Things I have learnt

I have learnt so many things from the break-up. It has been acutely painful – but when I think of what I have learnt, it hurts less. In a strange way I find myself almost grateful to the person who taught me these difficult but very necessary lessons.

  1. My emotions are part of me, whether they are painful or joyful. Being ashamed of my emotions, or feeling constrained to suppress them or direct them, cuts me off from myself and my instinctive wisdom.
  2. Communication is the heart of a relationship. Of course everyone needs space to think things through in their own time, but if so it should be possible to take that space in a loving way, offering reassurance and explanations. Particularly when things are difficult between you. Because if one of you finds communication with the other difficult or detrimental, then the relationship is in serious trouble, and not talking about these problems will just make it worse. Running away solves nothing.
  3. Nobody likes to see their partner cry, particularly if it’s in any way related to them. But no partner who is worth having, or genuinely loves you, prefers you to cry alone so that they don’t have to see your distress.
  4. Being honest with yourself is the heart of growing as a person. Being honest with others is the heart of having meaningful relationships. But being honest with others also makes you vulnerable – if you spill your soul to someone who’s not ready to hear it, they can hurt you very badly, even without intending to. Always be truthful with yourself, but be careful about who you’re honest with. Be particularly careful of those who demand honesty, but refuse to hear your truth if it contradicts what they believe, or want to believe.
  5. Try to always express your own truth – in your actions even if you choose not to explain why. If you’re right and you don’t act on it, you lose part of yourself. If you’re wrong and you don’t act on it, you lose the opportunity to learn that you were wrong.
  6. Be careful what you take into your mind. Much of the advice given in personal development courses and self help books is subjective and unfounded. Even when it’s good advice, personal development is a gradual process, and can’t be rushed. Avoid judging yourself when you can’t live up to these standards immediately. And definitely avoid people and partners who expect you to do this.
  7. It’s good to consider how you are responsible for a problematic situation before you consider others’ responsibility. But if you consider only your own faults and weaknesses, your self esteem will suffer. It will suffer even worse if you’re with someone who tends to consider your faults before considering theirs.
  8. When partners are in vulnerable states physically or mentally, it’s tempting to attempt to deny your own needs in order to attend to theirs. But that’s dangerous for you, and often unhelpful for them too. You may need to find a different way to meet your needs, but never deny that they exist.
  9. Openness and trust are crucial for a relationship to work, but that does not mean abandoning your watchfulness or your defences. The more vulnerable you are allowing yourself to be, the more you need to be ready to protect yourself if your partner does not respect that vulnerability.
  10. Loving relationships are wonderful and dangerous – seek them out, but choose very carefully.
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One response to “Things I have learnt

  1. I think our main task is really to get to know ourselves well – well enough at least that other people’s comments cannot shake us to the point that we feel lost and confused… and vulnerable. This should help us remain open to advice and comments from others without being too vulnerable to judgement. If we are truly conscious and confident of our own worth, whose negativity can affect us? But easier said than done, that is for certain! Travail en cours…

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