How do I get people to respect me and how do I stop being resentful?
March 18, 2017 2:58 PM   Subscribe

I am very timid and shy. I also have ADD so I seem very spacy. I've noticed that people don't take me seriously and I have been taken advantage of before. This includes being sexually harassed at work. I am getting to the point where I am starting to be overly cautious of people and I am very distrustful in general. I had a goal last year of putting myself out there and I crashed and burned terribly. I feel like people see me as immature and dumb and I'd like to change that.

I used to think that people in general are good and compassionate, now I'm not so sure anymore. I hear stories of people that had someone be empathetic and caring while they were having depressive episodes. I envy those people because no one in my life has ever gone out of their way to make sure I was emotionally okay even when it was obvious I needed help. I've had three occasions this year where people that I thought were good completely took advantage of me and took me as a fool. It devastated me every single time and I can't stop thinking about why they couldn't have been more respectful. I feel like there is something wrong with me and I need to change quickly. I dislike almost everyone now whereas before I was at most indifferent. I've become more protective of myself and I've started to obsess over details in the past and think about how I was perceived.

Please help me move on from this and become a better person.
posted by sheepishchiffon to Human Relations (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You should see a therapist. They will be able to spend the time to work through this issue with you fully. The internet cannot solve this problem for you.

See if your employer has an EAP (employee assistance program), they generally provide a small number of therapy sessions free of charge. Your employer will know someone used the program but not who.

You can also request a list of in-network mental health providers from your insurance, either online or by calling them. Then call people to make an appointment. This may take a while, unfortunately this isn't easy and many providers either won't return your call or won't be accepting new patients, this is why you keep calling through the list. If you get through the whole list call back the insurance provider and ask them for a waiver to see an out of network therapist. Keep pushing on it citing a network deficiency.

Or pay cash for an out of network provider and submit for your out of network benefit through your insurer (if you have one).

I'm sorry you are going through this.
posted by magnetsphere at 3:12 PM on March 18 [7 favorites]

People in general are selfish and hypocritical. They are generally shitty to their fellow human beings, but will believe that they are wonderful. Yes, there are times when people are not shit and will actually extend compassion to a fellow human being. Don't hold your breath. It's adaptive for people to overestimate how "good" humans are. It's a lot easier to function well in the world when you have overly-optimistic beliefs, so evolution has selected for Pollyannas.

Being protective of yourself is good. My best advice is to take note of how people treat you, and spend less time and invest less emotionally in those that aren't good to you. Try to just turn away from them rather than focusing on them by obsessing about what they did to you (I know it's easier said than done). That leaves more time and room in your life for someone to come along who *will* go out of their way to make sure you are emotionally ok.

Also, hopefully it's obvious, but make sure that you are good to others as well. Prioritize being good to those who have been good to you. Give new people the benefit of the doubt as your emotional state allows.
posted by nirblegee at 3:13 PM on March 18 [7 favorites]

I feel like there is something wrong with me and I need to change quickly.

One of the most important insights I've gained (and this came through therapy, which I think you should consider) is that when people treat you badly, it's a reflection on them, not on you. Those people who took advantage of you? They didn't do that because of who you are, they did it because that's how they are.

I think it's pretty common to internalize people treating us badly to mean we're bad, but it just doesn't. It also doesn't necessarily mean those people are inherently bad, but it means they did things that were shitty.

And yes, unfortunately, a lot of people suck. I admit to having a very dim view of humanity, but I try to surround myself with people that I trust and believe to have my best interests at heart, and I've become more ruthless about cutting off people who clearly don't, which means in my case I don't have contact with most of my family members, but my life is much better for it.

If there are things about yourself you want to change, go for it, but don't do it just because you think you can prevent these people from treating you badly if you do just the right thing. That line of thinking can really erode your self esteem and make you miserable.

Please do consider therapy. This is exactly the kind of issue it can be helpful to work through with a trained therapist.
posted by litera scripta manet at 3:32 PM on March 18 [11 favorites]

My initial impression and final impression of this question differ greatly.

On first glance I thought I would advise to speak more loudly, to take qualifiers and disclaimers out of your speech, and generally to work on self-confidence. However, reading the further information you've provided I strongly agree with therapy. Yes, you can change your behavior to help increase the chances that people will react to you differently, but you're making a lot of negative statements about yourself that don't seem likely to be true, and also the things that other people are doing to you that you perceive as your fault, are not.

It's not your fault that people at work sexually harassed you. That's completely on them. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that if you only act or appear a certain way that you can control other people's behavior and ensure you never get harassed, assaulted, raped, or whatever. It doesn't matter how careful or cautious you are, people can still try to take advantage of you or harass you. I would encourage you if you feel up to it to press charges against anyone who behaves in these ways.

I personally do believe that people in general are good and compassionate, but unfortunately that doesn't mean that bad things can't happen, they can and they do every day. If you always hid under your bed, you'd almost eliminate the possibility that other people can interact with you for better or for worse, but that's no way to live - the most important thing is to have coping mechanisms and be resilient when bad things do happen, and that's where therapy can help.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:29 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]

There is a lot here, so I'm going to try to break it out by general themes:

IMPORTANT THING #1: being sexually harassed, abused, or manipulated by someone you trusted is IN NO WAY something you could control and is very much NOT your fault.

There are few things more frustrating than when someone assumes that your amiability makes you a doormat or an easy target. And the most frustrating part is that the onus of how to deal with bad behavior is placed on the person who has chosen to observe social mores regarding basic human decency and politeness and not on the a-hole who broke the contract.

If it helps, remember that you're under no obligation to continue to stick with the social contract if it doesn't serve you in the situation--the offending party has already proved they don't care about the rules.

It sucks that your trust was abused. In the wake of this, caution is a natural and valid reaction, but I would encourage you to try to view it through the lens of "now I know what these problems/transgressions look like and I can respond accordingly in the future" rather than "this is proof positive that humans are trash" wherever possible. I'd hate for you to miss out on the opportunity to form healthier, better relationships down the road because of some bad eggs in your past.

IMPORTANT THING #2: You have absolutely no control over what people think of you. Best not to be overly concerned with that.

Fun fact: the more you worry about being perceived as "immature and dumb" and try to go out of your way to counteract this, the more it looks like you've got something to prove. But you don't have anything to prove to other people. Prove it to yourself.

Because what you DO have control over is cultivating your own strengths, recognizing and taking steps to address your own shortcomings, and setting your own boundaries. Having a strong sense of self means that even if some people aren't picking up what you're putting down, you can be confident that you are doing you the best way you can and are conveying yourself authentically.

Take it back to the basics. What are the things and people that are important to you? What does your ideal you look like? What do you want to convey to the world and to new people? Is this ideal self of yours someone you could realistically work towards becoming (be brutally honest)? What are some steps you can take to put you on that path?

What are your strengths and shortcomings? How can you improve upon your shortcomings in a way that is natural and sustainable for you? What are your boundaries and what will you do when they are crossed by someone?

IMPORTANT THING #3: Get thee to therapy.

As others have said, the best way to get a handle on these feelings is to work with a good therapist. If you don't have one, it's worth it to find one. It can help to try to get to the heart of what types of issues you want to address first if possible, since it might be easier to narrow down the list if you can focus on someone who specializes in what you want to work on. But the important part is that you do NOT have to untangle this on your own.

Good luck!
posted by helloimjennsco at 1:28 PM on March 20

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