Respect Yourself: Stop Letting Others Take Advantage of You

April 3, 2015 Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Everyone needs to learn to respect themselves and stop letting others take advantage of us. Just the other day I noticed that I was about to let someone take advantage of me. It may not have been on purpose, but the gal at the checkout overcharged me for an item. I felt this strong sense of unfairness and asked her nicely to change the price. She apologized and fixed the mistake.

This may sound like a simple example, but the truth is, each time you stand up for what's fair, you respect yourself. When you stop allowing others to take advantage of you and respect yourself, your self-esteem improves.

When others take advantage of you, it can do one of three things: one, tick you off, leading to aggressive outbursts or internal anger at yourself (and them); two, feelings of hopeless and reinforcing the false belief that you don't deserve respect; or three, guide you to act assertively and stand up for yourself. Clearly, the third will help you develop strong self-esteem and more self-respect, but it can feel uncomfortable at first.

Stop Letting Others Take Advantage of You in 4 Steps

It's likely that you are a helpful person by nature, and sometimes you allow people to take advantage of you, because you're nice and you want to please others. Stop this pattern; it's killing your self-respect. You can be kind and nice and have boundaries. Learn to value your own schedule and plans as much as you value others.Learn how to finally stop letting others take advantage of you. Here are 4 simple steps that will help you respect yourself and build self-esteem.

Respect yourself step 1: Think of a time that you were treated unfairly. What did that feel like? Perhaps it was your colleague dumping a project on you at the last minute, the waiter bringing you the wrong food, or your mother calling and keeping you on the phone for an hour. Think about how this situation made you feel physically and emotionally. Did you want to fix it but just didn't know what to say or were you afraid to say something in order to get what you deserved? Think about the feelings and thoughts that come up when you recognize someone is taking advantage of your time or kindness. This feeling is important, it will push you to use the following skills.

Respect yourself step 2: Figure out what you value. Is it your free time, workouts, Netflix binges on the weekend? As a therapist, I have people emailing me at all hours of the day and calls that "need to be answered" at all hours of the night but I can't be available 24/7. That's not fair to me and it isn't fair to my clients. If I'm annoyed, angry, or frustrated, how am I going to be serving them? Instead, I decided to set hours, and let my clients know these were. This helped me spend my time with family and friends

Respect yourself step 3: Start small. Pay attention to the details. Did your cab driver keep the meter running or your friend keep you waiting for an hour? Notice the small things that take advantage of your time, kindness, or your lack of attention. If I wouldn't have been paying attention, the checkout girl would have unknowingly taken advantage of me, and I would have been upset with myself and her if I noticed it later on. Be aware of your interactions and if people begin to make you feel like you are being taken advantage of, then you can act.

Respect yourself step 4: Act. Say something, speak up for yourself. It may just be a question to confirm that your needs are being met, but their answer will also keep you feeling confident and in control. Be nice and polite when you are asking for what you want to be fixed or inquiring about it. Here are some examples:

  • Excuse me, I thought the price was lower; could you double check for me?
  • I have other plans that I can't change. You'll have to find someone else.
  • I only have 10 minutes to talk; how's it going?

Look, at the end of the day, it is you who may be taken advantage of, so you have to step up, be brave, and respect yourself otherwise it will keep happening. The more you practice saying "no" or standing up for what's right for you, the higher your self-esteem will become.

Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

APA Reference
Roberts, E. (2015, April 3). Respect Yourself: Stop Letting Others Take Advantage of You, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 19 from

Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

May, 6 2016 at 2:04 am

These steps can ABSOLUTELY be used with family members!

May, 3 2016 at 6:56 pm

I just feel that sometimes it is hard to stand up for yourself. Sometimes people start using you in a subtle way and when you find out, it is kind of late and you feel like you don't have the courage to defend yourself because your self-steem is so low for having allowed this people to behave in an abusive way with you.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 8 2016 at 2:24 pm

I agree Rose and it takes a few things to turn this around- feeling angry, feeling stuck and knowing that you're being weighed down by others. You can stand up and slowly shift. I recommend being distant, responding less and turning into what YOU deserve in order to continue to create boundaries. I hope this helps and look forward to hearing about your success.

June, 15 2018 at 12:34 pm

Also Rose, don't go back to being open and forthcoming. Otherwise you revert back into the same dilemma, and then the vicious cycle keeps repeating.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 28 2018 at 12:55 pm

I was in same situation in my previous job. My lady boss was so smart. She took advantage of my kindness, Honesty, and hard-working nature and when it was time to give salary she use to extend the dates. But I continued the job even though many of my colleagues resigned. I find myself helpless and I fear standing up for myself. I am very shy and not so talkative and my boss she is very loud, talkative and user. So, I used to feel very sad, depressed.but one day I wake-up early in the morning, wrote a resignation-letter and kept it on the table of office. Next day she made numerous calls on my mobile.....but I didn't received because I don't have place for " User's " in my life. It's been 1 month now....and iam enjoy in quality time with me, doing yoga, meditation, learning Casio, trying new recipe.....iam peaceful now. And feeling good to show courage to take decision for myself.

April, 26 2016 at 10:26 am

You're unbelievable! Move out! You live with your sister and like she's taking advantage of you! Reality check friend!

April, 7 2016 at 5:14 am

Hi. I need help with some of the ways I can use to deal with anger when dealing with loved ones who take advantage of me. They always find a way to upset me and I respond bad unintentionally. when I raise facts they tell me I'm a smart ass

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 15 2018 at 12:26 pm

Dumisani, I'm in the same boat with loved ones. Honestly, I find that being a smart ass, and not being taken advantage of is far better than being a nice guy, and always being taken advantage of. Been there done that, and I find that the best way is not a gradual nicety, but a chopping block approach. If they don't like it, that is there problem, and if they try the whole guilt and argument thing, my respond to that is. "As you are entitled to what is beneficial to you, so am I. and if something I do affects you inadvertently, that is your problem". The reason why? because these kind of people that take advantage of you are calculating, and they know that what they do will passive aggressively affect you inadvertently. Hence, why they are aware of it, and you may not be. Always look out for yourself first, then and only then do you help others if you so choose. There is no rule that says you are obligated to anything, even when agreements are reached and they have to change out of not being able to carry them out. Applying the same rules they apply to you is equitable, not "Smart Ass".

June, 15 2018 at 1:06 pm

Very true Joe, also I tend to just try and be as calm as I possibly can in the face of someone who doesn't get it-- "What do you mean you can't do ___ you did it last time." or if someone is getting frustrated because I don't have the time to do something, I respond with "I'm sorry you're upset and I have to take care of myself right now. I hope you can understand." It's hard to argue (rationally) with someone when we are speaking up with calm and kindness. Glad you are respecting yourself :)

March, 24 2016 at 3:08 pm

Tanks Emily for this write up. I live with my married sister and I help her with her kids. But atimes I get to do chores for her which at the end of the day I don't get to do my own business. I feel like I don't have a life because I can't make any decision without thinking about her or her kids. What do I do?

March, 4 2016 at 3:07 pm

Hi there,
I had 3 girlfriends who really took to much advantage of me.
In many ways. Now i stoppt trusting. I am very hurt.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 7 2016 at 2:23 pm

Rita I'm so sorry to hear about this! You deserve friends who respect you and if these girls don't you will find better and more respecting ones. It hurts, I've been there and the friends that I have kept for years are the ones that I respect and who respect me. The ones who are gone, are no longer serving me or hurting me.
Good luck and keep me posted!
Take Good Care,

February, 3 2016 at 3:33 pm

Oh, I think you can most certainly use those steps with family members. Just because you are related it doesn't mean that someone can treat you disrespectfully. Quite the opposite! Those who love and care for you need to show it by not taking advantage of your kindness. It doesn't actually help them anyway. All it does is teach them that it's okay to be a 'user' and at the same time your own self-worth ebbs away. Relationships MUST be two-way - give and take. So, go ahead and set those boundaries and show others that you are worth respecting and not simply an object to be used to meet their needs.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 15 2018 at 12:29 pm

Kat, that was beautifully stated... Thank you for sharing your thoughts so eloquently, it has inspired me.

January, 1 2016 at 8:16 pm

I came across this article as I was in a similar situation. Although I agree with the steps and ways to overcome getting used by people, I'm not sure if I can use this steps when it comes to family. This is because with family, by saying no, its like they cant depend on you and will seek help from other people instead of you. Im in that situation now, but when I tolerate their nonsense, its taking a toll on me. I am an INTJ, so I kinda notice everything which is going on in the family, but i cant say the same with them. I've tried taking to them to explain that for the family to be happy, everyone got to do their part to make the family going, but seems like my words are just words. Everything is forgotten the next day. If you're reading this, do let me know what can I do to make things much easier on myself

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Lindy Hill
January, 15 2019 at 10:31 pm

45 lost my 16 year old daughter she was found in Lee co. Am locked in. A shed had been brutally raped and strangle with a Dog Leash,,, my family's gone down hill I'm the back bone. I have M.S. AND RARW BONE DIESE HAVE PUSH MYSELF MENTALLLY AND PHYSICAL I SEEM TO BE GETTING WORSE GOOD LORS HAS ME. BUT OV ALWAYS HAD BE BACK BONE AND BARELY HAVE ONE LEFT NOT ONLY MY FRIENDS BUT BLOOD AS WELL USE ME. IT BREAKS MY HEART!!! Stress from losing my 16 year old has worn me down as well P.T.S.D BACK FLASHES AO BAD NEVER ONCE DID I GO TO A COUNCLER JAD TO FACE DEATH LOSS PAIN
TOMOROW HER B.DAY WOULD HAVE BEEN 25 TOMORROW. THE OUR LORD ANOBE IS QHY I MADE IT SONCE 2010 4/18 can't believe I'm still breathe,o new,there was NO!! Way I was gonna make,it
Now I am very sick and losing a child of course u never ever ever get over. O just want a live happy stress free what little nitt of years I do have left Shane got murders just about all of me went with her. Fighter boy have I been one March 18 be 9 years still feels like yesterday. Just last year of 2018 I could member what going on with news never new whom our president was nor how many we've had since 2010. I pray GOD PLS TAKE THIA M.S AND BONE DIESES FEOM MY BODY I HAVE FOUGHT TO GET UP PUSH MYSELF GET UP GET UP HAVE FOUGHT TO KEEP LIVING

Hillary Dillery
February, 13 2019 at 9:17 pm

It is important that you realize that you are still alive and you have a very valid and necessary purpose on this earth. Yes only God knows but trust that his will is perfect. It’s not your fault that someone perpetrated this horrible crime. You can’t change the past. Please give yourself a break. I love you whoever you are and I am concerned and your health, wealth, family, career. You are important to me and everyone else around you. We are the body of Christ, a royal priesthood. I will pray for you to have emotional breakthroughs in this area. 2019 will be a phenomenal year for you and your family.

December, 25 2015 at 10:35 pm

One type of person is everywhere-the USER! Yes, they're manipulative too. Trust your gut. It will tell you why they're all smiles and flattery. Why they say that they can't wait to see you. Been thinking so much about you. Why? They want something from you. It's obvious. Their game is really transparent though if you give up your naive notion that everyone is sweet and caring. Some just use that as a ploy. You have got to set firm boundaries with these types or before you know it they'll be sleeping in your bed and using your shower. Get ready for the backlash-they are not going to like it-too bad for them. Let them run away, talk bout you-whatever. Let them go-give them their coat and shoes and hold the door. They're secretly competitive with you and out for themselves!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 15 2018 at 11:57 am

Craig, this is so true. I never noticed this, until you pointed it out. Especially, when you stated "They're secretly competitive with you and out for themselves!" It became clear to me when you pointed this out. When they don't get what they want they try guilt or some other directed at one action, statement, or argument to infringe upon your kindness, however God forbid you try it back on them because that is when you see the true colors shine on through.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 12 2019 at 10:16 pm

Craig, here Iam not clear about that you mentioned “backlash-they” And “too bad for themselves”. I feel like I emotionally falling and thinking like others are so kind and caring even I knew the truth I can’t able to be on my own. Iam totally confused now-a-days and so worried about my life and insecured. So I guess this statement what you mentioned is helpful for me.

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