Welcome back! Just so you know, other than the last one, none of the photos in this blog are of anyone I’m talking about!
Okay, now it’s time for me to give you an example of how this works, and I’ll use my own past to do that. Here’s the activity description from Part 1:
Think of some relationship from the past that you still regret losing, whether this person was a dream for you and they broke up with you, or someone you broke up with who you now wish you hadn’t. Now follow time forward. What did you take away as a learning from this relationship? How did you use that going forward? Think of something GREAT that happened in your life as a direct consequence of this relationship ending. (It may take you some time, but you WILL find something!) Once you do, really focus on that great moment. How does it feel to think about that? Really enjoy the memory! Now remember that it happened BECAUSE of the ending. Start practicing doing this with all of the things you regret from your past and you will start to see a pattern develop. The things you thought you regretted always lead to something wonderful in the future. And if there is some regret that you DON’T see something wonderful for since then? Ooooooo, this is the BEST part!!! It means it’s still ahead of you! So be on the lookout for it! How does it feel to think of it that way? I don’t know about you, but it feels REALLY EXCITING for me when I think that way!
The other thing to do as part of this activity is to think of at least one (but as many as you want!) moment from that past relationship that was truly amazing, truly wonderful! Something that happened for the first or only time in your life, or something that you always wanted but had never gotten up til that point (like me with the “twirly hug”). Now take a moment to just really focus on how that felt—feel the joy of the moment and feel your gratitude now for the fact that it DID happen! After doing these two fun little exercises, now think back on the whole relationship. How do you feel about it now? Has your memory of it changed after looking for the gifts?
If you haven’t read it yet, you can find Part 1 here: https://findreallove.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/you-can-change-your-past-ill-show-you-how-part-1/
I’m going to do a short entry for each of my past relationships, or, in the case of the first part of my life, for my NON-relationships, because what I did for most of my life was fall in “love” with someone, never ask them out, and then do heartache and misery for years until it was time to start the process all over again. NOT asking for relationships was the #1 regret for me for the first 41 years of my life, so that totally applies to this exercise! (I’ll just be using first initials to protect the innocent–and the not so innocent–but if you’re one of ’em and you’re reading this, you’ll know who you are!) In parenthesis is my age at the time–it will give a clear indication of when things changed for me as I became really empowered in my pursuit of my “romantic adventure of a lifetime”.
Legend: V (18) means person’s first initial was a V and I was 18 at the start of this relationship. And for each person I put in 1 thing I could choose to regret from the relationship, 1 wonderful moment I remember, and 1 great outcome from the ENDING of that relationship.
NON-Relationship. Could regret (get used to seeing this one!): that I never asked her out. Wonderful moment: dancing to “My Love” by Paul McCartney. GREAT outcome: I learned that without clearly knowing what I want in a partner, “loving” someone doesn’t mean we would be a match for each other.
Could regret: that I couldn’t commit fully due to still holding feelings for someone else. Wonderful moment: first kiss of my life! GREAT outcome: led directly to a belief that under near miracle circumstances, someone could actually love me. (Trust me, I did NOT believe that before this relationship).
NON-Relationship. Could regret (here it comes…wait for it…): that I never asked her out. Wonderful moment: sunset at Moonstone beach discussing movies, books, music in depth. GREAT outcome: I learned that even the deepest, most painful regret imaginable can be let go in an instant (of course this learning came 20 years later)!
Could regret: that I didn’t feel trusted to be able to support us. (I actually don’t know if she didn’t trust me, this was just MY belief). Wonderful moment: I could say first sex of my life, but actually what was even more wonderful was finally being able to unleash 31 years of pent up love and passion and feeling that was also returned. GREAT outcome: I came to understand that love relationships have more factors than love (ie: money, living situations, etc.) This is a belief that I would drop 10 years later.
Could regret: 10 years in a relationship that did not last, I could choose to see that as “wasted time”. Wonderful moment (among many): proposing to her in front of my family…oh, and also the 60,000 fans at a San Diego Chargers football game! GREAT outcome: the ending was directly responsible for me beginning to look at who I was for the first time in my life–this made all my future AMAZING relationships possible!
Could regret: she was the only woman who clearly stated she wanted to have a biological child with me (which was a want for me at that time). Wonderful moment: walking on the road in late summer in the Berkshires with the leaves starting to turn, she asked me “if you wanted to take our relationship to the next level, what would that look like to you?” Without asking permission, I said “like this” and I took her in my arms and kissed her. That was a BIG LEAP for me! GREAT outcome: I learned that I could break up with someone and still be okay. (In the past when I broke up with someone, I felt guilty and awful inside).
NON-Relationship. Could regret: that she rejected me. Wonderful moment: telling her I loved her and asking for a romance with her in front of 45 people in a workshop we took together. GREAT outcome: I learned that the real gift is not in hearing someone say “yes” (although that’s awesome when it happens!), but is, in fact, the ability to ask for “yes” or “no” and be totally comfortable doing it!
Could regret: that we had a great relationship and a great friendship and we didn’t last. Wonderful moment: Montreal. (And that’s all I have to say about that!) GREAT outcomes: 1) to know that a love relationship can end while NEVER losing the best friend-ship afterwards, and 2) to not rule someone out because I think they are too beautiful to date me! (I leave that choice up to them).
Could regret: that it only lasted 5 days. Wonderful moment: snuggling together, comparing our “wants lists”, and finding that they matched up almost perfectly. GREAT outcome: learning that great, wonderful love relationships are determined not by how long they last, but by how wonderful the moments within them are.
Could regret: not giving it enough time. Wonderful moment: walking hand-in-hand around the lake and kissing on our first date. GREAT outcome: learning to trust my inner voice when it told me we were not a perfect fit. (It told me this after a little over a week together, but I stayed to give it a chance to see if it would develop).
Could regret: that I wasn’t a better fit for her. Wonderful moment: lying together at the top of the falls and talking about anything and everything. GREAT outcome: learned that I could decide I wanted something in a future partner (in this case, someone shorter–everyone I had dated was tall–and also someone with a very strong personality) and then be able to go out and find that.
And here’s a GREAT opportunity to NOT regret something! I had finished this blog and went to save it, and everything from this point forward was LOST when the internet went down! No matter, just do it again!
Could regret: that this was BY FAR the best relationship up to this point in my life, the first one that my empowered/wants list self had decided I wanted to have for the rest of my life, and then I blew it. Wonderful moment (there were tons of these, I’m just picking one): curling (a special form of snuggling). GREAT outcome: I learned that I could not only survive the loss of the most fabulous relationship of my life, but I could even still hold on to the most empowered relationship belief I hold (although it took me a little while to believe it again): that no matter how AMAZING a woman is, if I get rejected or broken up with or she is with someone else, it means the one I’m looking for HAS TO BE even better for me!
And along came MARY! My most amazing, loving, wonderful partner in our Romantic Adventure of a Lifetime!!!
Well I hope this has been useful for you! If you keep practicing this, you will learn to always find the GIFTS in your past relationships, and your regrets will fade or vanish. I would love to hear what your experiences are when you try this out!
Oh, and by the way, the single most powerful belief I used to get rid of all my regrets in one fell swoop is: everything in my life had to happen EXACTLY how it did, in the EXACT time that it did, in order to lead me to this moment, which is the BEST moment of my life! When I think of it that way, why would I ever want to change anything?