Some people lose sight of their own needs while meeting the needs of their partners and friends. When we neglect to set healthy boundaries, and others close to us are singularly focused on their needs, we can feel taken for granted, diminished, devalued and worthless. When we recognize the need and begin to set boundaries, those same people may balk. Our boundaries may not “sit well” with them. They may push back, ignore, insult, or treat us badly for asserting what we assert is good for our mental, physical, emotional, spiritual health and well-being. Good natured people who roll with the punches can be vulnerable to being on the receiving end of insults, jokes, and dismissive behavior. When they finally speak up in an attempt to stop the hurtful behavior, they are frequently told they are “too sensitive” or “being a baby” or some other put down.
Sometimes we may feel overwhelmed and caught off guard by a comment or action and not immediately appreciate what it is, exactly, that hurt us and why. We may need a bit of distance to recognize what the issues are as well as where the other person is coming from. The point of this examination is not to make excuses for the other person’s behavior. It is to understand the context and perhaps even the reason for the behavior so that we can demonstrate compassion … for our self as well as for them.
Allowing ourselves to feel compassion for someone who is showing disrespectful behavior is not the same as allowing ourself to be treated disrespectfully. Only we can discern what we will do or say in response to someone treating us unkindly or making unreasonable requests. It can be helpful to try to understand the roots of our own behaviors. Most of us do not become people pleasers overnight. And the same is true about those who supposedly care for us mask insults with humor.
With boundaries comes respect. Respect for ourselves and then, in time, respect from others. We cannot change people. We can change ourselves and then it is possible that others may begin to view us differently.