by: E.B. Johnson
It can be tempting to compromise ourselves, especially when we’re offered the reward of love or opportunity in return. We compromise our integrity, our values and even our pride when it comes to fulfilling the longing we all have inside. The problem comes when we compromise too much, though — something which happens more than we’d like to admit.
Our integrity is one of the most important things we possess in this world. It dictates everything from how we see ourselves to how we see others. This sacred sense of self is integral to who we are and when we violate it, it’s hard to regain trust in ourselves.
Compromise is one of the keys to a happy life, but do too much of it and you’ll lose yourself. Discover the warning signs of overcompensation and know how to correct when you’re giving away too much of yourself.
Why we compromise ourselves.
We primarily compromise ourselves and our values out of a feeling of fear. This fear can manifest itself in many ways and in many different forms. Sometimes it comes from a fear of being unlovable or a fear of being overwhelmed or out of control.
Sometimes, our fear manifests itself as traumatic feelings of guilt or shame; panic, terror or rage.
When we feel powerless, we despair, and when we despair we let our fear take over.
Fear has an uncanny way of causing all the little pieces that comprise our inner-self to splinter, breaking off into a thousand tiny shards that are hard to put back together or realign. When we’re not aligned with who we are at our core, we seek others to give us that definition and that’s when we open ourselves up to major heartache.
Compromising ourselves almost always stems from the experiences of our pasts and the childhoods we had, but it can also occur as a result of recent experiences that cause you to become fearful in some way.
It’s almost a strange form of self-protection, but it plays out much more like sabotage in the long run. If you want to avoid compromising yourself, you have to get to know yourself — and you have to get to know the signs that you’re giving away more than you should.
The warning signs that you’re compromising too much.
Compromise is a part of life but it’s not about winner and losers. True compromise is all about giving and taking in unison. It’s about figuring out a middle way to make things work while still keeping hold of your integrity and authenticity. If you’re giving away too much, there are some serious red flags that you shouldn’t ignore.
You don’t know what your passions are.
If you’ve stopped doing the things that you love, or if you can no longer identify the hobbies or activities that you love, chances are you’ve compromised more of yourself than you should have.
This happens when we give too much of ourselves away to a job or a partner. It’s easy to get lost in the things that are important in our lives, but it’s equally important to keep hold of the little things that bring us joy and give us confidence.
Do what interests you and don’t let anyone or anything stop you from doing the things that you love. When you lose touch with the things that make your heart sing, you lose touch with yourself. Don’t get lost in your longing. Get back in touch with your passions.
Compromising too much has a funny way of making us resent the people and things around us, no matter how undeserving they may be.
When we lose touch with ourselves, we get aggravated and that aggravation is most often expressed by lashing out.
Resentment is poisonous not only to our happiness, but also to our relationships. If you find yourself feeling resentful about even the simplest things around you: you might have compromised more than you were able to.
You don’t feel right in your own skin.
If we compromise on core issues (like family and social choices) we can often find ourselves feeling uncomfortable in our own skin. This is because every time we compromise on something that is vital to who we are at our core, we push away our authentic selves. The further you get away from who you really are, the more unhappy will you become. It’s only when you learn to live in line with your personal truths that you finally unlock the door to happiness.
You second-guess everything.
Second-guessing is a symptom of being out of line with your authentic self. When you second-guess every decision you make, it is a sign of insecurity and a verifiable sign that you’ve lost trust in your own ability to navigate life.
Doubting our choices is proof that we are not comfortable with ourselves or where we find ourselves in our lives. Though it’s not always considered as such, constantly thinking about Plan B’s or better alternatives can be a sign that you’re handing out more of yourself than you should.
You never seem to get what you want.
If you never seem to get what you want, it might be a sign that you’re going after the wrong things. It’s easy to get off-track and to pursue things that aren’t necessarily right for us, but if it feels like you never get your just rewards — chances are, you’ve compromised yourself.
When we find ourselves in situations where we can’t express ourselves or our dissatisfaction, we crumble internally and compromise the things we need, rather than “be a bother”. This results in a feeling of being emotionally and sexually unfulfilled.
How to stop yourself from compromising too much.
Learning how to cut the compromises short is hard, but not impossible. If you’re someone that shares more than they should, learn how to stick up for yourself and set some boundaries by using these techniques.
1. Get to the root of your need to please.
The first step in getting liberated from your need to compromise yourself is getting to the root of your “need to please”.
Compromising ourselves can often come from a need to make others happy.
This starts in our childhoods and follows us throughout life, leading to varying degrees of happiness or misery based on its severity. When we have an extremely high need to please others, it causes us to overextend and giveaway the time, energy and emotions we would be better keeping to ourselves.
In order to undo this damaging need, you have to get to the root of where this need stems from. Perhaps it came from a childhood in which you were denied love from one or more caretakers. Perhaps it stems from a heartbreak that occurred not that long ago. Whatever it is, take the time to address it and figure out why you have such a desire to please others.
More often than not, when we tap into these deeper truths, we can make some startling revelations that can improve the quality of our relationships and our lives. It takes some brutal honesty, though, and standing in the light of some truths that wound more than comfort.
2. Accept that you deserve more.
The world is filled with people who are hurting and you don’t have to be one of them. Learning to accept the love you deserve is a great way to stop compromising who you are but, like the step above, it takes a lot of courage and brutal honesty to get there.
We all hold onto the seeds of our past, but we have to work on giving ourselves a break from time to time.
When we drop the expectations of what we should have done or how things could have gone, we’ll be able to accept them as they are and understand that — even when things go wrong — we aren’t worthless or undeserving.
Accepting that you’re worth more than you give yourself credit for starts with understanding that you’re just human. We all make mistakes, but we all deserve to be loved, honored and respected for who we are. The sooner you can accept that you deserve more, the sooner you’ll find the strength to stop compromising who you are and what you want.
3. Surround yourself with genuine friends.
Genuine friendships are the mirror by which we see ourselves in the world. We are reflected in the opinions of our friends, so surrounding yourself with people who believe the best of you can help to elevate you to do your best.
Look for people who see you for who and what you are and love you for it. Don’t seek those who want to change you, but rather those who want to celebrate you. When we feel comfortable to express our authentic self, we can find her again and that’s made doubly true when we have the encouragement of people we love, trust and respect.
4. Share a little of the love you have for others with yourself.
We are so willing to share our love with others, but we are so rarely able or willing to share that same love with ourselves. Perhaps it’s because we spend too much time with ourselves, or perhaps it’s just because we’re not sure what self-love looks like. Whatever the reason, you have to learn to share the love you have for others with yourself or you will forever find yourself compromising.
Self-love is tied into our sense of worth and our self-confidence. An inability to love ourselves can lead to some very sticky situations that see us compromising way more than we should. That’s because being unable to love yourself makes it impossible to value yourself. Unable to put a worth on yourself, you can’t communicate your worth to other people.
Learn how to have fun by yourself again and get back in touch with all those qualities that make you strong, beautiful and unique. Forgive your mistakes and unlock the heartaches of your past by starting a mindful journalling practice that allows you to reassess who you are what your boundaries and limitations are.
You can also make a list of your accomplishments or just take a little time relaxing and getting quiet. There’s a million ways to fall back in love with you — the important thing is that you do it before you sell yourself short.
5. Learn how to differentiate.
Differentiate refers to the process of developing a sense of self that is independent of the other people around us. In order to find our happiness and our strength, we have to differentiate the influences around us and learn how to disengage from the harmful interpersonal, familial and societal relations that no longer serve us.
Start by breaking down your harmful thought processes and detach yourself from them and the way they impact your emotions.
Next, try to separate yourself from the negative personality traits that you’ve assimilated from the environment or your parents.
Thirdly, disrupt the defense patterns you use to defend your poor choices or painful decisions and lastly, refocus on your true ideals, values and beliefs rather than automatically accepting the ones provided for you.
By learning how to differentiate, you can free yourself from the negative imprinting that leads you down the same self-destructive roads. It takes guts to embrace, though, and it takes time and persistence to master. Breaking with our pasts is hard, but living out of line with our truths is harder.
6. Seek truth and meaning rather emotional gratification.
When we spend our time chasing the emotional gratification of others, it cause us to lose touch with the things that give our live meaning. In order to find ourselves, we have to seek those things that create a personal sense of purpose.
Ask yourself what your values are and figure our what truly matters most to you in this lifetime. Drop the expectations that others have for you and see only what it is you need to be happy with this time you’ve been given.
Studies show that the happiest people are those that seek out meaning (rather than just pleasure). Set goals that extend beyond yourself and don’t be afraid to tell others “no” if that’s what you need to do to achieve them.
7. Recognize how powerful you truly are.
Compromising has its roots in insecurity, or an inability to see ourselves for the powerful, change-wielding beauties that we are. When we know what we want, we are challenged to take hold of the power in our lives. When we don’t know what we want, however, we hand that power off to others; losing sight of ourselves.
Disrupt the spiral of negative thinking by coming to recognize the true power that you wield. Though the voice inside might be telling you that you’re worthless or incompetent, it’s wrong, but proving that starts with accepting the fact that you’re the only master of your destiny.
Personal power comes from our strength, confidence and competence as individuals. The more we take on by ourselves, the more we know we can take on. Knowing how powerful you are mean recognizing that you — and you alone — are the one that has the power to transform your life.
You create the world you live in. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you will rediscover your childlike joy and wonder.
Bonus: The things you should never compromise — no matter what.
This is the point in the article where I address those of you who will (no doubt) be saying:
“But E.B.! Sometimes compromise is a good thing!”
Sure, compromise is sometimes required in order for us to live fulfilling and peaceful lives. There are certain compromises, though, that should never be made — no matter what is promised in return.
Your core values.
Our core values are everything. They make up who we are and they help us define our boundaries and limitations. Giving those up for anyone, no matter what they might promise, is a sure-fire way to lose touch with who you are and find yourself in a world of trouble.
Your sense of self.
If someone ever asks you to change or sacrifice who you are — or who you want to be — they they’re asking too much. It doesn’t matter what they promise as a reward. If someone is asking you to give up who you are they’re not a person you need in your life.
Your dreams and goals.
You are entitled to your dreams no matter what they are. No one is entitled (at any point) to take those from you. The people you surround yourself with should support you in those dreams and help you achieve them in an any healthy way that they can. Even if your dreams seem unattainable, they’re still your dreams. Love them and look toward them with the hope that drives you on to a brighter future.
Your “me” time.
It’s important to spend time alone, so that we can recharge and recenter ourselves. Don’t compromise this time just because you feel like someone needs more of you than you can give. Remember, if you can’t help yourself, you can’t help anyone else. Refuse to compromise that time you need to get back in touch with you.
Relationships and work alike can take a toll on our close friendships, but it’s important to keep these links alive in order to remain happy. Everyone needs good friendships in their life. Losing those is a bit like losing a compass; it can leave you off track with no idea where you’re going.
No compromise is as damaging, perhaps, as the one that requires you to surrender your self-respect.
Our self-respect is the backbone of our self-worth and one of the means by which we orientate ourselves in society. When you surrender your self-respect, you surrender all that you are — something that is hard, if not impossible to get back.
Don’t make excuses for yourself or other people. If you can’t respect yourself, it will become impossible to respect anyone else. Have enough self-worth to know when things have gone to far and refuse to sacrifice who and what you are, no matter what prize you might receive in return.
Putting it all together…
Our integrity is one of the most important qualities that we possess. Losing it through compromise is one of the most dangerous and damaging things we can do, but avoiding the pitfalls take know-how and an understanding of when enough is enough.
Knowing yourself intimately and the things that give your life meaning is the surest way to avoid over-compromising yourself, but you also have to understand the root of your over extension and need to please. Compromising ourselves is tempting, especially where love or acceptance is concerned, but it’s dangerous and it’s self-destructive and it’s one of the most destructive forms of self-sabotage we can engage in.
Stop losing yourself in other people by learning how to love the strong, beautiful person that you are inside and out. True happiness is inside waiting. Stop looking for it in everyone else.