“Few things in life are more traumatic than being rejected by someone who knows you well and then, with this insight, decides that he or she no longer cares for you or wants to be with you.” – Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University
Those of us who have been there know how true this statement is, and I personally have had my heart broken several times in my life. As much as it hurts to end a relationship, it is typically devastating to be the one left behind.
Ok, I’m going to give away my man card here. Last night I watched about a half hour of “The Bachelor”. As Ben, the bachelor rejected another contestant; she left the house and said something like: “I don’t think I have ever felt so unlovable in my life.” You see, when we are rejected, our pain often centers on the thought that since this person who knew me so well doesn’t love me, I am unlovable. This then logically progresses to how fundamentally flawed I must be to have caused my loved one to leave me. I must really be a misery to be around… Why else would they leave me knowing how badly it would hurt?
I believe knowing and having a strong and resilient true Self is critically important before entering a serious romantic relationship. I will capitalize and italicize Self throughout this blog post in hopes that this typographical treatment will remind us of the particular meaning I intend.
So who are you? Who is that Self inside you. I believe within each of us is a Self, an individual life force that is the very essence of who we are and that longs to be free and expressed. It make us aware that we are a separate entity, apart from others, yet still connected to and a member of humanity. It is the part of us that can balance our unconscious feelings and pain and our conscious thoughts and is capable of Self-reflection and most importantly in this situation, Self-soothing.
So why is it critical for us to know our true Self when faced with the trauma of rejection in relationships? When we know our Self, we are able to accept who we are even if those closest to us reject us. Our resilient Self understands our strengths and weaknesses during tough life transitions. The Self also is aware of strengths, weaknesses and potential ulterior motives of those who reject us.
Rejection and subsequent Self-reflection can help reveal some of important core truths and weaknesses about us and who we are. However, the true, resilient Self understands that we are acceptable and worthy of love and has the capacity to Self-sooth. Below I have listed what I believe to be 3 of the worst things and 3 of the best things you can do after a traumatic break-up.
The 3 Worst Things You Can Do:
- Assume that you are “damaged” goods and that the break-up is an indictment of your character and worthiness;
- Participate in self-destructive behaviors that validate and reinforce the shortcomings that you feel caused the break-up;
- Let fear of past failures cause you to give up on love.
The 3 Best Things You Can Do:
- See the break-up as an opportunity to learn and grow;
- Apply lessons learned to better your Self;
- Once you have healed, be fearless in pursuing another healthy relationship.
We are all a beautiful work in progress on this, at times, very tough planet. If we let our mistakes or the trauma in our past continue to haunt us, we will never truly recover in a healthy way. Failure and pain can be great teachers as long as we hold on to and love our Self. And most of all, don’t give up on love. I recently saw the 1980’s musical icon, Sade, in concert and it was the best concert I have ever seen. She ended the concert with the title track from her Grammy award winning album, Soldier of Love. I have provided the link. I love the chorus line of the song and I have applied it to my life.
“I’m a soldier of love.
Every day and night
I’m a soldier of love.
All the days of my life.”