He appeared to be my ideal match. Then again, matches have been known to burn people. And I very much became burned by this man.
Interesting, isn’t it, the dangerous language we use to describe the very people we love? We say they’re our “match.” Or a “flame.” We label them as “smoking hot.” We revel in the “fiery desire” they inspire — and the “burning passion” they create.
A happy love relationship has even been called a “friendship caught on fire.”
Why do we have so many fire metaphors in relation to love?
Then there’s the ultimate fire/love commonality: Both have the power to drastically, speedily destroy a once seemingly solid foundation. For example, a three-story house can be burnt to a bacon-like crisp in a few fiery hours as a result of an innocent waffle being placed in a bread-only toaster. I relate. Thanks to my ex, I was that house, and my heart was that waffle.
As a self-help book author, I’ve written about the importance of seeking meaning during times of crisis. I’ve raved about the emotional benefits of believing everything happens for a reason — then consciously choosing to locate that reason. But I must confess, after the great pain my ex caused me, I was at first finding this hard to do.
I’m sharing this with you now to let you know that if you’ve recently undergone a difficult breakup, I know how challenging it can feel. I know at first you may become convinced that the best way to protect your breaking heart is to put the permanent brakes on your heart. But I’m here to remind you: Please do not wallow in negative emotions for too long!
I believe you can never fail in life or love. You just produce results. It’s up to you how you interpret those results. There are no failed relationships, because every person in your life has a life lesson to teach.
When someone leaves you it’s important to release them and know: It doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. It just means that their part in your story is over. Your story will go on. Instead of stressing over the loss of this person, you must face forward, happy in the knowledge that the empty space they’re leaving behind is clearing up space for someone far more right for you — someone who you’ll now be far wiser at recognizing is far more right! In many ways, pain is your evolutionary buddy. Pain prompts you to wake up from your autopilot slumber, and CLUNK — finally be more alert to which are the best circumstances and best people to aim yourself at for ultimate joy. And often the only way to experience major “insight breakthroughs” is via breakups.
I believe much of the pain of a breakup comes from having a life plan that you have fallen in love with. When it does not work out, you become angry that you now have to pursue a new life plan. But if you ever want to tame your inner demons, you must consciously choose never to become too attached to any particular life plan — and always remain open to the idea that there might be an even better life plan for you. In fact, in my life I’ve often discovered than my Plan B’s are even better than my Plan A’s. (Ditto with my Plan C’s!) Embracing detachment as a way of life will always give you a healthier sense of peacefulness when you get plunked into one of life’s potholes!
You must view your life with what I call “kindsight.” Instead of slapping your forehead and asking “What was I thinking?” you must breathe and ask the kinder question, “What was I learning?”
After my breakup with my ex, I consciously chose to psych myself up about my new life plan by owning the following as my empowering belief system: “I’m happy to be over this relationship because I am learning lots of empowering lessons which will help to lead me into the arms of a much better life partner!” (Note: Thankfully, appreciatively, I did get to personally experience this happening for me — so I know if you keep your eye on the prize of happiness, even in the eye of the storm, eventually you will make it through to happier days.)
Basically, a bad breakup is never meant to teach you “I’ll never fall in love again.” It’s meant to teach you “Now I better know what makes for healthful, happy love — and thanks to this breakup I’m now better able to recognize it and snag it!”
William James, the philosopher, wrote about how he viewed the world as having two kinds of people: once-born and twice-born. James described once-born people as never wandering too far from the safety of who they thought they were. When a crisis arrived, pushing them to enter into dark places where they might find hidden parts of themselves, they never bothered to flip those self-illumination switches. They chose instead to remain sitting in the dark.
In contrast, twice-born people use a shakeup in their outer world as an opportunity to wake up their inner world — seeking a more profound view on life and their purpose and potential in it. Twice-born people view crisis as an initiation by fire into a more conscious, more fulfilling way of living. Twice-born people view themselves as phoenixes rising from the ashes to soar to far greater heights!
I love James’ definition of twice-born people. After my experience with my ex, I became olympically determined to let go of my identity as a woman “burned” and chose instead to trade my identity in as an upward soaring phoenix – a “burn victor” who had happily become much wiser and stronger thanks to my initiation by fire. Keeping this identity in mind and heart surely helped me. If you too have found yourselves in a similar situation, I hope you too will keep these far more empowering fire metaphors in the forefront ofyour mind and heart! And please know – you always have the power to say, “This is not how my story ends!” You have the power to rewrite your destiny!
Your Bounce-Back Assignment: Every time a negative belief about your ex enters your head, repeat the word “forward” as your mantra — then face your thoughts and actions in that direction!