“I keep my circle small and my walls high. I’ll treat you the same way you treat me. Even though my heart is big and I love hard, never underestimate me.”

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Dear one,

Someone I adore shared an image with this quote recently, along with their own comments, including “I’m working on matching people’s energy, so that I’m not drained of mine, and I don’t waste my energy on people who don’t deserve it.“

Rather than call the post (or my friend) out, I decided to write about it in a love letter to you, dear one. Because I never want you to feel this way, and I want to explain why it’s both a problematic and unhealthy mindset.

I keep my circle small
Keeping your circle small is fine. The smaller the circle, the better the opportunity for strong trust. This is especially important for many people in recovery from addiction.

and my walls high.
Keeping your walls high is a reactive response triggered by survival brain, usually the result of being hurt. While it’s understandable, keeping your walls high only hurts you and keeps out those who want to care for you.

I’ll treat you the same way you treat me.
Tit for tat is an emotionally immature (and frankly quite petty) response. If you know better and don’t do better, then you’re the one being the asshole.

Even though my heart is big and I love hard, never underestimate me.
My problem with this sentence is that it is proclaiming something good that should be a source of pride in a way that makes it feel taunting and antagonistic.

If I were to rewrite this quote that has been shared all over the internet for years, I might say it this way:

Trust isn’t easy for me. That’s why I keep my circle small, and I sometimes retreat behind high walls to protect myself. Even though I’ve been hurt, I will treat you the way I want to be treated because it is the right thing to do. Never underestimate a survivor. We have big hearts and we love hard.

Michael Nolan

Never forget that I love you, and that excludes no one.


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About Sentimental Dom

Michael Nolan is The Sentimental Dom. He wants you to keep your chin up, treat everyone with dignity, compassion, and respect, and drink more water.

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