Guest Author - Kristina de la Cal
I have found that some of the biggest mistakes in my life have eventually proven to be blessings in disguise. Upon some difficult but objective reflection, I came to the conclusion that I would not be the person that I am today had it not been for the lessons that I was able to draw from those experiences (many of them painful). Far too often, people assume that mistakes are synonymous with failures and should be avoided at all costs when in reality; mistakes are a whole lot more like opportunities than they are failures. In my personal opinion, the only time that mistakes become failures is when we fail to learn from them.
The truth is that life is hard and relationships are even harder. The trick is to accept that which is out of your control and strive to improve that which is within your reach. When it comes to dating and relationships, this means to stop focusing on external factors that are beyond your control (such as what others think, say, or do) and instead focus all of your energies on things that you have direct power over (such as your own thoughts, words, and actions).
Itís easy to blame others for the things in your life that might leave you feeling badly or unfulfilled. After all, doing so seemingly excuses you from having to look for answers in your own reflection. But while this route may appear to be the path of least resistance, it is also typically circular in nature so unless you like the feeling of chasing your own tail, then it may be time to do some challenging but necessary emotional work. Though it wonít be easy, if it ultimately lands you in the right direction, then I am relatively sure that you will find the process, however painful and/or uncomfortable, to have been worthwhile.
Nobody wants to perpetuate the seemingly endless cycle of flawed and/or toxic relationships and yet, the love lives of countless people sometimes appear to be stuck on repeat like a bunch of broken records. The only way to break a negative relationship pattern is to, first and foremost, identify it. The odds of defeating an invisible enemy are not in your favor, which is why you need to first recognize the negative patterns in your life before you can begin to change them in any way.
Second to acknowledging the existence of the pattern itself is the importance of recognizing your own role within that pattern. For instance, suppose that your dating history is comprised of multiple heartaches at the hands of those whom you chose to become involved with. Rather than categorize anyone youíve ever dated as a bad or heartless person, think about the choices you made or failed to make that could have potentially contributed to the situation and its outcome.
To use my own experience as a model, I could say that my ex (who betrayed me and my trust in a variety of ways and over a long period of time) treated me badly and did not show me the love or the respect that I deserved and had rightfully earned. While this statement might be true, it does not offer much insight into how I might avoid allowing history to repeat itself in a future relationship. I could blame my ex for all of the pain that I suffered as a direct result of that experience but the truth is that the greatest fault was my own. At the time, I didnít have the courage or the strength to see things for what they really were. I allowed myself to continue looking at the relationship through rose-colored glasses in spite of the obvious and multiple red flags that in hindsight, it seems clear that I deliberately ignored. Today I am fortunate enough to be happily married to the love of my life and confident that I learned enough from my past to ensure a much brighter romantic future.
If you want to brighten your own romantic future by breaking the chains of old patterns, the time to start is now. Reflect on your dating past using constructive criticism of your own shortcomings rather than spiteful finger pointing at your partnersí flaws. Remember that you do not have the power to change anyoneís actions but your own so stay focused on that which is within your reach. Recognize where you may have gone wrong but instead of dwelling and beating yourself up about it, all you have to do is learn from it. Once you have mastered the art of learning from your mistakes, you will finally be free to make new ones. And that is essentially what life and love are really all about.