From an early age we’re taught to be nice and play nice. Some of us learn this lesson very well. In fact, we tend to overlook poor behavior and/or physical/emotional abuse because we don’t believe we have the right to question things that are said or done.

There is a time for being nice and playing nice and yes, absolutely, we generally want to treat others with dignity and respect. But sometimes playing nice hurts and deeply affects not only us but our children and others we are close to. When we buy stock in the words and actions of a partner out of fear, intimidation, to have a roof over our head, or to keep our children clothed and fed we rob ourselves and families of dignity and hope for the present and the future.

Are you ever nice in order to keep people in your life?
Do you sometimes look the other way when you see an action or hear words that are not right or are cause for alarm?
Do you pretend that things are okay and go along with the status quo rather than take actions that may be uncomfortable but in the long run could help you?

I spent much of my life living in the too nice mode. I feared leaving or losing a partner because life without a partner was uncertain.The uncertainty of the future often kept me in the turmoil of the present. That present included people who behaved poorly and often mistreated me and my family. They were angry and frustrated and took their feelings out on others simply because they could get away with it.

Partners who hold you captive with words and actions hope you will continue to forgive them. They say sweet words when they believe you might leave. They might buy you nice things to distract and convince you it will never happen again.

But it usually does happen again in one way or another. You question whether what was done was really abuse. Maybe you’re just overreacting and thingsĀ  aren’t that bad. Sometimes that is the case but pay attention to your gut; it knows.

Most of the time people who create havoc and craziness in relationships are damaged people who damage other people. They likely seek people they believe will lift their boundaries or discard them altogether.

When you live with the anything goes mentality you might question things that are said or done but usually go with the flow rather than disrupt it because you want to avoid confrontation.

Would you place a one year old on a busy street? Of course not! But how is it different to place yourself in the line of fire with a person who mistreats you? Why would anyone choose to stay in a situation that robs you of your self-esteem and can even be dangerous? How long do you continue to take it?

On a regular basis take stock of your situation and decide if it’s possible that you are allowing people to treat you less than you deserve.

If you had a friend or family member who was being mistreated how would you react?

Would you ignore them rationalizing that is none of your business or choose to let them know you’re concerned?

The new year is just about here. If you are scared, confused, alarmed, or unsettled in your personal relationship, you have a chance to right your course. Pay attention to your instincts, they will not steer you wrong. It may feel awkward and uncomfortable to reprogram your thoughts and actions but doing so will be freeing liberating and nurturing.

It’s a new year, one full of promise. There will never be a better time to right your course. The time is now.

**If you are in a potentially dangerous situation you may need to contact local law enforcement and/or seek professional counseling.
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