We tend to base the success of our relationships on there longevity, as in how well we are able to maintain them rather than the nature or content of them. For example, a relationship in which two people have been married for 20 years is considered more successful than a relationship that only lasted 3 months regardless of the quality of that marriage. The fact they have managed to stay together is considered a success in itself and in some ways it is as long as both parties still find value in the relationship but the problem is due to our preoccupation with longevity, many of us hold on to relationships we have out lived, serve no purpose or even hold us back through fear of being judged as having failed.
I think this way of thinking about relationships is inaccurate at best, I mean would we consider an interaction with someone we met at a bus stop, that literally changed the way we thought about ourselves and our lives for the better, as a failure simply because we weren’t able to maintain it once the bus came? No. So, why do we apply this warped logic to our more intimate relationships?
What if the mark of a successful relationship was not solely about our ability to maintain them but also being able to grow within them or from them? What if the very purpose of our interaction with others is to aid our personal growth? From this perspective the length of time we are actually in the relationship becomes irrelevant with the main focus placed on quality. So, rather than the question being, how long did that relationship last? It becomes, how did that relationship help me to realize myself? What did it bring up for me?
For example, did the last relationship help you to re-define yourself and what you truly want, if the answer is yes, that relationship was a success even though it ended. In fact, if it helped you to grow in any way you can go ahead and consider it a success. I’d even go as far as to say that if you are unable to acknowledge a lesson or any kind of growth from the experience, this is an indication that there is still much to learn from it.
Unfortunately in situations where a person can acknowledge no lesson or growth from the experience, one will usually find themselves walking down the same streets, living colourful remixes of the same story until the required level of learning or growth is established and even in this surreal ‘Groundhog Day’, scenario the colourful remixes a.k.a relationships serve a purpose and the purpose is personal growth.
It was Wayne dyer who said
‘We are spiritual beings having a human experience’
and as such our relationship with ourselves, others and the world around us hold within it our greatest potential for mental, spiritual and emotional growth
because they offer an opportunity for us to put into practice what we think we know, feel or believe and adjust, update and refine those ideas. Therefore every relationship, every interaction that allow this is a success, regardless of the outcome.
Oprah Winfrey said it best in her book ‘What I know for Sure’ she said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that our lives were a constant process of growing out of and into ourselves, I think this concept is beautiful and resonates with me strongly however, with this process of growing into and out of ourselves comes with what I like to call ‘the shedding of skin’ and that skin might be your relationship with a friend, a family member or a partner.
So the next time you find yourself on the sofa with a tub of ice-cream, mourning the loss of a relationship and what it might have been or worse turning it into what it never was, whilst beating yourself over the head with societies concept of failure. Try instead to appreciate it for exactly what it was and look at how that relationship or experience has helped you to define or redefine your ideas because these are the lessons that bring us closer to what we truly desire.
‘The end is merely the beginning from a different perspective’
Written by Angelena Lewis,
Personal Development Coach and the founder of LIVIN FOCUS to find out more click here