A Guide to Training People How to Treat You“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.” – Janis Joplin

When I was going through group counseling as a teen (in my pregnancy school), I had a hard time understanding why, when a girl was complaining about a relationship she had, the counselor would shift the focus back to the girl. How could she change to improve the relationship? What was she doing that was causing this disfunction to happen? 

It always frustrated me. I knew it must be something taught to them in their counseling courses, but I just didn’t understand the value. I mean, an abusive parent or cheating boyfriend hardly seemed like the girl’s fault. In fact, the technique felt attacking and less than empathetic. I’m sure this had something to do with the delivery (these not necessarily being the best counselors), but I didn’t like it. 

Now that I’m older, and have been through hell and back in my relationships, I understand what those counselors were trying to accomplish. I know that we train people how to treat us, and if we want to have different relationships, we have to change ourselves.

The problem is, most of this “training” is happening on a subconscious level. We don’t know we’re doing it, we just do. So relationship after relationship starts to feel the same and we don’t know why.

The question is, how do we figure it out so we can break the cycle of unhealthy relationships?

1. Stop Fixing Symptoms

It’s a very difficult thing to do, especially when there is an external crises going on, but we have to stop trying to bail the water out of the boat, and instead, fix the hole that’s letting all the water in. This means we will probably sink further before the problem is solved, but it also means we’ll make it to shore in the end. 

This can look like taking a break from, or setting strict boundaries, in a relationship while we heal, or allowing the relationship to flounder or even die, as we look at the internal problem.

I know it seems like a painful idea, but even if it hurts worse to dig out the root, in the end, it will either cut loose a diseased problem, or heal it into something healthy and beautiful.

But how do we find the problems that need to be fixed internally?

2. Know Thyself

It’s an age old quest and one worth pursuing, but how exactly do we go about discovering who we really are to begin with? And where do we find the root causes of our pain and dysfunction? My advice? Don’t look for the issues, look for your true self.

When you discover what you really look like as all the faces and supposed tos are stripped away, you will begin to see the contrast of what is and isn’t you. And then you can look at those ideas and personality traits that you’ve taken on and ask yourself where they came from. 

Whose face pops into your head? What memory? What are you afraid of? These questions are extremely revealing. 

3. Be Honest With Yourself

It takes a lot of courage to be honest with yourself about who you really are and what you really feel. We want so badly to be good, so we feel worthy of love, that we deny the truths about ourselves that give us insight into our hearts. I want you to learn the following phrase,

“I’m just a person.” 

Realize that the entire spectrum of emotions is part of your humanity, and that dealing with your truth is the only way to be free and alive.  

Learn this phrase: 'I'm just a person.' Click To Tweet

4. If you don’t love yourself, how can you train others to?

So often we are waiting for someone to love us enough, or to pull us into a place where we can love ourselves, but that will never happen. Let me repeat that. It will NEVER happen.

How do I know this? Because if you don’t love yourself, you will never believe that anyone else can love you. So even if another person (or God) was to love you fully and unconditionally, you wouldn’t be able to absorb it. 

Until you look at your raw and unfiltered self and truly, actually love what you see, you won’t ever feel completely loved. 

Does loving yourself guarantee that others will love you? No. But, because you know and love yourself, you’ll know what to look for in another, and how to teach them about yourself. And just as you would for someone else you love, you’ll be more likely to protect your heart by demanding it be treated with care. 

A guide for training people how to treat you. 5 steps.
Pinnable Image!

5. You’re Important Too

From the time we are little, we are taught to share, think of others, and generally get out of the way so we don’t offend. While there is a level of courtesy we can abide by, this thinking usually becomes toxic in many of us. We think it’s wrong to stand up and say, “Yes! I would like the last piece of cake!”

On a deeper level, we don’t feel entitled to having our own opinion or desires, as we don’t want to upset the opposite party. But in essence we’re saying, “It’s okay for you to demand your way, but not me.”

I want you to learn the following phrase:

“I am important too.”

Use it. Own it. Be okay with it.

Learn this phrase: 'I am important too.' Click To Tweet

Having healthy relationships requires something from both sides, but as you can only control yourself (on a good day), that’s the place to start. Know yourself, love yourself, and believe you’re important too. Everything else is details.


A big THANK YOU to Julie who helped me to articulate this point as I’ve watched her reform all the relationships in her life!

This post is part of the Friday Reflections Link Up with Janine @ Reflections From a Redhead and Mackenzie @ Reflections From Me. Join the link up and share in the conversation. 

This week’s prompt: “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.” – Janis Joplin

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12 thoughts on “You Have to Train People How to Treat You”

  1. Fixing the hole vs. bailing the water out. Oh boy, that speaks to me in a big way. And so does the taking a look at the faces and memories and fears and supposed tos that pop up when getting to know “thyself”. What a healing message you have Tara. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you Julie.
      I think stopping to fix something is the hardest thing you can do, especially if you don’t know whether or not you’ll be able to fix it.

  2. Another beautiful post, and very much in tune with my own Friday Reflection post this week! Funny how these parallels appear! I have written to my 16 year old self this week, giving some very similar words of wisdom (just less eloquently expressed lol).
    Personally I find the mental shift required to stop fixing symptoms, and address the root-cause, a continual challenge, as is being honest with myself! But when I do strip back the layers, the sense of truly knowing who I am and why I act is deeply fulfilling. I love the way you write, you really hit the spot for me! #FridayReflections

    1. Thanks Lisa! I’ll check out your post. :) I think finding the root cause is the hardest part. That’s why we pay so much for therapy! But you’re right, when it is found and addressed, it’s so freeing.


  3. Great post, thank you for sharing. I know in life that we all have to go through the tough stuff to truly understand what life has for us down the road. I have been trying to share some of these same things with my daughter. Your post is a great lesson for many.

    1. It’s striking how true these lessons are. I too am trying to teach them to my children, but I know that some lesson can only be taught through experience.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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