I don't remember when it started but I do remember being in my early twenties and letting people talk to me and treat me however they wanted too, particularly men.
I was so afraid of being labelled mean, cold or the B-word. As years passed, I realized that it's up to me to protect myself against disrespect or unfair behaviour regardless of what people thought of me.
This is what I have learnt:
1. Most people don't realize how they are treating you.
Living in New York, I would take it so personally when people would bump into me, ignore me or try to take advantage of of me. It took me a few years to understand that people have acquired their behavioural patterns over sometime. And, how people treat me is not personal.
2. You show people how to treat you.
I am a firm-believer in respect starting with the self. If you are going around telling yourself that you are not worthy, ugly or fat, don't be surprised when other people say the same about you. When you speak words of positivity, joy and love about yourself, you encourage others to do the same. Same goes with how you treat yourself with nutrition and exercise. When you take care of yourself, you open the door to be taken care of by others.
3. Every doormat says welcome.
My mother would tell me this growing up and I never really understood it until I was an adult. I was in a toxic relationship with someone who cared very little about me and my wellbeing. I knew this about him and I still let him into my life, over and over again. Every time that I did, I complied with his disrespectful behaviour towards me. This is not true for everything, obviously; however, it is true for a lot of situations.
4. Be Kind.
Contrary to what we often think, we don't always have to set our boundaries with a grunt or nasty face. We can set boundaries by being kind and respectful. As I mentioned before, a lot of people are not aware of how they treat us. So, the first time that you set boundaries, don't act like you have already done it before. Generally people are more respectful when you treat them with respect.