About giving second chances because you think your limits are “better”

A challenge we face when we are doing our best to create healthier boundaries after recognizing where we need to break unhealthy patterns is an internal debate about giving a second chance to someone who hurts or disappoints us. It is especially difficult when the person is looking for us. Debating with ourselves about giving a second chance may seem like proof that we are afraid of failing. Give it a go and everything will be fine, and we’ll slap each other on the back. But give it a go and the person will do the same or worse again and we will be surrounded by guilt and shame.

The doubt, guilt, and sense of obligation we experience can make us fall. Since the person is looking for a second chance, we think that to say no or not to let them return to our lives to the same degree as before is to “not forgive” and “hold grudges.” In fact, humans often combine requests for a second chance with the person’s desire to change. Shit, sometimes we even take it as proof that they have already changed. There is also often the underlying belief that perhaps what happened was purely the fault of our own limits, so giving that person a second chance will be a way to prove how much we have grown. We think we should now be more, you know, “resilient.”

Should we give it a second chance now that our limits are better? Or should we not give the second chance precisely because we have evolved our limits?

To get started, we need to get the “should” out of giving someone a second chance. This means acknowledging that we are unsure or even unwilling. Emotional blackmail and the obligation to give us a second chance would exceed our limits.

We need to know our “why” when deciding whether to give someone a second chance because the intentions and motivation behind a decision dictate how we feel afterwards. What do we expect to gain in return if we continue? What do we think will happen or should happen? The more honest we are, the healthier the decision we can make. Let’s say we give this person a second chance and they don’t respect our limits. Will we be able to manage it from a limited place? Or, will we take it personally and exhale to blame and shame ourselves?

If the person we give a second chance to has no healthy limits and expects us to commit to our previous level of limits, it is only a matter of time before it is pain and trouble.

Our intention may be to give another chance, to show support, but the result is that this person will interpret it as a green light to recreate the same problem. If we continue to respond with our intentions without being aware of the impact and the truth, we will continue to get the same unwanted results because we are too focused on how we want to see ourselves and others.

By giving ourselves a second chance to test the progress of our limits, we are failing ourselves and others. We don’t need to put on unnecessary and painful tests just to prove a point to ourselves. That is, we try to control the uncontrollable and try to correct the mistakes of the past. If we are going to give someone a second chance, it must be because, no matter what they do or not, we will have better limits anyway.

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