Nasty, mean, insensitive, manipulative, rude--do any of these characteristics describe people you consistently deal with and to whom you keep giving second (third and fourth and millionth) chances? What's that about? Is it about compassion? You're just too nice; you think that maybe they will change or better yet, that you can somehow change them? There is this sense of continually getting roped in by their manipulation and in the process, ceding your serenity.
I've faced this reality in my life: finding myself in a difficult relationship feeling compassion towards someone who consistently mistreats me, thinking they will do better, that they will have an awakening and treat me differently. What is this dynamic grounded in? Guilt? A sense of misplaced loyalty? How does my compassion for the hurtful person overshadow my own need for safety and security in the relationship? Perhaps this is what is meant at the extreme by Stockholm Syndrome, where the abused identifies with and feels compassion for the abuser.
I suspect some early programming at play here: a behavior that may have served you well as a child needing to trust in the parent whose actions hurt and offended. This was normal. The maltreatment didn't feel right, but you found ways to navigate the rough waters: keeping silent, staying out of the way, denying your feelings and even placating the offender, thinking "If only I do more of this, then they won't act mean toward me."
This behavior no longer serves you as an adult. The phrase "being a doormat" comes to mind. In the grown-up world, you can simply walk away--choose to love from afar and be compassionate from a distance. This is loving detachment. And loving detachment is about self-preservation because it lets you love yourself more than you love the person hurting you. A dear fellow coach and creator of the the blog Nutrition-INCheck tells me that she deals with this reality by constantly checking in with herself around food and her relationships. So work to love yourself MORE and lovingly detach to maintain your serenity.
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