As a child I grew up as the youngest of three sisters, I felt like I had more than one mother most of my young life. I was frequently bossed around, told what to do, and not given a chance to use my mind as my own. My decisions were critiqued and criticized regularly. What I heard so often, I began to believe. In my family’s defense, I truly never felt unloved and we were all fiercely protective of one another. But, my mother and sisters didn’t realize the effect their comments had on me until I was able to articulate my feelings to them about it many years later.
As a teenager, I found myself in close friendships with people who didn’t respect me or treat me all that kindly. In fact, one of my best friends repeatedly put me down claiming it was all in jest, but they were hurtful insults nonetheless. I put up with it for several years, and sadly became accustomed to her rude behavior. Eventually, our friendship ended, but my allowance of crappy treatment by others continued. My first marriage would last twelve years and end amicably, but it was a recipe for disaster since I married a man who had no problem letting me support him while he worked part time and spent his free time playing video games and golfing. Moreover, I found my bosses at work over bearing and unrealistically demanding of me. Many of my co-workers were bossy and rude to boot. So, when I decided to leave the corporate world and start my own business, it was no surprise to me that many of my clients seemed more than happy to take every advantage of me. And sadly, I allowed them to do just that.
“Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.”
Then one morning over coffee with a fair-weather friend, I mentioned that I just didn’t understand how I drew such unappreciative people into my life. Her response was simple, yet clear. “Well, you’re getting exactly what you’re expecting from them.” She went on, “They see you over worked, underpaid, running yourself ragged. They know they can take advantage.” Bells and whistles went off in my head as she spoke words of truth about my life. I had been allowing these people to be rude to me and to take advantage of me. I’d been willing to bend over backwards for them all, and I’d allowed myself to get used to their mistreatment as if I were comfortable with it. Yep, that’s what I’d been doing for too long. I was ready to make a change, and that change had to start with me. I couldn’t make them be any different than they knew how to be, but I certainly could change the way I looked at and felt about my own self.
So, what is self-respect and how do we learn to give it to ourselves? I decided to look up the actual definition of the word: (GOOGLE)
Then I got to work immediately giving myself small and then larger doses of self-respect. Here are a few ways I made that happen:
- Daily Mantra – I looked myself in the mirror every morning, smiled and said something positive to myself before I started the day.
- Healthy Eating – I began to feed my body healthier, cleaner foods for fuel.
- Meditation – I listened to a short morning and evening uplifting meditation prayer.
- Exercise – I started doing Yoga and taking long walks as much as possible.
- Expectations – I raised my expectations about myself in my work and daily life.
- Attitude – I practiced replacing negative thinking with positive thoughts.
- Confidence – I kindly, but firmly asserted myself with those in my life that mistreated me.
Within a short period of time, I noticed the tides were turning and things in my life shifted in a good way. Having positive expectations of myself meant I also had them of others. My business prospered with more good matches between my services and the clients than not. I put firm protocols in place, not just for my work life, but also for my personal life. I found myself in a new relationship and eventually marriage with a man who is respectful, loving, giving and kind. And new friendships formed while some of the old ones ended, but I had no regrets about that. The new friendships clearly felt real and authentic like I was with my “tribe” at last. Even my relationship with my mother and sisters changed for the better as they noticed I wasn’t willing to accept their critical nature or judgment of me anymore. We are closer because I decided to change…not them, but myself.
F.L.Y. — First Love Yourself.
So, the first question is how are you treating yourself right now? Take a minute to look around you. The next question is, how are you allowing others to treat you? Those two questions are really one in the same because we attract what we put out into the Universe and get back what we expect. You’ve heard the saying, “That which is like unto itself is drawn.” Loving ourselves, being kind to ourselves, treating ourselves well, and being our own best friend means we’ve mastered the ability of self-love. Whats more is that when we possess gratitude, compassion, and generosity for others, we attract those things back to ourselves — all which makes us feel happily surrounded by a more fulfilling, loving and happy life.
The bottom line is that we teach others how to treat us by what we are willing to allow. Partners, spouses, children, bosses, friends, family members & even perfect strangers. It’s really all about how we treat ourselves that reflects what we expect from them. And in fact, if we are loving ourselves, making ourselves a priority in our own lives, we will never attract those who would treat us any differently than we treat ourselves.
And some would say, “Loving yourself is selfish! Are you suggesting that we put ourselves first?” Yes! Yes, and a resounding Yes! 🦋