Stand up for yourself. You teach people how to treat you!

Stand up for yourself. You teach people how to treat you!

There are many ways we’re called to be courageous in our lives, but often the most difficult is in our relationships. Our deep desire to belong and feel loved coupled with our fear of rejection and confrontation can trigger our vulnerability and override our better judgement.

Sometimes it may simply be that we let an issue fester with a colleague at work rather than addressing it. But the closer the relationship, the higher the stakes and the steeper the toll on our happiness.

A quick glance at domestic violence statistics reveals how many people – both women and men –  stay in self-destructive and abusive relationships for years because they are too afraid to leave them. Afraid of what they will have to give up – security, social status or the comfort of the familiar. Afraid of being alone. Afraid they’ll never find anyone better. Afraid they aren’t worth better!

While you may never have found yourself in this situation, there’s a lesson for us all. That is, not believing in our own innate worthiness can drive us to settle for far less than we want, or need or deserve. At home. At work. In business. In life. It also affirms the truth in one of my favorite sayings:

You teach people how to treat you!

I recently spoke with Kerry Armstrong, who stayed in a physically and emotionally abusive marriage for 22 years for “all the right and all the wrong reasons” before she found the courage to walk away. When she finally did make a stand for herself, she discovered a whole new realm of personal power. Not only did she meet and marry a man who respects her deeply, but she found the courage to give up the security of her high paying sales job to pursue her passion as an artist (you can view Kerry’s artwork here).


A new realm of possibilities emerges when we refuse to let fear run our lives and decide to stand up for ourselves!

Whatever the current state of your personal or professional relationships, I hope you will take a moment to consider where you sometimes stay silent rather than speaking up to make a stand for yourself. Or where you tolerate being treated in ways that leave you hurt, frustrated, resentful or undervalued.   It may not seem like a big deal, but over time, we teach people how to treat us. It’s why bullies prey on those they can get away with bullying. In the end, we get what we tolerate.

So own your worth. Speak your truth. Treat others with respect and refuse to tolerate being treated with anything less yourself.

As Kerry discovered when she finally found the courage to trust in herself and walk away from her marriage, whole new possibilities open up for us when we refuse to let fear run our lives. Live bravely.