What to do When Someone Disrespects You
What to do when someone disrespects you
This blog will help you understand what you can do to take care of yourself when someone is disrespecting you.
I want to address the way it is to be in the position of being disrespected, because it’s often very uncomfortable and painful. Being disrespected or worse, bullied, is very challenging. It hurts emotionally and can tempt you to feel badly about yourself.
In order to understand how to respond to disrespect you need to understand how to think about weakness.
What is “weakness”?
If a part of the body is weak in an uncomplicated way, it means that there is an injury or insult of some kind and care is needed to replenish and heal. Then strength can be regained with use and intention. If a person seems emotionally weak, it is usually for a similar reason, that an injury or hurt has been sustained, and the person needs to emotionally heal.
Complications can occur. Injuries can have layers and be resistant to healing. Patterns of behavior or life experiences can create disappointment and chronic problems.
Emotional insecurity usually comes from getting hurt by another person without being able to experience repair of the hurt. The earlier in life we get hurt, the deeper the insecurity can reach. Sometimes this creates a dynamic that causes more hurt and more hurtful experiences to occur as the person experiences life.
Weakness is not a bad thing. Everyone has hurt and disappointment to cope with. People make mistakes and can learn from them. Problems arise when weakness is judged as bad. This leads to shame which is often an underlying factor in all of human insecurity.
Some people see insecurity as something hateful and bad as i mention in the last paragraph. They seek to wipe it out in themselves and to point it out to others who may exhibit feelings, body language, or expressions of insecurity. This is because they have also been hurt badly, but have found a way to try to feel better about themselves through never showing their insecurity. This strategy doesn’t end because it doesn’t work. This is how the bully gets created. They feel the same as their target, only they try to be the opposite, by being right all the time, never questioning or doubting, and judging others who seem “weak” to them.
In childhood and adolescence the best way to confront disrespect and bullying is for adults to get involved and set limits, in essence helping both sides of the problem.
In adulthood, it is “the adult within” that needs to learn how to cope with being disrespected by someone else. How can you engage in this process?
1. The first thing that’s needed is support. It may mean getting out of the situation you are in with the other person if that’s possible, until you can handle being around them in a different way.
Support means getting confirmation that you are a worthy person, worthy of respect and compassion.
Support does not mean getting endorsement for self destructive behavior. In essence support means respect. If you haven’t felt that in your life it may be a hard thing to comprehend.
Sometimes this kind of respect is found in psychotherapy. Sometimes friends or surrogate family can offer this kind of support. Sometimes it comes from a pet or a child who loves unconditionally.
What to do next
2. Once you feel more support in your life, you can begin to decide how to stand up to disrespect in your life. This can take a number of forms including confronting the situation head on. That means standing up for yourself and gaining the respect of the other person.
Often, when you learn how to address someone in an assertive way, without anger or judgement, coming from “I” statements, the person will notice that you are not who they thought you were and will actually begin to feel respect for you.
What you need to understand is that sometimes the other person may never be able to change how they see you. This is really sad for them but they may be so stuck in their own need to protect their fragile feelings of self worth that no matter what you do they will be a lost cause. They will continue to judge you and think badly of you. (There are a very few people who are so damaged they can hurt people intentionally and never feel anything. This blog is not going to help with people who are dangerous physically or so abusive they don’t have any shred of humanity left in them. For situations like this, the only thing to do is get away and seek safety).
How can you tell if someone falls into this category? You may have tried to talk to them about the problem, and they have been relentless in clinging to their negative opinion or oppressive behavior. You may have tried to get help from another source (HR at work for example) and the person persists in their behavior. It might be an abusive parent or spouse who continues to treat you badly no matter what you do.
Sometimes there is nothing to do but walk away, accepting that the other person in not going to change and that you are better off getting away from them. And actually, even if other people don’t see that in the person, usually they will over time, and will also want to get away. If not, then your work is to accept that and know that you are doing what is right for you.
How to get away from a disrespectful or abusive situation
This is not easy to do. You may be so stuck in anger and resentment that you don’t want to give up. You may feel ashamed and feel that the only way to earn respect is to get it from the very person or people who will never be able to give it to you. You may have the feeling you have wasted a lot of time trying to make the situation work and that’s hard to walk away from.
Sometimes it’s a juggling act–figuring out what you need to feel safe, and how much you can step into the risk of confrontation with a difficult person. Sometimes it’s good to push yourself but safety and your own security and well being needs to come first. It can be helpful to have a therapist or other safe person to talk this over with.
Here are some examples of what I am discussing. These examples are meant to illustrate my points. These points and are fiction, or are disguised to protect confidentiality.
A. A husband and wife are about ready to get a divorce. The husband feels that his wife is attacking him at every turn, criticizing him mercilessly. He’s done with this dynamic. He tries to talk to his wife and surprisingly, she agrees to go to couples counseling with him. They begin to talk about what is bothering them both, and the husband is able to hear what his wife has become frustrated about. He learns how to stand up for himself when he feels she is berating him and she finds herself really liking him when he is stronger with her. She learns how to express herself before the anger takes over. There is a positive outcome.
B. One professional has decided that another professional is unsure of herself and therefore not good enough to respect professionally. The disrespecting professional displays a condescending attitude openly in a group situation with other peers.
The person feeling disrespected tries to approach the other in private, and is met with even greater disrespect and condescension. What to do? 1. Consider the situation using the “inner adult” as much as possible. A group can be a good place to confront someone directly if it is set up for that purpose. But a leaderless group that is not set up as a therapy group may not be the right place for this kind of situation and could lead to more of the same. This can happen in any work situation, where the purpose of the group is to get work done and not to help people heal emotionally. 2. Decide how to reduce the toxic nature of this relationship. Avoid the person as much as possible. Find other allies and support (without trying to turn others against the offender.) Try to change the way you think about the offender, meaning that they are not as strong as they may want others to see them. Know that others also see this person’s flaws even if you never hear it directly from anyone. Stay away from gossip which could make you look bad. Foster self enhancing activities and direct away from toxic situations. Learn how to forgive yourself for mistakes or weaknesses you perceive in yourself. Remember that the disrespecting person is also hurt. He or she is not all bad.
C. Two women at work have fallen into a negative situation. One of the women seems to be trying to get others to gossip about the other woman. It started when one of the women had a problem and the other woman thought the problem was a weakness and judged it. What to do? In this case there was a partial improvement. The manager was able to help by being supportive and firm at the same time. The critical woman was able to stop her inappropriate behavior, although the two women were not going to ever like each other. It was a relief to everyone else in the unit who had been very uncomfortable over the conflict.
In summary, the things to do when you feel disrespected are:
1. Get support and find safety.
2. Learn how to sated up for yourself by strengthening your “inner adult” and assertiveness skills.
3. Learn how to foster compassion for yourself.
4. Learn how to walk away emotionally and physically if needed.
How can I simply walk away from a parent if I dont know what an abusive parent looks like. An abusive parent might be the norm for someone who has grown up with them. They may have no clear moral compass and as far as they’re concerned they are utterly on their own, it is hard to know who to trust and how to go about the problem because it’s such a complex problem that requires sophisticated diagnosing strategies, that are way beyond the control of a helpless kid.
My mum had a massive row with me to go to art college because she wants me to live in footsteps of my uncle who is an artist. I ended up doing some random course in art I didn’t like instead of studying graphic design or marketing, she keeps money from my dad, asks what he is constantly up to, has constant arguments. Also I have a disability which makes it hard for me to have my own dependence since I’ve been Co-defendant on my parents for so long.
I have a toxic mother too. The best thing is to set boundaries. My birth mother dosn’t want to be my family any more,as time passes our relation becomes colder and colder,if any meeting happen ,she is just disrespectful,…My advice is to follow your dreams. I have accepted mother nature as a mother and I have found great things in universe, if someone as parent doesn’t want to be open and they don’t want to love and serve unconditionaly ,just leave them alone, be strong and honest with yourself, you know how to get along with your disability. There is great love in universe. sometimes it will be difficult but the result worth it
Am glad I read this article, it has confirmed my decision to break off totally from my dad who had disrespected me for So long and refused to change despite all my efforts to get him to change his attitute.
Thanks to you all for your comments and helpful ideas! I am happy that my blog was useful in some way.
I welcome more comments. Best wishes, Phyllis
Thank you for the advice. I’m working with a woman that disrespects me. I’ve overcome being cut off from my tender feelings. She sees it as weakness. Oh well.
I’m dealing with a very disrespectful man. He sits and does sneaky stuff right in my face like I’m unaware of what he’s doing. Once I’m boiled over with anger he in returns gets mad at me like I’m in the wrong. I been reading these articles to gain better control of my anger. However I’m far from where I need to be to deal with this I need help just like he does any advice?
Thanks for your post. You are right that anger is really hard to cope with especially when you are being aggravated repeatedly by someone who doesn’t acknowledge or respect you. Have you tried to talk to him? And if he doesn’t get where you are coming from, what can you do to create some boundaries between you and this person?
Best wishes, Phyllis Klein
I had a very toxic childhood. My parents had both been somewhat abused emotionally/pyschologically by their own parents and never sought help to deal with it. Hence all of their dysfunction was brought together when they married and heaped on us. This is what I did at the age of 30 and what I recommend; Ask yourself one question; What do I get out of this relationship? Or you can ask it another way; How do I feel after spending time with this person? For me once I approached it this way and answered honestly, it was very clear, the answer was nothing positive. Every interaction with my mother was toxic, unpleasant, negative and joyless. It was literally like stepping from sunshine and warmth into the bowels of some cold, dark dungeon. The next move was easy. I told her what I thought of her, how she made me feel and cut the cord. My life changed immediately for the better, I felt set free and like a burden was gone. Now I had been in therapy for years, so I will not claim to have reached this point without lots of help. I have never regretted it and am now 52. She abused me emotionally for years, but it all stopped the day I told her I was done with her. I grew to love myself and like myself, now my self esteem is great and my self worth is even better. I am now able to look back and see it and her for what it was. A deeply wounded insecure person trying to wound all those around her to make herself feel better. Good luck to all who come here for answers. It isn’t about you, it is about them.
Dear Shannon, Sorry it’s taken me this long to comment on your post. I am glad you read my blog and that you have been able to take care of yourself, grow to love yourself and like yourself. As you say, it’s hard work, but worth it! Thanks for your comment. And the support you offer to others.
Best wishes, Phyllis
I have mentally abusive mother too she tries to control all at home she is such bitch she is greedy about money she.never tried me guide properly and tries to bring lot of misunderstanding between me and my father,sister whole family she is told that we have tortured her such a cheap lady she never take control of home even I have move a inch at home I have take her permission.please help what do I do with such bloody mother I am really frustrated and depressed.
I am sorry that you are so frustrated and depressed about your mother. I hope you will be able to get some help to sort out how you can get some emotional distance and focus on taking care of yourself. Thanks for your comment.
It’s funny all the comments here are family related. My mother abused the living hell out of me and today my spouse was so mad at me he told me I deserved what she and my father did to me. So I feel emotionally ruined or at least did. I hit him so hard in the face I won’t forget what it sounded like. I realized I am losing control and no longer want to. I need to take myself away from my parents that do not love me at all. But my trauma drags me around and ptsd. There is no justice for what happened to me it’s been years and I am having a horrible time adjusting to reality and coping with life it’s so so hard.
It’s really good that you realized you were losing control and that you don’t want to. And it is so difficult to separate from difficult/ disrespectful people. That is when the trauma can be so heavy and the PTSD symptoms can increase. You are right that it is so hard to be abused and the aftermath is extremely difficult. I am glad that you wrote about it. The next step is continue connecting with people who are not going to abuse you so that you can get the support you need.
Best wishes, Phyllis