July 5, 2021

Hey Christina, I have started dating after a long term relationship and am so afraid the other person is not truly who they say they are. How can I trust this person is telling me the truth about who they are?

– Afraid

Dear Afraid,

Dating again after a long term relationship can feel like swimming in shark-infested water at times, but it can also be a whole lot of fun. I’m guessing in this case, it’s feeling a little more like the shark-infested water, considering your mention of fear. More specifically, you mentioned whether you can trust this person on the other end is telling the truth. This causes me to automatically gravitate to the topics of regret and resilience. You know the saying “have no regrets”? Regrets are a part of us all and I think it’s safe to say that we all have regrettable moments. I can’t help but think that regrets come into play because maybe we weren’t brave enough to take a chance, and we now sit and wonder “what if”? If we had that moment back in time we would do it differently. Therefore, resilience can be developed from regrets. Regrets can teach us to be brave and to choose courage in the future. This is resilience. Choosing differently, believing that everything will work out, and being brave is resilience.

I believe that regrets are actually opportunities that exist to teach us lessons, and if we are on a self-loving quest, then I’d like to think that we are open to the teachings. Regrets are moments that pave the way for making choices that align with what we desire. In essence, regrets are a foundation for growth. If we make choices from a place of fear, there is a high probability that we will regret the choice. So, I say be brave because regrets are often tied to not taking a chance. Ultimately, this is about trusting yourself and again believing that everything will indeed work out regardless of the uncontrollable outcome. The regrets I have around not taking chances have inspired me to be brave in life. Does the chance we took always work out the way we had hoped? No, but choosing youand chasing the dream is so self-loving.

Dating, especially after a long term relationship, can be a little daunting, but if your quest is to find a companion to share your life with; to find a love that fills you up; then you will undoubtedly need to be brave. I find that when I am afraid to do something, I remind myself that I can handle it; whatever it turns out to be. Heartbreak, rejection, disappointment… I can handle it. I also know that there will be learnings in there regardless, but I also call on another tool: my life experience. What I mean by this is I have had a couple moments in my life that were altering; moments that shook me to the core. They were moments that kept me up at night and had me sitting in fear, disbelief and loss. These moments are untouchable. I know from these experiences that when I am afraid, I can handle it because I have handled WAY harder. I use my life experience as a tool to tell my brain the truth, which is that I will be able to handle it.

So, I encourage you to trust you. This is not about the other person, because you have no control over him or her. What you do have control over is how you walk in, through and out of it. I encourage you to walk bravely, listen to your gut and trust that everything is “figuroutable”.

When it comes to letting go of previous hurts, aka “baggage”, I have learned that it is all about forgiveness. There is space and a need to forgive the person, but more importantly there is a need to forgive ourselves. If we can’t forgive ourselves, it will be darn near impossible to truly forgive others. If we can’t forgive others, we may find ourselves sitting in anger. From what I’ve seen, this forgiveness tends to stem from the need to forgive ourselves for not seeing the relationship for what it truly was. I often hear from clients; men and women alike, “Why the hell did I stay for so long?” or “Why did I accept this for so long?” or “How did I not see what I was doing?” There is a layer of guilt and even shame that resides here and this truly needs to be set free. If you are holding yourself in contempt, this is sure to show up towards your partner in your relationship. This line of questioning around, “Why did I accept or stay for so long?” is something I hear from almost every client. Self-compassion is foreign to us, as many of us have been raised to believe that it is best to put others’ happiness ahead of our own… to stick it out, to accept and persevere.

In regards to baggage, I’d say there’s one super power that you can try on. When you get poked/triggered/activated/annoyed in your relationship, I encourage you to spin it back to self. We so often go to a place and focus on how we were wronged, when it should be about how we could have showed up better for self. Take this one step further and look at what it was that triggered you. Take a breath and hear the story that you weave around it… and then ask yourself, “Is this true?” A great way to execute this is to capture the following four things:

  1. The incident – Pick a moment that poked you and capture the “who”, “what”, “when”, “where” kind of details.
  2. The head – This is what you think about the moment. This is often the loud voice that speaks up for you and yearns to protect, defend and support you.
  3. The heart – This is what you feel about the moment. This is where the unlovable, “I am not worthy” has a tendency to live.
  4. The body – This is what you physically felt in your body when the moment happened.

While each of these areas are helpful to get a handle on, the head is what you really want to tap into. The story that lives here is so often untrue and this story is behind what is holding you ransom. As you write, ask yourself, “Is this true?” Ask this until you crack it, because our stories have long legs and add more and more content to the “baggage”.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank anyone and everyone who has uttered the words,

“So I asked myself… what would Christina do?”

** This platform has been inspired by you! **

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