Do you feel like you just can’t seem to get over the betrayal of a past relationship? Or maybe you find yourself constantly thinking about “the one that got away”?
Whether that relationship was recent or decades ago, if you’re still holding on to blame or resentment, or pining away for what “could have been,” I’ve got some ideas to help you get unstuck so that you can open yourself up to love again and free yourself from the blame, shame and guilt trifecta that often comes with being in this kind of situation.
If you want to learn how to move on, why you need to move on and how to stop blaming yourself (and the other person), this week’s episode is definitely for you.
If you’re constantly ruminating over your ex, it’s likely that you’re experiencing regret. Let’s start there. My mom, Janny Cole, would tell you that regret is a wasted emotion. Now that isn’t to say that when something ends or doesn’t go the way you hoped it would that you shouldn’t mourn the loss. But let’s think about the essence of regret.
Regret is actually wishing that you had done something different, wishing that you had reacted differently, and there’s nowhere to go from that place. Right? We can’t get in a time machine and change the past. So stewing in your regrets over something in the past isn’t really productive.
What IS productive (and healing) is to be willing to get your hands dirty and take a good look at what happened in your relationship. To get curious without judgment. In every crappy situation, there is always an opportunity to find gems of wisdom, but in order to do so, you must also be willing to give up being the victim.
Even if someone truly did you wrong, you have to be able to look at your own behavior, because in a relationship, you’re always 50% of the dance. That’s what relationships are. So even if your partner was unfaithful, you have got to be willing to look at yourself and your role in the relationship if you want to be able to move out of the space of blame and regret. Doing the work around this is what will eventually help change the way you’re feeling about yourself and your ex.
Get honest with yourself and accept that you were 50% of the dance– even if it’s a dance that put you in a very unempowered situation. Remember, we always have a choice, and if you chose to stay in that unempowered situation, that’s your 50%. Acknowledge it, choose self-compassion and forgiveness, and learn from this experience. I promise you that if you’re willing to dig through the crap to get to the gems of understanding and wisdom, you will continue to evolve, and your future relationships will be all the better for it.
Listen, we all want to experience real, vibrant, lasting love, right? And while most of us define that within a partnership, the truth is that we all come into this life and go out of it alone. So what that means is that THE primary relationship and greatest opportunity that we have to cultivate REAL love lies in our ability to cultivate our relationship with ourselves.
[bctt tweet="“Self-love is the only path to real love.” - Terri Cole" username="terri_cole"]
If the only place you’re searching for real love is outside of yourself (ie. from someone else), time for a reality check:
Creating and sustaining a healthy loving partnership is an inside job. That is, it all starts within YOU. If you don’t come from a place of strength, if you don’t know who you are, and/or if you don’t think you have value, then you will always be seeking external validation from the person you’re in a relationship with. The problem with that is that then, that person can give it or take it away. Yikes.
Going forward, your job is to create a beautiful relationship with yourself. Take time, do your own personal work, get healthy psychologically. That’s the work it takes to build a rock solid foundation of self-love that no one will be able to take from you, no matter what happens. I can tell you, as a psychotherapist, most people don’t do it. But you’re here and you’re reading this, so I know that you are committed to your own path of self-evolution and self-empowerment. It all comes back to your relationship with yourself.
The last thing I want to talk about is how to get unstuck. First, let me give you a good example of what stuck looks like when it comes to past relationships. Have you ever met someone and they pour out their life story even though you barely know them?
I had this experience: I was at a wedding seated next to someone I didn’t know, and the first moment I sat down she told me her name and said that she’d been divorced for 20 years, and of course that wasn’t what she wanted, but that was the way it worked out. And that she hadn’t dated since, I was like, okay, well nice to meet you.
So what did this indicate to me? Well, besides having weak emotional boundaries, it told me that this woman was so incredibly identified by the failure of her marriage. Even though it happened two decades ago, she was still so connected to that experience. She had a very successful business, lots of her own money, had traveled all over the world, but the very first thing that she revealed to me (an actual stranger) was that she’d been divorced for 20 years and that she didn’t want the divorce and hadn’t dated since.
Here’s what we need to look at: what do you think this particular person might be gaining out of staying stuck in that place?
This is the concept of secondary gain. This is any UN-obvious benefit you receive from remaining stuck. To identify what that might be you can ask yourself, “What do I get to NOT feel, face or experience by staying stuck?” So back to our divorce-confessing woman and her possible secondary gain. By never going back out into the dating pool she gets to NOT be vulnerable to being rejected again. She gets to stay firmly entrenched in her, “I was wronged” story and stays comfortable, but not necessarily fulfilled. I say this because if she were full on happy with her choice and the way her life had worked out, it is unlikely that she would confess to a stranger her unwanted marital status in minute one of a conversation. To get unstuck, she would need to take responsibility for her 50% of that marriage dance, process the loss and move on with her life.
So if you’re in a place and you feel like you’re stuck and can’t get seem to get over something in your past, I promise you there is some unconscious gain. Even if it’s just that you’re comfortable there, even if it’s just that you’ve been in that place for so long that staying there feels better than experiencing the fear of changing or doing something different. Does this resonate on some level with you?
If so, I want to invite you to download the little cheat sheet below I made you. It has questions that will help you think through and identify what your secondary gain (or gains) might be and recognizing this can make a big difference in your ability to move on with your life.
So I’m really interested to hear what you have to say. Did you find this helpful? Did you like it? And if you did, please share it with the people in your world who you think that it may help!
I hope that what I’ve shared today helps you move on past this situation and getting past the blame, shame, guilt because you can blame someone else or yourself forever and waste your amazing one of a kind life. I so don’t want that for you.
Please download the little cheat sheet that I made for you. And let me hear from you! Drop me a comment here, and if you’re not a member of our Real Love Revolution Facebook Group yet, come on over, mama!
As always, take care of you,