I recently watched an episode of "Suits" on USA. As one of the partners is convincing his client to accept the terms they negotiated for her divorce, she asked him for a reason why. He mentions how the divorce itself can cause people to lose sight of what's really important, like the well-being of the children involved. These three words: What's really important made me think of them in the context of a life philosophy. My parent's separated when I was 8. I wasn't upset with the divorce itself...I was upset with behavior that it triggered. Granted, I am grateful that my parents handled it the way they did. I recognize how much messier it could have been, and how much longer it could have dragged on, and more damaging it could have been. For the most part, they kept my brother and me in mind, and wanted to honor what we wanted. However, I remember the instances where behavior was triggered by pain that overrode the priority of protecting us from the fallout. I understand how it's almost always an impossible situation to navigate, both for the adults and children involved. The resiliency of the human spirit never fails to amaze me.
Maybe these early experiences led to me to often ask myself, "When this is over, what will I remember?" I've come to learn that undue damage is something I try to avoid at all costs. In the context of ending a relationship, I try to focus on the fact that breaking up doesn't negate all the love and good things that were shared. We may be over, but I want to honor us and the role we played in each other's lives. This outlook has transformed the way I process a break up. It took a few breakups for me to know that on some level a break up is better than staying in the wrong relationship, and if one of the parties wants out, it's probably not right. Learning this has been a huge lesson in letting go of the past in order to feel present. Pain from the past plagued my present for much too long, and I decided I didn't want to live that way for the rest of my life.
What if things didn't happen to us, but happened for us?
Do I want to go deeper into this mess, or grieve, clean up the broken pieces, and choose to be stronger for it?
How can I make the best of this?
Who am I as the person I want to be?
I did an informal poll amongst people I know and asked them what they'd say were the greatest moments of their life. Despite being all different ages, and from all different places, almost everyone included the following moments: when they met/fell in love with/married their partner, the birth of their child, overcoming health scares (personally and their loved ones), family trips and quality time, professional/educational accomplishments, and world travel.
Will this matter in the big picture?
When it comes to my personal method of decision-making, I often ask myself, "How can I make as many memorable, significant experiences as often as possible?" Then I consult my intuition...does this feel right? Is this a yes? Is this a no? As I've learned to trust my gut more, and follow it more often, I have much less hesitation in doing so. I used to need a reason, and now, I don't need to know why. Knowing what I feel, and trusting that...trusting myself is enough for me. It's harder for me to let go of the things I did that I didn't feel completely right about, or recognized in retrospect that I felt hesitancy as I moved forward. Now I know it's ok to follow a gut feeling that something's not right. In my opinion, few things are better than following your gut, and feeling right as things work out.
The point of all this is to recognize that we're all here to experience different paths. All we can do is our best to discover who we are when we are living most authentically, and to respect, love, and share with each other as we embark on these experiences of life. We're human. Mistakes will be made. And just as easily, we can make beautiful, significant moments.
When I feel stuck, or need a way to reset my perspective, I've always found these questions to help: "How will I make today extraordinary? What's really important?" Then, I get to making it a reality. There's always something to do. Pick the best, most exhilarating way to go...if it's not the time of your life, it's practice. Practice as much good stuff as you can. In the end, all we want is as many moments of love, joy, exhilaration, and feeling so completely alive that it takes our breath away. Seek those things, and expect them...they're waiting to be called on and experienced.