Why People Treat You Badly (And How To Stop Them From Doing So)

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Sad woman sitting on a couch

No matter who you ask, everyone can rattle off a time when they were disrespected by others. These moments leave you wondering: why do people treat me badly?

Dealing with nasty people is, in other words, inevitable. But what happens when it becomes a day-to-day thing rather than a situational one?

If the people in your life are constantly treating you poorly, it can lead to self-esteem issues, anxiety, and even depression. And when it's affecting your quality of life that severely, you can't keep ignoring it.

The first step is to assess your own behavior. If you're positive that you haven't done anything harmful or hurtful, and can't identify any other causes, then it's time to think ahead. 

Why are people treating you like dirt and what can you do about it?

Why People Treat You Badly

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1. You haven't established boundaries.

Don't be too hard on yourself — setting boundaries is a difficult task. It also takes practice to implement and uphold them in your personal relationships.

That being said, a lack of healthy boundaries could be the reason why you're being treated poorly, as people won't have a set of rules to abide by. They're more likely to treat you disrespectfully when they see you're willing to allow just about anything thrown your way. 

2. You're unknowingly rewarding negative behavior.

Sometimes we let people off the hook more than we should... usually without even realizing it.

Here's a common scenario: let's say your partner was being extremely snappy and rude to you one morning. When they leave, you decide to run some errands or perhaps even cook (or order) their favorite food. You might think these acts of kindness will "cancel out" or "change" the other person's feelings and behavior, but it won't. 

Psychology calls this the "Law of Effect," meaning events that follow behavior can either encourage or discourage the likelihood of it happening again. If the perpetrator sees their actions don't have consequences, they're likely to continue lashing out. 

3. They see you as a pushover. 

We've all heard variations of the saying, "Bullies are insecure/unhappy/powerless people." And usually, it rings true.

If you find yourself constantly being treated badly, it could also point to the people you're surrounded by. When insecure people notice that you "take" the hate they throw your way, they'll be more inclined to start treating you like a punching bag compared to others who are less tolerant. 

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How To Get People To Treat You Better

1. Find peace within yourself. 

It's in our human nature to crave acceptance and validation. After all, it's how we survived on an evolutionary scale. But a good way to empower yourself is to understand that as personal as things seem, it usually has nothing to do with who you are as a person, and everything to do with the bully and their shortcomings (and sometimes even triggers).

Finding peace comes in the form of understanding that while you can't control others, you can very well control the way you respond and the steps you'll take to combat it. You don't have to put up with anything you don't like. 

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2. Cultivate and practice self-worth.

Developing self-value will drastically improve the way you're treated by others. When you have ample self-worth and esteem, you'll find it easier to establish boundaries and demand better treatment from those around you. 

“The Platinum Rule is to treat others the way they want to be treated. Although, you can use this same rule to get others to treat you more positively and with respect: treat yourself the way you want to be treated by others," says Christine Hourd, a success and leadership coach.

"Once you commit to that self-love you’ll notice a difference in the way you’re treated. Then when faced with negative judgments and criticism, you’ll respond as though those comments don’t apply to you.” 

3. Learn to be assertive. 

Remember: being assertive isn't the same as being bossy. Assertiveness is healthy and extremely vital to any healthy dynamic. It shows that you respect yourself because you're willing to stand up for your thoughts and feelings, which not only helps alleviate your stress and anger levels but sets a precedent for anyone who interacts with you. 

If someone does something that's rude, inconsiderate, or plain mean, let them know you won't tolerate it. 

4. Confront the person. 

Yes, confrontation is often scary, but it can also be highly effective if you go about it in a civilized manner. The people giving you a hard time often bank on the fact that you're unlikely to speak up, so confronting them about their actions will come as a shock.

Ask them why they think it's okay to treat you in such a manner and make it known that it's highly inappropriate. It can also be helpful to tell them how it's been affecting you. 

5. Distance yourself from them. 

At the end of the day, there's only so much we can do. As much as we'd like to, we simply cannot change another person and their behavior.

If you've tried everything and nothing appears to work, the best solution may be to distance yourself from them in any way possible.

While it sometimes can be a blow to our egos thinking that we've let the other person "win," the reality is far from it. If anything, the one with peace of mind is the true winner. 

Making the conscious decision to develop healthy boundaries and relationships in your life is something you should be extremely proud of.

Remember —​  you are so worthy of love and respect. Don't settle for anything less! 

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Yona Dervishi is a writer who is currently working at YourTango as an editorial intern. She covers topics pertaining to acceptance, wellness, news, and entertainment. 

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