We are all programmed to seek stability. In fact, it is often said that we are creatures of habit. As human beings, we crave the routine while, at the same time, often we complain of it. From an evolutionary standpoint, routine represents safety. No wild animals interrupting your nap. No enemies beating down at your gates. So, while routine may be boring to must of us, it also brings us peace of mind.
Yet, if there is one constant it is that life is always changing. While we may think that everything in our lives remains the same, under the surface (if not over it) things are always percolating, always changing. Sometimes they seem to blow up. Events seem to take us by surprise. Sometimes they do. Most times, had we been keenly aware of the signs around us, we would have known they were coming. Alas, most times we tend to ignore signs of change as we seek the comfort and safety of the routine. This is particularly true in relationships.
But, there is tremendous power in change. It opens new horizons, new possibilities, new adventures. The problem is we resist change. In our evolution, change meant danger. Our reptilian brains remember this and recoil seeking the shelter of the familiar. When a relationship ends, the familiar is rendered. For those who are being let go, we are cast off from the tribe of two, and sometimes more as mutual friends choose sides. Our bodies are flooded with survival chemicals, another remnant of our evolutionary past. Most of us then seek comfort in the pity of others. We play the woe be me card in an effort to receive love from our friends, and sometimes our family. We resist the change as we seek to get our ex-partner back. Or we rush into the rebound relationship without really taking the time to adapt to the change. But it need not be so.
When a relationship ends, the person that is being let go has been taught by society – particularly the media – to react in a certain way. We should be sad … for example, most songs deplore the loss of a relationship. These are not restricted to blues and/or country-western songs, by the way. And songs have the power to change our emotions. Poems wax eloquently about lost love. For most of us, our response to this change is a conditioned one. There are a lot of shoulds. We were previously taught, mostly by our parents, that we are not worthy of love. And those demons, which had been kept at bay when your ex-partner loved you, come roaring back.
Society does not teach us how to deal with endings. If you think about it, we are actually taught the very opposite. Our instinct for survival and our conditioned fear response to change, is reinforced when we are taught to save existing situations, regardless of whether they are beneficial to us or not. We fight to save our jobs, whether we like them or hate them (latest Gallup poll shows that 70% of us are emotionally disengaged from – i.e., hate – our jobs). We fight to save patients in their terminal stages of life, robbing them of the dignity of a peaceful death*. And, of course, we fight to save relationships which have become toxic mostly because we got into the relationship for fear of being alone**. We hate endings per se, but without endings there could be no new beginnings. In this life, everything has a beginning, a middle and an end. An ending is the natural evolution of things.
I’ve written before that most relationships are what are called purposeful. Once the purpose of the relationship is accomplished, the relationship is complete. We can, if we are mature and in touch with our own feelings, end any relationship gracefully. Or we can end it screaming and kicking. Now, don’t get me wrong. Relationships may be complete only after a lifetime together (i.e., the death of a partner. These are lifetime relationships.). Relationships can also evolve beyond a seeming end. In which case, both partners must be willing – and able – to communicate directly, openly and honestly. It is possible, but rare, for a purposeful relationship to become a lifetime relationship. Usually, one partner is on a different path than the other and, given men and women’s genetic predisposition to mis-communicate, as well as our disposable society, a purposeful relationship rarely evolves into a lifetime relationship.
The important thing to remember is that when a purposeful relationship comes to a natural end, it is a success, not a failure! Yes, this is difficult for us to accept, particularly for the person who is being let go. Thoughts of what else you could have done, feelings of guilt, anger, despair (leading to suicidal thoughts in extreme cases), loneliness, etc. come rushing in. Let them be … for a while. Then remember that you have done this many times. From high school friends, to parents, to jobs, to other partners. It doesn’t get easier unless you realize that life … well, goes on. That you are in charge of your emotions. That you can choose to be out of the relationship and miserable, or out of the relationship and at peace.
For most of us, the end of a relationship may represent the opportunity to know ourselves. However, most of us hate the silence of our thoughts. The silence of uncontrolled thoughts become unbearable. They scream at us of our failure, of our loneliness, of our unworthiness. Most of us then seek refuge, albeit temporary, in addictions, be it alcohol, drugs, video games, parties, etc. Yet, if we can stay with our thoughts for a while, we can learn to control them and, thereby, control our emotions. We can learn to choose to be at peace regardless of the circumstances around us. We get to the point where we understand that things and people change. In fact, if we are true to our feelings, we get to see that, in the split second before our conditioned responses took over, the truth made its way to the surface. If we are honest with ourselves, in that split second, we may have emitted a sigh of relief. But, chances are that we buried it deep and our conditioned responses took over.
If we took the time to really examine the reasons why a relationship ended, we may discover that it was a natural evolution that allows for newer beginnings. These new beginnings will be much the better when we get to know ourselves. And, in the process of doing so, be gentle to ourselves. Let go of the blame, let go of the anger, let go of the fear. Embrace the new beginning and realize that changes are inevitable.
As always, I remain in love with all. Jean-Pierre
When something ends, it is spirit inviting us to take a look at our life. To examine what our truths are and whether we are living them. The harder the change appears to be, the more we are invited to learn.
* Einstein proved that we are vibrational beings. That is to say, energy made into matter. We know that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only be transformed into matter. Hence, we are eternal beings and need not fear death.
** A recent study showed that: 40 percent [of respondents] said they feared not having a long-term companion, 18 percent said they feared “spinsterhood”, 12 percent feared losing a current partner, 11 percent feared growing old alone, 7 percent feared never having children and a family, 7 percent said they’d feel worthless if alone, 4 percent feared negative judgments from others and 0.7 percent said any relationship (even if horrible) was better than none. (Emphasis added)
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