As compassion decreases, resentment and anger automatically increase. Common problems become insoluble. If unfettered by the better angels of our nature, resentment and anger inevitably turn into contempt.
The primary virtue of being “lovable” is that, unlike being “loved,” it’s entirely within our control. Its secondary virtue lies in the fact that being lovable greatly increases the chances of being loved, although the latter ultimately depends on how lovable other people perceive themselves, as reflected in their behavior.
What people tend to regret the most near the end of their lives is that they have not been more compassionate, loving, and supportive to those they love. A presage of this kind of regret comes with the untimely death of a loved one. The common self-doubt, even in relationships that were very close and loving, is something like: “Did she really know how much I loved her?”
The rewards for staying true to your deepest values are great: Authenticity, conviction, long-term wellbeing. And the reminders for violating them are terrible: guilt, shame, anxiety, regret, feeling inadequate or unlovable.
Before you know that you’re sad, you’re motivated to drink or eat too much. Before you know that you feel vulnerable, you’re motivated to blame, deny, or avoid. Before you know you’re ashamed, you’re motivated to seek quick adrenalin through active or passive aggression.
The biggest challenge of living with a resentful or angry person is to keep from becoming one yourself. The high contagion and reactivity of resentment and anger are likely to make you into someone you are not.
Everyone in an abusive family loses dignity and autonomy. You become unable to decide your own thoughts, feelings, and behavior, because you are living in a rigid pattern of defensive-reaction that runs largely on automatic pilot.