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Thank you both for sharing your insights. 🙂
To be honest, I only skimmed the content of this thread, but would it be safe to say that a better summary of the argument has already come from our friend William Shakespeare?
“There is nothing either good or
bad, but thinking makes it so.”
@Matt Very well put! 🙂
@Graham If this isn’t the best example of a monkey mind, I don’t know what is! Matt already suggested “Cutting through Spiritual Materialism,” but I’ll also recommend “Turning Your Mind Into an Ally” by Trungpa’s son, Sakyong Mipham. As with all modern monkey minds, the best way to find equanimity is to meditate, meditate, meditate.
I don’t think you do get out or start afresh. That person has imprinted themselves on your heart and mind. They will always be there to some degree or another. There is no undo button or CTRL+Z to clear the page. The story just continues to get written. With time and new experiences, that person recedes into the background as other characters move into your life and foreground. But with time, they too will recede and fade.
To accept the impermanence of all things in life is the letting go that helps you find a new strength and resolve to move forward.
Time is the only true healer. You’ll cry, you’ll hurt, you’ll get frustrated, you’ll get angry, you’ll feel alone, and everything in between until such a time as you can find acceptance in the end of the relationship and recognize the impermanence of all relationships.
From the sounds of it, you were dependent on your boyfriend; he was your “Knight in shining armor” that was going to save you from your family situation. There’s only one person that you can rely in the world and that is yourself. The moment that you feel like you need someone to “take you away from all this”, it marks the beginning of the end. That’s not to say you can’t love someone, look to someone for support, friendship, affection, and love, but the moment you feel like you’re relying on them could mean that you yourself have not found the ground and stability on which to build a healthy relationship.
Use this time wisely. Find a way of ensuring that your family’s issues or problems do not become yours – be supportive and present, but not entangled in the drama. Reconnect with yourself and build your foundation. If you were to be alone for the rest of your life, what would you need to survive?
Only when you yourself are strong, confident, and stable, will you then attract strong, confident, and stable partners.
I’m not sure if there are any where you live, but this is a fantastic website to help you meet new people and expand your network of friends by finding common activities that you can do together.
If you can’t find one that reflects your hobbies or interest, try starting one up and see who might respond. 🙂
Sakyong Mipham has some very practical advice to rouse confidence, but I also find it helps me find tranquility. If I ever feel out of sorts, I look to these five things to see if I’m neglecting any of them. It’s deceptively simple, but very powerful stuff.
1) Clean-up your room
2) Wear nice clothes – not expensive clothes, but clothes that make you feel good and comfortable
3) Eat good food – not necessarily organic or ultra healthy, but food that tastes good and nourishes your body
4) Spend time with people who make you feel uplifted. Stop being with those who make you feel diminished or make you doubt yourself.
5) Spend time in the natural world – go to the park, for a hike, or just sit in your backyard
How timely that you posted this topic on the forum; I actually just started reading a book entitled “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking” The title is a bit cutting (probably meant to be tongue-in-cheek for marketing purposes), but the text itself is fairly light-hearted.
It does however propose a very interesting paradigm shift about the positive thinking school of psychology – although it can sometimes be seen to produce short term results, it doesn’t do much in terms of helping cultivate longer term resiliency when it comes to facing the harsh realities of life’s ups and downs.
The author, Oliver Burkeman, looks to the ancient Greek and Roman Stoics as well as Buddhism to demonstrate how actually sitting with and exploring worse case scenarios might be more fruitful towards our psychological development and growth and motivate us to action.
What really speaks to me about the book and your blog post highlights the problem that I see, is this whole notion of cycles – our minds our conditioned to constantly be evaluating everything around us either positive and negative and because it’s a cycle, when you’re down you have to work at bringing yourself up and when you’re up, chances are you will eventually drop down. Like riding a sine wave, the higher the ups, the lower the downs and the more effort you have to exert to bring yourself up from the downs.
My question is (and this is what has lead me to Buddhism in the first place), how do you break free of the cycle? How do you stop that constant evaluating and judging of everything and everyone around you, exerting energy looking for happiness and trying to stay positive, but simply be and exist and face reality objectively?
I don’t have a solution for it (that would probably be enlightenment), but it is an idea that’s definitely worth exploring further.June 17, 2013 at 9:56 am in reply to: How my overactive past sex life will effect my future relationships… #37085
Thanks for sharing your story Elizabeth. It’s a great reminder to all of us who might be dealing with guilt or shame about our past that we’re not alone and, as Jade pointed out, that we don’t need to let it be our scarlet letter.
I bring this quote by Kathyrn Shulz to mind whenever feelings of shame or guilt come up as a reminder that we can use these turning points in life for growth and development,
“If we have goals and dreams and we want to do our best, and if we love people and we don’t want to hurt them or lose them, we should feel pain when things go wrong. The point isn’t to live without any regrets, the point is to not hate ourselves for having them… We need to learn to love the flawed, imperfect things that we create, and to forgive ourselves for creating them. Regret doesn’t remind us that we did badly — it reminds us that we know we can do better.”
And as with all relationships, the golden rule applies, “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself”.
Or to take it one step further and to paraphrase Goethe, ‘Treat others not as they were or are, but as they could be.’
Anyone who does not apply these rules in relating to us is not worthy of our love and affection.
I don’t believe in luck, destiny, or fate, and my jury is still out on karma.
Personally, I think they’re dead end roads that don’t lead anywhere or if anything, it’s a slippery slope towards complacency and superstition – if what befalls you is predestined, what’s the point of taking action if the outcome has already been defined or you could affect the outcome by being born on the right date, walking around with rabbits’ feet, knocking on wood, throwing coins in fountains, or salt over your shoulder.
In essence, I don’t believe things happen for a reason, they just happen. Furthermore, to question why is actually pointless. Here’s a story that illustrates this point really well:
“It’s just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a priest, a merchant, or a worker.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me… until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short… until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored… until I know his home village, town, or city… until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow… until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated… until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.’ The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him.” – Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta
I agree with Marilyn wholeheartedly – focus your energy elsewhere. Firstly, work on actively changing your perception of things – your mind is a lot more malleable than you think and you can experience stress, anxiety, and calamities with a lot more resiliency provided that you have the proper training (i.e. meditation) Secondly, direct your energy towards taking action. If someone smashed your car window, then all you can do is fix it. Chances are, it’s going to get smashed again and again and again. If it’s not your car window, then it’s your home window or maybe a glass or a plate. Even your heart will get smashed over and over and over again. To try to think or hope for otherwise is futile.
This is not meant to put you or anyone on a downer, but there’s a lot of strength building and growth in accepting that the cycle of up and down is never ending. Whether or not calamities will happen or when they will happen or with what magnitude is not within our control, how we choose to experience these cycles is.
Your analogy of the wave reminded me of something that I read recently by Russ Harris – I’m paraphrasing here, ‘The more you continue to try to be the steadfast, strong, and powerful rock cliff by the ocean’s edge, the harder the waves will slam against you.”
I can only imagine what you’re going through because I’ve never experienced that much turmoil in such a short amount of time. But, if I’ve learned anything from my meditation and Buddhist practice, is that while the onslaught of waves in life will never stop, suppleness, gentleness and kindness towards yourself and others will allow the waves to wash over you and make them much more endurable.
Today, I’m grateful for the luxury of being able to meditate – the fact that I have enough time in my day, a space where I feel comfortable, and the desire just to sit in stillness, connect with my breath, and watch my thoughts go by.
Your experience Chelsea is not an uncommon one and I have been on the other side of a smiliar relationship a few times. As with all things on Tinybuddha.com, the way forward will come from within and you’ve already recognized that your mind is playing tricks on you by fabricating completely irrational scenarios about what may or may not happen. The risk is that if you start believing what your mind is telling you, it could eventually become a self-fulfilling prophecy – our minds have this horrible tendancy of wanting to be proven right and it might be searching for reasons to justify its paranoia around every corner. Therefore, unconsciously, you may create a set of conditions where your boyfriend will decide to leave you and then your mind will be like, “See! I told you we should have never trusted him!”, which I’m sure is not what you really want to happen.
Like all of us, I’m sure you want to be in a wholesome, loving, open, honest, and most importantly, trusting relationship based on observable and well-reasoned facts and not fabrications of the mind based on past hurt and pain.
I agree, some therapy could be beneficial – actively working with a professional and your mind to help you recognize certain patterns of thought that are unhelpful. Reading and talking about it with someone will definitely help.
And of course, I always recommend meditation and mindfulness. The mind is like a muscle and in order to be able to do some of the heavy lifting required to turn againnst the tide of irrantional thought, the strength comes from practicing to observe our mind and connecting with our breath.
Two of your statements really hit home with me, “I thought I could be an adult and be amicable, so I smiled and pretended it was a chance to start a new life.” and ” I walk away alone with the knowledge that I couldn’t do a thing to make this right. I’ll live with that shame the rest of my days.”
When my ex-wife and I decided to divorce, I too thought I could just start a new life while still maintaining an amicable relationship, but then a few weeks later, feelings of shame, guilt, and regret started seeping in with a record playing in my head, “What could I have done to make it work?” I realize now that our marriage was not a happy one and there was nothing that either one of us could have done to salvage the relationship, but nevertheless, the emotional turmoil I experienced of having been striped of my identity as “husband” and feelings of having failed my marriage we’re just unbearable.
If there was a lesson to be learned from all this for me, is that I’m often very hard on myself and that my mind is sometimes my own worst enemy telling me things that are completely untrue.
The following TEDtalk about self-compassion has recently helped me find some serenity about that relationship, but also developed new resiliency towards subsequent relationships: http://youtu.be/IvtZBUSplr4
If I could leave you with one more comment; please don’t give into the temptation to start another relationship – casual or serious – anytime soon. I think there should be a rule of thumb that says, after the break-up of a long term relationship, you need to spend at least 6 months to a year alone before embarking on a new relationship. I really wish someone had given me that advice after my divorce.