my pain.
In understanding myself and the motivations behind my behavior, I was more clearly able to understand other people’s behavior.
What I learned (and wish I knew then):
1. Our behaviors are driven by our needs.
Regarding: My kindness was often taken advantage of. I caved to all manners of peer pressure.
Was it actually kindness? Maybe it was weakness. Or was it people pleasing for the purpose of gaining approval? I came to believe it was the latter.
Everything I did—whether it was in my best interest or not, whether I wanted to do it or not—I did because it provided me with something I believed I needed.
Behaviors deemed as “people pleasing” are often driven by:
By determining my needs, I could better understand my behavior. With that I became more aware and could then look at other people’s behavior and try to determine what it was telling me about what they needed.
2. We teach others how to treat us.
Regarding: I was a doormat and didn’t stand up for myself.
The only possible reason I would choose not to stand up for myself was because I believed I deserved it—because I didn’t feel worthy. Since I thought I was “less than,” why shouldn’t I be treated that way?
One day, I heard Dr. Phil say, “We teach other people how to treat us.” This got me thinking: Was all the mistreatment I experienced a result of how I was treating myself? The answer wasyes.
Our behavior toward ourselves is the model we present to others as how to treat us. The things we believe and think about ourselves come out in our behavior and other people pick up on it.
If we are self-critical and self-abusive to ourselves, unevolved people (the majority) will follow our lead.
If people are treating you “badly,” investigate how you treat yourself, and treat yourself better. Others will follow your lead this way too.
Recognizing this for yourself will help you ignore the cues others are modeling so you can treat them better than they treat themselves.