Do people always seem to take advantage of you?
Do you feel that you are being taken for granted?
And it is a cliché, but have you ever been taken for a ride?!
We can all sometimes feel overlooked, ignored or made to feel that we didn’t count.
Other times you might think that you are doing so much for someone and yet at the end of the day you feel rather empty and used.
The phrase that comes to mind here is that perhaps you are bending over backwards to help someone.
It is actually okay to do that sometimes – for example if a friend is in dire straits or you are supporting someone through a major loss. I remember the time when I lost my father and people were just so supportive and helpful.
During this bereavement period, a lot of wonderful friends were very supportive and offered to meet me for coffee and a chat. That was great but I also felt I needed my own space for a while.
Since then, I have had a friend with a bereavement, and though I too offered to meet her for a chat, I also gave her a lot of space for her personal grief. So do offer your support to others but not to the point of becoming a pain.
Clearly sometimes it is okay to help someone in everyway we can. But if this becomes your normal way of being, then the chances are you will end up feeling rather frustrated and used.
This is Day 7 of our relationships adventure in February. You can read the previous 6 articles here:-
Day 1 – Become Aware of Your Relationships
Day 2 – Love Yourself First Before Loving Anyone Else
Day 3 – Love Yourself Without Becoming Full of Yourself
Day 4 – Love is all that Matters
Day 5 – 9 Simple Tips To Create Energising Relationships
Day 6 – Why Decluttering your Friends is Good for You and Them
You can read all 28 articles which are listed at the bottom of this post.
As I have emphasised throughout these series, all relationships should be seen as an adventure. And it’s not much fun if someone is taking advantage of our kindness and good hearts.
So just how can you stop bending over backwards for other people?
Here are my 5 key suggestions:
1. Get Clear About What you Want
It is important to be clear up front about what you want, since if you don’t know why you are helping or what it is you wish to happen, then you could end up feeling drained and rather frustrated.
We have all been so overly influenced by what we should do, must do and ought to do that now what we really want has been deeply suppressed.
So be authentic and do what you want to do in your life.
I remember helping out a friend a few years ago to the point it got so draining for me that in the end our friendship suffered and ultimately ended.
In any situation, ask yourself what is your intention and your desired outcome. For instance, when I was helping out this friend, I could have been clear in my mind why I was doing so.
Ultimately I realised that it may have had something to do with my own desire to feel wanted. With this new self-awareness, I got my freedom to be myself in that situation – and the friendship soon fizzled away naturally.
I guess it all comes back to increasing your own self-esteem so you do not ever let others treat you badly.
At the same time, I am not suggesting that one must have an ulterior motive anytime you wish to help or give of yourself – just be clear upfront why you are doing so, even if it is nothing more than wanting to feel good about yourself! And that is okay too.
2. Know That Your Needs Count and You are Important
In any situation you have a choice whether to go along with doing something or not or even doing something entirely different.
Once you are clear about what you want, then be sure to communicate this clearly so there are no misunderstandings.
I remember many a time I have agreed to do something where deep down I really didn’t want to do so – even something as minor (or major?) as agreeing with a friend to watch some mindless soap on television rather than going for a walk.
I guess it is okay to compromise but not if it becomes a habit with you always being the one giving in.
In such a situation I have found it best that both parties decide to do their own thing – after all in any relationship or friendship, richness comes from having a spectrum of varied and colourful interests.
So set your boundaries and people will respect you. Generally I would like to think that I am a very easy-going guy and happy to go along with a situation to maintain a peaceful environment. Of course I have not always been so and I have had a colourful past of being most disagreeable:-)
Nowadays I am quite laid back and I would like to think almost Zen like most of the time – but if I ever feel that someone is being unreasonable or crossing my perceived boundaries of good behaviour, I am willing to fight my corner, tooth and nail.
It is all about respecting the rights of others, but not to the point of your own rights being completely smothered.
3. Clear Up Any Misunderstandings as They Happen
It is important to have no bad feelings between you and those around you. If you ever feel used or taken for granted, it is best to air this sooner rather than later.
Quite often you will find that the other person was not even aware they were having that effect on you. After all, remember that not everyone is as self aware as you are!
Unless you clear the air, resentments could begin to simmer away and one day explode, normally sparked by some minor incident.
A while ago I had a new neighbour who was extremely noisy for the first few weeks. I tolerated his music (i.e. noise to me) for a while and then in the end we had a face to face discussion whereby he agreed to only play and practice his music during certain hours.
However the noise soon resumed late at night and though I tried to be Zen like once again, I finally got fed up. I learnt that my capacity for sending positive vibes to someone disagreeable is much lower than I had previously thought it was!
Just as I was about to lose my rag, the local council authority’s noise abatement people came around and served him with a noise control notice just after midnight. I have had more peaceful nights since then 🙂
4. Be Prepared to Let Go and Move On – Cut your Losses
Sometimes you just have to let go and move on – such as when my friendship with the draining friend ended. It is not even about saving face or satisfying your ego – it is really about respecting yourself enough to move on.
There is only so much giving you can do in a situation – and if you feel that those around you cannot give you the respect you deserve, then take stock of the situation and ask yourself if you want to continue to be taken for granted any longer.
Many a time in the past, I have found myself in a disagreeable situation and looking back now, I realise that actually the situation wasn’t that bad really.
Standing up for what I wanted and then moving away was much easier than I might have expected at the time. It all comes back to knowing what you really want and not accepting anything less.
5. Enjoy the Ride and Learn for Next Time
As with anything else in life, it is all part of your growth and your learning.
Enjoy the experience of bending over backwards whilst you can and if you can. But once you are ready to absorb the learnings and move, you will be better prepared for the next similar situation in your life.
Be ready and willing to help others as much as you can, but not to your detriment.
Do cultivate peaceful relationships with equal give and take; and do tolerate those around you as long as they don’t infringe on your space – and you will never again feel that you are bending over backwards for others.
It is always good to be nice to others but start with being nice to yourself first.
To help others and make it happen, first help yourself by strengthening your own self-respect.
What are your own stories of bending over backwards for others?
And what did you do to overcome that?
Daily exercise for Today
Take 10 minutes and look back on the last seven days. Where did you unduly bend over backwards for someone?
What will you do different next time?
28 Day Relationship Adventure
Postcript – here are the complete 28 articles in this series from February 2011.
Please do check them all out:-)
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