Recently, I’ve been thinking about respect, mistreatment and boundaries with loved ones and how interlinked they are. It got me thinking about my childhood and the things I was taught, not only by my Mum, but by the other adults I encountered growing up.
When I was a child, adults regularly said that you have to respect your elders. Most cultures have adopted this way of thinking and continuously pass it down to each generation and so on. Personally, I grasped the concept from a young age and implemented it info my life (didn’t really have a choice) but I always thought it was flawed.
There was a turning point; a shattering of this problematic thinking and reality slowly started to seep through. As a lot of my childhood and teenage years were spent in black churches, this is where that thinking was heavily pushed on me and others in my age group. We were told to respect the elders of our churches, even the rotten ones who made it their duty to come to church to gossip and belittle as many people (including children) as they could. It started to rub me up the wrong way and that was when I slowly started resisting this way of thinking because not everyone deserves respect. You’re not entitled to it because of your age or because you did this or that. It should be because of your character, which includes how you treat others. In my opinion, it’s better to either let people earn your respect or give people the standard “treat others how you would want to be treated” and build from that until a person gives you a reason to remove it all. BUT if someone is obviously garbage, then please feel free to implement a “no respect” policy for them from the get-go!
As an adult, I still follow the same principle, albeit where work is concerned because unfortunately, different rules are at play here and you can’t always choose who you work with. That’s not to say that you should allow people to feel it’s open season on how they talk to or treat you but the workplace is often a real test of how you set boundaries and show people how to treat you. Sometimes you just have to hold your tongue and count to 10 or get someone together in a professional way, which can even involve management so you know you’re covering your WHOLE back. That has definitely worked for me in the past as I’m very aware and experienced in the narrative of angry black woman when it comes to dealing and resolving issues in the workplace. But back to my point!
There are people who think they can walk through life mistreating others. They rarely or never hold themselves accountable, apologies are foreign concepts to them and they often tend to repeat the same behaviour. Rather than be a decent person or do the complete reverse when faced with a situation they created, they move past it without acknowledging anything and expect you to get over it. No. Shouldn’t we hold people accountable when they do things that are disrespectful? Yes we should. How else will the person know and others know that their behaviour is a problem that you do not accept?
When you react in appropriate ways to people’s foolishness e.g. ending the relationship, you really will see who a person is because if they attempt to challenge the boundary you’ve created due to their actions, this only reconfirms that you made the right choice in the first place. For me, depending on my relationship with you and what capacity I have to be around you again (or if ever), I will always adjust myself according to how you move forward after your wrongdoing.
I own my mistakes and believe in apologising and explaining myself, if needed. However, there are people who randomly do terrible things and never apologise or weirdly think you owe them one instead. These people are mad and will raise your blood pressure or take you out of your character if you allow them to. As mentioned above, cutting people off as a consequence of certain behaviours is on the ways you can rid yourself of problematic people. I’m a big believer in it but if I still have to be around you, then I will actively reduce our interactions to merely when needed because I will never sacrifice my peace for yours. NEVER. Some may not have the courage to take these type of steps, especially when it comes to loved ones (family/friends/partner) and believe me, I do understand that and have had my own struggles too but I love ME. I love peace, I love living a happy and fulfilling life and I won't allow anyone to disrupt my mental wellbeing anymore.
I have cut people off at the first red flag and after the tenth and believe me, it feels better when you make the necessary arrangements after the first flag. Upon reflection, there’s been times when I should’ve cancelled certain people but I accepted their apologies or allowed them to get away with things. You live and you learn! Never be afraid to alert someone to their problematic behaviour or remove someone from your life because they are disturbing your peace of mind. You decide who you let in and you definitely do not need to answer to anyone about the boundaries you create to maintain your peace of mind.
As I continuously work to be the best version of myself and keep my mental health where I need it to be, I still face predicaments where I treat people well and they pay me back with nonsense and it’s DAMN annoying as hell. I say this to you to remind you that after you affirm how you want to be treated and create boundaries when needed, still expect to encounter people who are trash. It’s unrealistic to think you won’t but with time and persistence you will learn how to handle them better. I had to learn that and also stumble a bit until I became completely confident in who I am and what I will or won’t allow.