Let’s have some fun today and play a game of multipal choice. Complete this sentence: “If I ran into my ex boyfriend, (fill in his name), I would:
a) run the other way.
b) kick him in the balls and say (as he doubles over) “Good! That doesn’t even come close to how much you hurt me! Rat Bastard!”
c) give him a “death look” and say, “I curse the day you were born!”
d) smile thinly and wait for him to talk first.
e) look him in the eyes and offer a sincere warm greeting, “It’s good to see you. How are you doing? I can’t believe it’s been so long!”
Now there is no right answer, but there is a “best one” Hint: which of these things is not like the other. You guessed it, choice “e”.
Now let’s examine why. Although choice “a” (run the other way) might make you feel good at that moment, however, you are actually avoiding the situation, which you might regret later. If you are like most of us, you will run the moment over in your head, recalling what you would have said, playing versions of the conversation over and over in your mind. Too exhausting! Where is the fun in that?
Choice “b” (kick him in the balls) Bad choice all the way around. First, while it might be a knee jerk reaction (pun intended), there runs the risk of a law suit if you inflict any physical damage! Now who has who by the balls??? Second, he will see that you’re still in pain from the relationship and have not moved on. You will look like a victim….not so good!
Choice “c” (saying “I curse the day you were born.”) see above, second part.
Choice “d” (waiting for him to talk first) Here, you give him the cue to set the tone of the conversation. By not opening the conversation, you end up saying a lot! It says to him that you have not resolved things. If his opening line is less than positive, it could set you on the path of negativity.
Now, I’ll get to choice “e” in a minute…just keep your pants on! My point is (and there is a point) that in order to have a healthy attitude after a break-up, one must change their point of view. You must become empowered to look at the situation as a learning opportunity. I’ll explain.
You see, no one held you captive in each of your past relationships…you entered into them willingly and stayed willingly. You made the decision to be with that person and remain in the relationship, even when all of the signals were there telling you to leave it. Why would you be angry with him? You could have left any time you wanted to. Your head screamed “get out!”, but your heart whispered, “just give it another try, after all…”
Disclaimer: Now I am referring to a typical relationship, not one where physical or mental abuse is involved..that is a whole different situation where I am not qualified to touch on.
Having said that, the time we spend with others is of our own free will. We must own our regrets for staying in too long. We must own our regrets for even starting the relationship at all. Having ownership of these feelings empowers us to do things differently. We can make better choices. We have the power to do so! We are the chooser.
Example: I once dated a man (actually several men, but who’s counting ) who made it clear that he did not want marriage any time soon, as he had just finished a divorce a year prior. Gavin (not his real name, but I LOVE that name) stated his “not marriage ready” status verbally and sent his message through his avoidance of the topic. I spent nearly a year with him and became impatient that I had no ring, but was asked to move in…for the “shack up”, which I refused to do without a commitment of marriage first. When I told him this, he scoffed and said, “You know I have been married and that’s just not where I see myself now.” I was dumbfounded! After all, we spent nearly 12 blissful months together and he said he loved me. I broke it off and, well, that was that. I am pretty final that way.
For years, I remained angry with him and thought the time we spent together was a waste! If I were to run into him again by chance, I would have waited for him to talk first, then silently cursed the day he was born!
Several more years went by, the emotions settled, and at some point, I looked at the situation logically and with a healthy set of goggles. I realized that Gavin was a nice person, we had a lot of fun and I know he did love me. He gave me all he was capable at that time. He stated his intentions clearly, but I was sure my sweet and caring…often daring ways would sway him. They did not. So why be mad at him?? I chose to stay in even when he stated his place.
Since that experience, I entered onto several more relationships, and always openly asked what my potential partners intentions were and LISTENED! I drew from that relationship with Gavin, and in relationships to follow, looked for a marriage minded man who had his class, incredible sense of humor and who treated me as wonderfully as he did. I leveraged that relationship by taking the best of it and setting new standards for myself.
I became empowered!
Now, back to choice “e”. About 7 years after Gavin and I split, I looked him up and wanted to see how he was. He was married and I was in a long term relationship. We were both in happy places. When we saw each other, not only did I offer a warm greeting, but I thanked him for the time we spent together and let him know it had a real impact on me in a positive way. For some reason, perhaps it was the weight of holding on to these thoughts in for so long, tears were flowing from my eyes as I spoke. It was a sort of cleansing I imagine. Gavin had no clue that I was overflowing at that moment because I realized that my pattern of harboring grievances for “boyfriends past” was over, and that these were tears of joy. Who cares. We parted ways again.
The moral of this long story is this: Realize that YOU are empowered to make choices in all of your relationships. Own your choices and look at everyone that comes into your life as a gift for that moment. They may not be a part of your life for the duration, but they might possible be there to help you learn lessons about yourself that could change your life.
As a personal challenge, take a look at your past few relationships and search for the good. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about others? Challenge yourself to take that experience, flip it around in your mind, and view it as one precious point in time that you wouldn’t change for the world.