We wake up every morning to a world that is already spinning. If you live in Chicago, Prague has been up for the past 7 hours reveling in their magnificent architecture while our Australian friends are winding down after a day of backwoods trailblazing. What are you going to do with your 16 hours? Take a nice soak and hit brunch with your friends? Head to work, then take a nice walk afterwards? Think about how to respond to that potential match that e-mailed you on OkCupid? There is no right answer to this question though there are some wrong ones—particularly any answer that has you living in the residue of past, failed loves.
As cliché as it may sound, we make a choice each and every day. We can let Bobby’s indiscretion wreck our current world and bleed all over our future one, or we can own our feelings and our own pain while simultaneously ensuring they will not own us. Healthy emotions are emotions we control, not the other way around. The real question is, what can you do to ensure that past loves do not own you?
Here are five practical and important steps:
- Acknowledge, commit and move on. In some cases, you had a role in the downfall of the relationship. Think about what it was and what you can do better the next time around. Be truthful with yourself and commit to making a change going forward, but don’t, I repeat, don’t linger on it. This is an important step because without it, much of your inability to move on will be directly attributed to your inability to see past your own faults. You will obsess about what went wrong, your role, and how that, and only that, led to everything else—even if it didn’t.
- Remember who you were before the bad occurred. Darrell may have bruised your ego with his constant belittling, but you were not of little confidence before him. In fact, you were the bee’s knees and the wings. Be very mindful of this. Make a list of all of those things that made you great if you must. This will help you realize that you are not damaged goods, even if you feel damaged in the moment. If you cannot love yourself again, you will never be prepared to love someone else or be loved in return.
- Be strong for those around you. It will take some time and setbacks to rediscover you. Frustration will ensue and mistakes will be made—this is expected and reasonable. Just remember, there are people watching you and people you must watch over. Will you be able to be there for them if you can’t get past your old shadows? Be prepared to understand and own who you are and how you show up as you go through this tough time. When you find yourself overwhelmed with sadness, resentment or other negative emotions, look around and see who you may be affecting or influencing. Then, pick yourself back up and roll on strong.
- Do one “you” thing each and every day. I work out and make awesome fruit smoothies. These are Chris things. What are “you” things? Going to Tarzhe’? Sitting on the balcony with a white wine? Watching “The Bachelorette?” Whatever it is, commit to doing it every day. This will be a great distraction with an even better domino effect. Each single happy experience you have will build from the other until you have enough jazz in your life to take over New Orleans.
- Recognize the consequences. What happens if you cannot let go of the past? Does your heart go on like Rose from the Titanic? If you’ve acknowledged your faults while remembering who you were, getting there will sure be easier. But, if you do not let go, the consequences will be dire. Future relationships will be choppy and short lived and even those that are longer term assuredly will be rough. This is because when we fail to reflect and move on, we fail to truly release the pain and thus we move forward living in it every day. Do you want this lot in life? This is not a rhetorical question, but a realistic and important one. Recognize there will be consequences unless there is positive evolution.
We all wake up with an attitude that leads to every single solitary action and word that we come into contact with. Love, far more than any other feeling or experience, can right or wreck our attitude if we let it. What are you doing to make sure the sun shines on your side of the street when you take that stroll with your pup-ster?
P.S. – If you happen to have a French bulldog that you stroll around with every morning, I am (more than) slightly jealous. I may need my own 5-step program for living without one. Insert sad emoji face.
P.S. Número Dos – If you end up taking over New Orleans, just remember that I fit very nicely in whatever size luggage you take with you on your flight. Just throwing it out there in case you want to catch it.