A cheating spouse, a horrible boss, a conniving friend or family member; the list is endless, and we’ve all had at least one negative experience in our lives. It’s important, however, that we overcome those negative people and experiences so that we can learn, move on, and live.
I dated someone for nearly seven years and was expecting for us to grow old together, happily-bickering into our late years. I was sorely mistaken, so mistaken in fact that I was caught off guard when he broke up with me… over a social network. I later found out that he had been cheating on me for quite some time.
My initial reaction to the break-up was to harp on the fact that not only had he broken up with me, someone he claimed to love, in such an insensitive, cruel way, but on top of everything he had been so conniving as to be unfaithful. I just couldn’t let it go; it consumed me and was all I could think about. I was stuck. I couldn’t begin moving on because I wasn’t allowing myself; I was just so concentrated on being outraged with the way he had treated me and our relationship. Now, nearly a year after this experience, I have a completely different perspective. Like that Cardigans song, “You live, you learn,” and here is what I learned one needs to do to overcome a negative experience:
My mistake in overcoming my negative experience was harping on what this man had done to me. What we need to do when something negative happens to us, is understand that:
“My ex-boyfriend broke up with me on Facebook and he cheated on me. He violated my trust and discounted what we had. He did it to me; I did not do it to him. I could not control what he did to me.” This is what I needed to understand from the beginning instead of spending months harboring outrage at how he had treated me. I needed to understand that it happened and that it wasn’t my fault; and I needed to understand that I couldn’t have stopped it from happening.
I realized months after the fact that there were signs that things weren’t as good as I made myself believe they were. Looking back, there’s a lot that I’ve taken from that relationship, both during and after the fact. After I’d accepted that what happened to me wasn’t my fault, I randomly sat down one day and wrote down the mistakes I made and what I could do to prevent myself from making them again. It was therapeutic and made me feel in control and empowered.
Something else I came to realize was that the experience, despite being painful, was actually positive. Coming out of it, I had actually won. Not only was I not in a deceitful, selfish relationship anymore, but I had been given the chance to find something real that would make me happy. In understanding what I had learned, I came to understand that I was happy that the experience happened.
This is something I’m admittedly still working on, but only in the sense that something will remind me of the experience and I feel my heart rate increase in a split second of anger. It’s not that I still harp on what happened to me, but sometimes before I get my head on straight, I get pulled back in to the irrational, negative thinking that emotions can initiate. And I think that the constant struggle of emotions with logic is a quality that makes us human; we can’t quash it, we can only accept and work with it.
Today what I take from my experience is that I know what to look for in relationships, and not necessarily just romantic ones; after all, relationships are what make up life. And I recognize that, over time, in the battle over logic and emotions for that particular negative experience, logic will win and I will harbor nothing but positive feelings about it. Because in order to truly overcome something negative, we have to fully let the negative we’ve experienced go and take only from it the positive.
About the Author: Allison Dean is a writer bringing to us how we can overcome negative experiences. Allison also writes about medical malpractice attorneys.