While you have been wracking your brain and working your ass off to be deserving of the things and people in your life, you’ve dropped your guard on who and what is deserving of you. It’s time to put the jerks who slipped in under the radar on notice and get the respect you deserve.
Becoming Your Own Best Friend
You’ve probably felt this way about a friend before and even said one or more of these lines when things got rough for them:
- Your mate doesn’t deserve you.
- Your company takes advantage of you.
- Your sister is manipulating you.
Why is it so easy for us to come to the defense of a friend but so hard to do it for ourselves?
Any job, mate, friend, organization, or government worth having in your life is one that treats you as an equal human being, supports your dreams, lovingly calls you on your bullshit, and works to make your union more productive than your individual contributions would be. You are not a second-class citizen.
- Your mate treats you as a partner, sharing decisions, responsibilities, and of course the joys and pains in life.
- Your company values your contribution and expects you to challenge yourself and develop your skills in return for promotions and pay raises. They also want you to take rest periods to recharge your batteries.
- Your family members support your choices and offer help when needed, expecting you to do the same as they actively work to live their dreams. They do not use guilt to get their way.
Resolving A Lack of Respect
As you move further down the path to live your version of the life you crave, these undeserving people will not ever gain a foothold in your life, or if they do it won’t be for long. But how do you get the respect you deserve from undeserving people and situations that existed long before you started mapping out your Good Life?
First, give them the chance to be respectful
- “Babe, I get embarrassed when you criticize me in front of other people, and it makes you look like a mean person. We both know you aren’t, so if you have feedback for me I’d like to get it in private and I’ll do the same for you.”
- “No, boss, I can’t work this weekend. I’ve already worked late 2 nights this week, and I need some personal time to recharge or I’ll be no good at all.”
- “You’ve said that mom has always loved me best so often I think you might just believe it, sis. Since we both know it isn’t true, let’s drop it and talk about what’s really bugging you, okay?”
These kinds of statements are hard to say the first time, but they get much easier with practice.
Calling disrespectful actions out in a calm, non-aggressive way is the perfect way to recenter a previously healthy situation that has gone off the rails.
It may take a few attempts, but reasonable people respond to this and it can be a valuable first step in repairing the situation.
Second, build on successes
Did your mate say, “I didn’t realize I was doing that” or some other “a-ha” statement? Good news. You simply come up with a catchphrase to alert him or her when they slip up so it can be immediately rectified. In a short period of time, the situation should be resolved and you’ll get the respect you deserve.
Did your boss say, “I didn’t realize you had already put so much extra time in. I appreciate the help and will ask someone else to go the extra mile like you did. See you on Monday.” When you reiterate what you’ve already done and make it clear you need to recharge to maintain your effectiveness, you send a clear message to your boss that you are a professional and your high standards extend to your personal life.
Did your sister say, “I always feel second-best next to you, and it drives me crazy.” This opens the door to talk about an issue she has been projecting onto you and removes it as a barrier in your relationship. You can help with this by encouraging her to stop comparing herself to anyone but earlier versions of herself, boosting her confidence and bringing you closer together.
These kinds of re-centering conversations can be revolutionary in a relationship, uncovering root problems and resolving any nagging issues before they get out of hand.
Third, distance yourself from assholes
If your mate said something like, “If you didn’t screw up so much I wouldn’t have to point it out,” then you are dealing with someone who probably doesn’t deserve you. If you really are that much of a screw-up, what does that say about him or her that they would stay with you? There is something deeper going on here, and the longer you let your mate use you as the emotional punching bag for their issue, the longer it will take for them to deal with it. By the time they do, you’ll be a ball of goo from all the years of put-downs.
Get thee to a counselor or a trusted friend to figure out your options for repairing this relationship or getting the hell out of there. Life is too short to live with a jackass, and you deserve more. We all do.
If your boss said, “You either work this weekend or you don’t have a job,” then you know exactly how you rank with your boss (and that he/she is a poor leader). If that doesn’t negatively affect your enthusiasm and work output, I don’t know what does. Now is the time to start looking for a new position within the company or a new job altogether.
You spend more time at work than almost anywhere else in your life, so it is important to at least feel like a human being while you are there.
If your sister sticks by her claims that life is unfair and you got all the love/luck/attention, you won’t be able to change her mind. Your best option here is to continue the phrase from above every time she starts whining. She’s looking for a rise from you to prove to herself the statement is true, and when you don’t give in she’ll eventually tire of saying it, even if she still believes it.
People who are not deserving of you will brush off your attempts at resolution, make fun of you for bringing it up, or try to justify actions they would never tolerate themselves if the tables were turned.
These are excellent signs of someone who is probably not deserving of your time. (Or, as sex columnist Dan Savage so eloquently says, DTMFA: dump the motherfucking asshole.)
As you move forward in defining your ideal life and creating habits and relationships to make it happen you’ll see a sharp decline in this problem. Nipping these problems in the bud with a calm, rational statement of non-toleration will keep the confidence busters out of your life and allow you to get on with the business of living. It also does them the social service of letting them know they are out of line, whether they choose to respond to it or not.
It is up to you to determine how you are treated in this world, and by uncovering your confidence and setting a bar you’re putting everyone on notice:
You are a force to be reckoned with and deserve respect.
Shy about demanding respect in these situations? Read Betsy’s revealing book on how to speak up and get the respect you deserve in love, work, and life: Strip Off Your Fear: Radiate the Confidence Within.