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The Great Debate: Teaching Others How to Treat You

The other day I was debating with a friend of mine about the idea that we teach other people how to treat us.  Personally, I love this idea I find it empowering and insightful.  It helps me to realize that I am not a victim in my life.  I have had relationships in my life where the person wasn’t treating me well, they were being disrespectful or uncaring. By ‘teaching them how to treat me’ if I stick around and put up with that negative behavior, I am teaching them it is ok to treat me with disrespect.  I am teaching them that I will be here even if you treat me like crap.  Now, it is NOT saying that I deserved that behavior in the first place, I brought it on myself and taught them from the very beginning to treat me poorly (which is what my friend was arguing).

It really got me thinking about that phrase–while I see it as empowering and I have choices and control, my friend sees it as she has all the responsibility for how people treat her.  So even if someone treats her poorly it is still her fault because she taught them wrong.  (I love that when someone shows me an entirely different  perspective I hadn’t even thought about!!!)  I can understand her perspective and why she interprets the phrase/teaching in such a way.  And we had quite the rousing debate around the phrase.  I left with a new perspective (and also still a love for this teaching) and she left with a new perspective as well (don’t know if she still hates the teaching or not).  And I told her I was going to blog about the phrase and our discussion.

I do believe that when we hang out for negative behavior we teach people that it is ok to treat us poorly.  And when we appreciate the people in our lives who treat us with love and respect when we pay tribute to them and honor them, they continue to treat us well.  That is the basis of the phrase for me.  We can chose who we have in our lives and by honoring the ones who respect us and cutting out the globbers we can teach people that we deserve respect and require that.

My friend showed me that, in order to practice this teaching we first have to have the belief we are worthy of respect and love. We have to have the knowledge that we can’t ‘change’ people and we can’t make someone love us or treat us well.  Frequently we enter relationships believing if we are ‘good enough’ or do the ‘right thing’ we can fix the person we are with, we can earn their love and respect.  But in true healthy relationships, we ‘earn’ respect and love simply by being ourselves and genuinely showing up for the other person.

I am asking you to weigh in on the debate–what do you think of the phrase: Teaching other how to treat you?  

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