I am sure we are all acquainted with the Golden Rule: “Treat people the way you want to be treated.” Our good friend Jesus spoke often on doing unto others as you want them to do unto you. Whether you are spiritual, religious, or neither, no one wants to be treated badly. You could be the guy who cuts people off on the highway, fails to use turn signals and drives recklessly, but as soon as someone rides your bumper, you’re furious. Humans have a tendency to be hypocritical when it comes to how we expect to be treated vs. how we treat others. For years now, I have been watching Kirk do Rasheeda wrong on Love and Hip Hop Atlanta (one of my guilty pleasures, don’t judge me), yet now he wants to fix his lips to be butthurt at the thought of her even considering entertaining another man. Why is it that we can never stomach the taste of our own medicine? So many of us subject others to pain that we would go to great lengths to avoid experiencing. To put it lightly, people suck. We use, abuse and manipulate those we claim to love and care for. This world would be all rainbows and butterflies if we could just abide by the simple logic of not being an a**hole. I remember in elementary we did a lengthy lesson on the Golden Rule, but if I could go back in time, I would have my teacher revise the lesson: “People are not going to treat you the way you would treat them.” It is unrealistic to expect everyone to have the same heart and moral compass as you. After all, we can’t control others; we are only in control of ourselves. When you allow yourself to be continually stepped on by trash people, you become at fault. Eventually, you have to stop complaining about people being mean to you and doing you wrong if you are going to keep giving them a free pass to do so. You’re not killing them with kindness, you’re just killing yourself.
How About Some Accountability?
One of the easiest things to do is point the finger at other people when we need to be holding a mirror up to ourselves. We have already established that people are trash, but once you figure out that a new person in your life did not enter with good intentions, why do you keep them around? Are you waiting to see what lengths they will go to to make you miserable? Most people aren’t sadistic. They don’t purposely seek out weaklings to enact their evil plan upon. After all, most of the hurtful things people do to you do not have anything to do with you. People are selfish, and they do things that will bring them pleasure; you being hurt in the mix of it all is just emotional collateral damage. That doesn’t make the wound they’ve inflicted upon you hurt any less, that’s just the way it is. When people show you who they are, you have to believe them the first time. Sayings like that become cliche because they prove themselves to be true time and time again. If you choose to be Helen Keller to the b.s., you can’t get mad when your “best friend” keeps throwing shade at you behind your back or the new guy you’ve been dating pokes fun at your insecurities under the guise of a joke. Character flaws like that aren’t isolated incidents. They will only get worse, but your “good heart” always wants to see the best in people. When I was in college, I dated a guy who had two children. Much to my dislike, he brought them over to my apartment with him one evening and left them there while he went on a “food run.” I was 19; spending my night with two young kids was not my idea of a good time. He stayed gone a good 3-4 hours. What did I say upon his return? Nothing! I’m sure you can guess what followed: this happened again and again until I put my foot down. We eventually broke up due to other reasons, but this is just an example of how if you let somebody slide once, they’ll start figure skating. I was getting mad at him when I should have been mentally slapping myself. Nothing will continue unless YOU allow it to. He took advantage of me because I would often just ignore things that would bother me or make empty threats. He knew I was all bark and no bite. Was it right for him to use me as a babysitter while he was running through the 206 with his woes? Absolutely not, but it was my responsibility to advocate for myself. You can’t hope for the best with people, then just shrug your shoulders when they don’t act how you had envisaged. If you remove yourself from the situations that cause you strife, guess what will happen? Life will improve! It isn’t magic, it’s common sense.
Check Your Energy
There is no harder pill to swallow than admitting you are the problem when it comes to the negative experiences that plague your life. It does not mean there is something wrong with you or that you need to change who you are. Everyone has flaws and we are all damaged in some way. Childhood traumas, adult traumas and unhealthy coping skills have an insidious way of clouding our positive energy. If you are not aware of your thinking, these traumatic experiences manifest into negative self-talk and negative views of ourselves. It is incredibly easy to put yourself down without even realizing you are doing it. A couple of years ago, I downloaded a book called “The Untethered Soul” (I highly recommend this piece of work). Until I picked up this godsend of a book, I did not realize how often I put myself down. I would call myself names, judge myself and dwell on negative thoughts. If I would go against my instincts and suffer the consequences because of it, I would think to myself “duh dummy” or “well that’s what you get for being stupid.” We truly are our own toughest critics. I finally realized I kept attracting and entertaining toxic people because I was marinating in my own toxic thoughts.
Science teaches us that like attracts like. If you are vibrating at a low frequency, you are going to attract others who are on a similar level. Everything is energy. It is not a coincidence that when you are happy, everyone else seems happier as well. It’s simple, really. Why would a man who is happy, secure and confident be attracted to someone who emits bad vibes? I didn’t understand why I couldn’t find anyone of quality. I was independent, college educated, attractive and doing quite well for my age. I looked good on paper, but inside I was a mess. Too much time was spent going into my outward appearance but I was neglecting my insides. Awareness is the only way out of a miserable mindset. The interesting thing was at the time, I did not feel totally miserable, but looking back, I was full of self-doubt. It is now in hindsight that I realize I was not all that happy. Like most people, I have had an array of bad experiences steal my joy. I am naturally a private person, so I just kept all my feelings to myself and went on with life. Avoidance is definitely not a healthy coping technique Pretending a problem does not exist will not make it go away, and not dealing with your issues jut causes them to fester, not diminish. Happiness is out there for you, but you can’t claim to want a joyous life yet spend all day ruminating in your self-inflicted sunken place. You’re confusing the universe. If you want to grow as a person, it is so important to take the time to become aware of how you view yourself.
When people think of self-care, they think of massages, solo vacations and treating themselves to new clothes or other things to decorate the outer self. The harder part of self-care that people don’t often mention is having the discipline to do what’s best for yourself, even when it’s hard. You are specially made, and only those who appreciate your value deserve a place in your life. Once you tap into your reserve of inner power, it will become second nature to toss people to the curb who don’t live up to your expectations. What is most important is believing you are worthy. Whenever you catch yourself putting yourself down, pretend you have a little Viola Davis from The Help on your shoulder reminding you that you are kind, smart and important. Tell yourself this everyday. Look in the mirror and repeat that you love yourself 15x a day if that’s what you need to do. You will eventually start to believe it and you will begin to wonder why you allowed people to A-Town Stomp all over you for so long. Don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t be afraid to tell people to Beat It. Why are you scared to be without people you have only known for a small fraction of your life? In the wise words of Drake, you gotta be nice for what? I promise you the sun will rise tomorrow and you will continue to breathe. There have been men I really liked and I hated to show them the door, but I knew it was for the best. Those yellow flags would have quickly turned red, and it is much harder to cut ties from people once you’ve allowed dick and time to have you more invested than you should have ever been. People are going to be mean. They are going to be inconsiderate and a multitude of other undesirable things, but it is your responsibility to keep yourself safe from their nastiness. You can’t protect yourself if you are not solid in who you are. If you keep getting mixed up in bad friendships and relationships, take some time alone to figure out who is the common denominator in all of the chaos. You can’t grow if you are never taking time to be with you and only you. Growth comes from self-reflection and taking accountability for your decisions, good and bad. Treating other people well is great, but don’t let it come at such a price that you fail to treat yourself how you deserve to be treated, and a large part of self-care is being selective with who you grant a seat at your table.