Your Past Relationships Don’t Define Who You Are Today
As I prepare spiritually and physically for the upcoming Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, my thoughts turn to the things I’ve done this past year that I regret. I am not a big fan of the flagellation that is commonly practiced on this holy day. But I do like to reflect on my past in order to learn from mistakes. I inadvertently said something to hurt a friend’s feelings. I blogged about something that offended someone. I said or did something on a date that I wish I hadn’t. Many people bring those regrets to new relationships. While it’s important to identify the mistakes we make to do better next time, the self beat-up is destructive. It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of regret and shame when you say or do something wrong. But your past relationships don’t define who you are today. Be kinder to yourself. Because you’re human. And humans make mistakes. Every day is a new beginning, a chance to get a do-over.
What I love about Yom Kippur is that we get a clean slate every year, a chance to do better and put the past behind us. It doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish or not, or whether you observe Yom Kippur or not. The important thing is to put your past where it belongs – in the past. Otherwise, you’ll see every new experience and relationship through the lens of your history. That’s not fair to the person sitting across from you on a date. He’ll most likely feel the judgment and distrust. And that could ruin your chances of moving on to find the love you deserve.
Your past relationships don’t define who you are today
This past year, I was honored to lead an incredibly informative dating course with a good friend and colleague, Bobbi Palmer. On day 3 of the Ace the Date course, Bobbi led a powerful exercise on letting go of your past. I’d like to share it with you, because I think it’s apropos to the upcoming Yom Kippur Holiday and the idea of starting over.
This is the gist of Bobbi’s exercise. (Bobbi, please forgive me if I don’t get it exactly right).
Restart Your Clock
Make a list of all the things you’ve done wrong in your past relationships or dating. (Did you stay with the wrong person too long? Did you sabotage a date by sharing too much about yourself too soon? Did you say or do anything you regretted?) Make a list of everything you feel bad about. Tell the truth and let it all out. This list is only for your eyes.
Okay, now take that list and rip it into small pieces. Those things you did in past relationships are in your past. Forgive yourself. Be kind to yourself. You did the best you could at the time. With new knowledge about yourself and about men, you are now prepared to do better this time around. It’s time to restart your clock. From this day forward, you will approach dating and relationships with a new fresh perspective.
So any time you have regrets about past relationships, or you think that every new man you meet can’t be trusted because your ex-husband was a cold-hearted narcissist and sociopath and treated you terribly…STOP! Remember your past is behind you. You’re starting over from this day forward.
Wishing all my Jewish and non-Jewish friends a year filled with love, joy, good health and prosperity. May you all be blessed with a clean slate, a clean conscience, self-compassion, love, and peace.