I may have mentioned that a long time friend did something that really hurt my feelings.  It was pretty bad.  And at that time I was in this process of gently learning to keep personal boundaries. So, I said to him “I felt bad when you did XYZ.”  He immediately got angry, defensive and I’ve not heard from him since.  I’ve left messages, sent emails, but he’s just not going to respond.  It has been a struggle for me to sort through this.  What did I do wrong?

I had a drink with a friend who gave me some insight.  His theory — deep down, we all want to think of ourselves as good people. That we wouldn’t hurt anyone or do anything bad. So in order to maintain that we are good people, we have to create a story in our mind that the other person deserved our bad treatment.  We have to convince ourselves that there was something bad about the other person that made us treat them badly.

Using this theory, I can see how treating people is more about our own internal feelings than how we feel about the other person.  In fact, treating people well helps us like others more and cultivates compassionate treatment of others and of continuing to treat them well – no matter how they treat us.

How about this:

Our feeling of love and support doesn’t come from how others treat us, but from how we treat others, and why we treat others that way.

The “why” is important. When we try to treat others well to get them to like us, it fails and sets up a feeling of being unappreciated and used.  What works better is setting our boundaries and not allowing others to treat us badly. If they continue to treat us badly even after setting our boundaries, then it’s not about us. If they treat us better after we set our boundaries, then we’ve made a potential friend based not on us trying to appease them or doing what we think they want from us, but based on two people who are treating each other well because they like themselves.

This was like a light bulb for me. When other people treat us badly, it’s about them, not us.  They are simply treating us badly.  And, the great thing is that we can continue to treat people well for our own reasons, rather than trying to be a peace maker or trying to “get” people to like or appreciate us.  

Whew!  Needed that one! 🙂

Have a great weekend!