We've all been hurt at some point in our lives and I'm guessing that you are no different. You're reading this because you're probably midlife, either been married or in a long-term relationship and are starting over once more. Whether you are divorced or in the process of divorcing you are no doubt scarred in some way.
We are at our most vulnerable when we've been through divorce and our urge is to run away from pain.
What are our deepest fears?
"How can I trust anyone again?" is a question I get asked a lot in my coaching.
Ernest Hemingway said, "the best way to find out if you can trust anybody is to trust them." There is no magic wand to suddenly allow you to trust again. The only way to trust again is to grab hold of our fear and work through it. It's completely normal to feel fear. The fear of rejection, fear of getting it wrong, fear of being laughed at, fear of the unknown, fear of being taken advantage of, fear of losing something of ourselves. We can allow fear and the idea that we're protecting ourselves from pain to run our lives or we can put our big knickers on and decide that whatever happens we'll cope.
We are resilient and even though we were badly hurt, it is just our ego. Our ego doesn't like the fact that we were humiliated, abandoned, betrayed, made a fool of or rejected. This doesn't make us who we are, it needn't affect our identity.
Take baby steps day by day to become more open and trusting. Start with trusting in the little things.
Think of your pain and fear as a cut on your hand. The more you pick at it and scratch it the longer it will take to heal. If you can leave it alone and let it heal naturally it will barely scar.
Yes, we can avoid being hurt by staying well clear of any relationships, romantic or otherwise. Is that a price worth paying?
I don't believe that we should expect others to earn our trust. We learn to trust again by trusting again. Trust is something that is worked on daily in a relationship. It's not a case of once we trust someone we can sit back and breathe a sigh of relief, we trust on a daily basis. We communicate, we work through hurt and slights, we all have moods and bad days.
We trust someone by saying we understand that deep down they are a good person with good intentions and with integrity. They forgot to pick up bread on the way home ... does that mean you don't trust them again to do something for you? They didn't phone when they said they would? Did you stop long enough to find out what was going on for them that evening or do you jump to conclusions?
What are you resisting? Are you living your current relationship or even imagining a relationship where you're living through your past negative experiences or are you open enough to be vulnerable and trust again.
We appreciate that at times things will be tough. That's life and we will be tested. However, remember at all times that your emotional wellbeing is not down to someone else, it's down to you. You can choose to live life drawing on negative or positive life experiences. Your past does not have to be the same as your future. Because you've been hurt once doesn't mean that it has to happen again.
What you spend most of your time thinking about becomes your reality ... are you focusing on the fact that it's hard to trust someone? If it keeps happening to you, stop and look at the patterns. What are you doing to choose the same type of person?
How to overcome the fear of rejection
Love yourself first and foremost. This is so important and yet so many believe that entrusting or expecting the love of others is more important. We have to make ourselves the most important person in our lives. Knowing that whatever happens we are ok and we are loved (by ourselves). Loving us is not the job of another, it's our job. And I mean unconditional love, i.e. whether we're our ideal weight, whether we lazed in bed, whether we didn't make it to the gym, whether we said something unkind when we were tired ... all of that. Unconditional love.
Yes, of course we're always going to be affected by rejection as it happens as part of life. We didn't get the job we wanted, the house we were going for falls through, we weren't selected for the sports team, we have a falling out with a friend. All of this is rejection and we don't let it stop us from applying for another job, or picking up the phone to chat to the friend or looking for an even better house. Yet many of us use this fear to stop us falling in love again.
Use rejection as the springboard to find out more about yourself, what you learned, why you feel the way you do, what you're allowing to get in the way, where you're perhaps sabotaging yourself. Use it to explore your values and what you really want in life.
Rejection isn't the end of the world. Nobody dies. I know that sounds harsh when you're facing an ending that you weren't expecting. I know, I was rejected and it sucked hugely ... yet what I learned as a result was life transforming. I wrote a book, I carved out a niche in my career and none of that would have come about without that initial rejection.
What story do you want to tell and believe? Relationships are wonderful opportunities to learn.
Pain is part of being human ... suffering is optional.