We Teach People How to Treat Us

Inspiration, Motivational, Tough Love!

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“We teach people how to treat us.” – Phillip C. McGraw

The quote above is one of the most powerful and true sentences ever spoken. If you spend a little time alone with it, you’ll soon see relationships in your own life begin to explain themselves.

You may see mysteries unravel right before your expectant eyes. Take different people in your life, one at a time, and ask yourself, “How does_________ treat me? Is he/she comfortable around me or do they seem ‘on edge’?” Realize that if they’re “on edge” – – – – -You put them on the edge! Lighten up and they’ll come away from the edge and move closer to you. (That’s always a good thing.)

Does ————– (No relation to ________) seem to “fly easily off the handle”? Maybe you’ve put them on the defensive by being overly-critical. If you started balancing out the negatives with positives, the handle flying would diminish.

Just take a little time to delve into how people treat you and you’ll see your fingerprints plastered all over their behavior. For better or worse, you’ve basically taught them and trained them in how to treat you. The good news is, if you didn’t do a very good job – you can turn it all around.

Most of the time, our biggest mistake is trying too hard. We try to WILL people to do this, WILL them to do that, WILL them to feel this way, WILL them to feel that way…. If we were to just lighte up, enjoy life, and allow those around us to do the same, we’d all live a lot longer and smile a lot more.

Demand that each moment count!

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4 comments… add one
  • Victoria Link

    While I fully agree that we teach people how to treat us, the examples given here are poor, in my opinion. You’re highlighting the *possible* reactions of other people to your own actions. You can not control someone’s reaction to you – ever, no matter how hard you try. You will not make someone stop “flying off the handle” because of something you say or do. You can choose to have such a person in your life though.

    The point of the “we teach people how to treat us” quote is so that people realize that the way they are being treated by someone in their lives is their own doing. If your boyfriend beats and belittles you, it’s because you’ve allowed it, not because you’re a victim. If your husband leaves his clothes all over the floor, it’s because the only negative ramification to that has been to hear you whine about how “some people” don’t pick up after themselves, but you still pick them up for him. You have to show people what is and is not acceptable in your life. You do it everyday without realizing it.

  • Dr. GwenEllyn Anderson Link

    Who can we attribute this quote to? I heard it long before Phil McGraw used it and I am wondering who he took it from? Do you know?

  • I learned this lesson on a personal level a few days ago. On the way to drop her off somewhere, my 17 year old sister completely blew up at me and accused me of hating her friends, disapproving of her clothes, always complaining about the way she does her make-up, etc. She ended by telling me that she’s a lot happier when I’m at college and far away from her. I felt like these accusations were wholly unfounded and a little out-of-the-blue but decided to remain calm and quiet during our discussion. On the way home from dropping her off I thought and thought about what she had said and asked myself “Have I done anything to make her feel this way?” The answer was yes! I recalled certain things I had said in passing- which I had not realized she had taken to heart. I was trying to WILL her to be more like me. To do things my way. And I realized that I cannot change her, I can only change myself.

    When she arrived at home later that night I said, “Katie, please tell me what you would like me to do.” At first she was defensive and rude “Just stay out of my life!” I replied “Katie, I need more direction than that.” Still angrily, but less malicious, she said “Stop telling me when you disapprove of what I do or who I hang out with.” I promised to do so and let her know that nothing mattered more than our relationship and I would do anything to keep it.

    Later on she opened up to me and admitted the true underlying problem and we were able to talk it out.

    The moral is, we cannot force others to act a certain way. We have no power over them. We must realize that we can only change ourselves and the way we treat others. Often, others will follow our lead and change the way they have been treating us.

  • Lisa Link


    How about those people in our lives that keep throwing dagers in the heart? Do they continue to treat us with disrespect because of something we”ve done? I don’t think so. There are people in our lives that don”t desever to be there …family or not period. I for one will no longer allow these people to make me feel like —-.

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