“Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” – M. Scott Peck

Sooner or later, we all end up working/dealing with someone who is not just pushy, but an emotional or intellectual bully. These people are not common, but they are powerful. They can make you do things you wouldn’t do for/with anyone else. They usually pressure you into decisions you don’t feel good about, don’t enjoy when you do them, and — almost always — regret later.

That’s leads to an important distinction — between a bully and a pusher. A pusher is someone who does everything he can to get you to do things you might not want to do but only when you know — and he knows — that these are things you should do. When and if the pusher pushes you into doing such things, you feel good about yourself and grateful to him.

A pusher — however pushy — has your interests at heart. A bully thinks of nothing but his own.

You might think you could stop dealing with a bully the moment you figured out his game. But the typical bully doesn’t let you do that. He has a bagful of emotional tricks that he uses to keep you in his orbit.

The secret power of the bully is his charm. If he were only pushy and obnoxious, he would never work his way into your psyche. But he doesn’t start out that way. He begins his relationships with wit and humor, compassion and intelligence, promise and benefit. He makes you like him and then tries to make you dependent on his reactions. You start to care about offending him. You dread having to argue with him.

It is a miserable experience to be stuck with a bully. And it’s hard to get yourself free. But you can — and you should. Here’s how:

Start by admitting to yourself and a trusted friend that you are being bullied. Say the words out loud. Say, “I am letting so-and-so bully me.” This will give you some immediate relief. It will remove the added pressure of having to rationalize your unbalanced relationship with someone who clearly hasn’t your best interest at heart.

Next, set a time limit for liberating yourself. It could be a week, a month, or three months, depending on how entangled your relationship is.

Set intermediate goals and write them down in your monthly, weekly, and even daily to-do lists. Give yourself specific objectives, such as “Today I will respond to his taunts by saying, ‘Jack, I don’t think that is a fair comment.'”

Free yourself bit by bit. If you try to force too much too soon, you will probably get yourself into an emotional situation that is over your head.

Gradually, the bully will notice that the relationship is changing. He will sense the power moving back to you. He may try to resist it, try to seduce you one more time, try almost everything as he gets desperate.

Hold strong. Just accomplish one small objective at a time. Before you know it, you will be in the catbird seat (see today’s Word to the Wise). And you’ll feel like a brand-new, newly powerful person.