In yoga class today, the instructor asked if we had the tendency to step in the same pothole every day. He was clearly trying to get us to reflect on any persistent habits that are obstacles to our happiness.
I have one. Well I probably have more than one, but one came to mind today. When I am getting to know someone, especially in a romantic way, I often ignore the things that they tell me about themselves. Since I tend to see the positive in people (I want to see the positive in people), when they say something disparaging or negative about themselves, I immediately assume that it isn’t true. That they are just being hard on themselves. That they have a skewed self-image. That I can see their true inner goodness.
Last spring, when I was working with relationship coach Sheila Paxton, she encouraged me to view my dates clearly, as they really are, not as I want them to be. She explained that my desire for a partner often leads me to create a fantasy about someone. Well, many good lessons take a while to sink in, and this was one of them.
The last man who hurt me once asked me “Wouldn’t your life be better off if I just went away and you never saw me again?” At the time, I thought he was being a tad melodramatic, and so I just laughed it off. But now I realize that he was speaking the truth. He knew himself better than I did, and he was warning me. But I thought I was a better judge of what was good for me. Plus, I liked having him in my life.
I am starting to realize that I do this a lot. One guy told me that he was depressed, and I thought, “Aren’t we all depressed at times?” Another guy told me that he was lost, and instead I looked at his academic pedigree and his impressive job. The list goes on and on.
In a very simple way, this is an issue of listening better. Yet it is also a question of accepting what someone tells me. Last night, a guy told me that he was probably going to scare me off. My first response was, “yeah, right,” but then I remembered to listen. So instead of brushing the comment aside, I asked him why he thought that. And I told him that when somebody tells me that, they are usually right.
I am now reflecting upon the numerous times that I have done this in my life, and I am hoping to change that habit, to avoid stepping repeatedly into that pothole. Of course, that man who said that my life would be better off without him was only partially right. It is now better off without him. However, at the time I clearly still needed to learn that lesson, so really, he was a gift.
But now I know, if a guy warns me off, I will heed his warning.