Now just to be clear, I am no expert. I've studied psychology for all of 5 minutes (it was really one semester, I took it as an elective in high school) but I seem to think I know everything about the matter. I am not a doctor, a social worker, or a mental health or behavioral expert, nor have I studied to be. I only gather conclusions and theories based on my own personal experiences and realizations regarding myself, my own behaviors, and the behaviors and experiences of those around me in my life. That being said, take whatever I say with a grain of salt. A few weeks ago, I unfortunately found myself in a dark place in which I hadn't been in a long time, and didn't want to be. Sitting on my bed drinking my coffee and looking out the window, I tried to pull myself out of my funk. As I tried to remind myself of the positive things in my life that I have to be grateful for, I couldn't help but think of the negatives as well. When I slip into one of my downward spirals, my mind tends to wonder to a bad place and the intrusive thoughts start to pour in. "You're a f**k up" "You suck at everything" "No one likes you" "You're worthless" "You're a bad person" "You have no purpose" "No one would care if you were gone", you know, we've all been there. Then I began to think of the people from my past over the years who have used or hurt me in some way, and I started to get even more down on myself, until I had a realization. I came back to one of the old sayings my dad used to tell me: "people only treat you how you allow them to." And he's exactly right, hit the nail right on the head. People only treat us how we allow them to treat us, and we allow people to treat us how we think we deserve to be treated. We allow people to use and take advantage of us because we worry that no one values us or wants to be around us otherwise. We feel as though no one is interested in us or likes us for who we are, or genuinely wants to be in our lives. We feel as though people only come around and stick around as long as they're able to get something from us, that the only reason people are in our lives is because we have something they want, something they could benefit from personally, and they want to use us for that. We allow people to use us because we feel that's the only way we can have "friends" and "relationships". It's the only way we won't be alone. We have the mentality that "If I surround myself with people who want something from me and are going to use me to get what they want, then I'll never be alone." Instead of feeling wanted in our friendships and relationships, we settle on feeling useful. Feeling needed. We base our self worth and value as a person on what we can do instead of who we are, therefor we allow ourselves to be surrounded by people who value us on what we can do for them and what they can get from us. This is because feeling useful and needed gives us more self esteem and sense of self worth. Once people stop using us, we stop feeling useful and needed, and then we start to feel worthless and get down on ourselves. So in short, we allow people to use and take advantage of us because the fact that someone needs something from us makes us feel useful and important, which boosts our self esteem. People only treat us how we allow them to treat us, and we allow people to treat us poorly because we have low self esteem. Now I've struggled with low self esteem for as long as I can remember, it's always a constant battle with my ego. The solution is easier said than done, we need to stop allowing people to use us and/or treat us poorly. We need to fight for whatever self esteem we have left and hold onto it.
With that being said, we need to get rid of the "being used and taken advantage of is acceptable" mentality and realize that we're better than that. We deserve better than that. There are people out there who will like you for YOU and not for what you have to offer, what they can get out of you, or what you're able to do for them. There are people out there who will want to be in your life solely because they enjoy your company, they enjoy your personality, your existence makes them happier, and for no other reason. They will value you on who you are as a person and how they feel when they're around you, not on what you can do for them or what they're able to use you for. Don't settle on anything less. And I can assure you from experience, feeling wanted and valued simply for no other reason than being yourself is FAR better than feeling useful. Don't settle on being useful.