It was not until after my break up that I realised what taking responsibility for my life actually meant.
I had come out of a relationship from which my loss was emotional, spiritual and financial. My life was a mess. I embarked on this relationship without really knowing what I was getting myself into, without really knowing who I was or what I wanted.
It was a whirlwind romance: everything happened much too fast. I quit my job, left my friends and family and moved to an isolated location with my partner after just five months. After several years together it ended, and I fell into a period of self-pity. I believed that I was the victim, and I felt used and stupid.
When I realised that this attitude was getting me nowhere, I started to think about what it actually means to take responsibility for myself and for my own decisions.
I realized that taking responsibility is the opposite of feeling self-pity.
When I stopped feeling like the victim, I recalled some advice an old friend gave me:
“I feel used, like a utensil,” I said.
“If you’re going to be a utensil, be a knife.”
When relationships break down, we all look for someone to blame. Maybe we blame ourselves, maybe we blame the other person. We start by analysing what went wrong in the relationship—the factors that contributed to the breakup.
We recall all the red flags that we avoided or ignored, and shake our heads at some of the behaviour we put up with.
When a relationship ends, our whole world can appear shattered. Feelings like anger, self-doubt, low self-worth, depression and negativity rise to the surface as we go through a period of grieving, purging, and evolving.
If we are really honest with ourselves during this time, we realize that it’s a perfect period to undertake some inner work.
When a relationship ends (no matter how badly you were treated) the other person is not wholly accountable. We have to understand that we contributed to the union as well as the disintegration of the relationship just as much as the other person did; we attracted the other person into our lives in the first place, and their negative traits are actually mirroring something inside ourselves that needs addressing.
So if you are allowing your partner to treat you badly, this is a reflection of how you see yourself. It is normally an indicator that we need to re-evaluate how we see ourselves, and a signal that we need to address self-worth and self-esteem issues.
Attracting emotionally unavailable people into your life can indicate that we might have a hard time facing our own emotions. Perhaps we are not being totally honest with ourselves about what we need and deserve.
Likewise, if we are allowing ourselves to feel manipulated and used, maybe we are used to relinquishing our power because we haven’t learned how to say no.
Taking responsibility for our lives and our emotions takes time and some hard work, but it is important in order to attract emotionally healthy individuals into our lives. This is not just in romantic relationships, but also friendships and the ways in which we interact with our family members.
What is outside you is a reflection of what is inside you.
I had a lot of issues at the outset of every relationship I had been in—issues that I had not acknowledged or admitted to myself. Starting from a lack of self-confidence, jealousy and possessive tendencies as well as issues with insecurity. It’s no wonder that my own view of love and relationship was so flawed—and it’s no wonder that I attracted people into my life that seemed to “fill” the holes inside me. But most of the time, they were a really bad fit.
The only person that can fill the hole inside you is yourself.
That starts with taking responsibility for yourself.
Maybe we have been in situations in which we have felt abused, intimidated, manipulated, used, robbed of our hopes and dreams, powerless, empty, dependent and utterly useless. It’s so easy to pin the blame and renounce responsibility, but if we don’t take a good hard look at our own issues, we can never really see ourselves and our situations with absolute clarity.
Clarity comes from the process of self-evaluation—looking at our weaknesses and flaws with utmost honesty. It comes from addressing our own problems and behaviours and analysing why is it that we attract certain types of people into our lives. Why do we fall for those that are manipulative? Why do we fall for the sweet-talkers? Why do we fall for the emotionally unavailable? Why do we fall for people that make us feel like crap?
It must be in us, inherently built in our psychological make-up. I believe that we are constantly following patterns or resolving old patterns via our relationships and if we don’t take a long look at the real reasons behind why we attract certain people into our lives, and what our issues are exactly, then we are destined for more instances in our life in which we will end up in the wrong relationships.
It is tempting to think that the other person is responsible for doing all the harming, but if we don’t take responsibility for ourselves and the part we played, then there really is no way for us to move forward.
If you’ve ever felt used like a utensil—then maybe it’s time to be the knife that cuts through the old patterns you are stuck in.
Be the knife that sets yourself free from the unhealthy emotional patterns you are used to replaying; cut through the fear, through the lack of self-worth, the uncertainty and the pain. Cut through everything that is holding you back from finding happiness. It may take you years to mould yourself into who you are meant to be, but you need to start with one small cut in order to pierce the darkness and start letting the light in.
Author: Barbara Conrad
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: María Victoria Heredia Reyes at Unsplash