Some people have groomed to take pride in how much abuse they can tolerate, how long they can silently bear mistreatment, and how many times they’ve been “the bigger person.” This is a trauma response. Doormats and punching bags don’t get any rewards. Be selfish. Save yourself.
One of the biggest obstacles when it comes to personal growth is divorcing ourselves from the mindset that the purpose of our existence is to please or cater to other people, that our lives have no purpose if we are not working for others. Many of us learn from a very early age to hinge our opinions of ourselves on the outside validation of others. In the arena of life coaching, it’s my job to challenge how many people view the term “selfish,” and teach them that self-worth and selfishness are intrinsically intertwined. Having standards, standing up for yourself, and refusing to humble yourself in the face of those who mistreat or take advantage of you are all increasingly seen as great qualities in a world where mistreatment and injustice become more rampant by the day. But it is imperative to one’s personal growth that they demand respect from others, as well as giving it.
Many of us were raised in families where the disrespect and silencing of children was normalized. Then we internalized the belief that our thoughts, opinions, and even our dreams didn’t matter, and took that subconscious belief out into the world with us. This belief caused us to attach ourselves to toxic friends who didn’t support us, and toxic lovers who used and degraded us. If being dismissed and disregarded were normalized in your home, then learning to assert yourself and take up space might be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done, but the quality of your life (and the quality of the people in your life) will be better for it.