Are you sending the wrong message?
Do you ever have those deflating days when you look in the mirror and expect to see a doormat staring back at you?
You try to project confidence and kindness, but in the end, you feel walked on and taken advantage of.
Rocking your confidence is hard enough, but it’s extra challenging when you feel disrespected, betrayed, or simply overlooked by everyone around you. The hurt and anger shifts you into “why bother” mode or causes you to lash out defensively in resentment (which, of course, creates even more problems).
You know how important it is to develop (and enforce) healthy boundaries, but you’re not having much success in that department. So, what’s the problem?
Well, it’s likely that you’re stuck in patterns that actually open the door for others to treat you poorly. And if you don’t stop doing these five things, you’re bound to keep getting walked on:
1. You assume people will automatically treat you well.
In a perfect world, yes, we would all treat each other with courtesy and respect. However, with rampant chronic stress and overwhelm, most people’s brains aren’t even functioning properly. Those around you are running on autopilot just to get through their day. The result? Common courtesy goes right out the window.
Meanwhile, insecure people may intentionally trip you up by treating you poorly, throwing you under the bus, or stealing your ideas, all to give themselves an advantage. This is “the attacker mindset” and although it rarely ends well for them, it’s hurtful to you and can really dent your self-confidence.
Remember: You have to teach people how to treat you, which sometimes means coming right out and telling them what’s acceptable and what is not.
2. You keep drawing your line in the sand (instead of stone).
A boundary is a clear line you draw to separate what you do want from what you don’t, like a fence. It’s a firm limit. But if you draw your line in the sand, the first person to step on it easily erases it.
So first, spend real time defining how you want others to treat you. But let me warn you, if you don’t truly believe you’re worthy of good treatment, you won’t enforce your boundaries no matter how good they sound on paper. (I find this is the main problem with women whose boundaries are not upheld.)
It’s best to establish personal policies on the treatment you desire when you have a clear head — meaning not right after a breakup or breakdown. Boundaries must be logical rather than simply emotional because you’ll need to think with your logical mind when it’s time to enforce them.
Also, notice what’s going on around you and how people treat you when you feel your best. That’s what your boundaries should support. Are you happiest when people around you are prompt and polite, or is it OK if they’re a few minutes late without calling? Personality styles differ, so people in your life may have different priorities and values than you do. It’s important to know what works best for both of you.
3. You set boundaries … but don’t enforce them.
Stating boundaries is one thing, but actually enforcing them takes action on your part. Effectively doing so requires deciding beforehand what you will say or do if someone crosses the line.
If smoking or foul language offends you and someone around you has a potty-mouth or lights up, how will you handle it? If it’s a stranger in public, maybe you can walk away. But what if it’s a friend? What will you say or do so they understand? Treat them respectfully and they will likely return the favor. If they don’t, they aren’t really a friend who aligns with your values.
I left an outdoor restaurant once after a man at the next table loudly refused to put out his cigarette that was smoking up my wonderful lunch. It was obvious other people hated it too, but they were likely too embarrassed to leave or make a scene.
Even people who love you most may need a reminder or two on how they should treat you. We are creatures of habit. Though trainable, others can easily revert to what’s easiest, so enforcing your boundaries is ultimately your responsibility, not theirs.
4. You let toxic people stay in your life too long.
When you start enforcing clear boundaries, expect that some people may leave your life. Meanwhile, co-workers or related people you see every day may comply, avoid you, pacify you, or make your life hell. Stand your ground. Three of my clients left jobs they loved because the bully in the office or toxic boss caused so much stress their health was affected.
Also know, you’ll have an easier time enforcing boundaries with someone new than people you already know. Few people like more rules to follow, but those who truly care about you will appreciate that you’re taking care of yourself.
A friend of mine met a realtor for the first time and he was an obvious “close-talker” because he was right up in her personal space before she knew it. She put her open hands up (fists would have made a different statement) and said, “Whoa, you’re in my space.” He backed up, apologized and never got in her space again. He knew where her line was.
5. You expect better treatment from others than you give yourself.
Be honest — if you treated your friends the way you treat yourself, would you have any friends left? If you constantly criticize yourself and make jokes at your own expense, don’t be surprised when other people don’t value you. You’re showing others, by your own example, what you feel you deserve … and they will follow your lead.
The relationship you have with yourself sets the standard for all other relationships in your life. One of my clients noticed random strangers treating her more respectfully as she began treating herself that way. She also noticed her family being more kind and loving to each other after she improved her own energetic vibration.
Everything changes when you do.
After working on themselves a bit, most of my clients stop attracting toxic people who violate their boundaries (because those people are no longer an energetic fit). Instead, they create a great relationship with themselves first, that instills a sense of self-worth and self-respect, and that gives them the rock solid confidence to enforce healthy boundaries with others.
Kelly Rudolph is a Confidence Coach and founder of PositiveWomenRock.com. If you want to trade in stuck and stressed for clear and confident, you’re in the right place.