How to React When Someone Treats You Badly

September 26, 2018
Is someone close to you treating you badly? When the person treating you badly belongs to your inner circle, you need to make it clear that if they don't change their attitude that you'll put your own well-being first and start avoiding them.

When someone treats you badly, you have three options: respond intelligently, allow the feeling of overwhelm to take over, or react aggressively.

It’s not easy to deal with these highly intense, emotional situations because they activate very specific regions of your brain.

What happens when someone treats you badly?

When someone treats you badly or threatens you, areas like the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the insular cortex activate to respond to the situation.

These regions are linked with the survival instinct and often lead us to react aggressively or to flee the threatening situation.

However, these situations can be managed through emotional intelligence. This way neither fear nor anger will be able to control how you react.

Here are 5 things you need to allow yourself to do so you can react appropriately when someone treats you badly. We’re sure you’ll find them truly helpful.

1. I give myself permission to remember who I am and what I am worth

When someone treats you badly, they do so by crossing the boundaries of what is acceptable behavior. Thing such as contempt, harsh words, humiliation, and lies violate our sense of self-esteem.

  • When we are going through situations like these, we feel attacked because our self-perception, self-esteem and personal integrity, things that are difficult to build up, are undermined.
  • If someone tells us that “you’re good for nothing”, the last thing we should do is get angry.

The first step is not to take the opinions and perceptions of others as facts. We need to remember that our value is not measured by people’s judgments.

Also read:

5 Things You Should Not Allow in Your Relationship

What someone says about you doesn’t define you. So, don’t let the perception of someone else about you upset your inner balance.

2. I give myself permission to put a limit on your aggression

Woman looking at a rainbow

Visualize the following image: a golden ring is floating around you, like a life preserver. It’s what is keeping you afloat in the different areas of your life: family, work, school, etc.

  • It’s what sustains you, the daily strength that keeps you going each day. But, one fine day, someone shows up and gets too close.
  • They come up behind you with a giant needle pointed towards your life preserver to put a hole in it and let all the air out.

Now you can feel yourself sinking.

Don’t let that happen: you have the ability to prevent this from happening, to defend yourself, to set boundaries on what you will and won’t allow.

It’s a principle of mental health: if something bothers you, react. Above all, don’t let them get close enough to hurt you.

Discover how to:

Improve Your Mental Health with These 8 Tips

3. I give myself permission to be assertive

When someone treats us badly, our emotions take over, causing us to react with fear or anger.

These two emotions completely override the rational areas of the brain, preventing you from speaking with courage and wisdom.

  • First, you need to keep your calm so that you’ll be able to speak assertively.
  • Imagine a palace, a white room with open windows through which a serene light enters. Go in and breathe. Nothing others say or do should ever make you forget who you are and what you’re worth.

When you feel you are calm enough, then you can speak your mind. Acting assertively means being able to speak firmly, yet respectfully, making clear what you will and won’t allow. Therefore, speak without fear and defend yourself.

4. Give yourself permission to leave behind those who treat you badly

Flowers on a tree

Anyone that mistreats you doesn’t deserve your time or attention. Certainly, some people specialize in creating problems and spreading their bad mood and contempt to those who least deserve it.

  • We are aware that, sometimes, that those who treat us badly are those closest to us: coworkers, family and even our partners.
  • Another essential mental health rule is to remember that those who treat you badly do not respect you, nor do they empathize with your feelings. 
  • Living every day with these types of tense and destructive dynamics is no way to live.
  • You need to reflect on the situation and make a decision: to clearly say what you will and won’t allow and warn them that if the behavior continues, you will avoid them.

Your emotional health must come first.

5. Give yourself permission to heal and be even stronger

Woman in the wind to simbolize the feeling of freedom no one treats you badly

The ones who hurt us the most in these situations are the people that are closest to our hearts. A partner, a sibling, a mother, a father…

When someone who is important to us crosses the line of what is acceptable and respectful, many things “break” inside.

  • Sometimes keeping your distance isn’t enough. That’s because the betrayal is still there and it needs to be healed.
  • Give yourself time. You need to take time to do things that nourish your soul: walking, writing, painting, traveling, visiting a friend.

You can find comfort and refuge in many things, but the best way to heal wounds is to surround yourself with people who truly love you and deserve to be loved in turn.

Just like there are people who can bring sadness and cloudy skies, there are those who recharge and inspire you. Look for them.

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  • Gaeta, Galvanovskis, “Asertividad: Un análisis teórico- empírico”, ENSEÑANZA E INVESTIGACIÓN EN PSICOLOGÍA, VOL. 14, NUM. 2: 403-425, JULIO-DICIEMBRE, 2009
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