Being alone doesn’t mean you’re weak, it simply means you’re strong enough to wait for the right relationship.
“It’s been exactly ten years since my controlling, abusive ex-fiancé sold my favorite guitar which cost almost $1,000 and took me ages to save for. He sold it on the day I broke up with him. When I went to pick up my belongings, he was proud that he had sold it to a local pawnshop. Luckily, I managed to track down the guy that bought it from the pawnshop. The guy was really sweet and gave it back to me for free, on the condition that I join him on his front porch for an hour and play guitar with him. He grabbed a second guitar and we ended up sitting there on his porch for the rest of the afternoon playing music, talking, and laughing. He’s been my husband for almost nine years now, and we are happier now than ever.”
That’s a paraphrased version of a story one of our coaching clients, Megan, lived through a while back. It’s one of those life stories that really stuck with me – one that I still think about on a regular basis. And it immediately came to mind this morning when a new reader of ours, Jay, emailed me a long story about his present, broken relationship. Specifically this one line jumped out at me: “I feel like I’ve given up my love, my passions, my friendships, and my life for her, but it’s never enough.”
Using Megan’s story as a frame of reference, we are reminded that unhealthy relationships restrict and impair, while healthy relationships bring freedom and life to our existence. It’s important to remember the difference. It’s important to remember what you should NEVER have to give up for a relationship. And that’s what this article is about – some good reminders for Jay, and for all of us…
1. Your imperfect magnificence.
It’s not hard to find someone who tells you they love you; it’s hard to find someone who actually means it. But you will find them eventually, so don’t rush love, and don’t settle. Find someone who isn’t afraid to admit they miss you. Someone who knows you’re not perfect, but appreciates you as you are. One who gives their heart completely. Someone who says, “I love you” and then proves it day in and day out. Find someone who wouldn’t mind waking up with you in the morning, seeing your wrinkles and grey hair, and then falls in love with you all over again.
Remember, to the people who truly love you, you are magnificent already. This is not because they’re blind to your shortcomings, but because they so vividly see the beauty of your soul. Your shortcomings then dim by comparison. The people who care about you are willing to let you be imperfect and magnificent, at the same time.
2. The right to decide for yourself.
Don’t put the only keys to your growth and happiness in someone else’s pocket. Relationships are not about authority and obedience; they’re agreements of love and respect. You simply can’t live your entire life through someone else’s fantasies. There must be compromise and the space to do what’s right for you, even if someone you care about disagrees. Give, but don’t allow yourself to be used. Listen to loved ones, but don’t lose track of your inner voice in the process.
Never apologize for what you feel and what you don’t feel; that’s a betrayal of your truth. No matter how much advice people give you, sometimes you have to feel things out for yourself, make decisions on your own, experience things firsthand, and build your own conclusions from the ground up the old fashion way. (Read Choose Yourself.)
3. Your innate human need to be understood.
There’s honestly nothing more intimate than simply being understood and understanding someone else in return. Even when there are disagreements, every healthy relationship contains this mutual understanding – a loving space filled with listening and compromise.
So remember to listen without defending, and speak without offending. Communication isn’t just an important part of a relationship, it is the relationship. And really, there’s only one rule for being a good communicator: the willingness to hear others. Because we do not always need a busy mind that speaks, just a patient heart that listens.
4. The freedom to love.
Love is the creative force of the universe. It is as important to life as oxygen is to breathing. When it is present in our lives we feel happier, more optimistic and fulfilled. Without it, we become angry, cynical, resentful people, critical of ourselves and others, effectively squashing the greatness that exists in us, and diminishing our own light.
Open your heart and let love out. Love people. Love experiences. Love yourself. And let go of those who try to stop you.
5. The courage and willingness to experiment with life.
To live a great life, you must lose your fear of being wrong. Remember that doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing. Even when things don’t work out, they do. Because in the end, experience is what you get when you didn’t get exactly what you wanted, and experience is often the most valuable thing you have to give.
So don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. Don’t let someone scare you out of failing forward. All of life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. Either you will succeed or you will learn the next best step. Win-win. (Read Start.)
6. Your joy.
Never let anyone or anything get in the way of your joy. Live a life that makes you smile. Because you don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that your life is a collection of meetings and “someday’s” and errands and receipts and empty promises.
So go ahead and sing out loud in the car with the windows down, and dance in your living room, and stay up all night laughing, and paint your walls any color you want, and enjoy some port wine and chocolate cake. Yes, and go ahead and sleep in on clean white sheets, and throw parties, and paint, and write poetry, and read books so good they make you lose track of time. And just keep living and laughing and making God glad that he gave life to someone who loves and cherishes the gift.
7. Other important relationships, including the one you have with yourself.
If a relationship is closing you off from the world, it’s time to break free. It’s time to choose love over deception. After all, that’s what love is all about – freedom.
So don’t blame love if a broken relationship is interfering with your other important relationships, or robbing you of your self-esteem and personal freedoms. No, don’t blame love. For it isn’t love that’s stealing from you. It’s possession. It’s obsession. It’s manipulation. It’s confusion. Love has nothing to do with your situation. For love doesn’t close the door on happiness and liberty. It opens it wide to let more in.
Likewise, if someone expects you to be someone you’re not, take a step back. It’s wiser to lose relationships over being who you are, than to keep them intact by pretending to be someone else. It’s easier to nurse a little heartache and meet someone new, than it is to piece together your own shattered identity. It’s easier to fill an empty space within your life where someone else used to be, than it is to fill the empty space within yourself where YOU used to be. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
8. Your inner peace and composure.
No matter what you do or how amazing you are, throughout your lifetime some people will still upset you, disrespect you, and treat you poorly. Let them be; let karma deal with the cruel things they have done. Hatred and negativity filling your heart and mind will only consume you and your potential. You will begin to heal and grow emotionally when you let go of these past hurts, excuse the people who have wronged you, and forgive yourself for your misjudgments.
Bottom line: Learning to ignore certain people and situations is one of the great paths to inner peace. So let GO when you must. Let them be, so you can be at peace.
The floor is yours…
What else would you add to the list? What should you NEVER have to give up for a relationship? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Photo by: Vega