Sunday, April 20, 2008

Relationships May Fail - But We Do Not Have To Be Failures!

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

I had a former client, and for the sake of anonymity, lets call her Jill and her ex Jack. Jack and Jill, after 18 months of their relationship, (5 of which were in La La Land and the rest in varying degrees of Reality Land) decided that their relationship was at a breaking point. Throughout the portion of their relationship in Reality Land they experienced many difficult and trying situations, which finally were simply too much for them to carry on. So, they came to the conclusion that what they thought that they had found in La La Land and in brief moments in Reality Land were not real enough for them to have a REAL-ationship.

It might sound cliché, but there's always something you can learn from every experience in love relationships- especially the painful ones. Often times we need to repeat certain unhealthy patterns or behaviors, feel excruciating pain, or hit a bottom to learn from our "mistakes." The good news is that your current or past "failures" are the seeds that can inspire you to grow and blossom if you so choose. Your relationship challenges and past relationships can give you a clearer picture of what you want and what you don't want in a relationship if you take the time to examine them.

By the time Jack and Jill came to me for counseling, it was too little to late. The fact is that Jack didn't want to be in the relationship anymore. That's not to say that Jack didn't want to be in a relationship - just not one with Jill. So, after two sessions, Jack decided to break up. Jill continued counseling because she still had questions about the relationship that needed answers. Through our sessions, she started recognizing her patterns and failures. She now knew what her triggers where and where they stemmed from. This did not mean that she erased her patterns from her entire being and never repeated them again. But, once aware of them, she began to change her motivations and actions. This was a huge turning point for her. She realized that her break-up was an ending but also a beginning. The best part of this was that she was able to leave her past behind (not deny it), while letting go of her anger. Of course this did not come without hard work and some pain. But Jill survived and grew stronger from the process.

The purpose of all relationships is to help us grow. We choose certain people in our lives because they are mirror reflections of us in one or more ways. Even the most challenging relationships can be gifts in learning more about ourselves.

When I asked Jill what her biggest lesson was from this experience, she told me that even though she felt loss at the time of her break-up, she never felt like a looser.

So, instead of focusing at the failure of a relationship, I suggest you look at it as a growth experience and move forward by changing your behaviors and learning from it.