Inner Work With MaryAnn Walker

The True Cost of Tolerating Mistreatment

February 01, 2024 MaryAnn Walker Episode 80
Inner Work With MaryAnn Walker
The True Cost of Tolerating Mistreatment
Show Notes Transcript

Why We Tolerate Mistreatment:
In this episode we explore three key reasons why people pleasers tolerate mistreatment: a tendency to think the best of others, the belief they can change people through kindness, and sometimes, struggles with low self-esteem. We examine the stories we tell ourselves and the excuses we make for others, ultimately enabling their behavior.

The Attraction of Manipulative People:
Kind and selfless individuals often attract unkind and manipulative people. Why? Because people pleasers take on the lion's share of the relationship work, allowing manipulative individuals to avoid accountability. But how do we navigate this dynamic without sacrificing our own well-being?

Practical Strategies:
I share two practical strategies to break free from the cycle of mistreatment. First, practice stating your truth. I share ways to assert self without exerting control. Second, practice allowing others to respond to your new sense of boundaries without taking ownership of their reactions. They might not like being told "no," but that is about them. Not you. 

Short-Term Discomfort for Long-Term Peace:
While speaking up for yourself may feel uncomfortable initially, tolerating mistreatment is unsustainable and leads to resentment. We discuss the importance of mindful navigation to avoid explosive blow-ups, emphasizing that the discomfort of change is well worth the lasting peace it can bring.

A Reminder:
As a highly sensitive individual, remember that not everyone is as attuned to emotions as you are. Speaking up for yourself might not be as hurtful to others as you imagine. Clear communication is an act of kindness, offering both parties clarity and understanding. It's about finding the balance between assertiveness and empathy.

If these examples hit close to home, and you're ready to stand in your power, consider seeking support. I've personally experienced transformation through coaching, and if you resonate with this journey, I'm here to help. Thank you for being part of this community; your reviews and shares empower us to reach and support more people. Wishing you a fantastic week ahead, and until next time, take care!

To apply to work with me or find my other platforms containing free content, click here:

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Well, hello and welcome back. So as you know, I work with the helpers, the healers, and the people pleasers. And one common theme that I see in this population, especially the people pleasing portion of this population, is tolerating mistreatment in order to keep the peace. In relationship. So for example, and these are all made up examples, but they could very well be true. Let's meet Sarah. So Sarah is a kindhearted wife and she has been married to Mark for several years now. And Mark oftentimes dismisses her opinions, belittles her achievements, and oftentimes actually displays some really controlling behavior. So despite feeling really hurt and unappreciated in relationship, Sarah finds herself tolerating mistreatment in an effort to maintain the appearance of a happy marriage. She fears confrontation. She worries that it might lead to conflict. And so instead she sacrifices her own happiness for the short term peace of a seemingly harmonious home. All right, for the second example, let's meet Emily. So Emily is a dedicated friend who has been besties with Lisa since college, but Lisa frequently makes passive aggressive and belittling remarks about Emily's choices and undermines her achievements She manipulates her into doing things that she's really not comfortable with and so despite feeling a growing sense of resentment in this relationship Then Emily really hesitates to address the issue directly. She worries that standing up for herself It might jeopardize the relationship and so instead she chooses to tolerate the mistreatment in order to maintain the illusion of a harmonious relationship. And then there's Maria. Now, Maria is a loving daughter who has always tried to please her demanding mother, Linda. And Linda oftentimes criticizes Maria's life choices. She undermines her parenting decisions and she imposes her opinions on every aspect of Maria's life. So, despite feeling really hurt and frustrated by this, Maria tolerates this mistreatment from her mother in an effort to maintain family harmony. She fears the backlash and the guilt that might come from actually standing up for herself. So she chooses instead to endure the mistreatment for the sake of avoiding conflict in the family. Now, since we are not all yet ascended beings, I am pretty sure that everybody listening to this podcast can think of at least one relationship where they have attempted to hold their tongue. In an effort to keep the peace. And sometimes this is okay, right? So, for example, if my husband really wants wings for dinner and I really want sushi, and I can just see how much he really wants those wings, I might say, Oh, you know what? Wings sound delicious. And just be happy with that. But when you find yourself in situations where it's creating a lot of negative emotion for you, or when you are constantly the one to quiet your own wants and desires in the effort to make somebody else happy, then that can actually be problematic for relationship. Not expressing your wants, desires, or perspective, it really becomes a problem when it becomes a pattern of behavior and when it's at the cost of your own physical, mental, and emotional well being. So when we hold our tongue to keep the peace. Whose peace are we keeping? It's generally not your own. In fact, you're probably experiencing a lot of anger and resentment toward the very person that you're attempting to create peace with. So here are a few reasons that I've observed for why people pleasers do this. One is that they like to think the best of others. And that's so good and so noble, right? But essentially, they're assuming that the other person must be going through something. And if we're super duper nice to them, then we can fix it. So the people pleaser ends up being silent in an effort to not rock the boat. And people pleasers are actually pretty amazing storytellers. So often, they tell themselves the story that, Oh, well, they didn't really mean it. Or, they're just feeling off today. Or, I'm sure that they're just stressed out at work. So they're actually making up excuses for the other person's poor behavior. But our making up stories and making up excuses for them, it is not allowing them to be accountable for their own actions. It is not giving them the opportunity to recover themselves. And it is actually enabling their behavior. Another thing that I see with people pleasers is that they believe that they can fix. Change other people, they have this belief that, well, if I'm just nice to them, then they'll be nice to me. If I show appreciation to them, then they'll show appreciation for me. If I sacrifice for them, then they will sacrifice for me. But this is oftentimes a self deception. So tracking your own behaviors and the other person's behaviors to really see more clearly those imbalances can be very helpful because the people are going to do what the people are going to do. Just because you have this silent contract in your head that if I do this, then they will do this, it doesn't mean you're going to get what you want. So tracking or journaling on it can be really helpful and it can also help to bring a bit of clarity to help you to see the person more clearly for who they are. Rather than who you think that they should be and this imaginary vision of them that you have of them in your own head. Another common thing that I see is that oftentimes people have been gaslighted so much that they actually believe the story of the other person. They believe the story of the other person that they aren't doing enough, that they're the ones that are being selfish, that they're the ones not being accommodating. It kind of distorts their own vision of self, and that can create a lot of internal shame and insecurity, and it actually is intended to trigger Okay. So now the people pleaser's people pleaser is attempting to do even more in order to win over this person who is claiming that the people pleaser has treated them poorly when really they've been bending over backwards for this person. Another reason why people pleasers might do this is they might just have really low self esteem. When somebody has really low self esteem, then they're more concerned about who wants to spend time with them. You Then they are about who they actually want to spend time with. Now I really want you to think about that for a minute because if you have really low self esteem, it's gonna shift the energy quite a bit. So your energy might be saying, Hey, please love me. Please love me. What can I do? I will be whoever you want if you'll just love me. It puts us in that desperation mode. But if you can really sit with it and be clear on, Okay, what kind of a person do I want to be in a relationship with? What kinds of qualities and characteristics do I want to invest my time and energy into? And if the other person doesn't have those, use that as information that, okay, well maybe I need to invest. elsewhere, but just notice that that's coming from that insecurity within you.

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And if you need some help around those insecurities and around low self esteem, please come and work with me or work with another coach, but find somebody who can really help you with that because that will significantly shift how you are showing up in relationship.

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Because the truth is that many unkind and manipulative people are actually drawn towards people pleasers. And you know why? Because they're pretty dang awesome. People pleasers are selfless. They're willing to take on the lion's share of the work in relationship. They're willing to take ownership of a conflict and say, Oh, you know what? I understand what I did wrong. I'm so sorry. The other person doesn't have to be accountable for their own actions. They never have to admit their own faults. And so then the other person never has to be accountable, everything belongs to you and it totally works for them. So just notice if you're in a relationship like that and acknowledge that, yeah, this actually isn't working for me, so that you can create that lasting change. So if you have found yourself in relationships like this, what can be done? Today I'm going to share with you two things to really work on, okay? The first is practice stating your truth. And the second is practice allowing others So first, let's talk about that practice stating your truth. This sounds so simple, but this is where I want you to start. And I know I have worked with people where they have such a hard time actually stating a boundary or stating any opinion at all that they really are silent even when they're out of the office or out with friends. And so there was one client I was working with where I really encouraged them, Hey, you know what? Once each day at work, I want you to just state an opinion. It could be an opinion about the weather. It could be your opinion about the movie that you watched over the weekend. It could be your opinion about that new restaurant in town, but state an opinion. This is pretty safe, right? This isn't right or wrong. This is purely just opinion, but practice actually stating your opinion and just kind of gauge how well it's received. Kind of just see what's coming up for you, see how they react. And that will give you information about. how you want to respond moving forward in that relationship. The people pleaser tendency is to just keep your mouth shut, but practice actually stating your truth, even if your truth is just an opinion. So let's kind of illustrate These two principles a little bit more using the examples that I shared earlier. So first we'll start with Mark and Sarah. Now remember Mark, he oftentimes dismisses his wife Sarah's opinion and he can be quite controlling. So let's assume for a moment that it's movie night and Mark wants to watch a blood and guts war movie. Now Sarah, she usually just goes along with it to keep the peace, even though she really dislikes gore. It really sticks with her for a long time afterward. It makes her really uncomfortable, she doesn't like it. And so this time she decides to state her opinion on that. So she says, hey, you know what? I know you really love your war movies, but I actually have a hard time with the gore. I would prefer a comedy. What do you think? Now, Mark might react in any number of ways. He might tell her, comedies are stupid. Or he might throw an adult sized tantrum and try to tell her that, you know what? Everybody just knows that war movies are so much better and far superior to comedies. You're just overly sensitive. You're a child. You want to go watch those baby movies that are all just sunshine and rainbows. Why don't you want to watch a more adult film? You know, he might try any number of tactics to try to manipulate her. into watching the movie that he wants to watch. We don't know how he's going to react, but that's the second practice is allowing the other person to respond however they're going to respond and to just be okay with that. Right? So let him have his reaction without taking ownership of his reaction. Your people pleasing brain is going to want to say, he's having a big reaction and it's my fault. It is not your fault. His reaction actually has nothing to do with you, and it has everything to do with him. So let him have his reaction. So for example, let's say that Mark says, comedies are stupid and childish. Then Sarah might just say. You know what? It's okay if you don't want to watch a comedy. I think I'll go and watch it in the bedroom, so that you can watch your war movie out here. Now notice when she says this, she's not forcing his hand. She's not attempting to control him. She's not saying, we must watch a comedy or else, right? That would be her exerting control over him, which is actually the same issue she has with him. She thinks he's being controlling, and our tendency is to want to control the situation. Just notice that, reign it in a little bit, and just state what it is that you're going to do, and allow them to do it. the free agency to do whatever it is that they're going to do. So she's not forcing his hand, but she is stating her desire to not watch a gory movie. And she's also being proactive about what she's going to watch and where she's going to choose to watch it. She is taking control of herself and recognizing that, yes, I have control over me. I do not have control over him. And that's okay. It's totally okay for him to have an opinion that war movies are better. It's just as valid as her having an opinion that comedies are better. It's 100 percent okay. All right. So now let's look at Emily and Lisa. So Emily and Lisa have been friends since college, but Lisa has become more and more passive aggressive towards Emily's life choices. So one day while out to lunch, then Emily told her, Oh, I can't believe it. I got the promotion. I'm so excited. It has been a lot of work, but I'm really proud of myself. And now Lisa might say something like, Oh, a promotion, huh? Sounds like your friends and family are going to be seeing even less of you. But hey, if being a workaholic is your thing, good for you. Now it would be really easy for Emily in this situation to shut down or to change the subject or to maybe even say, well, you know, I mean, I guess it's not really that big of a deal. The tendency is to want to shrink in order to keep the peace, right? But Emily is practicing speaking her truth in kind and clear ways while also allowing other people to have their own reaction. So instead, then Emily says, Well, you know, I've been working towards this for a while now, and it's not about being a workaholic. It's actually about pursuing my goals and bettering myself. Now, remember that the brain, it wants to be right even more than it wants to be happy, and oftentimes when we are engaging with someone who is very passive aggressive, they will actually push the point forward. further, right? So let's say that Lisa just kind of says, Oh yeah, sure. Pursuing your goals. You know, some of us prefer to have a balanced life, you know, where work doesn't take over everything, but whatever. And Emily might say, well, you know what? Balance is essential. I totally agree with you. And I'm super proud of my achievements. Now this is her actually being very emotionally mature. She's able to see that. Yes, I agree with you. Work life balance is very important. And, I am so proud of my achievements. She's able to acknowledge that both of those things can co exist. So notice that Emily, she reinforced that she was proud of herself. And it can take practice to learn to be content with that internal validation. So just remind yourself that how people respond to you or don't respond to you, that is about them. It is not about you. And the truth is in this situation, you know what? She is the only one that knows all of the work and all of the effort and all the sacrifice that went into that promotion. And it is okay to celebrate that. And it is okay after you've kind of gauged who can show up in those supportive ways to choose into those friends that can actually be happy for you and supportive for you. And maybe they'll even buy your lunch because they're just so proud of you. It's okay to just use all of that as information to see. Where and how you want to invest your energy. Lisa was making Emily's promotion mean that her family and friends would see her less and less and that Emily was a workaholic, but notice that Emily allowed Lisa to have her opinion. But she decided not to take it upon herself. She didn't even have to correct her story. All she did was state her truth. All right, now let's talk about Maria. So Maria is the devoted daughter with a mother who micromanages all of her parenting decisions. And it doesn't help that mom lives next door. So mom has a tendency to just Pop in at very inconvenient times. So on this particular night, then she decided to pop in right as Maria was getting the kids to bed and she just burst through the front door and said, Hey, grandma's here. Look what I got for you at the store. And she starts pulling out candy from her purse. Now, usually Maria would just let it happen. She would just decide it's not worth the fight. It's going to be okay. It's just fine. But she knows that lately she's been having a lot of anger and resentment coming up towards her mother. And guess what? She doesn't want to feel anger and resentment towards her mother. She wants to feel love towards her mother. So she's being proactive about minimizing anger and resentment. To make room for more love. So she decides to speak her truth to her mother. So Maria says, Mom, I really love you and I'm so glad that you're thinking about the kids. And also, it's bedtime. When you come over at night, it gets them all riled up. And adding sugar on top of that, it really doesn't help. Now, mom at this point might start to make more excuses, right? She might say something like, Oh, it's not that big of a deal to let them stay up late every now and then. Come on, they get to spend time with their grandma. And besides, look how happy they are. You know what? You are really so strict with them. It's really good for them to have their routine interrupted every now and then so they can learn how to cope with life. And you know what? I can admit it that even typing that up I felt myself getting so riled up. It just feels so dismissive. But Maria, she's a rock star. She has rehearsed for this day and she is ready. So she says, Mom, I understand how fun it is for you to see the kids, but it's actually really hard on both me and the kids the next morning when they're up late. So I'm going to start locking the door after dinner. And I will not be answering the door after seven o'clock. So if you would like to come and see the kids, please come earlier than that and please be finished with your visit by seven. Now in this case, Maria did an amazing job. She remained calm. She was clear and she set a firm boundary about what she is and is not willing to tolerate. And she did so without controlling her mother, right? Mom is still free to come over after seven. That is her choice. But now she knows that if she comes, the door will not. be opened to her. So just think about, okay, there might be some short term discomfort in the beginning, but there will be long term peace, and that's what you're investing in. One thing to consider is that when we are tolerating mistreatment from others, we are actually perpetuating mistreatment. Our tolerance of their mistreatment is actually telling them that it is acceptable for them to treat us in this way, when in fact, it is not. And I get it, that it can feel super uncomfortable to speak up for yourself. And also, how uncomfortable is the idea of things continuing as they are? I'm guessing the idea of things continuing as they are is creating even more anger and resentment. So just like Maria with her mother, you can take a moment to check in and realize that, okay, what do I want to do to create some space for love, to minimize anger and resentment, and to create space So generally speaking, tolerating treatment, it is not sustainable. It leads to anger and resentment, and sometimes it even leads to a huge explosion, right? Where now we're just done. We cannot tolerate it anymore. And if you want to avoid those huge blow ups that can cause even more damage to a relationship, then mindfully choosing how you want to navigate it. When someone is treating you poorly, then that is ultimately the only way to really create that piece, but it is so worth the discomfort.

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So I have another quick note before we conclude, but I just want to remind you that not everybody is as kind or as sensitive as you. as you. More than likely you're listening to this podcast because you're a highly sensitive person. You're highly sensitive to people's tone when they're talking. You're highly sensitive to their micro expressions. You're highly sensitive to the words that they're using, to their body language. But a lot of people are not as sensitive as you. So open yourself up to the idea. that maybe it won't hurt their feelings as much as you think it will when you actually speak up for yourself. In fact, they might even come to respect you a lot more when you do actually speak up for yourself in the long run. And also when it comes to the sensitivity to other people, then also kind of be open to the idea that because they aren't as sensitive to body language and facial expressions as you are, then they might actually need things explicitly stated. Oftentimes the tendency is when we're people pleasing to be very passive in communication because we assume that, well, when I say this, then they'll fill in the rest of the story and they'll know what it is that I need. We think that people do that because that's what we do. Right? Somebody says something, somebody does something, and we fill in the whole story about what is required of us in order to make it better. But for a lot of people, their brain just doesn't work that way. So open yourself up to the possibility that maybe they need things explicitly stated to them in order for them to know what your needs are. Okay? This is the difference between the passive action and the massive action. Remember that clear is kind and unclear is unkind. You're actually doing both of you a service. When you are kind and clear and what it is that you actually need or want in that moment. Alright, so if these examples ring a little bit too true for you and you would like some support, learning how to stand in your power and stand up for yourself, come and work with me. I have been there and I totally get it. And to be honest, coaching has completely changed how I engage with the world. I know now that the people are going to do what the people are going to do, but how I have chosen now to react through the assistance of coaching, how I now react. to those situations is vastly different and it creates so much more peace for me and significantly less insecurity as I'm trying to just please other people. So if you would like support a hundred percent, come and work with me. You can find all of my contact information in the show notes. And Hey, if you have found this podcast helpful, will you please share it with a friend or leave me a review? It really does help to boost the algorithms and it helps me to reach and help more people. So thank you so much for leaving reviews and for sharing. I really appreciate it. So I hope you have a great week and let's talk soon. All right. Bye now.