5 Things You Should Allow Yourself to Do if Someone Treats You Badly

When the person who's treating you badly belongs to your inner circle, you need to make it clear that if they don't change their attitude, you'll have to put your own well-being first and start avoiding them.
5 Things You Should Allow Yourself to Do if Someone Treats You Badly
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

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

In this share, we share five things you should allow yourself to do to react in a better way when someone treats you badly. We’re sure they’ll be really helpful.

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

For example, 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 to the survival instinct and often lead us to react aggressively or to flee the threatening situation.

You have to manage these situations with emotional intelligence. This way, neither fear nor anger will be able to control how you react.

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

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

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

The first step is not to take the opinions and perceptions of others as facts. You have to remember that you’re capable of doing anything you set your mind to. According to this study, a strong self-esteem is a fundamental part of your well-being and you shouldn’t let anyone affect it.

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

2. I give myself permission to limit your aggression

A 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.
  • After this, you can feel yourself sinking.

Don’t let that happen. You have every right to keep 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 and defend yourself.

Above all, don’t let them get close enough to hurt you.

3. I give myself permission to be assertive

When someone treats you badly, your emotions take over, causing you 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 of all, you need to keep calm so that you’ll be able to speak assertively. According to an investigation conducted by the University of Santander in Colombia, assertiveness is a necessary social skill to be able to express yourself correctly and with empathy and build bonds with others.
  • 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’re calm enough, speak your mind. Acting assertively means being able to speak firmly, yet respectfully, making clear what you will and won’t allow.

Speak without fear and defend yourself.

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

A few flowers on a tree.

Anyone who mistreats you doesn’t deserve your time or attention; they especially don’t deserve to be in your social circle. However, some people specialize in creating problems and spreading their bad mood and contempt to those who least deserve it.

  • However, you’re aware that, sometimes, those who treat you badly are those closest to us: coworkers, family, and even your partner. In the latter case, you have to be aware that, according to what this study conducted by the University of the Basque Country states, there are many types of mistreatment and that physical aggression isn’t the only painful one.
  • Another essential mental health rule is to remember that those who treat you badly don’t 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’ll need to distance yourself.

Your emotional health must come first.

5. Give yourself permission to heal and be even stronger

A woman in the wind simbolizing the feeling of freedom when no one treats you badly.

Sometimes, the ones who hurt you the most in these situations are the people that are closest to your heart.

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

  • Sometimes, keeping your distance isn’t enough. That’s because the disappointment 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, or visiting a friend, among others.

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. Toxic relationships are a part of life (according to this study conducted by the San Buenaventura University in Colombia) and you should learn to protect yourself from them.

However, if you feel that you can’t handle a situation or emotion, the best thing to do is to go see a specialist who can help and guide you.

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

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Polaino A. En busca de la autoestima perdida. 3ra edición: Descleé de Brouwer; 2004: Cap. 2.
  • Aguilar. (2012). Comunicación Asertiva. Documento del Servicio de Salud Personal del Estado de Morelos.
  • Gaeta, Galvanovskis, “Asertividad: Un análisis teórico- empírico”, ENSEÑANZA E INVESTIGACIÓN EN PSICOLOGÍA, VOL. 14, NUM. 2: 403-425, JULIO-DICIEMBRE, 2009
    Redalyc. http://www.redalyc.org/html/292/29211992013/.
  • Daniel Goleman, Inteligencia emocional, 1995.
  • Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves, “Inteligencia emocional 2.0”, 2012.
  • Stephen R. Covey, 7 hábitos de la gente altamente efectiva, 2003

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.