It Can Be Tough Being the Healthy Adult

Ink on watercolor paper – Words: Dr Joyce Brothers

How hard it is being vulnerable with people, especially ones people who treat us poorly, disrespectfully or manipulate us to gain control. Part of the challenge is how that relationship has developed over time. We only know how to interact with them from how they have treated us in the past, which means to show love and respect moving forward we need to break the cycle. And that means being vulnerable or going first…scary, unsafe, and even dangerous depending upon the person.

I learned long ago that people will push our limits and treat us the way they want to no matter how we treat them. If we base our relationship practices on how other people treat us, we are destined to be confused and frazzled every time we interact with others. Waiting for queues to play off of how they treat us means we are in reaction mode rather than leadership mode. When WE choose how we want to treat people because of who we are and what we value, when we live that practice on a consistent basis, our relationships develop from a positive perspective instead of being reactionary or angry.

It can be tough when you give kindness and respect to only receive manipulation and control. UGH! We know those people (unfortunately) and we know how they make us feel every time we see their name on our phone, in our email or when they come towards us down the hall. Our stomach clenches up, we brace ourselves for the unkindness and it takes great self control to not react and play their game.

Why not kill them with kindness and respect? Build them up the way you want to be built up, show them respect even when they do not deserve it. WHAT? That seems illogical, and that is why it works. People are startled and overwhelmed when they are treated better than they deserve. Their own edges start to crumble or soften and a relationship built on respect has a place to grow. By giving what you want to receive you set the standard and help others see and feel what a solid, healthy relationship looks like.

One thing to point out, not everyone is willing to change. If you give respect and kindness and NEVER have that reciprocated that is not license to be a doormat. Be kind, be firm, then walk away quickly once the manipulator is done manipulating you. Knowing the game does not mean you have to play it. Walking away with your self respect in tact is the goal.

Relationships are built on reciprocity and respect. We have the power to set that standard and we have to power to walk away. Love yourself and show others that same love, or walk away quickly and move on to build a relationship with someone who wants to be a healthy adult.

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