I read somewhere recently that if you want to break habits and form healthier alternatives, moving house is the way to go. This means I’m in for a shake-up soon, haha. Of course, there are other opportunities to break habits, and often we forget due to wanting to cling hard to old but possibly unproductive habits, that breakups and new relationships are a wonderful opportunity to evolve.
Part of the grieving and moving forward process is creating new responses to cues and triggers where you’ve typically reached for or relied upon your ex—for example, boredom, loneliness, validation seeking, stress, tiredness, desire to escape. You have to be more self-reliant and self-soothe in these situations. Where things go awry though is where you keep looking to your ex (or a substitute) in these situations, and this increases the lack of personal security you feel as well as the pain.
New relationships also offer the opportunity to go down a different path. This is much easier to do when you have the self-awareness that comes with being willing to learn from the insights gained from your prior relationships. With each relationship you get to understand you a bit more and where you also need to step up for yourself to ensure that you’re representing your needs, expectations and wishes.
New relationships are an opportunity to evolve and grow regardless of the outcome.
You will still hurt and pissed off if things don’t work out. You will; you’re only human after all. Still, when you know that you weren’t just trying to pick up from where you left off in a previous relationship and that you weren’t trying to be the exception to the rule and trying to right the wrongs of the past, you have the perspective to recognise where you’ve made gains instead of being loss focused.
It also helps if you don’t treat being single as the prison sentence that you have to pass between shady relationships.
When you recognise what you need to about a relationship experience, there won’t be this sense that you’ve lost out on somebody making you ‘whole’ at last. Stubbornness and feeling away due to having had your pattern on repeat won’t grip you. You won’t feel too afraid to gain new insights because once you’ve grieved the loss and the dust has settled, what you learn from the experience takes you a step closer to a more fulfilling relationship, and it provides you with some self-knowledge. You may even feel proud or empowered due to how you handled a situation or just knowing that you weren’t pretending to be something that you’re not to fit in with somebody who was actually unfolding.
We do have an awareness of what does and doesn’t feel good and what does and doesn’t work for us, we just might not be living up to these values. We get sidetracked by fear or eagerness to please or to control how we’re perceived by others. Sometimes we crave the feeling of validating ourselves off of another person changing and being in our uncomfortable comfort zone more than we want the feeling of peace that comes with getting on with the business of living instead of living in the past.
When our past behaviours start showing up in present situations, it’s time to ask: What can I learn here?
This isn’t about owning other people’s behaviour. Instead, it’s about recognising that we’re defaulting to thinking and behaviour that we know won’t benefit us. It’s also accepting that if we want how we feel or the types of situations we typically find ourselves in to change, we have to change.
It’s also time to stop, look, and listen.
- Are we slipping into old habits not just from repeating this pattern but also being with a similar person in different packaging?
- Or are we repeating these habits with no regard for what’s actually taking place around us? These default responses don’t allow us to do and think differently than we have previously.
While we can notice similarities between a past and present situation, it’s crucial to acknowledge what’s different.
Aside from the fact that they may not be the same beyond our reaction or surface similarities, it’s also important for us to note that we are not even the same person we were previously. We are smarter, stronger, and more self-aware, if we want to be.
When we get stuck in this cycle, we are too internally focused. We may be responding to internal fears without external evidence of those said fears but still carrying on as is.
We have a duty of care to get our own house in order and to take responsibility for how we show up in each situation. There’s no need to show up perfectly because hell, that’s impossible, but we do need to show up in the present with a willingness to listen to ourselves and to judge what’s happening based on reality and merit. Anything else is just forcing us and someone into a script where we’ve already determined the outcome. This creates the drama we need to get the ending we’ve already predicted. The scenes may shake up a bit, and there may be some plot twists, but we end up acting and feeling similarly. This is disempowering.
There is some benefit in understanding the behaviour of those we typically engage with. There’s an even greater benefit, however, in understanding our own typical habits and where we can make adjustments to avoid relationship insanity. This is where we carry the same baggage, beliefs, and behaviours and choose same people different packaging but expect a different result. And then we’re surprised and disappointed when it’s not, and then lather, rinse, repeat. If you’re tired of this cycle, you have an opportunity to break out. Grab it.