Women & Judaism

How Do I Stop People from Taking Advantage of Me?

I feel people take advantage of my good heart against me. I hate arguments and try to avoid unpleasantness and mostly prefer to give in than to fight and bicker. The thing is that in many situations I find people stepping on me and taking advantage of the situation. Then I reach the state of doing things not good for me just for others. I end up with bitter and hard feelings. What do you propose I do to change this frustrating situation?

Hello Beloved Woman,

There’s no doubt that what you describe is something that affects all of us one way or another and causes the heart to shrink back and withdraw.

We must understand that the inner essence of every Jew is a deep seated urge to do kindness, to seek peace, friendship, unity and love. Clearly no one wakes up in the morning and asks himself “How many people can I harm today!?” But we are all in a war of survival and this war has many fronts:

One front is against our evil inclination that always tries to knock us down into whirlpools and black pits which are hard to extricate ourselves from. You need fierce determination, endless toil and a lot of wholesome faith.

Another front is our surroundings- on one hand we have a deep need to feel like we belong. On the other hand people all around us drag us to places and situations we’d prefer not to be in and want no part of.

A third front is our very own selves; this is the most complex and challenging front! This critical front decides what will be with me at the end of the day.

Let me explain my last words with a few most basic and important points:

1. You can’t fight with anyone if you don’t have an internal conflict raging inside you against yourself. She said that? Who does she think she is? How could she? When someone is at peace with himself and who he/she is, he stays on an even keel, balanced and focused on his inner truths that guide him to all the good inside him no matter what people say.

I can tell you that in the past I would fight for what I thought was coming to me, opposite people who always trespassed into my private zone of my emotions and my soul. I felt like a roaring lion that has to repel the invader. These situations forced me to fight for my rights and to waste a lot of energy to prove that I’m right besides all the fallout I’d have to deal with afterwards. With time, I found that this was all unnecessary…
The process that I went through and continue to go through taught me that whoever it is and whatever he says, I’m going to take a deep breath and instead of fighting with the outside I’ll close my eyes, think and to foster love for myself and peace with myself.

2. People can only take advantage of me if I’m not true to myself! Being true to myself means knowing what is good for me and what isn’t; to truly know according to my inner truth and not to compromise on values important to me for anyone or anything in the world.
A person true to himself even when faced with pressure and repeated requests from those surrounding him merits that his inner truth will burst forth and shine out. As it says: “Things from the heart go into the heart”, and his pure truth will influence others.

3. No one can step on me except me! This statement is bound to arouse internal opposition and an uneasy feeling. However, a person who truly knows himself and his value, who knows that he is a Jew that is loved, precious, the son of the King, always wanted and belonging will never feel the need to form and draw his self-esteem from others…

Now allow me to ask you to do the following exercise but after you read my following words I ask you to pause before reading the answer and try the experiment in front of a mirror.

Here’s the exercise:

Stand in front of a mirror and look at yourself looking directly into your eyes. Now say as many empowering words to yourself as possible. Examples are: I’m good… I’m sweet… I’m precious… I’m important… I’m astounding… I’m successful… I have great strengths… You get the idea.

After you finish doing this pay attention to the way you felt when doing it… what did you feel when you looked into your eyes, how did you feel when thinking about what to say and how did you feel when you said those empowering words?

Write your feelings down in a diary or on a sheet of paper you’ll keep in your pocket book.

Now that you’ve done the exercise I’ll tell you what the results were:

1. Most people feel very uncomfortable looking into their own eyes which actually reveals their soul. Most of us feel lost when facing our pure soul beating inside us because most of us spend so much time and are accustomed to dealing in the negative that when faced with our own goodness shining out of our eyes we look away rather than to discover at all that good inside us.

2. Most of us will find it very difficult to say empowering, kind and forgiving words to ourselves which brings us to a subconscious desire that other people fill that void we left empty because we feel “unable” to fill it. The shocking news I will tell you is that if you can’t be kind to yourself you won’t be hearing good things from others either because your antennas are tuned to listen for the bad things being said.

3. If I can’t be good to myself the energy I live and function in is projected outwards and makes people behave with me in the exactly same manner…

To be good to myself means to be able to establish clear boundaries for myself and others and all this is done through love and not war. Likewise I must accept who I am and accept everything that makes up who I am; the good and the bad which needs repair. I must know how to smile at the image in the mirror that will smile back at me and give myself all the encouragement and pats on the back that I need.

I’ll conclude saying that you, precious woman should keep on functioning through your good and pure heart that you merited to have beating inside you. Together with this, learn to make those clear inviolate boundaries for yourself to limit yourself, in order to be able to establish them opposite others.

And last but not least, don’t forget that every situation a person finds themselves in is a personal message for us from G-d who watches over us and guides our lives every given moment. Since bad doesn’t come from the heaven so everything that comes is total good! In this reality we can build our strong foundations that combine kindness and strength, boundaries and generosity of the spirit which is the character development for which we were sent here to this world!

Much Success in Everything!

Yours with Love,
Rabbanit Chagit Amayev


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