Our attitudes and behaviours are the biggest factors in determining how we are treated by others. Whether we realise it or not, people look to you for signs as to how they should behave around you.
People read each other all the time. We regularly monitor the facial expressions and body language of others, as well as what they say and do. From this, we determine if they are happy, angry or sad and in need of help or support. We determine whether a stranger may be potentially friendly or hostile. We read moods, and so much more, so that we can adjust our behaviour towards others accordingly.
This is why self awareness is so important. Once you know who you are, what you want and what you will and will not accept from others, you begin to live according to these values and principles. This causes a subtle shift in the messages you send to others around you through your words and actions. Your interactions with others will change as they begin to adapt their interactions with you accordingly. Self awareness leads to self control and self discipline. You no longer stumble through life, but instead everything becomes more deliberate. When you know who you are and what you want in life, you act accordingly. When you become disciplined and your actions become more deliberate and carefully considered, people treat you more respectfully. In fact, they often turn to you for guidance and advice, through which you become able to positively influence others. When someone can see that you conduct yourself with respect and discipline, their approach to you changes. They are unlikely to try and impose their will on you, but rather try and discuss everything with you as an equal. Try it. Stand up straight, and talk more confidently in your next interaction. No matter how long you have known that person, chances are that you will notice a change in their behaviour.
The opposite can be true if you lack self awareness and self respect. Without knowing who you really are, you are at a greater risk of being led astray by others. Even if they don’t lead you astray, you will likely find yourself following their lead in life, regardless of whether it goes against everything that you want for yourself and takes you in completely the wrong direction. When another person views you as indecisive or suggestible, they tend to become more domineering, taking control of conversations and decisions. After all, if you don’t respect yourself, they won’t feel compelled to respect you either.
That is not to say that everyone is cold, calculating and manipulative. Far from it. It’s just that we tend to watch others for clues as to how we can behave towards them. This saves a lot of guesswork, because all we have to do then is treat them in a way which they are likely to find acceptable.
A lack of self awareness is not the only reason why we let people treat us the way they do. Sometimes, we consciously allow others to treat us in ways which we don’t appreciate. This, we do out of fear. We let a partner disrespect us because we fear that if we don’t, they will leave. We also tolerate behaviours from family, friends and social groups because we fear being frozen out. While this might make others happy, we become miserable. We hate the way others treat us, yet we feel powerless to address this as we don’t want to lose them.
This brings us back to self awareness. When you know who you are and what you want, you not only adjust your body language and actions accordingly, but you also review the people who you allow into your life. Be bold and be honest when doing this. Some people you may have outgrown and need to let go. There may be others with whom you need to spend more time. As we develop and grow into the people we were meant to be, it’s only natural that our social circle will change in order to reflect who we are and where we are going in life. After all, like attracts like.
You teach people how they can treat you. If you are unsure of what is acceptable from others, put the work in to rediscover who you really are. Note down;
- How you would describe yourself
- What legacy you would like to leave
- What makes you happy
- What you enjoy doing,
- What you would do with your days if you won millions playing the lottery and no longer had to work?
- Think about where you would like to be in 5, 10 or 20 years’ time.
- What films and music do you enjoy?
- What does a perfect weekend look like to you?
- What are 3 things which you need to do every day in order to feel as though you accomplished something?
- What is important to you and non-negotiable?
This list is not exhaustive, but answer the above points honestly and you will have a good idea of who you are and what you hold dear. Once you know this, reflect on your body language and words, and whether they reflect your true self. Then, look the people you allow into your life and ask yourself whether these are positive influences or not. If anything leaves you feeling unconvinced or uncertain, do something about it. Don’t be afraid about making the changes which could improve your quality of life. Instead, be afraid of doing nothing and remaining the same.