The Golden Rule: Reversed

goldPhoto courtesy of Mykl Roventine

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

We’ve all heard some version of this quote before, usually as children when our parents were attempting to turn us into decent people. “Remember the Golden Rule,” my mother would often remind me - before I did something I’d end up regretting. As it turns out, following the Golden Rule is a pretty effective way to ensure that you treat other people with respect.

But – what should you do when those other people aren’t returning the favor? Do you still have to follow the Golden Rule? My vote’s on no – but don’t stoop to their level, either. Putting up with poor treatment and disrespect simply shouldn’t be on your To-Do list as you move toward the life you really want. Be on the lookout for anyone who wants to subject you to:

  • Abuse – I think we all know that it’s not ok to get knocked around by someone and then stick around for more. But remember, emotional abuse can be just as, or even more damaging, and should be treated so. If someone is abusing you – in any form – they don’t love you, and it’s time for you to move on.
  • Taking you for granted - Many people bring this one on themselves, but that doesn’t make it right. If you’re being treated more like the hired help than a spouse or a friend, it’s time for you to wake up and smell the insult. You deserve to be acknowledged for your efforts.
  • Inconsistency – You need people in your life who you can count on when you need them. Constantly receiving mixed or contradictory messages from those who are close to you can leave you feeling discombobulated instead of how friends should make you feel: understood and confident.
  • Mean girl behavior – You know this personality type from way back in middle school. It comes in the form of tightly knit groups of (usually) girls who are eager to spread rumors in such a passive-aggressive manner that you end up thinking you’re the crazy one. Unfortunately, mean girl behavior has stuck with some women well into adulthood, and it can be just as traumatizing to you now as it was at age 12. The mean girl (or guy) typically draws in at least one other friend to harass or bully their peers. Doing so gives her a sense of control, and takes the attention off of her own insecurities. My advice on dealing with mean girls in adulthood? People can only bring you down if you let them.
  • Jealousy - Feelings of insecurity can lead others to believe they are inherently “not good enough.” Because of this, any perceived threat to your relationship with them will be met with anger – and fear that you will discover their “unworthiness.” Although you may think that consistent reassurance can eventually put an end to any behaviors a jealous friend subjects you to; that’s simply not going to happen. Since jealousy stems from a low sense of self, the change will have to come from within the person who is feeling jealous. Don’t allow yourself to be punished for someone else’s low self-esteem.
  • Lying - Being lied to can range from annoying to extremely frustrating, depending on who’s telling you the lies. Everyone lies from time to time, but a close relationship with a compulsive or pathological liar can be maddening.  Getting a true compulsive liar to see the hurt they’re causing is difficult; in fact, you may need to resort to an intervention of sorts. Be forewarned – lying can be indicative of a much larger problem like narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder. If it’s not a relationship that you plan on keeping for the long term, say bye-bye to the liar and pursue relationships with more honest and forthright people.

The Golden Rule tells us to treat others how we’d like to be treated. In cases where that’s just not working, treat yourself how you’d like to be treated. Kiss the mean girls good bye and pursue outside relationships with people who make you feel good rather than drag you down.

Spread the word!

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    • Laurie

      Another interesting and well timed article, thanks!
      I have had very recent conversations with co-workers who ask how to ‘put up with’ someone else’s behavior and was looked at like I have a third eye when I tell them not to and tell them that it is perfectly fine to pull that person aside and tell them that what they are doing is not acceptable. It does not occur to a great number of people that we just do not have to accept behaviors in others that are unhealthy.

      While calling out the unacceptable with co-workers is easier than when this behavior is going on in one’s own home, we tend to be a bit more forgiving and that is not always better. It takes much more strength to stand firm when dealing with people closer to our hearts and in our homes. Although it is frustrating and sad when the behaviors continue causing us to have to disconnect from someone we love, it is for our self preservation. Sometimes, it is the only way that they will change their behavior as well.

      Having gone through it, I encourage others to stand strong, love your self enough to stop enabling others’ unacceptable behaviors even if it means that you have to distance yourself from those people if they are unwilling to change. You will not regret your decision and will be much happier!

      • Adrienne McGuire

        We must be on the same wavelength, Laurie! I do agree that it is much more difficult to deal with these behaviors from those closest to us, but that makes it all the more important to do so.

        Thank you, as always, for your great input here!