It’s not me; it’s you. How to stop someone else’s behaviour from affecting you
I’m sad to say I’ve spent far too much of my life analysing why someone spoke to me in a certain way. What was it about me that made them feel that behaviour was ok? Was it because I lacked confidence, was too young or came across as stupid? Why was I being singled out for negative attention?
I would spend hours thinking of the most withering put downs. Ones where my oppressor would crumble in front of my eyes and I would walk away victorious safe in the knowledge that this would never happen again.
Or I’d daydream about bumping into a billionaire on the street and he’d immediately become so infatuated with me that he’d whisk me away. I would leave the situation behind, whilst putting my virtual two fingers up.
The simple truth is, there are certain characteristics that make you more vulnerable for negative attention. People speak to me FAR differently in my 40s than they did in my 20s. Being young does mean people don’t always treat you with respect. Likewise, I’m sure times when I had less confidence also meant people thought they could get away with it a bit more.
We can’t really control how someone else behaves (sadly) and there are difficult people everywhere. The only thing we really can do is stop someone else’s behaviour from affecting us.
As an aside, I find picking on people who are vulnerable such a horrible thing to do. It says so much about the person doing it and their own weaknesses. We should try and lift people up always.
Bad behaviours are about the person, not you
There are times in my life when I’ve been shorter with someone than was necessary; I’ve taken my frustrations out on someone; or I’ve been a bit of a dick for no real reason.
I can try and justify to myself why I reacted; they were being annoying or were making me feel uncomfortable. But if I’m being really honest, it was about me and how I was feeling about myself at that moment in time. I wasn’t behaving well because I was pretty messed up and rather than dealing with it, I deflected my feelings on to someone else.
If I feel happy and good in myself, I’m kinder and more forgiving towards others. I’m less irritable and less concerned with what other people are doing. I see the best in people and want to support them.
Now, I’m not saying that every time someone behaves badly towards us, we turn the other cheek because we shouldn’t invalidate our own feelings. We matter too. I’m saying this to illustrate poor behaviour is a reflection of the person doing it, not us. Recognising this helps us stop someone else’s behaviour from affecting us.
In my opinion, part of reaching maturity as an adult, is recognising you still need to behave properly towards other people regardless of how you feel inside. There is no excuse.
Recognising toxic situations for what they are
I’m a massive people pleaser and I really want people to like me. I’m lucky in the fact that for the most part they do – which is good, given I work bloody hard to make it happen.
The downside of being a people pleaser is that I don’t always recognise toxic situations for what they are. I’m so used to putting myself second that I forget I have needs too. I will always try to turn things around and make the situation better.
There are some situations that will never get better.
We’re conditioned into believing that if we leave a relationship of any description; romantic, friendship, familial or work, then somehow we’ve failed. We couldn’t make it work.
We haven’t failed. It’s not down to us to fix every situation. There’s more than one person in a relationship and we can’t control how another person behaves no matter how hard we try. We can talk differently, hide ourselves away, walk over eggshells, google how to deal with certain situations and shapeshift as much as we like – but we cannot change someone else’s behaviour. It’s down to them.
Walking away from a toxic situation or one that no longer serves you is the best and most empowering thing you can ever do. Trust me.
Putting on an invisible cloak of protection
Most negative behaviours aren’t that obvious. They’re a slow, steady drip feed of negativity. I’m talking about moodiness, snappiness and generally having to deal with someone else’s BS.
Over a sustained period of time, dealing with another person’s mood swings can be draining and confidence sapping. It’s hard not to take it personally – particularly because our feelings are being completely ignored and that it has an impact on your emotional wellbeing too. This is why it’s really important that we protect our energy field and stop someone else’s behaviour from affecting you.
At the risk of sounding like I’m channelling Harry Potter; this is when we need a cloak of invisible protection.
A cloak of invisible protection is one you put around you to deflect negativity. Every time, someone says something or does something that upsets you, imagine the energy from their words, body language or actions bouncing off your invisible cloak and reflecting back on them.
Boundaries are the equivalent of putting a line in the sand where we say to ourselves; this behaviour has gone too far. They’re individual to all of us because we all have our own ideas of what constitutes poor behaviour. However, it’s really important to have them so we can recognise when our boundaries are being crossed.
Setting boundaries won’t stop poor behaviour or change how everyone behaves towards you. Other people’s choices are outside our sphere of influence. What they do is give you the tools to recognise poor behaviour when it happens so you can think about how or if you want to respond. They also help you stop someone else’s behaviour from affecting you because you can see it’s about their poor choices, and not to do with you.
When speaking up falls on deaf ears
In an ideal world, you would speak calmly towards anyone who’s crossed your boundaries and explain how it made you feel. They would respond maturely because we’re all adults… AMIRITE?
Well, the world isn’t ideal and people aren’t always going to take responsibility for their actions and respond in the way you want them to. However, I’m not sure that fully matters because you’ve still asserted your boundaries, told someone how they’ve made you feel, and who knows, perhaps made them think…
Ps. if the thought of going up to someone to talk about their behaviour makes you feel sick, then it does get easier the more you do it, I promise.
Not everyone is going to like you – and that’s ok
There’s a woman at my nursery who was really friendly to me initially and now is quite rude. I’ve spent time thinking about it and wondering if I’ve talked too much to her husband or done something to offend her.
The simple truth is, it doesn’t really matter. We’re very different people with nothing in common and we never had a friendship in the first place. She doesn’t have to like me and I don’t need to try and work out why. We’re not for everyone – and not everyone is for us.
It’s not me; it’s you
I’m not suggesting that we automatically attribute every situation where someone has behaved badly towards us as being entirely about them. A bit of self-reflection is good – and, gasp.. sometimes we may be at fault or had a part to play ourselves.
What I am suggesting though, is that we don’t automatically use someone else’s behaviour as an opportunity to put ourselves down, zap our confidence and make us feel that somehow we’re not enough.
Sometimes it isn’t about us at all.