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


  1. Joyce Hubble says

    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

  2. says

    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.

  3. Mary Ann says

    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.

  4. Dave says

    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.

    • Emy says

      I think you need to know more about the relationship between Cody and his mom before you can really judge his reaction to her bringing up the painful past. And look what she said; she said she wanted to change Cody, “I wish I could go back in time and raise you again, to change who you are and give you a better upbringing”, like there was something wrong with him. And he simply 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.” He was speaking up for himself. Too often, victims of abuse are taught to always feel sorry for the abuser; she said a downer thing to him. Why didn’t she say, “You’re looking good Cody” or if she was sorry just, “I’m sorry I wasn’t a good mom to you”. She needs to work on herself and not drag Cody into her misery. Cody shouldn’t have to feel guilty or ashamed for having a good life with a supportive foster family because his biological mom is having problems. She needs prayers and so does Cody but he does not need to be constantly reminded of the painful past and his mother’s problems.

  5. Shar says

    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.

  6. Valerie says

    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 picture..you are created by the most high power. You have that inside you at all times. Use it.

  7. Sadah says

    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.

  8. Katherine says

    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.

  9. Rosa says

    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.

  10. MovingForward says

    Well written and definitely validates my feelings. Please keep this post up for others seeking guidance in finding themselves. I know that by re-reading these words, it will help others like myself stay grounded to our beliefs. I hate to see good natured people being poisoned and driven mentally deranged by toxic family members/friends. To everyone here, you are not alone! Stay strong, love yourself, and when you do find yourself–PLEASE help save others who you see are fighting that same battle. Don’t let this world become one ran by toxic individuals.

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