We teach others how to be with us. Our behaviors and words are cues as to how we want to be treated and what we are willing to put up with. We communicate energetically as well. Whether behavioral, verbal, or energetic, our unconscious patterns attract certain treatment without our consciously asking for it. When those patterns are unhealthy or distorted in some way, what we are teaching others is usually not what we intend or want.
If you find this happening to you, here are some areas to explore.
Boundaries – Much has been written on the importance of setting boundaries. This is one of the first and most essential ways you teach others how to be with you. When you don’t say “no” to unwanted or inappropriate behavior, when you don’t say “ouch” when something hurts, you are covertly saying yes and implying that it’s ok to treat you that way. Another way to look at it: if you are not standing up to the bully, you are complicit. Finding and using your voice is a key aspect of personal power. If you have trouble speaking up, there is work to do.
Needs – It is a huge mistake to expect others to know what you need. Doing this is a set-up for disappointment and a surefire way to sabotage relationships and jobs. Others might guess, but no one can truly know without your making specific and responsible requests. Identify core needs and be intentional about getting them met so that they do not run your life and relationships. Be sure to cover all three levels – physical, emotional, spiritual – or else you will always be left wanting.
Neediness – Not to be confused with needs, neediness is related to codependence. Neediness, codependence, looks for an exchange of dependency with another person – “I am not fulfilled, therefore I need something in you to fulfill me. You are not fulfilled, therefore you need something in me that fulfills you. But because neither of us is fulfilled, we both still end up empty.” Obviously, this is also a set-up for trouble. Healthy people are not attracted to unhealthy behavior. If you want a great life and great relationships, you have to deal with whatever vestiges of codependence you embody, and most of us have it to some degree.
Values – Everyone has intrinsic values that they must express in order to be their best Self. Needs are the “food you eat” in order to be able to function. Values are who you are; principles and standards you are compelled to be or become. If you are not living them, you will be out of sorts and you will invite others into your life who are out of sorts as well. This usually causes problems. Examples of values are: beauty, contribution, discovery, and compassion. Like attracts like. Live your values and watch what shows up.
Bottom line: If others aren’t treating you well, then *you’re* not treating you well. It all boils down to self-awareness, self-certainty, self-respect, and self-care. When you don’t know who you are, you will send mixed signals at best, and the wrong ones at worst. Self discovery is first step toward lasting change.