3 Tips To Help You Improve Your Relationships

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How To Teach Others To Treat You Well

BY DR SARAH HUGHES

Relationships are rewarding, but they’re also complex, challenging, and every now and then…really hard work. Every relationship is different, but regardless of whether it’s your relationships with your spouse, your family, your friends, or your work colleagues, central to the success of any relationship is healthy boundaries.

Your boundaries are like a map – they’re a set of directions that help other people to know how you want to be treated. They tell others what’s acceptable versus unacceptable, what you’ll tolerate and what you won’t, your needs and your wants.

You have the power to change how others treat you

You have the power to change how others treat you

It would be lovely if people intuitively knew your needs – if your boss understood that her deadlines were completely unrealistic and unachievable, and your friend knew that her emotional sensitivity and passive aggression are equal parts irritating and exhausting.

But the bottom line is this – some people don’t have the necessary skills to consider your needs when they’re trying to have their own needs met. They need to be prompted.

It’s up to you to teach others how to treat you well.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of blaming others for treating you badly – but the hard truth is, people will treat you only as poorly as you let them. Should people be more considerate and stop expecting you to do so much for them? Yes. Will they spontaneously change and start considering your needs? No. Not without prompting.

Instead of blaming others, look at what role you play in how others treat you. Do you always say yes when you’d rather say no? Do you avoid putting your own needs on the table to avoid conflict? If you always do what you’ve always done, so will the other people in your life.

Teach others to treat you well. Here’s how.

Tip #1: Set New Boundaries

As a general rule, resentment and irritability are signs that the boundaries in your relationships need to be re-set. When you feel this way, take a step back and look at what you want to be different. Do you want others to help you more? Do you want others to stop asking so much of you? Do you want others to stop criticising you? Then look at what you can do differently do bring about that change. Do you need to ask for help instead of waiting for someone to offer it? Do you need to say no sometimes instead of always saying yes? Look at what you need to do differently and set goals to change.

Tip #2: Persevere

Keep in mind that those close to you may not be fully supportive of your attempts to change. They’re used to you sacrificing your own needs and wants to meet their needs and wants so your new boundaries may come as a shock. Expect others to need repeated prompting before they’re fully on board with your changes. Expect as well that some people may not respond well to your new boundaries and this may mean losing a few acquaintances along the way. The relationships in your life that are worth keeping may go through a period of adjustment, but they’ll survive and even strengthen as a result.

Tip #3: Know Your Guilt

If you’ve always been a yes person, saying no will probably trigger guilt – at least initially. Don’t let that deter you from your goals. Guilt is usually an emotion we experience when we’ve done something wrong, but in this instance your guilt has nothing to do with right and wrong and everything to do with your discomfort and unfamiliarity with boundary setting. You’re feeling guilty because you’re doing something different, not because you’re doing something wrong. With repeated practice, and as you learn that it’s ok for you to have boundaries in your relationships, your guilt will gradually fade.

Dr. Sarah Hughes is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Think Clinical Psychologists. She enjoys working with children, adolescents, and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, postnatal depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and challenging behaviour.


 

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