Compromise is not a bad thing. We do it all the time with family and friends, at work, and in other relationships. It can be a good thing. Here’s where it can get risky: when you compromise values to keep the peace, you are giving up a core piece of yourself.
For example, let’s say one of your values is the truth. You believe you deserve to hear the truth from the important people in your life, and you don’t like it when someone lies to you. But then, you choose to tell a lie to your boss. Imagine it was to protect a co-worker and keep peace with the boss. It doesn’t really matter the reason. What you’ve accomplished in lying is to compromise one of your core values. It’s that easy to do.
Sometimes we do it without even realizing it until we realize we’ve lost something crucial—you!
The Risky Game
You may find yourself in situations in life and career that put you at odds with what you believe to be important. Someone may ask you to do something that feels wrong, but it is someone you look up to who is doing the asking—and you say yes even when it goes against your grain.
This behavior can come from not feeling secure in your own belief about right or wrong, good or bad, ethical or unethical. Low self-esteem can be a trigger for compromising values. Sometimes it is challenging to stand up for what you believe is right. Being a people-pleaser compounds the challenge.
You might be thinking it is kinder to give in. Compromising may help you feel as if you fit in with the crowd better. Keeping everyone else happy at your own expense leads to losing yourself in all the compromising.
How Compromising Values Affects You
I remember a time when the people-pleaser in me took over my every waking thought. How can I help him be better? What more can I do to support my boss? Who needs me to do something I would rather not do? It got to be that ridiculous for me.
I compromised values and beliefs to the extent that I didn’t know what I really believed in anymore. As I was going through the motions, pretending that I was doing great things by being everyone else’s doormat, I suddenly felt empty and numb.
If you’ve ever been in this spot, or are here right now, do you ever wonder:
- Who am I?
- Why don’t I feel like myself anymore?
- How much have I sacrificed to keep the peace?
- Why don’t I ever get what I really want?
- What is this feeling that won’t go away? Resentment. Anger. Bitterness.
What You Might Be Giving Up
When you compromise values to be kind, of service or keep the peace, you may be giving up things that are really important to you.
Friendships—Has someone asked you to stop seeing a friend because they are jealous, they don’t like the person, or they want you to spend time with them instead? So, you stop being with people you love.
Family Relationships—Has someone ever asked you to stop inviting certain family members to your home because not everyone likes them? But you do.
Career Goals—Have you turned down a new job or promotion because it would change the hours you work or the amount of travel and that means someone else must adjust? So, you held yourself back.
Dreams—How many times have you compromised your dream to do something or have something because someone else thought it was silly, frivolous, or not part of their dream? So, you put it on the back burner.
Condoned Behavior—Can you recall a time when someone’s actions or words, toward you or another person, would have been intolerable, but now you allow it to happen? It gets harder to like what you see in the mirror as a result.
Self-respect—Do you not like yourself much after giving into someone else’s request, wish, or desire? Do you ever second-guess your choices because you’re not comfortable or satisfied that it’s the right thing? And, your confidence starts to erode.
Essential Values & Beliefs—Throughout all this compromising, do you ever look back and notice that the beliefs you were raised with and the core values you developed over time have taken a back seat to what someone else wants for you, or expects of you? It’s time to move back into the driver’s seat.
Stick to Your Guns and Don’t Compromise Your Values
When it comes to the qualities and characteristics about you that make you unique and special, there should be no compromising. Standing your ground and honoring your beliefs and values, is important and a basic human right.
On the other hand, having respect for other people’s values and beliefs is also important and fair.
This means, by its very nature, there is a need for compromise in this world. Go ahead and compromise all day long about the movie choice or where to go to dinner or who will take out the trash.
But, when certain values are part of who you are at the core, these are not up for discussion unless you make that the case. It’s a choice you get to make. Consequently, you get to choose to allow the compromise because you have found the toleration point.
Think about what is most important to you at this time in your life. Make a list of your top five values. Use it as a checklist for every choice and decision you make going forward. Will this particular choice honor my core value of [you fill in the blank].
I’ll leave you with this. There are certain things I’ve learned not to compromise in my own life. You may find some of these will work for you, too, and you may have many more to add. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments on my website.
If you realize you have compromised values along your journey through life and you wish you could change that behavior, let’s chat. Knowing how to stop compromising can be hard and getting some guidance may be just what you need. Let’s have a chat and talk about how to get you to the other side so you can love yourself more. Request your chat with María.
This is an excellent post. In our home, I say that ‘you are valuing (YOUR NAME’S) PEACE above other things, but our definitions of peace are different. Really work hard to define your values of PEACE and … your other top values, to find your clarity. It will affect how you choose to live from that point on. Thank you for this!
I love that, Sandy. Valuing my peace above all else. Thanx for sharing what you do! ~Maria
Needed to really understand how worse this gets
Evelyn … I appreciate your comment. Yes, if we let compromising our values go unchecked, we will find ourselves in a hole and it is difficult to climb out. I hope this article helped you. ~M
I’m happy it resonated with you, Parinita!