post written by: Marc Chernoff

20 Things to Stop Letting People Do to You

20 Things to Stop Letting People Do to You

Be with those who bring out the best in you, not the stress in you.

This past Sunday, while we were enjoying an afternoon barbeque at our friend Sara’s house, her 16-year-old foster child, Cody, received a visit from his biological mother – a woman who has been in and out of prison and rehab her whole life. Although Sara was a bit reluctant about it, she let them talk in the family room alone, and we eavesdropped from the kitchen just to make sure everything was okay.

Cody’s mother was extremely rough around the edges and almost immediately started bringing up hurtful memories from the past, and then told him, “I wish I could go back in time and raise you again, to change who you are and give you a better upbringing.”  Just as Sara was about to walk into the room to interject, Cody calmly replied, “I’m perfectly fine, thank you.  I’m proud of who I am.  Maybe you should go farther back in time and change who you are instead.”  And then he walked her to the front door and politely asked her to leave.

Cody’s response impressed me on so many levels.  It takes a lot of courage, especially at 16 years of age, with a rough upbringing, to tactfully stand up for yourself.  And he handled himself with grace.

So whenever you’re dealing with a difficult or hostile person, remember how Cody handled himself.  Take a stand.  This is your life.  You may not be able to control all the things people do to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.  You can decide not to let their actions and opinions invade your heart and mind.  And above all, you can decide whom to walk beside into tomorrow, and whom to leave behind today.

It’s time to…

  1. Stop letting people drag you into needless arguments. – Never waste your time trying to explain yourself to people who have proven that they are committed to misunderstanding you.  And don’t define your intelligence or self-worth by the number of arguments you have won, but by the number of times you have said, “This needless nonsense is not worth my time!”
  2. Stop letting people drown you with their negativity. – Positivity is a choice.  Choose wisely.  Be smart enough to walk away from the negativity around you… it is never worth your while, ever.
  3. Stop letting people make you feel ashamed of your scars. – Scars remind us that our past is real, and that we have grown beyond it.  Every scar has a story.  Don’t be afraid to tell it and own it.
  4. Stop listening to those who berate you for your honest mistakes. – To grow strong and wise, you must have the courage to make mistakes.  Allow yourself to be a beginner.  No one starts off being excellent.
  5. Stop letting others blind you from YOUR truth. – Today, the only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.  Prove yourself to yourself, not others.  (Read A New Earth.)
  6. Stop letting people bully you. – Bullying is not OK.  Period.  There is no freedom on Earth that gives someone the right to assault who you are as a person.  Sadly, some people just won’t be happy until they’ve pushed your ego to the ground and stomped on it.  What you have to do is have the nerve to stand your ground.  Don’t give them any leeway.  Nobody has the power to make you feel small unless you give them that power.
  7. Stop letting friends be untrue to you. – What is a true friend?  Someone who loves you just the way you are, but still inspires you to be a better person.  BE a true friend to others, and keep only true friends close to you.
  8. Stop letting the same people lie to you over and over again. – If someone fools you once, shame on them.  If someone fools you twice, shame on you.  If you catch someone lying to you, speak up.  Some people will lie to you repeatedly in a vicious effort to get you to repeat their lies over and over until they effectively become true.  Don’t partake in their nonsense.  Don’t let their lies be your reality.
  9. Stop letting people take advantage of you. – Sometimes people don’t notice the things we do for them until we stop doing them.  This is NOT right!  Realize this.  You deserve better.  You deserve to be with people who make you smile – friends who don’t take you for granted – friends who won’t leave you hanging.
  10. Stop letting people treat you like a back-up plan. – Don’t settle to simply be someone’s downtime, spare time, part time, or sometime.  If they can’t reliably be there for you when you need them most, they’re not worth your time.
  11. Stop letting the wrong people get between you and the right ones. – Don’t let the people who refuse to love you keep you from the people who do love you.  Spend time with those who make your world a little brighter simply by being in it.  Someday you will either regret not doing so, or you will say, “I’m glad I did.”
  12. Stop letting hateful people motivate you to hate them back. – As Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”  Regardless of how despicable another has acted, never let hate build in your heart.  Fighting hatred with hatred only hurts you more.  When you decide to hate someone you automatically begin digging two graves: one for your enemy and one for yourself.  (Read The Four Agreements.)
  13. Stop letting people leave grudges in your mind. – Remember, the first to apologize is the bravest.  The first to forgive is the strongest.  The first to move forward is the happiest.  Always.
  14. Stop letting people use your past to poison your present. – Life is too short to tirelessly struggle with old news and those who refuse to let it go.  Some people cannot stand that you’re moving on with your life and so they will try to drag your past to catch up with you.  Do not help them by acknowledging their behavior.  Keep moving forward.  Practice acceptance and forgiveness.  Letting go of the past is your first step to happiness.
  15. Stop letting people convince you that change is a bad thing. – The things we can’t change often end up changing us.  This change happens for a reason.  Roll with it.  It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.
  16. Stop letting people steer you away from meaningful pursuits. – If you can smile when no one else is around, you really mean it.  So don’t let other people get between you and the ideas and activities that truly move you.
  17. Stop letting people dump on your dreams. – Life will test you to see how serious you are about pursuing a particular path.  And sooner or later you may face negative feedback from others.  When this happens, remember not to let anyone crush your spirit.  If you are passionate about something, pursue it, no matter what anyone else thinks.  That’s how dreams are achieved.
  18. Stop letting naysayers talk you out of putting in the extra effort. – Hard times often lead to greatness.  Keep the faith.  It will be worth it in the end.  The beginnings to great things are always the hardest.
  19. Stop letting people convince you of their quick-fix schemes. – Anything worth achieving takes time and dedicated effort.  Period.  Honestly, I used to believe that making wishes and saying prayers changed things, but now I know that wishes and prayers change us, and WE change things.  (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Goals and Success” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
  20. Stop letting people tell you that you need more to be happy. – Thankfulness is the start of happiness.  Be sure to appreciate what you’ve got.  Be thankful for the little things in life that mean a lot.

The floor is yours…

What would you add to the list?  What’s one thing you will NOT let others do to you?  Please leave a comment below and let us know.

Photo by: Neil Moralee

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  • Thank you for another powerful post, Marc!

    Personally, I will NEVER let some devalue what I VALUE in life. What I consider important may not be what others consider important and that’s fine. Just don’t let others ignorance about what is crucial to you cripple your thinking about what you hold important in your life. This means, people, animals, beliefs, a lifestyle, etc. (I know this is something you and Angel advocate in other articles and in your book too.)

  • Cheers to standing up to the negative people around us, and smiling anyway!

    This is such a wonderful blog, and an incredible post that seems so simple yet speaks volumes to those who are willing to listen! We are greater than anyone is able to predetermine! We are free to fly, live passionately and achieve greater goals than ever thought possible.

    I stand firm in who I am and I honor, love, respect my mind, body, soul and heart. I will not allow another to control my state of well being! I am empowered because I know who I am and I am amazing! I love myself unconditionally and I know that I am human.

    Live fully my friends!

  • Agreed, this is a great post! We need to be reminded of certain influences people can have on our spirits, minds and hearts. Especially when you are working toward being the best person you can be.

    I have been having a difficult time setting boundries with people in my life, and I appreciate the suggestions you make in your 1,000 Little Things book about setting and keeping healthy boundaries. And I would also love it if you dedicated a new article to this topic someday soon.

  • Thank you for this post :)

  • The list seems quite complete to me and right on target. Nothing new is coming to my mind at the moment.

    I loved this line in particular: “Prove yourself to yourself, not others.” What a wonderful reminder to stay true to your vision and purpose in life.

  • Thank you. Love this. I recently learned that I don’t have to let toxic people drag me down. I can choose to give them the boot because this is MY life. So freeing!

  • Marc and Angel, as always, you guys rock. This is an awesome list! I have incorporated a number of these boundaries in my life over the past year. Though I ultimately had to let a LOT of people go, things have honestly never been better. Total props to Cody btw!

  • Needed these reminders. Shared with a friend that is going through hard times too. Think this will be of help to her. Sometimes people need outside source of good info instead of just a friend’s advice. I believe in praying and Bible reading, but God also wants us to put feet to our prayers. You have to do something in order to move ahead. You just can’t sit and wait for something to drop in your lap–ain’t happening that way–and if it did, you wouldn’t appreciate it. Accomplishment comes by doing, doing by taking a risk that it might fail or might be powerful–but you want know till you try. ;) Hugs!

  • Fabulous! I would add: Stop letting people tell you that you are not allowed to feel what you feel.

    They are not you and have not been where you have been. They have no right to tell you that you are wrong for having the emotions that you have.

  • Great insight here, as always, Marc. I especially appreciated #s 16-18. Doing big things in a big way can cause some people with smaller lives and smaller characters to try sabotaging or belittling our attempts at stepping life up several notches. It is so important to get wonderful, supportive people in your corner. It really does make a huge difference.

  • Great post to start off the week!

    I would add, “Stop allowing others to guilt you into doing things or being who you are not.” Guilt, if you allow it, will eat you up and exhaust you. Avoid the trap of people who like to put ‘guilt trips’ on you. It’s draining. Do what’s best for you. If you want to help someone, great. If you can’t, then don’t. Get rid of guilt once and for all!

  • Stop letting society’s expectations dictate what “should” be–especially when it comes to family.

    If I could remember this one, I would truly be free to be me.

  • Thank you Marc&Angel, there are times in my life when I need reminding. :)

  • I agree with quite a lot of these points but what I am finding troublesome is that I cannot sort out who is doing what in my relationship. Sometimes I think it is me who is doing the negative stuff to others. So how do I know and if I am? Does that make me the awful person I sometimes feel I am?

  • Great post and very complete. Thank you!
    This is likely a sub-category, and an issue I have faced in the past with several family members … Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the drama created by others . This is their attempt to pull you into their own web of issues and divert you from your path.

  • Thank you for the reminders in your posts! My 12 year -old son has been through quite a lot in his short life and he loves when I forward your emails to him. He often comes to me days later, perhaps after processing what you’ve said, to talk about how applicable your words are to his life.

    Your words assist in opening a healthy dialogue regarding hope, hurt, thankfulness, forgiveness, abandonment, self-worth, values, love, and so much more. Your words hold no judgement, which have allowed us to use what we need and make them our own mantras.

    Thank you again for sharing your wisdom. And thank you for soothing a young boy’s frightened heart, so that he can feel the joys in life more abundantly, counting each passing day as a gift!

  • Nice reminders and great advice to start the day!

  • After 32 years of a friendship, I hit my threshold of pain back in august of 2013 and took space from a good friend who is extremely toxic. I have no desire to continue this friendship. I am happy, calm and enjoying my life.

    This is a great article!

  • Thank you! A great list of self-defense tips for the mind and spirit. I would add:

    Don’t let anyone convince you what you create is less valuable than what others create.

    Everything we see, hear, and use started out as an idea. Even the best ideas were mocked and challenged before proving themselves.

    So, let your ideas flow and protect them from ridicule. Your ideas may or may not work out, but they should at least have a chance to grow.

  • “Never waste your time trying to explain yourself to people who have proven that they are committed to misunderstanding you.” Thank you for that. I have a sister who tries to bait me into arguments about religion and who judges me because I don’t believe the way she does. I was about to fire back, I will walk away instead. No one ever changes anyone’s mind by arguing.

  • This list is thought provoking. I could think of so many instances where I had been affected by most of them. I also would like to add that one family member who uses sarcasm to provoke always answers with “you’re too sensitive. That was funny.” To number 6 “don’t let people bully you” I’d like to add, hold them accountable for their behavior and don’t let them try to convince you that it’s “you” that’s hearing it wrong.

  • I would add to the list to stop letting people tell you what you can and can’t watch on TV. Once you’re an adult, you can do what you like. One thing others will not do to me is bring me down if they’re going through issues or had a bad day or both.

  • Great post. I work with sufferers of PTSD and many are involved in manipulative relationships that have brutal triggers for their condition. Sometimes this manipulation can be subtle. This is great practical advice on taking control of life, whatever your situation.

  • I just prayed last night for God to help me deal with my overbearing husband and here is this article. Such great advice! Answered my prayer.

  • Will definitely share with my adult daughter. She is a strong person but has some people in her life who try to do many of these things to her. I also need the reminder to let it go when all I want to do is defend her knowing it would be a waste of my time and breath and would not help her but it’s very hard not to sometimes. Guess we can both benefit from the ideas in this post.

  • How fortunate Cody is to live in an environment where he learned skills that will make him a happy person in spite of his rough start. His physical mother would be well advised to listen to her son’s counsel. She could be happy too instead of wasting time blaming people or her circumstances for her misery.

    Cory already knows that a happy person gives love freely and accepts it as well. He is politely but pointedly telling his physical mother how love comes from loving yourself first. It is up to her whether she learns the lesson.

    Sara has made the world a better place by teaching love, rather than recrimination. She is a remarkable person and an inspiration to me.

    You have remarkable friends because you live the life that you model. Thank you for extending your friendship so freely through your blog. Maybe it could go without saying (but I won’t let it); you and Angel are making this world a whole lot better for your readers.

  • Cody is my new hero, and I don’t even know him. I’m more than twice his age and I’m still mastering the art of calmly dismissing a similarly toxic relative the way he did so adeptly. Well done, Cody.

  • Stop letting people insult you indirectly and not call them on it because you are unsure they are talking about you. You know the type, they tell you a story about someone else that sucks, wanting you to internalize it and apply it to your life. They are cowards and they are trying to put you down and make you feel like less than you are, but doing it in a context where they can deny what they are doing. If you do call them on it, they will say you are mistaken, judgmental, insecure, or my favorite, crazy. They are master manipulators and they expect to get away with their indirect put downs.

    Cody’s response was outstanding, he must be an awesome young man!!!

  • Thanks for this insightful post.

  • I really like your columns and have learned a great deal from them. They are very uplifting and encouraging. My toxic, bully is my husband of 26 years and I am having a hard time cutting the cord, so to speak. What I need is the courage to do what NEEDS to be done and say what NEEDS to be said.

  • Thank you so much. This post could have been written especially for me, especially today. In a way, you have saved my life tonight…

  • Start stating your goals and intentions in the positive. Evoking images and thoughts in the negative (what not to do) is a very real drain to positive, forward movement, by focusing on where you’re going on your path…

  • The point I would add is to stop letting people blackmail you by withdrawing their “love” when they don’t get their way; then returning it when they do. Manipulation of this type has nothing to do with love - it’s about the fantasy of gaining external power over others and it sucks to be used in this way.

    Sounds like Cody is well on his way to being his own person… kudos to him for knowing what’s in his own best interests.

  • This is so important to remember. I wish I had this when I was younger!

  • Thanks for this post, I’ll share it with my life coaching clients. Thanks for all you do.

  • My addition is to stop letting others dictate your decisions through money. Get out of debit and live below your means.

    My goal is to put the past behind me and do the work it takes to achieve new things.

  • My sibs, especially my brothers, were always “reminding” me of how bossy I was when at home. What they didn’t understand is that Dad didn’t like kids — a problem because there were 14 of us. I played quiet games with them upstairs from the time I was 10 in order to avoid beatings.

    Finally, at our oldest brother’s funeral, a brother once again told his newest wife or girl fiend that I was bossy when we were younger. I told him very calmly, “I did keep you alive, didn’t I?” At the next family reunion, another brother introduced me to his newest wife as, “the sister who took care of them” when we were younger!

    I now like my brothers!

  • Also, something I frequently experience.. people telling me to do or not do certain things because they want the best for me? while in reality they just don’t want me to embarrass them. Great post once again!

  • As a parent, it is always a challenge to raise your children in the best way you know how. Our innate methodology is to raise them the way we were raised, but this is not entirely the best approach, depending on how we were raised, of course. We need to allow our children to live through their own creation of experiences and not through ours, this again presents a challenge especially when we are thinking in our heads…I know best! Our parenting skills are also challenged by whatever current circumstances we find ourselves in. Much like cody’s mother, she was in a circumstance that she ultimately chose (consciously or not), that obviously affected her parenting skills. When we are dampened by lifes events, it ultimately affects our parenting ways. Using your highlighted approach can definitely aid in making better choices on how these events affect us. If we choose to not allow them to affect us, and have acquired behaviours that allow us to choose otherwise, we can instil such behaviours in our children providing them with the building blocks and conditioning they need to become all that they can be throughout their journeys as well.

  • Yes, today I finally made it happen. All this time, I was too afraid of what people might think of my dry humor that i did not wanted to create a side for my funny motivation for fitness. But I did it. And this list really made all the good points for why you should not hold back!

  • WOW!! This truly hit home for me and I was meant to read it today.

    I decided to not allow an ex-boyfriend of mine to continuously bring up my mistakes. Even though we agreed to be in a platonic relationship, he is the one who keeps talking about my past and he can not let it go. I apologized for my actions and moved on but obviously he hasn’t and I can not allow myself to bring his negative spirit into my atmosphere.

    Thank you Marc and Angel for reminding me that I truly have made the right decision to not allow him back into my life.

    I love this post! Keep up the good…no…great work!

  • @Emily: Great suggestion, thank you.

    @Mandy: Ask yourself: “Am I treating others the way I would want to be treated?” Recognizing you may be bringing negativity to the table is a huge step forward.

    @Kristen: Beautiful! Thank you for sharing how you share our articles with your family. It’s inspiring to hear how the information can be relatable to people of all ages.

    @All: At one point or another, we’re all guilty of letting some people take advantage of us. Stand up for your beliefs. Stand up for your values. Stand up for yourself! Thank you for the insightful comments, many of which can be used as positive affirmations, time and time again.

  • Stop repeatedly being nice to people who constantly take and give nothing in return.

  • These are each really important if we ever hope to become truly happy, and I’ve been lucky enough to master many of them. But the first one you mentioned, about being drawn into useless arguments…it really hit home for me. I’ve been struggling with some negative people who I love dearly….but it’s tough to stay positive when they take out their negativity in someone they trust (me) and when it almost seems that they need to break me in order to relieve themselves. Like a major narcissistic thing, I think.

    I’d love to know how you’d handle that situation !! Thank you. :)

  • Stop worrying about what others think about you; it’s none of your business anyway.

  • These are really wonderful things to remember, and equally strong comments. Let them sink in.

    I can say from experience change IS possible. Changing the way one thinks, the way *I* think takes time, and it will take practice. I have to remind myself to reframe my thoughts and my inital reactions to situations. It gets easier, and it has become more ‘automatic’, more innate, and yes, there are still times I revert to my old ways of thinking, until I catch myself, and I start again. The cool thing for me, is that I accept that that is part of my process, and I don’t very often at all feel badly about reminding myself of how I want to be.

  • Thank you so much for all your incredible work. Your posts always bring me back to the reality. I let people malign me I let them make decisions for me , I let them lie to me which eventually had become my reality, I over trusted them so that my personal life was no more personal & it gave them a power to hold onto my past. I never stood up for myself and let them use me in times of their needs. I take the blame. I let all that happen to myself. I came across your website right when I needed guidance to forgive, to move on, to be thankful for the lessons I learnt & set my priorities right.

  • Sandhya Khune
    May 9th, 2014 at 2:03 am

    Thank you so much… Learned a lot from it… :)

  • Thanks for the tips. These were really helpful to me!

  • Thanks, these are such good reminders - I will pin them up somewhere I can see them. Most especially as I let myself be upset by a couple of snide and most possibly unconscious comments made about me the other day - hanging on to them made me feel bad. A couple of seconds of words and a couple of days me feeling lousy.

    There’s a time to stand up and be counted and a time to walk away, whether this is mentally, spiritually, emotionally or physically - methinks this takes practice, which includes making mistakes, to know which path to take at any given juncture.

  • Many of the does and don’t you mention are addressed in a book call “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend. Many people mistake where their boundaries end and someone else’s boundaries begin. Your blog helps to reinforce those lines. Thank you

  • Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.
    This made my day. I feel so validated when I see my thoughts shared by others when I haven’t written them, or have, but know the other person hasn’t read them.

    Thank you Marc for your thoughts.
    Kelly J.


  • Wonderful post. This one I’m going to print and put on my bulletin board at work.

  • Sometimes the only way to stop the relentless attacks of a person is to distance yourself from them. I have a close relative that makes me a target as soon as I see her - her verbal attacks begin in a subtle way and then escalate to where it’s fairly obvious and uncomfortable for everyone. I’ve learned over the years to just limit my exposure to her (but unfortunately, to others I want to be with) because nothing else works. Her need to be superior is her ongoing pursuit in life. Love these posts because they validate how I feel and give positive direction.

  • I like the suggestions. One thing that bothers me about what Cody said to his mother is this. She was trying…it appears…to apologize. It doesn’t sound like she was being disrespectful to his current parents…only that she felt bad or remorseful about her past. Maybe it would have been good for him to have listened. Then he could have forgiven her and then told her that he came out fine, etc. Forgiveness…it’s the way to go…for the one being forgiven and the one forgiving.

  • I need to stop letting others convince me to make them first in my life. We must take care of ourselves too, before we take good care of others.

  • Developing our own personal sense of authority is the only way to have true self-efficacy and live in the values of integrity and honor. It can be difficult, and on occasion you will know when it is even a risk to the status-quo. But have faith! Read Power vs. Force. Remember the big are created by the most high power. You have that inside you at all times. Use it.

  • Thank you for your continuous, thoughtful, and thought provoking pieces. This was excellent. While I don’t think most people are truly “mean”, I do think bits and pieces of mean energy get scattered all around us daily from lots of people in our lives. It may not be as obvious who these negative energy scatterers are- but we own the right to protect our happiness and cultivate our future. Therefore it is wise to recognize the patterns and take action to free ourselves from those types of negativities. Be impeccable with your word and don’t take anything personally— a constant lesson in session in my life.

  • Took me a long time to work up the courage to stop doing some of these. I’d like to add Stop Trying to Fix Others. We cannot live the life of others and we cannot force them to make decisions that may seem obvious to us. Each person interprets things differently and we simply need to decide if WE can live with their decisions or let them go.

  • Great article! We need to recognize when churches and ministers are greedy and put you on a guilt trip when you don’t respond to what they tell you to do. They are just human beings themselves and want to dictate how you should live your life. Decide what is best for you, in and out of church. Many marriages are being destroyed by manipulation and control.

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