I’m learning more every day about the things I didn’t realize about myself. I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly self-aware person, but it’s truly amazing how much you learn about yourself when a relationship ends. Self-reflection can be wonderfully enlightening and incredibly painful.
Below are a few things I’m learning about myself and about life during this crazy time in my life:
- While we may be destined to be similar to our parents, we can skip over their bad habits. It seems typical to find fault with our parents in order to “leave the nest” and begin our own lives, but there needs to come a time when you make peace with them. Seek to find the great within your parents, personify that and overlook what you consider the undesirable traits. This leads to the next lesson:
- Forgiveness feels like the weight has been removed. Grudge holding helps no one. Learn the lesson and move forward or you will repeat it. The times I’ve forgiven someone for something – it could be an oversight, it could be a lie or it could be accepting their faults – I’ve felt immense weight lifted from my shoulders. If only I could remember this and be more forgiving day to day.
- You cannot change anyone. We all will only change if we want to, if compelled by some inner desire to improve or simply to give up and be bitter (see #2). When you go into a relationship whether it’s a friendship or partnership or business dealing, everyone brings along his/her own thoughts, experiences and personalities. If we want the co-existence to be relatively conflict free, we need to accept people for who they are. We can always learn and grow because of our acceptance.
- One person does not know what is best for everyone. It seems such a simple concept, but it never is. As individuals, we tend to find a need to make ourselves heard. We want our ideas implemented. We want to win. The older I become, the more I understand that each person has his/her own agenda, desires and dreams. We all are striving for what is best for each of us, not necessarily what is best for the whole. We all need to learn how to bend.
- Take responsibility. You are responsible for your own success or failure and everything else you do. This goes back to #4. No one is going to have your exact agenda or goals. If you want something, you need to plan and work for it. You may have some people helping you along the way, but you are the only one who can make your dreams real. Additionally, your actions are your choice – own them. Right or wrong, you are responsible for everything you say and do. Don’t try to put the blame on anyone else.
- Speak up if you want to be heard. No one can read your mind. We can’t expect anyone to know what we are thinking if we don’t tell them. Even the greatest of relationships will fail without clear communication.
- Learn to let go. Holding on to past hurts, past relationships, thoughts that are antiquated are simply toxic. Make peace with what is in your past and move forward. If you keep carrying everything with you, your road will be that much more difficult to travel.
- Set goals. Without a destination, how will you arrive? I could not agree more that the journey is often the best part, but with no goal in site, what are you working toward? Start with small goals and relish the sense of accomplishment when you reach them. But don’t overlook setting goals further out than six months or before you realize, you’re five years older and still walking in circles.
- Sometimes it is best to sit back and be an attendee rather than a participant. Some of the best life lessons come when we quiet the inner dialogue in our minds and simply watch others. We can learn so much by getting out of our own heads and just watching quietly from the sidelines.