Self-esteem. Lesson #5. Demand it.

Posted: September 2, 2011 in Self-esteem, self-respect
Tags: , ,

We have a saying in sales that I think comes from Zig Ziglar:

     “You don’t get the close you don’t ask for.”

These words are true, not only for sales, but for probably all areas in life. If you don’t know what you want, you are going to have a tough time getting it. If you don’t demand what you want, you’ll never get it.

I am not talking about demanding something in an offensive or rude way, but you should always be direct and clear in what you want and what you don’t want.

Are you demanding self-respect from yourself and others? If not, it ain’t ever gonna happen. Yes, I am using those words and style intentionally to make a point. When you demand something, you are insisting on it and it’s not negotiable. How you allow others to treat you is a direct reflection on how you look and feel about yourself.

I remember in High School how what other people felt and thought about me caused me to define myself. Personally, I think this is a very common trait and I would rather eat insects, raw, then go through High School again. It was not a good time for me and looking back, I don’t think it was a good time for anyone except for the perfect looking cheerleaders that pranced around the school in their cute uniforms.

Yes, I am a bit bitter because I was twice their size with the wrong color and style of hair and no matter how many hours I spent the night before, putting it up in curlers and using tons of gel on it, by the end of the day it was no longer straight and looked like I had stuck my finger in a light socket. But they looked perfect and had the perfect boyfriends and drove the best cars and were the fussiest Diva’s I had ever seen prior to that time.

Plus they didn’t have acne and braces and God I’m going to stop thinking about this right now…

No wonder I took up smoking and hung-out with all the other misfits. It’s a wonder I didn’t do drugs or start drinking but I was always terrified of my parents finding out. So instead I hung-out with the kids that did and hoped their “coolness” would rub off on me by osmosis.

But the funny thing was, as much as I might have been just a wee bit jealous of the cheerleaders and all my ex-friends that seemed to have moved onto better and more interesting people who were SO much better looking than me, what really bothered me was they got away with it. It never entered their little pin heads that anyone would say “No” to them and if anyone did, I never saw it.

Some of them were quite nice and pleasant to me as we had all grown up together in the same neighborhood but in High School, new and invisible lines were drawn and you didn’t know about them unless you accidentally crossed one. I have a tendency to ignore lines and don’t appreciate anyone telling me what my own space is.

But I watched these lines changed and I made new friends in other places and I watched as my old friends morphed into people who would no longer talk to me and I saw their attitudes shift as they became more and more popular and I found my own sense of myself get fuzzy. Soon I was someone who was trying to get other people to like me.

This had never happened to me before. This was new and I didn’t like it and yet I couldn’t stop it.

I felt I had been dropped onto another planet and I didn’t know the customs or how things worked or who it was OK to talk to and who wasn’t. Now I was with people I had only known a short time and some of them were nice and some were not.  Most of them did drugs and drank but I didn’t and the ones that did were  bothered by my abstinence and would push me to do it.

At first I tried to pretend that it didn’t bother me and the more I did that, the less I liked myself. There was no particular defining moment as this was a gradual deterioration over many months. I was more interested in getting people to like me than I was on liking myself. Things were changing so fast that I never knew what I thought from day-to-day, and yet I was the one person people would come talk to.

I am a great listener at least. So I listened and talked and tried to make friends and I allowed them to treat me any way that they wanted. I figured if I did that, then they would like me and that would make me a good person and I didn’t need to worry about all the friends I had lost as High School sucked our souls away from us.

It all came to a head one night when I went out with someone. From the moment I left my house with him, he began to talk down to me. I didn’t say anything because he was popular and I was lonely. The whole night was a nightmare as I kept my mouth shut and said nothing. His verbal attacks were very subtle. The disrespect he showed me wasn’t obvious at all, so it was a gradual feeling of despair and hatred towards myself that began early in the evening.

But it suddenly erupted and took me by surprise.

It was such a silly thing. He said he didn’t like the way I flicked my cigarette and tried to show me the correct way to do it. I don’t know, for some reason that was the straw. I grabbed my cigarette back from him, said something about what he could do with it and got out of the car and started walking home.

The fact that my house was 20 miles away didn’t enter my mind at the time. I was more angry with myself than him. He watched me walk down that road and I guess he realized he had been rude and he came and got me and drove me home.

I didn’t say a word all the way back to my house. I didn’t say a word when I opened the car door or when I slammed it shut. But as soon as that door was closed I told him to never talk to me again and right then I knew this has all happened because I had allowed it and accepted it. I let people treat me the way they wanted. I justified THEIR bad behavior, but I was just as guilty as them because I never drew my own line and made it clear of the consequences if they crossed it.

And what the hell? People had drawn their own lines to me, so I figured tit for tat.

How people treat you is on you. It’s not on anyone else. Sure, someone can blind side you. This can happen to anyone.

But how to deal with it shows them, and yourself, how you feel about you.

Someone says something rude to you? Don’t accept that it’s alright for someone to do that. Either walk away or deal with it, but push them back across that line.

Your date is looking at other women? Get up and walk out and don’t look back. (This also applies to men, so if the woman you’re out with is acting like trailer trash and you don’t like it, be a gentleman but don’t ask her out again.)

You’re in a business meeting and someone says something inappropriate to you? Let them know they were out of  line. I don’t care how you do it, but do it.

How you first deal with disrespect sets up the rest of the relationship.

If you don’t demand it, you’ll never get it.

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