top of page

7 Behaviors that Hurt You and Your Relationships

Image of cat sleeping in corner of stone doorway. Counseling raleigh, therapy, © Katherine Broadway

Do you find yourself feeling taken for granted in your relationships?

Do you feel like you are the one who gives more and receives less?

Do you feel unsure of how important you are to your friends, family

and lovers? Unconsciously, you may be teaching people to treat

you in a careless way by your behaviors.

John once again was feeling as if no one cared about what he needed or wanted. He and his wife had just returned from a much-needed vacation. They agreed that she would make most of the arrangements for the trip. He thought he was very clear that he did not want to go on any long guided trips. On the first day of the trip, however, John learned his first activity was an all-day guided bus tour on a bus with a lot of people.

The Problem

The problem was that this was the first time he had said what he wanted. He usually did what others wanted, changed his plans to meet others needs, and went out of his way to please. What he discovered is that he had not been clear about what was important to him; rather than making a clear request with specific ideas, he mentioned it in passing.

We teach people how to treat us both by how we treat them and how we treat ourselves. If we do not think about what we need and want, others will not think about us as having needs.

We learn early how to treat ourselves by how our parents treat us. John’s mother was not attuned to John’s needs, therefore, he did not pay attention to his needs. For years, he was not aware he had needs. It was not a conscious plan to teach others to not listen to him and his needs. It happened because he was not aware, and others treated him like he treated himself.

7 Behaviors That Hurt You

Take a look at the following list of behaviors that you might be doing to teach others how to not pay attention to what you need.

1. You anticipate what everyone needs before they need it. You find a way to meet the “perceived” need of others. You offer to help others before they ask for it, or you know if they want or need help. You work so hard at helping others that you miss the person.

2. You will do things for others that they do not want done. At times, because you are working so hard to anticipate everyone’s needs, you do something before you are asked. You are then confused because you were trying to help and are not appreciated.

3. You feel hurt when others politely refuse your help. You feel that it is an act of rejection and that you are worthless.

4. You do more than your fair share of the work. You do this before you have time to consider if it is a good option for you or them. When it is over, you feel others have taken advantage of you.

5. You are afraid to say no. This leads you to do things for others that you do not want to do. You believe that if you say no, people will get mad and reject you.

6. You are afraid to know what you need. When you do know you, are afraid to ask for help.

7. You work hard to take care of everyone so they will be happy. If anyone gets unhappy, mad, or afraid, you try to fix the situation or convince them that they aren’t really upset.

You probably believe that this kind of behavior is being polite and caring. The idea of not acting like this may feel hurtful and like you will not be “yourself.” You believe that if you are not giving to others you are being selfish. If you have a Harsh Inner Critic, that voice is probably chiming in with how awful it will be to not “give to others” and “be helpful.”

5 Questions

I offer you 5 questions to ask to help you modify your behavior, not change you into someone else. These questions can help you treat yourself better and still be able to help others.

1. Start by asking, “How may I help you?”. You will be amazed how many people will accept the offer and even know what they need. They will probably feel grateful for the help and you will feel appreciated.

2. Ask yourself, “What do I want and need?” This is a trickier question. You are not accustomed to thinking about yourself, so it will take time for you to get to know what you want and need. You may have to begin by asking the question, “What would I do for a friend in this situation?”

Pay attention to your feelings. Identifying your feelings may help you know what you need and want.

These questions are a lot to answer when you first begin the process of knowing yourself. When you get to where you can answer the first 2 questions you can then ask the next three questions.

3. What kind of help do I need? Finding the answer may involve research.

4. Where can I find that help? Online, a local resource person, a volunteer organization, a church or synagogue, to name a few places.

5. Who can help me? Do you need a professional or can a friend help? It is possible to be kind, loving and giving without sacrificing yourself.

When you take care of yourself you will still give to others and help them. The hurt and resentment you feel and the fear you feel will turn into confidence and joy because you will feel good about what you do and who you are.

Are you having trouble identifying your feelings, needs and wants? Are you unsure how to get help? I know how to help you. Call me at (919)881-2001.

bottom of page