THE BLOG
11/21/2014 05:02 pm ET Updated Jan 21, 2015

It's Time to Stop Cooperating With Those Who Mistreat You

Thomas Barwick via Getty Images

Do you know why the people who do the wrong things in our lives, and bring the wrong things into our lives often get away with it?

It's because we teach them how to treat us. We allow them to silence us. To control us. And to even abuse us because we cooperate unwittingly with our passivity and silence. (This doesn't apply to children, of course. Because children have no power to act, speak or do in their own defense.)

So often, though, the damaged inner child within, grows up to be an even more damaged adult. And we remain silent, we remain powerless, we remain wounded. One of the earliest Latin phrases I learned in high-school was: qui tacet consentire videtur, which means: She who is silent when she should speak is understood to consent.

I know that it is a hard and unpleasant truth to swallow, that we sometimes have some hand in the wrongs done to us, but it is often quite true. It's not that we "asked for it" or that we "desired" to be mistreated. We are just sadly, often complicit in what people do in our lives, because we don't feel empowered to act or speak up.

My dear friend (we'll call her Cheryl) has a saying, "stop cooperating with your oppressors or abusers." I never really understood what she meant until I watched her find the courage to leave a bad marriage, leave her lavish life-style, remove her mask of comfort and dare to free herself for herself. It has not been an easy road for her financially or otherwise. In fact, daring to free herself from her abuser was hard. But she did it. And she is a much better, happier, fulfilled person because she dared to raise her voice and fight for herself. To honor and love herself.

How many of us want to do this so badly, but cower in fear instead? We fear the past. We fear being found out. We fear being mocked. We fear, we fear, we fear. And that fear keeps us stuck in a pit of pain and silence that robs us of our voice, our purpose and our power in the universe. We also fear the attacks we know will come from our abusers/oppressors if we speak up. All bullies can be bullies because they operate on our fear. Stop being afraid. This is your life. You must own it. And protect it.

I am learning to do the same things in my own life. Late in my life for sure. But it is better late than never. Here are five keys to help you unlock the power within to help you spot, stop, and release anyone or thing in your life that is toxic to your spirit. And to be brave enough to face it, fix it or at the very least get away from it.

1. You must know your value. This sounds easier than it is I understand. But, you have to believe you are precious, valuable and worthy. No matter what has been spoken about you or to you.

2. You must make peace with your past. You have to do the work. None of us can get free from abuse, our pasts or our wounds without first facing them. You heal when you face things. You suffer and die inside when you cover and hide things. To make "peace" means we are not passive. We are active to forgive. And do our very best to forget. So that we can live beyond what has hurt us.

3. You must practice being authentically you. This means be YOU. Not anyone else. Take a moment and get quiet so you can hear from YOU. Your heart. Your soul. Your purpose. If you listen you can hear the power of your voice. Being authentic is simply listening to your inner voice and promising to follow it.

4. You must teach people how to treat you. You have to stand up for yourself. You have to set boundaries. You have to teach people how you want and need them to treat you. And if they cannot honor you, you must be brave enough to release them from your life.

5. You must be accountable for your life. This one is the most important key of all. How to be responsible for your own thoughts, actions and choices. It all starts with key #1 knowing who you are and believing that you have innate worth and value. And you must own your destiny. We don't get to choose our parents or families. We cannot fix what happened to us in the past because it is over. But we must be responsible for what happens to us once we become adults. It may not be easy. But it is the only way to live a fulfilled and purpose-filled life.

Bottom line: Everything you need to win at life is inside of you. Stop cooperating with your oppressors. Stop cooperating in silence with people who are negative, toxic, and damaging to your life. Stop allowing people to rob you of your peace and your joy. The only person who can stop the wrongs being done to you, is YOU. It's time.