Yes be proud of your mistakes, they made you who you are today. Can you accept that your mistakes are something to be proud of? It goes completely against everything we are taught as we are growing up. We do something wrong as a child and we are told off, then we get to school and punished for our mistakes.
Life is About Evolving
The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be – Oprah Winfrey
Without making mistakes we can not evolve. I remember when I was studying for my computer science degree, those endless hours spent trying to write computer code. The only way I could ever get the code to work was by making mistake after mistake, until finally it worked.
So why is it that we think we can get through life without making a mistake? And when we do why are we so hard on ourselves?
Surely we should be proud of our mistakes because ultimately what they lead to are our successes.
Life Begins Outside of Your Comfort Zone
The thing is in life we avoid making mistakes by sticking to the things we know. We live life on auto pilot, do things without really noticing and just go from day to day repeating the same thing. Because we think anything outside of our familiar world is somehow dangerous or risky.
But in reality to really taste life we have to come out of this comfort zone, we have to take risks and feel life at it’s core.
Does that somehow make you feel uncomfortable?
I speak to people all the time about getting out of their comfort zone, about pursuing their dreams because life is not going to last forever. This sometimes sparks a self protective reaction, like it’s a personal attack. It’s almost like they just don’t want to be pushed to see how they are limiting their life out of the fear of making a mistake. Unfortunately these people are usually the first ones to complain about life or to criticize people who don’t just settle.
Better an “Ooops” than a “What if”
So what exactly do we fear when we hold ourselves back, is it the actual mistake or something else? Personally I think we fear other peoples opinions of us. Our greatest fear is not being liked by others, not fitting in, not being part of the group and not belonging. After all we strive for a sense of belonging from childhood.
Perhaps we also want to be the good girl or boy, we grow up being told what is good and what is bad that by the time we reach adulthood it’s not questioned. We tow the line, behave as we are told and anything outside of that is deviant or worse criminal.
But really successful people don’t follow the rules, if they did they certainly wouldn’t have made it. That doesn’t mean you have to be a criminal or break laws, it just means learning to play the game, the game of life. And that requires a little risk taking, sometimes a lot, that depends on what you want out of your life.
Time is like a river. You can not touch the same water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of your life.
Living Life According to Others
Living your life according to what others expect will guarantee you fit in, that you are part of the group but over the years it can build up into deep resentment. If you never connect with your true desires, keep them bottled up and cover them up thinking they will pass, then one day you may look back on your life with regret.
Problem with regret is, it can become soul destroying.
If you fear making a mistake because you may disappoint someone, then perhaps you need to reassess your relationships. Real love means unconditional acceptance.If they love you they will want to see you happy. And they will be there for you even if it doesn’t work, even if you make a mistake.
Stop letting other people define you – Be yourself and Be Proud of It
Be Proud of You – Be Proud of Your Mistakes
I guess I’ve been lucky in that I’ve always had a sense of self worth and self confidence that’s been difficult for anyone to break. Even after my marriage ended I didn’t lose sight of who I am, it’s a sense of self belief that I developed as a child and having to rely on myself for most things.
I’m proud of who I am, I’m not too worried if others like me or not because I enjoy, no I love being alone. And that’s why it is important to first be comfortable with who you are, comfortable with your own company and enjoy just being you. Then you live according to you.
My mistakes have been the most important teachings I’ve ever received. Don’t ever regret your mistakes but do make sure you learn from them.
I was watching this video interview where Oprah Winfrey discusses why you shouldn’t be looking for Mr Right or for that matter Mrs Right.
This longing to feel complete by somehow finding this one Mr Right or Mrs Right is the cause for so many relationships ending. Just imagine the already unrealistic expectations you put on another person when you are looking for them to make you feel whole again?
Oprah mentions the statement by Tom Cruise in the film Jerry Macguire where he says “you complete me” to his new love. In the video the discussion focuses on how we can only complete ourselves. Too look outside of ourselves to feel complete is a recipe for disaster. It breeds clingy, needy relationships which often turn into toxic relationships.
How long will it take for someone to not meet your exceptions? How perfect can anyone be? And I guess how can anyone make you feel complete if you don’t feel it alone?
For any relationship to be healthy, fulfilling and happy the people in them must be whole and happy in their own skin.
Linda Frances gives an example of a failed relationship and states
“When you are broken you will attract the wrong people”
It could not be said any better than this
“Instead of looking for the right person, work on making yourself the right person for you, then the right person will be drawn to you” – Oprah Winfrey
Why You Should Stop Looking for Mr Right or Mrs Right?
I feel a little cruel to say this but I feel compelled to. Over romanticising has led to so many relationships breaking down. We get into new relationships with unrealistic expectations and dreams, and this is fine for a while but it’s not long before you start to see the other person in their true colours. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just that when we take off those tinted glasses and look through clear eyes, we see a real person. And real people are not perfect!
So without breaking your bubble about the Hollywood illusion, perhaps it’s time to stop looking for Mr Right (or Mrs Right of course) and start getting real.
Do The Work On Yourself
For many people it’s far easier to be in denial about themselves than it is to look outside of themselves to be complete. In the video Linda Frances talks about being in a toxic relationship as a consequence of not dealing with the feeling of betrayal from a previous relationship. It wasn’t until she allowed herself to feel the pain that she was able to let go. She the was able to work on herself. She became the person she wanted to be, created the life she wanted for herself and attracted the right person into her life.
However not everyone is self aware and not everyone is willing to put the work in. I see so many people all to ready to blame their partners or blame society for the state of their life, yet they fail to make any changes. Safer to stay as I am right?
Complete Yourself – Then Your Whole World is Complete
Your View Of Relationships May Need Updating
We are in 2016 yet our view of relationships are based on the 1950’s (actually earlier). We still dream of some prince marrying us and taking us to this magic palace where we will be happy ever after. Men on the other hand dream of these beautiful women, made of glass, who look just as beautiful twenty years later as they did when they were mere children! Ok I’m over exaggerating but you get my drift.
Here’s the thing though, men and women are now equal (in principle anyway) Many women are ambitious, independent and love their freedom. Most of us are fully accepting of same sex and inter-racial relationships. There are more and more nontraditional ways of living and open relationships not based on exclusiveness,. Yet we are trying to keep relationships traditional.
There is online dating, online virtual worlds, globalisation and the world is a much smaller place. We taste other foods, see other cultures and religions. Yet we are chasing this traditional long term, exclusive and yet elusive relationship.
What’s the right relationship? – I say it’s the one that best fits you. Perhaps you need to change your criteria? Perhaps you need to open your mind?
Staying is No Longer The Norm
And this brings me to discussing why people stay in relationships even if it doesn’t give them what they need. I think most people just don’t like shaking up the status quo. It’s so much easier to moan, to blame the other person than it is to let it go, walk away and start over, right?
When a relationship ends it’s seen as a failure, personally I think it takes great courage to say “it served it’s purpose, it was what I needed and wanted at the time but now it’s time to move on!”
If we walk away, let it go, we are getting out of our comfort zone, we are perhaps putting ourselves into a challenging new unknown life. But surely that’s what being alive means, taking responsibility for your own life and not accepting a life less ordinary.
I also think some people thrive on the drama of a toxic relationship. It makes them somehow feel more important because either they are a martyr or they are a victim or worse they are a powerful bully! They become so sucked into the story “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part”
Personally I think to be in an unhappy toxic relationship is death, no need to wait for it to happen it’s already happened.
Does that mean I don’t believe in relationships? Not at all, just not in the traditional sense.
When I was going through my break-up it was difficult to get through a day without finding some form of escape. When you are in the midst of the chaos that a relationship ending brings, it can be difficult to do much at all. Sometimes it’s just good to switch on a film and zone out for a while, give yourself some time to begin to put your self back together again.
These are my favourite break-up films, they helped me when I was going through the rough time and sometimes I still watch them.
1 – The First Wives Club
Can’t beat this film if your going through a break-up. It’s funny whilst still being empowering. My absolute favourite actresses, strong talented women. As a mature woman myself I can identify with this classic man leaves for an younger woman scenario.
However I felt the essence of this film is the inspiration from the women taking back their lives and keeping their self respect. It’s a revenge film but with a subtle touch, no aggressive anger but a gentle getting even. I’d say watch this film and dare not to laugh – a good laugh is therapy.
2 – Under The Tuscan Sun
When Frances finds out that her husband is having an affair all she wants to do is to run away. She takes a trip to Italy which turns out to be longer than planned, it’s the start of her new journey.
The scenery adds magic to the film – Italy’s beautiful Tuscan landscape. An inspiring film for any woman going through a break-up. It shows that with a little courage and the will to let go, things eventually work out for the best or dare I say it without giving away too much, things turn out amazingly!
3 – Waiting to Exhale
This film is a little more complicated and deep. It’s covers the lives of four friends. Two are having affairs with married men and expecting these men to leave their wives to marry them. And in contrast one of the friends marriage ends when her husband leaves her for his mistress and lastly one friend is just starting a new relationship. It’s an interesting combination of life stories.
This scene shows the anger and pain that Bernadine feels when she learns about the betrayal of her husbands affair. I think anyone who’s been through a divorce or separation knows what that feels like and I can’t blame her for wanting revenge. Good to watch but I don’t recommend anyone does this, even if it looks cleansing!
4 – Silver Linings
While this film isn’t directly about breaking up, it is about life falling apart. It follows Pat who loses his job and his marriage, and ends up having a breakdown leading him into a mental institution. It follows Pat through his recovery and his journey to rebuild his life.
What I like about this film is that it shows how life can really knock us down, it can be difficult to stay afloat but if we give ourselves the time and space, we recover. And when we recover we are stronger and wiser. This is an interesting film and also gives us the male perspective for a change because a break-up is difficult for everyone involved.
5 – Grace and Frankie
The ultimate series about rebuilding your life after a break-up and proof that it’s never too late! It’s a comedy about two couples in their seventies. The wives find out after forty or so years of marriage that their husbands are gay and have been having an affair for most of their marriage. The men declare their love for each other and the lives of everyone is turned upside down.
Whilst this is a comedy I kept finding myself feeling extremely sad for the two women who had given so many years of their lives to a fake relationship. After all if this isn’t betrayal I don’t know what is. I don’t want to give too much away in case you haven’t seen it, so I’ll just say watch it and let me know what you think.
My last post about short term relationships raised some questions. They made me think about when my marriage was coming to an end. It reminded me of that emotional, crazy, crappy time. It made me think about all the times I chose to stay instead of walk away. For me the hardest part has been coming to terms with the staying, thirty years is a long time.
Having Children Changes Everything
So I’ll get straight to the point, having children does change everything. I can’t speak for people in relationships without children because I don’t know what that feels like but I know what it’s like to be there because you have children.
I want to stress that I would never advocate someone staying in an abusive relationship, that is never healthy. Nor do I think staying for the children per se is good, all I am saying is that having children does change everything. Is it always better to stay in a relationship for your children, absolutely not?
My parents had a very unhealthy relationship, I think in their case we would have been better off in a single parent household. In my own marriage I genuinely feel it was best for my children because their father did the best he could and we both worked hard as parents. It’s evident in the fact that all three of our sons are mostly well rounded, responsible adults.
Just knowing that we did the best we could for our children is enough to actually make the thirty years somewhat worthwhile.For most of the time, we were good friends, so there was no real battle ground at home. The fact that we can still talk to each other with relative respect and little anger means the relationship ended when the time was right. No bitterness needed, just move on and love life.
Should You Stay or Should You Go?
When you ask yourself if you should stay or go, remember to drown out the voices of all those around you and listen to only what you know. Nobody knows you and your relationship better than you do, nobody knows how you feel better than you. But if you don’t really know what you are feeling or you are disconnected with your own needs, then it’s time to start digging deep to find your own answers.
We can all give advice, tell others to walk out or stay based on our own experiences but in the end, it’s really up to the individual. In the end we all have to live our own life, we all have our own journey. If fear is what is keeping you in that relationship, then perhaps you need to explore the fear.
I would never tell anyone what they should do, I’m here sharing my story because I want you to see that you don’t have to stay. If you choose to leave and start over, you can make a better life for yourself. But if you stay, then do yourself a favour and make your life count.
You can’t literally re-write your past, facts and events can’t change. What can change however is the story you tell yourself about your past and in that sense you can re-write your past. You may want to read the previous post about Letting Go of the Past.
My Re-Write Story
After my divorce I avoided places and people that I closely associated with my past. It felt uncomfortable thinking about going to these places or speaking to people that knew us both. I also felt a little embarrassed having to keep explaining my story.
I dreaded going back to Cyprus, where we had lived for years and two of my children were born. The first time I went back on my own was not a good experience, I felt very out of place and the memories were all negative. I couldn’t bring myself to think anything good about my time in Cyprus.
Time is a Healer – But Only If We Are Willing To Do The Work
Yes of course as time passes we learn to adjust to our new life, in time we settle and life goes on. But to truly move on, to really let go of the past, you must do the work. You have to go deep inside and explore, question and get to know everything within you.
Time can be a healer or it can just act to cover up what don’t want to see. Being a mindfulness practitioner gives me no choice but to explore my mind and the stories I tell myself. So I tend to feel something then explore what’s behind it, that can be a difficult process but liberating when you get through it.
Next Visit To Cyprus Was Very Different
The next time I went to Cyprus things were different. I noticed that places had changed yet they were still very familiar. I started to feel happy to remember my children growing up there, seeing their school, the beach they played on and even remembering being with my ex-husband.
Because the truth is that then everything was as it was supposed to be and now everything is as it is supposed to be. It’s not sad to look back at the past because there were some unhappy times but equally if not more, there were some happy times.
What’s changed is that I am now able to relate to the past in a different way. I’ve let go of the anger and replaced it with a sense of joy for my new freedom. I guess I’m grateful for the chance to live how I want without having to consider someone else. I am grateful for the new life I am living, the opportunities that now lay ahead and for all the new people I meet.
The past is what it was, equally as important as the present because without fully experiencing the past, you can not be fully aware of the possibilities in every moment.
So I re-wrote my past by changing how I relate to it. I respect it for what it taught me, for the chance to have a beautiful family and for the strength it helped me build within myself. How could I possibly see that in a negative way?
Infidelity is not uncommon, most of us have experienced it either directly or through friends and family.
This subject is particularly close to me because it has played a huge part in my life due to this I’ve always felt strongly about people cheating in relationships. I’ve seen first hand how it destroys people and relationships.
“I don’t understand why people cheat. If you’re not happy, just leave”
I guess I should not be judging or even making assumptions, but this is one area that I feel completed to express a rather one sided opinion. Being unfaithful is not a mistake, it is a choice, especially in our free society. However people still choose to cheat on their partner rather than do the decent thing of being honest. Why?
It’s easier to stay than to leave – someone once told me that it’s harder to stay with a cheating partner than it is to walk away. That was because I chose to walk away from a thirty year marriage rather than close my eyes and pretend nothing happened. Personally I think it takes courage to be true to yourself and walk away.
I can hear the comments from those who chose to stay, saying I don’t understand or it was easy for me. Of course it was. I can hear the voices of the cheaters finding every excuse possible for what they do.
But I will repeat it takes courage to walk away, to let it go and to start again. I can guarantee you the personal reward is far greater than staying, being true to yourself, taking advantage of the new freedom are just a few of the benefits.
What Makes Someone Cheat on Their Partner?
To me there is only one reason for someone for cheating on your partner and that is EGO. People choose to be unfaithful because it feeds their ego, it is a personal choice.
Research shows that people with low emotional intelligence are more likely to seek gratification through relationships with others because they are less self aware and are less able to feel empathy towards others. In a nutshell that means low emotional intelligence makes you more selfish, always putting yourself first with no regard to how others will be affected by your actions. Me First Please!!! is a cheaters moto.
Oh and let’s not confuse education or knowledge with emotional intelligence, there is a very big difference between someone who is emotionally intelligent and one who is well educated.
To be able to work on yourself you must first see that there is work to be done.
I have only one message for anyone who is dealing with a cheating partner and that is:
This year I decided to do something different on New Year’s Eve seeing as my life is such a contrast to what it was. I have friends in Somerset so decided to visit them and to also have some quality time for myself. So I booked into a lovely remote bed and breakfast.
And this is where my three days of getting out of my comfort zone began.
Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone is Part of Growing
I push myself to get out of my comfort zone because after a while of being comfortable things stop feeling good or right. It feels like things become stagnant and I am no longer learning or growing. For me changing things up, putting myself through new experiences that are a little scary is vital.
Even on this short road trip I was able to learn so much about myself, just the fact that I was away from the familiar, the comfortable and the safe was enough to make me re-examine myself.
I think when you allow yourself to just be in that moment, a little insecure and a little scared then you reinforce your self belief.
Every time you work through a tricky situation alone, you get stronger as a person.
On one of the days I took a drive up to Cheddar, determined I would see the caves even if it was pouring down with rain and even if I was alone. Just because you are alone doesn’t mean you have to hide, there’s no shame in being alone. Actually quite the opposite. I find it so freeing to just get up, go where I want without having to consider someone else.
After my cave tour I went to get some lunch in a really cute little tea room. I’ve got used to going out to eat alone now, it doesn’t bother me at all. And the great thing about doing this is I always end up having great conversations with complete strangers.
I got talking to a couple sitting next to me. The man lived near me as a child, grew up pretty locally and was born in Cyprus where my family originate from. I am over 150 miles away from home and sitting next to someone I most probably passed on the street as a child. That is how small the world really is and that is just how connected to each other we really are.
How can you ever be alone when we are all so connected? We only think we are alone because we live in this closed off world of the people and things we are familiar with. Once you let go of that and open up to the reality of how we are all so connected, there is no such thing as being alone.
My drive home!
Oh I could go on forever about the small things that I learnt about myself in those three days. But the one I want to share the most is my long drive home. It was meant to be a 3 hour drive but turned out to be nearly 5. It was raining so hard at times I couldn’t see the road in front, so I had to stop a few times just to rest my eyes.
Stonehenge from my car
There’s something magical about being stuck in a car for hours on your own. You know the only one you have to rely on is yourself. Here you are, it’s down to you to get home safe and in one piece. And like my experience in Nepal, I did it. What’s more you can’t run either, here is a place where you have to sit with you and here is where you learn so much about yourself.
This week was the first anniversary of my divorce, another one of those significant milestones. How different my life is now compared to a year ago, I feel like a different person. I feel like I walked away from a massive car accident unscathed but when I look back at the carnage I’m surprised to still be standing.
When things don’t turn out the way we planned, we start to think of them as mistakes. Because it somehow makes it easier to just regret the action in the first place.
Was my biggest mistake my marriage?
What most people would expect me to say is “of course it was a mistake!”, “of course it was a waste of 30 years of my life!”
But I have a different take on it because the one thing I know for sure is that my greatest lessons have come from perceived “mistakes”. Without these mistakes there are a lot of things I would not have experienced, learnt and done.
And more important I would not have my children who are the most important people in my life. How can that be a mistake?
Mistakes are a vital part of growing as a person.
When I first separated I attended a weekend Buddhist teaching on The Four Noble Truths in London, trying to prepare myself for my trip to Nepal.
At one point the monk started talking about compassion and how important it is to be a compassionate person. I remember thinking at the time “I don’t think I will ever be able to be compassionate towards him (my ex)”
The anger was too deep (so I thought), how would I ever be able to be compassionate to him?
I asked the monk, “how can I be compassionate to someone who deliberately hurt me?”
He just looked at me, in complete stillness and said “you use him as your teacher, you have an amazing opportunity to learn compassion” Not what I wanted to hear but I knew then as I do now, he was right.
And so I began to do just that. Step by step I started to show compassion towards my ex. Hard as it may sound and believe me at times it was impossible but as I started to practice compassion towards him, there was a sense of release for me.
Compassion towards those that hurt you is actually the best form of self compassion.
What is my biggest mistake then?
The biggest mistake is not making any
Well that is simple. The biggest mistake I ever made was trying to avoid mistakes. Playing it safe, protecting what I thought was mine, or going to be my story forever.
When you realise that everything changes, what was true to me when I was in my twenties was not true to me 10 years later and definitely not 30 years later.
The choices you make when you are young may not be right for you down the line. That’s not a mistake, it’s a fact of life.
Nothing ever stays the same, things are continuously changing, people around us change and over time we change.
When something ends in our life we tend to resist trying to keep everything as they’ve always been because we are afraid of losing the people or things we have become used to.
In reality we have no control in our lives, however much we try and however much we think we can, nothing is ever permanent in life. The very fact that our life will end at some point should be enough for us to understand and grasp the importance of not expecting things to stay the same.
When a relationship ends, it is a new beginning
At the time, when we are going through the hurt of our relationship falling apart, we don’t see the opportunity to embrace a new beginning. But when we get through the turmoil and when we learn to let go of the pain, then we allow all the wonderful things that new beginnings can bring to us.
Buddhism talks about how we hold on to pain, turning it into suffering because we either don’t want to let go of it or because we don’t know how. When someone disappoints us or lets us down we can easily be drawn into blaming and focusing on getting some relief from our pain by projecting it outwards, usually to the person that hurt us.
But the work has to start within, only we can heal ourselves. The most important thing about letting go of the anger and relishing in this new beginning is that it’s such an opportunity to grow as a person. The sooner we can see this the faster the healing can begin and the new beginning can start.
The following are some of the things that I’ve most treasured about my ending and new beginning:
The time I get to spend on myself, on my health and on doing what I enjoy.
Not having to compromise anymore because I only have to think about what I want.
The opportunity to rediscover myself, to find out what I love, what gives me joy and happiness.
Not having to please others, how uplifting not having to think every minute of the day how to make a significant other happy?
Eat when I want, sleep when I want and go out when I want – that’s liberating.
Making new friends that I connect with.
Travel – I can travel where I want and when I want.
Working life- again I’m making choices based on the lifestyle I want without the pressure of thinking about how it impacts on anyone else.