8 things you don’t realize you’re doing that make people take advantage of you

Hey folks, Lachlan Brown here from Hack Spirit.

Are you constantly wondering why people seem to take advantage of you? Well, you’re not alone, and the truth might surprise you.

Sometimes we unknowingly do things that invite people to take us for granted. It’s subtle, unintentional, and can seriously affect our well-being.

In this piece, I’m going to share some insights into the things many of us do without realizing they make us targets for manipulation.

Welcome to a journey of self-discovery and mindfulness. 

Let’s get started!

1) Being a people pleaser

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make people happy. It’s part of our innate human desire to connect and belong. But when it becomes a habit, it can turn into a vulnerability.

As a mindfulness practitioner, I know how important it is to balance our own needs with those of others. Over-giving, however, often leads to under-receiving, and this imbalance can invite people to take advantage.

People pleasers tend to say ‘yes’ even when they want to say ‘no’. They often take on more than they can handle, putting other people’s needs before their own.

And guess what? People notice this. Those who are looking to take advantage may see this as an opportunity. They know that you’re likely to agree, even if it’s at your own expense.

Being aware of this tendency and learning to set boundaries is key. Remember, it’s not selfish to prioritize your own needs. It’s an essential part of self-care and maintaining healthy relationships.

So the next time you feel the urge to please others at the expense of your own well-being, take a mindful pause and ask yourself if it’s really worth it.

2) Lacking self-confidence

We all have our moments of self-doubt, right? I know I do. But when lack of confidence becomes a regular part of our lives, it can lead to people taking advantage of us.

You see, when we lack self-confidence, we tend to undervalue our own worth. We may hesitate to assert ourselves, speak up, or take initiative. This can leave room for others to step in and make decisions for us or take more than their fair share.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a renowned Buddhist monk and mindfulness expert said, “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”

This resonates deeply with me. If we embrace who we are and value ourselves, it becomes easier to stand our ground and not let others take advantage of us.

Mindfulness practice can be a powerful tool to build self-confidence. By focusing on the present moment, we can learn to accept and appreciate ourselves as we are, without judgement.

So next time you find yourself doubting your worth, remember Thich Nhat Hanh’s words and embrace the unique value you bring to the world.

3) Not setting clear boundaries

Setting boundaries is often easier said than done. It’s tough to say ‘no’, especially when we fear the risk of disappointing others. But here’s the raw truth: without clear boundaries, people can and will take advantage.

In the teachings of Buddhism, there’s a concept known as ‘Right Speech‘. This includes speaking the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable or difficult. It’s about being honest, clear, and assertive.

When we fail to set boundaries, we’re essentially giving others the green light to demand more from us than we’re willing or able to give. It’s like leaving your front door wide open – anyone and everyone is invited in.

Setting clear boundaries is about valuing yourself and your time. It’s about letting people know what you can and cannot do, what you will and will not tolerate.

So take a page from Buddhist wisdom: Practice ‘Right Speech’. Speak your truth and set your boundaries. It may be uncomfortable at first, but it’s a vital step to prevent others from taking advantage of you.

4) Ignoring your intuition

We all have that little voice inside us, that gut feeling that tells us when something isn’t quite right. But often, we choose to ignore it. Maybe because we don’t want to believe it, or we’re afraid of what it might mean.

Here’s the raw truth: ignoring your intuition can leave you vulnerable to being taken advantage of.

Being mindful means being fully present and aware – not just of our external environment, but of our internal one as well. Our intuition is a powerful tool that can alert us to potential manipulation or exploitation.

When we ignore it, we essentially close our eyes to potential dangers and open ourselves up to being taken advantage of.

So remember to listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Trust yourself and your instincts. This mindful awareness can be a powerful protection against people who may seek to exploit you.

5) Living in the past or future

I’ve got to admit, I’ve caught myself doing this more times than I’d like to admit. It’s so easy to get caught up in the what-ifs of the future or the could-have-beens of the past. 

But here’s the thing: when we’re not living in the present, we can become easy targets for those who want to take advantage.

In my book, “Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego“, I delve into the importance of mindfulness and living in the present moment.

When we’re constantly looking back or forward, we’re not fully present in our own lives. We become susceptible to manipulation because we’re not fully engaged with what’s happening around us.

So, take a breath. Ground yourself in the present moment. Mindfulness isn’t just a buzzword—it’s a powerful tool that can help you stay grounded, aware, and less likely to be taken advantage of.

6) Fearing confrontation

Let’s be real: no one enjoys confrontation. It’s uncomfortable, sometimes awkward, and can lead to conflict. 

Here’s the hard truth: Avoiding confrontation can make us an easy target for those looking to take advantage.

In both Buddhism and mindfulness practices, we’re taught to face our fears and discomforts head-on, not shy away from them. It’s about being present with our feelings, acknowledging them, and addressing them — even when it’s hard.

When we fear confrontation, we might let things slide or avoid difficult conversations. This can send the message that it’s okay for others to overstep our boundaries or take advantage of us.

Remember, standing up for yourself doesn’t mean being aggressive or combative. It means speaking your truth respectfully and assertively.

So embrace the wisdom of mindfulness and Buddhism: Face your fear of confrontation. Speak your truth. It might be uncomfortable, but it’s a vital step in asserting your worth and preventing others from taking advantage of you.

7) Constantly seeking approval

Here’s some brutal honesty for you: Constantly seeking approval from others can be like painting a bullseye on your back for those looking to take advantage of you.

When we’re always seeking validation or approval, we tend to bend over backwards to please others. This can lead to us compromising our own needs, values, and boundaries.

Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön once said, “You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.” This beautifully encapsulates the idea that your worth doesn’t depend on external validation — it’s inherent.

When we understand this, we can stand firm in our own worth and stop seeking approval from others. This can make us less susceptible to people who may want to take advantage of our need for validation.

8) Being overly empathetic

This might come as a surprise, but being overly empathetic can sometimes lead to people taking advantage of you. While empathy is generally seen as a positive trait (and it is), there can be a downside if it’s not balanced with self-awareness and mindfulness.

When we’re too empathetic, we can end up absorbing other people’s problems and emotions, often to our own detriment.

We can become so focused on understanding and helping others that we forget to protect our own mental and emotional well-being.

Mindfulness teaches us to be present and aware of our own feelings, as well as those of others. It enables us to show empathy and compassion while also maintaining our own boundaries.

So remember, while empathy is a beautiful trait, it’s important to balance it with mindfulness. Don’t let your empathy for others become a doorway for them to take advantage of you. Instead, use mindfulness to ensure you’re caring for others without neglecting yourself.

In the journey of life, it’s crucial to be aware of our behaviors and the signals we’re sending out. Being mindful of the ways in which we might inadvertently invite others to take advantage can make all the difference in our relationships.

Remember, you’re worthy of respect and consideration — don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.

If you’d like to delve deeper into mindfulness and Buddhist teachings that can help you live with maximum impact and minimum ego, I invite you to check out my book “Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego“.

You have the power to change your narrative. Stand strong, be mindful, and remember — your worth comes from within.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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