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‘Life is too Long to be Defined By One Experience’

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‘Once bitten, twice shy’, he said. ‘I’m just not ready for love again’.

I’ve heard these lines very often, as a friend and confidante to a few… I think I’ve said it myself too on many occasions.

But I’ve now reached a stage of understanding where I know this is not true… So my prompt response to him was:

‘Life is too long to be defined by one experience… Be open to experiencing new love.’

These may seem like words that are easier said than done. Especially when you are going through a setback, be it a personal or professional one.

But the greater probability is that, whatever has gone wrong once need not go wrong again… And to make sure it does not go wrong again, you have to analyse what went wrong in the first place, and try to improve on those areas.

Many of us shirk from taking on the responsibility of learning where we’ve erred in a relationship… We would rather blame the other, or circumstances, than direct the finger our way.

When this happens, the common outcome is denial… And denial has a tendency to hang around your life for a very long time!

Denial starts with the experience itself — with you wondering how it could happen to you — and then moves on to your role in that experience — could i really have done/said those things?

The final manifestation of denial is when you refuse to move forward, being stuck in the same place, as it seems like a more comfortable one to be in.

The solution then is to move out of denial quickly and get in to self-discovery mode… To understand what it is that you as an individual need working on in order to be part of more meaningful and longlasting relationships.

The process of self-discovery can use a three-pronged approach:

  1. Understand the self

Each one of us has a certain belief system by which we live and conduct our interactions. These belief systems, though beneficial in the beginning, eventually become a crutch, and prevent us from breaking away from self-defeating thoughts and patterns detrimental to our growth.

So for instance, if you were taught as a child not to trust strangers, you may soon become weary of trusting anyone you meet, and this negative belief will go on to shape all your relationships in the future.

The idea then is not to trust anyone and everyone, but to be selective in how much you open up to the people around you. And only once you are more sure of gaining their confidence, should you go ahead and share more of your life with them.

2. Understand the other

The inability to be patient or understand the other, is probably a big reason why most relationships fail. We tend to view the other, and maybe even judge them, from our psycho-social perspective... We believe what’s true for us will also be true for them.

But no two people are alike, and hence the two are unlikely to approach a situation in the same way, or even deal with it in the same manner. The challenge then falls upon each one to try to get to know the other better, with a little more patience and sensitivity.

The phrase ‘to give the benefit of doubt’ is best suited to relationships. Perhaps because it helps us see the other’s thoughts and actions in a positive light, and prevents us from judging the other — or, in extreme cases, even ending the relationship — without giving them a chance to explain themselves.

3. Understand the situation

Yes, this is probably the most important factor, and it is not in our control. Very often setbacks — in relationships or careers — are caused by external situations that we can neither predict nor comprehend.

At such times, we need to take a step back and objectively assess — how much will the situation change if worked upon; what skills will we need to change the situation (in this case what aspects of your personality will you need to work on to adapt to your partner)…and finally, if the situation can be corrected or improved at all.

This understanding also removes the burden of responsibility that you were initially putting entirely on yourself. If some things were simply not in your control, it’s best to forgive yourself and let go. But don’t use this as an escape to avoid responsibility, use it as a gauge to get more objectivity to help you move on.

Despite taking into consideration these various aspects, there may still be times when things may not quite come together… It’s ok. Try again. Fail again. Learn again.

Every time though, with greater patience, awareness and understanding…not only of the other, but also of yourself.

So before you let one experience scar and mar you for the rest of your life, ask instead what it would take to look at it from a fresh perspective…and be brave enough to start all over again!

What experiences have shaped or scarred your life? What’s preventing you from experiencing life fully once again?

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Till then, ciao!

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