There are so many people who beat themselves up for going back to a relationship that isn’t working for them or for taking up an old habit that isn’t serving them. They hate themselves for having fallen off the wagon or they feel as if whatever efforts they’ve made have been a waste. In some instances, returning is seen as confirmation that being able to make long-lasting positive changes for themselves, is indeed impossible. They accept defeat and resign themselves to settling for less and feeling disheartened, resentful and frustrated.
Whether it’s that we can barely look ourselves in the eye now that we’re back with an ex or we’re berating ourselves for having to start over, or we’re feeling resigned to being stuck, what we’re not seeing is that these experiences contain some valuable information that we can use to propel us forward.
One of the things I caution people about when they break up and opt to do No Contact (NC) is that it’s not just a case of time heals everything–it’s what’s done with the time. If we exit a relationship with certain habits of thinking and behaviour and we continue to engage in a similar level of habits even without that person, then it’s understandable why there hasn’t been much movement, so we might end a relationship but if we use our beliefs to treat and regard us badly and we carry on as if this person and the relationship was our life support machine, yeah, it’s only a matter of time until we slide back.
In many instances though, we have made changes but aren’t necessarily aware of what these are, possibly because we’re looking for other signs of success.
This is a bit like when someone decides to lose weight and so makes lifestyle changes that involve losing weight but doesn’t notice how their relationships with loved ones positively evolve or how they’re being kinder to themselves and instead, they look for, for example, words of affirmation from strangers or for what they might deem as the pinnacle of their success: meeting the love of their life. If the latter doesn’t happen in line with the level of change they’re making (i.e. on their schedule and almost as a reward) then they might underestimate and in fact fail to acknowledge all of the other gains that they’ve made.
We get very disheartened when we have an expectation of how change should unfold and it’s not met. This can lead to us throwing the baby out with the bath water when we for instance, feel that we have disappointed ourselves and ‘failed’.
A great way of knowing whether you’re making strides, even if you’re not quite where you want to be, is noticing how you feel when you try to do something that you used to do as part of the habit that you’re trying to evolve out of, or noticing how you feel when you stop doing something that you think isn’t making a difference.