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Respect Yourself: Stop Letting Others Take Advantage of You

Everyone needs to learn to respect themselves and stop letting others take advantage of us. Just the other day I noticed that I was about to let someone take advantage of me. It may not have been on purpose, but the gal at the checkout overcharged me for an item. I felt this strong sense of unfairness and asked her nicely to change the price. She apologized and fixed the mistake.

This may sound like a simple example, but the truth is, each time you stand up for what’s fair, you respect yourself. When you stop allowing others to take advantage of you and respect yourself, your self-esteem improves

When others take advantage of you, it can do one of three things: one, tick you off, leading to aggressive outbursts or internal anger at yourself (and them); two, feelings of hopeless and reinforcing the false belief that you don’t deserve respect; or three, guide you to act assertively and stand up for yourself. Clearly, the third will help you develop strong self-esteem and more self-respect, but it can feel uncomfortable at first.

Stop Letting Others Take Advantage of You in 4 Steps

It’s likely that you are a helpful person by nature, and sometimes you allow people to take advantage of you, because you’re nice and you want to please others. Stop this pattern; it’s killing your self-respect. You can be kind and nice and have boundaries. Learn to value your own schedule and plans as much as you value others.Learn how to finally stop letting others take advantage of you. Here are 4 simple steps that will help you respect yourself and build self-esteem.

Respect yourself step 1: Think of a time that you were treated unfairly. What did that feel like? Perhaps it was your colleague dumping a project on you at the last minute, the waiter bringing you the wrong food, or your mother calling and keeping you on the phone for an hour. Think about how this situation made you feel physically and emotionally. Did you want to fix it but just didn’t know what to say or were you afraid to say something in order to get what you deserved? Think about the feelings and thoughts that come up when you recognize someone is taking advantage of your time or kindness. This feeling is important, it will push you to use the following skills.

Respect yourself step 2: Figure out what you value. Is it your free time, workouts, Netflix binges on the weekend? As a therapist, I have people emailing me at all hours of the day and calls that “need to be answered” at all hours of the night but I can’t be available 24/7. That’s not fair to me and it isn’t fair to my clients. If I’m annoyed, angry, or frustrated, how am I going to be serving them? Instead, I decided to set hours, and let my clients know these were. This helped me spend my time with family and friends

Respect yourself step 3: Start small. Pay attention to the details. Did your cab driver keep the meter running or your friend keep you waiting for an hour? Notice the small things that take advantage of your time, kindness, or your lack of attention.  If I wouldn’t have been paying attention, the checkout girl would have unknowingly taken advantage of me, and I would have been upset with myself and her if I noticed it later on. Be aware of your interactions and if people begin to make you feel like you are being taken advantage of, then you can act.

Respect yourself step 4: Act. Say something, speak up for yourself. It may just be a question to confirm that your needs are being met, but their answer will also keep you feeling confident and in control. Be nice and polite when you are asking for what you want to be fixed or inquiring about it. Here are some examples:

  • Excuse me, I thought the price was lower; could you double check for me?
  • I have other plans that I can’t change. You’ll have to find someone else.
  • I only have 10 minutes to talk; how’s it going?

Look, at the end of the day, it is you who may be taken advantage of, so you have to step up, be brave, and respect yourself otherwise it will keep happening. The more you practice saying “no” or standing up for what’s right for you, the higher your self-esteem will become.

Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

44 thoughts on “Respect Yourself: Stop Letting Others Take Advantage of You”

  1. I try my hardest to be nice to everyone and respect people’s privacy and space, this is what most of my friends love about me. They mistake and take my kindness for weakness and they bail on me last minute when I’m already waiting for them at a restaurant, or put their anger out on me when they have had a bad day, or put me down when an opportunity arises to make themselves feel better, and put out my faults. I cut 1 friend out and then went back because she sincerely apologized, but this year as I tell people’s own their action affect me they change their mood and say that I’ve changed. Is this how all friends act or should I look for new friends. Thank you

    1. Hi Sahra,

      Thanks for your comment. That sounds like a really difficult situation. Obviously you want to be a nice person and people admire that about you, but it seems even your friends will sometimes take advantage of you because of that. It’s okay not to always try your hardest to be nice and available for others, especially when this means you’re letting others not be nice towards yourself. There is definitely a balance to be struck.

      This isn’t necessarily how all friends act. Maybe they’re not purposefully taking advantage of you and being unkind, but it could be worth having a conversation with them about how they make you feel. If they are your friends, they should be understanding and be willing to respect you in the future.

      Take care Sahra,


    2. Sahra, can I just say that I also went through similar experiences except your scenarios sound more hurtful 🙁 I’m sorry you went through that, and I know how confusing it can be. You ask yourself, where does it all begin? It starts in the now. If you really want to nip this in the bud for real, it will take time. Analyze your friends and if any are toxic (putting you down especially consistently) cut them out or distance yourself. If they wonder, you can either say upfront the dynamic of your relationship and how it makes you uncomfortable, or play it off and continue the distance. It depends how brave you want to get. At this time, you are vulnerable and need to control your environment as you continue improving yourself. Next, you will have to pay attention and act on present situations where you can catch your friends in a hurtful scenario. I really do believe if one does not stand up for themselves then it means there’s a lack of self respect, self love. Think how critical this is. You will make mistakes and have your voice shake, but think of the reward. It will make your relationships much better, the real friends will naturally be divided by ones who have ulterior motives. And you will stop having this poisonous feeling eating away at you. You sound amazing and kind and I hope you find your brave side, I know you have it. <3 Hugs

  2. What about in situations where it is typical in Asia not to respect your clients’ money, time, kindness, and patience. They don’t treat me very well if i don’t look like I have money- the irony in that is- I do. I dress and act nicely and politely to see how well they treat me. More often that not, not very well and charge triple what the service is worth. When I clarify they point to the sign and won’t admit their mistakes or come up with an excuse. It’s just in Asia these two places are the best in term of location.

  3. I have one son whom I raised as a single parent. He married into a family with no family values. When I I say his mother in law says something it’s respected but if I suggest something it’s disrespectful and intrusive by me as my son tells me. I decided I am no longer exposing myself to this. The girl he married doesn’t know how to cook clean raise kids and is very dependent upon her mother who is in a relationship with no commitment and her brother doesn’t do anything at 27 . My family is structured. My son went to live with this girl at her home at 16 years ol and her mom allowed it. He had just finished High school bad choice but oh well. I didn’t want this for him but can’t impose thinking on an almost legal adult. N at her place there were no rules!

    1. Hi Adrianna, thanks for your comment. That sounds like quite a tricky situation, as obviously you want the best for your son but he is also living an independent life now. It, of course, must also be difficult to hear that your words are not respected by your son. Perhaps you could have some one-on-one time to chat with your son about what you’ve written here? Have you talked about this with him before? If so, what was the reaction?

      Take care, Adrianna.

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