Many believe past relationships are a sign of failure or time they wasted with the wrong person. Yes, relationships leave us with feelings of sorrow, uncertainty, and guilt but there is much wisdom from these uncomfortable emotions.
Instead of trying to understand why it ended, the real question is What am I meant to learn? I’ve spent much time looking to the past to find answers, only to find that's it's better to focus on the lessons in order to move on gracefully to attract new relationships.
Here are seven beautiful lessons we can learn from past relationships:
1. People don't belong to you.
I used to believe that when I was committed to someone, that person belonged to me. Of course, now I understand that people are not possessions. This means you don't have a claim on the lifestyle choices they make, no matter how long you've been together. You don't get to control their behavior, even if it's obviously not ideal for the relationship. The best you can do is to communicate and create boundaries from a space of trust, honoring the other and self-love.
2. We all need “me time.”
Being in love with someone doesn’t mean you have to spend every waking hour with the person, merge your identity into theirs, and forget about your own dreams. Finding love means making the most of the moments you have together while also honoring the time you spend apart doing the things that make you feel alive. It’s painful to lose yourself in the process of loving another. (Trust me, I know!)
3. You complete yourself. Period.
Jerry McGuire screwed up our sense of relationships with the “you complete me” junk. If we're looking for validation and love from a source outside ourselves, we're setting ourselves up for co-dependency issues.
In the past, I needed a man to validate me; my self-worth deteriorated when I wasn’t in a relationship. What I didn't realize was that I was giving away my power and putting my happiness at the mercy of another person.
If you aren’t happy with yourself, you won’t find that happiness in a relationship either. You have to cultivate self-love and happiness in your life first, before you can share it with another.
4. You can only change yourself, so don’t fool yourself to believing you will transform your partner.
Sure, we can motivate others by our example, but expecting someone to lose ten pounds or change the way she deals with anger is not honoring who the other person is.
It's also not a very effective strategy to get what you want. People grow when they feel an internal desire to make a shift. Being pressured to change may lead to temporary improvements, but it's almost certain to give rise to feelings of resentment.
If you don’t like when your boyfriend has a short temper, change the way you react. Respond from a space of calm. When you shift your energy, the other person will automatically feel your new energy. People are motivated to behave differently by the example you lead, not the words you speak.
And if you're feeling desperate for someone to change, ask yourself why you're with someone who needs so much fixing?
5. The lust period doesn’t last forever.
Understanding the difference between lust and love allows us to be prepared with the real deal arrives. Butterflies in the stomach, dressing to impress, texting and talking for hours a night — these are all signs of lust. These usually fade and love will take place.
Love is about accepting an imperfect being and loving that person for their flaws. It’s about being authentic and sharing openly without fear of being judged. When you can share the good, the bad and the ugly with someone, love grows.
6. Some relationships are simply here to teach us how to gracefully let go.
Letting go gracefully, with complete forgiveness and love for the other person requires understanding and self-forgiveness. Some relationships are brought to us not as the happily ever after, but to teach us how to honorably let go. Being able to let go of the past allows us to be fully present emotionally, spiritually and physically in future relationships.
7. Relationships are a direct reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves.
In relationships, when we find ourselves reactive, it usually means that we haven’t healed our fears and anxieties. When we recognize our responsibility in the situation, we can then make an empowered choice to shift to more loving perceptions. The more we act from our higher self, the more self-love we cultivate, which in turn helps us cultivate loving relationships.
Relationships can help us grow and evolve. Sometimes the purpose is to test us or to teach us. Some will use you and others will bring the best out in you. Sometimes the relationship will no longer serve your highest good and your paths will naturally separate so you can both continue growing.