In the past, I’ve put up with some pretty shady stuff. It’s only with the benefit of hindsight, compassion, and forgiveness, I no longer cringe when I recall it. Instead, I see these acts of boundary busting behaviour as a reflection of what I needed to be and do to grow as an individual that wouldn’t experience this stuff anymore. I did the best that I could with the limited tools, experience, and reference points I had to draw upon. But until I realised I need to have limits, my various mishaps, relationship crashes, and even elements of my childhood, were deep sources of shame.

This is the feeling of embarrassment or humiliation that stems from a recognition that you’re engaging in behaviour or a situation that detracts from you. Shame deals a blow to your self-esteem through the loss of self-respect and self-trust.

Having little or no boundaries is like an invitation to offer people your back for them to walk all over you. They at best, take advantage and, at worst, abuse you. Looking back over my past, while I wasn’t hot on boundaries (I didn’t even know what they were), there were certain things that when they happened, I was like “Hell to the effing NO! I’m out“. I’d finally bail on a bad deal.

At a time of year when people engage in all sorts of craziness just because it’s December, which inadvertently then becomes reflective of how they want to move into a new year, it’s time to batten down your hatches, fix your broken windows, and know your limits.

A bad deal has gotta end sometime, sooner rather than later.

Each day I read and hear stuff about what people, primarily women, be and do in order to date or hold on to a relationship. Some of it is frankly scary. What’s clear is that some of you are reluctant or downright unwilling to break a relationship ‘deal’ no matter how flimsy, unfavourable, or dangerous it is. At what point are you prepared to declare yourself out?

A deal breaker is something that you cannot accept or overlook in a relationship. Its existence renders the relationship over.

In basic terms, code reds and, in some cases, code ambers are deal breakers. It’s essentially anything that signals that the relationship deal is not good to go. This includes signs of disinterest or half interest.

You need to construct deal breakers around the following premise:

Even if I’m wildly attracted to someone and they look how I’d like them to; the sex is great; we share similar interests, and I feel I love them, etc., what type of behaviours would they have to engage in for me to break the deal?

Every person needs boundaries and absolute limits to what they’ll put up with.

If you can’t end relationships no matter how bad they get, it’s like “I have no limit to what I’ll put up with, and my shame alarm is broken.”

Unhealthy relationships detract from you, sapping you of your self-esteem because you’re lacking in love, care, trust, and respect. This is all while morphing, twisting, bending and contorting in order to accommodate someone’s ‘less than’ treatment of you. Because you go against yourself, this also brings about a great deal of shame. This makes it even harder to step away because it feels like if you’ve behaved in a particular way, why would someone else want you?

Shame blocks the confidence you need in order to see a way out.

It can seem ‘logical’ to ‘make’ this person correct a poor situation and cancel out the shame. However, unfortunately all you end up doing is digging yourself into an even bigger shame hole. This leads to your losing all sense of yourself so you feel an even greater dependency on the very person causing you pain and the trophy of ‘winning’.

No relationship that you consider worth your investing your time, energy, emotions, and self in should ever cause you to feel shame because of what you be and do in order to maintain the relationship.

Shame equals the deal is off.

If you’re already engaging in embarrassing or even humiliating behaviour and/or are knee deep in an unhealthy situation, it’s like your shame alarm is broken.

The moment you recognise feelings of shame in your relationship as a result of what you feel compelled to be and do in order to ‘keep’ and ‘love’ this person is the moment your alarm should ring and you’re taking positive action for you.

Much like bullshit begets bullshit, shame begets shame. When you start down a path of doing things that you later come to regard as embarrassing, humiliating, or even downright abominable, if you don’t step away from the pain and shame source and declare yourself out, you’ll end up being like one of those gamblers that doesn’t know when to fold and is now gambling at a loss. You’re robbing Peter to pay Paul and continuing to gamble by any means necessary instead of folding. All for the sake of avoiding the feeling of ‘losing’, when in actual fact, you’ve already lost.

Your shame alarm should ring when you’ve tied how worthy you feel to someone else and it’s plummeting.

Your shame alarm should ring when you feel inadequate, not because you truly are inadequate, but because you’re being and doing things that send a message of not being good enough. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It should definitely ring when you feel the sting of embarrassment and humiliation. Hell, it should ring even louder when, after feeling the sting, you actually seek to do something else in some crazy plan to get away from the feeling and ‘prove’ the other person wrong.

It should ring when you do things that cause you to deviate from your core values and, in fact, cause you to be used, abused, or taken advantage of.

Think of shame like a notification emotion.

Your emotions don’t ‘notify’ all the time. You’re supposed to act on the notification. It’s a sign that you need to take care of yourself and that you’re in a situation or engaging in behaviour that sells you short. Don’t hold on to the shame and berate yourself. Fight for you.

The best way to let go of the feeling of shame that arises from seriously crossing your own boundaries is to step away. Retreat from the source of your pain that compels. The better you treat yourself and the more self-control you gain, the more that the feelings subside and fade away.

My ‘old best’ obviously wasn’t up to much by a long shot. Still, when I expanded my tools and knowledge, and looked beyond my childhood and previous experiences for references, my best has only continued to get better and better. So can yours. I would only still feel ashamed if I hadn’t moved away from these experiences and behaviour. My shame would stem from regret at recognising that I’d continued to do the same things to generate a different result instead of growing as a person in my outlook and behaviour.

It’s not important to have the last word, to tell them about themselves. You don’t need to convince them you’re good enough, or ‘make’ them change and adopt your values. There’s no need to be a people pleaser or to accommodate unhealthy behaviour. These are all distractions from getting on with your own life and being you.

It’s critical to have a limit and to opt out. The only person who can be you is you. If you keep busting up your boundaries and pretending to be something that you’re not, you leave the life you’re destined to have empty.

Your thoughts?

Check out my book and ebook Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl in my bookshop.
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