Dealing with People Who Talk Down to MeBy
I reached a point in my adult life where I found myself wondering why some people who seemed to be so nice to other people, were not so nice to me. I realized as I grew in this process of emotional healing that it had a lot to do with my own inner value. It was as though people could “see” how much I would put up with. My worth, before I emerged from broken had a lot to do with what I could do for others. I thought that my value was in what I had to offer. A lot of people took advantage of me and used me. I did a lot of service work but wasn’t really appreciated for it. I tried not to do if for the appreciation, but when people treated me like I didn’t matter, it really hurt me. I bent over backwards to “be good enough to deserve acceptance.”
I had to learn to value myself ~ enough to call them on it. I had to realize that they were wrong to treat me that way and if I let it go, they were likely to keep doing it. I had to care enough about me to reject that kind of treatment. I had to realize that when people talk down to me, it doesn’t define me as beneath them. On the other hand I also had to learn that when people fall all over themselves to be with me, that doesn’t define me as worthy either. That was the false definition of love and acceptance that I had to come to understand in this process of emotional healing.
This was a huge part of my recovery process.
First I had to own my anger at this injustice towards me as a person. I had to own my equality and believe in myself. Instead of constantly asking myself what was wrong with me and searching my heart for how I could be worthy of love and respect, I started to ask myself why people felt they had permission to treat me as less valuable or less important than they were.
The truth those thoughts led to enabled me to start asking those people who were discounting me questions about why they behaved the way they did towards me.
Years ago I would fantasize about talking to them the way that they talked to me. I imagined myself rising up and using all my sarcastic voice infliction, sneering down at them or rolling my eyes at them and disregarding them the same way that they disregarded me. I would “show them” how it felt. But that is not me. I hated that I didn’t know HOW to make them treat me as an equally valuable person.
Instead of scheming up ways of showing them how it feels when someone talks like that or ways to get revenge, I started to ask questions that seemed to shock them. I say things like “why are you talking to me that way as though I am “nothing”? I ask “why are you talking to me as though I have no feelings?” or I say “why are you speaking to me as though I am beneath you?”or one of my favourites; “why are you talking to me like I am stupid?” No one ever has an answer. But they stop. They don’t know what to say. They are usually in shock because I point out their behaviour. Sometimes it is just a matter of letting them know that I know what they are doing. They are not fooling me anymore and they are not manipulating me anymore. I am not going to be regarded as beneath anyone.
In the past I was afraid to make those kinds of statements (in the form of questions) because I was afraid that my feelings were wrong. I thought that maybe I was misunderstanding the intention of the person doing the mistreating. I thought I was “exaggerating”; I thought they must be right ~ that in truth maybe I really was nothing. I believed that I was less than other people. I had no understanding of equal value or equality for all people. I thought everyone else was deserving, but that something was wrong with me. I thought that it was my own fault (not that I could figure out WHY it was my fault) that people looked down on me.
When I married my husband his sister constantly talked down to me. For years she went out of her way to put me down whenever he wasn’t in the same room as us. When the kids were born she included my mothering ideas in her constant putdowns and sneering judgements of me. I found it SO frustrating but what could I do? I had no idea that I could point it out to her. It never occurred to me. And it didn’t occur to me because I was pretty sure that I must be wrong. I was sure that it was ME and it didn’t dawn on me that it might be HER or that she was proving herself to be a mean spirited woman. I didn’t realize that I was not the problem, and as I have written so often in the past, I had been convinced all my life that I was the problem… so I didn’t have the guts, OR the conviction about where the truth lay, to say anything. I took it. I tried harder to get her to like me!
When I first considered asking these kinds of questions, I thought that I was being a b-word. I really thought that sticking up for myself was mean and nasty and that I was presenting myself as mean and nasty if I confronted anyone with a statement like that. I was afraid that if I were to say any form of “I don’t have to take your nasty attitude” that they would say “what a b-word you are”. I had it really mixed up.
But I got stronger. I grew in my understanding of the misuse of power and control. My self esteem began to recover. I did not deserve that treatment from anyone. I am not stupid and I don’t have to allow people to treat me or to speak to me like I am stupid. The way they regarded me was about them and that isn’t my problem. One of my fears was that they wouldn’t like me if I stood up to them. But by their actions and regard for me, they already didn’t like me enough to respect me. Another of my fears was that they would leave me, but they had never been with me. Relationship of any kind with them was conditional. My fears were misplaced and when I saw the truth, those overwhelming fears began to diminish. If they walked out of my life, and many of them have, what was I going to miss?
Now that I know the truth, I can speak it. Now that I know the truth I don’t have to take that crap. Now that I know the truth, few people ever say anything nasty to me anymore anyway.
My boundary is drawn in my heart. It comes from the knowledge of my own worth.
And my life is so much healthier!
Please share your thoughts and feelings.
A snapshot of truth on the journey to emotional healing