I’m good at compromising. A people-pleaser and diplomat at heart, I’ll do almost anything to avoid upsetting people, and most importantly, avoid confrontation.
This manifests itself in almost every action of everyday life, from being the one to step out of the way when someone’s about to bump into me to finding it hard to pick the right words if I think someone’s idea is a bad one.
This isn’t something I usually see as a problem. I’ve always been quite happy knowing that compromise is a key part of my personality, and that I would never storm bullishly through life demanding that everything go my own way.
And most of the time, even the most submissive of people can spot when they are being taken advantage of, and quietly but comprehensibly cut the offending person out of their life.
Except when they can’t. And then being the kind of person who likes to smooth the waters, who aims for pleasant cordiality at all times, can suddenly work against you.
Not all compromise indicates passivity. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally deferring to other people’s preferences, actively seeking out the middle ground or taking other people’s views into account and acting accordingly.
These are all choices. As social animals they’re ones we all have to make in order to have friends and live happily with others.
There’s also different kinds of compromise. Compromise is usually an interaction between two parties, who eventually come to a conclusion that suits everyone, and it happens every day in everyone’s lives.
But sometimes you can find yourself compromising on your views, wants and dreams to your own detriment. Sometimes compromise isn’t a choice you’ve made, it’s a habit that you can’t break.
What Happens if you Compromise on what’s Important to you.
When compromise becomes a habit, and you consistently put the needs of others first, you make yourself vulnerable to living a life you didn’t choose for yourself.
You can find yourself relegated to playing the supporting role, becoming a footnote in someone else’s story rather than the master of your own.
I spent years giving way on the things I wanted simply as a matter of habit. I acquiesced without much of a fuss to another person’s plan for me, and I found myself in a job I didn’t want, forgetting my passions and neglecting my friends.
In short, I’d driven my own life into a dead-end.
What was surprising to me as I realised how unhappy I was, was that this hadn’t come about through making bad choices, it had happened because I’d let myself have no say in my choices at all – doing instead what I thought I should, rather than thinking about what I actually wanted.
Regaining Control of your Choices
Luckily, it’s never too late to turn this around, even if you are working against a personality that’s inclined towards passivity.
Taking a moment to reassess, realising where your life is now and thinking about where you want to be is a first step in regaining some control. Meditation is a brilliant way to do this, clearing out your mind and letting you think about your priorities, not anyone else’s.
It also gives you a clearer idea of who you are, (as David Lynch said, meditation lets you become “more and more you”) boosting self-confidence and giving you the courage to change things.
Whether it’s though drastic changes or a series of small ones, you can get back into the habit of asserting your own choices. This can be by taking up a neglected hobby, joining the gym or by not doing the non-essential things you don’t enjoy.
Perhaps you always watch a certain television program because it’s what the people you live with have on, or maybe you’re always the one doing the washing up even if it’s not yours. Just stop and do something with that time that you want to do instead.
Learning how to make the right kind of compromise, the kind that you’ve made willingly and in full awareness rather than just giving in to those around you, will ultimately lead you to the life you want.
And there’s no reason why you can’t do this even if you’re a not a dominant individual. Everyone deserves to make their own voice heard, and to live without compromising on what’s truly important to them.
I’m still the kind of person who steps out of the way for others, but now I make sure that the compromises I make are entirely on my terms.
Has there been a time when you think you compromised too much? Please comment below!
Holly Ashby is a writer and illustrator who’s interested in creativity and wellbeing. She currently works for Will Williams Meditation, a London meditation centre that aims to help people achieve health and happiness through Vedic meditation. You can find Holly on Twitter.
Image courtesy of unsplash.com.