I hear you say you know little of love.
I listen to your regret over hurting someone from your past.
I feel your shame and guilt for not owning what was yours.
Maybe you couldn’t bring yourself to say, “I think I might love you.”
Maybe you refused to admit, “I’m sorry that what I did or said hurt you.”
Maybe you just weren’t able to be fully honest with yourself or another person regarding why your friendship or relationship ended, because having that particular conversation would mean taking responsibility for things—and it might feel profoundly uncomfortable for those 20 or 30 minutes.
And the truth is, some of us would rather face a lifetime of regret than feel the least bit uncomfortable or exposed.
We’d rather not have another person know our true feelings for them or what they mean to us, because we’re too scared to risk the possibility that they may not feel the same.
We’d rather be right than admit any wrongdoing for a fight we had or the devastation we caused in another person’s life, because admitting we were wrong might tarnish our own reputation or make us look bad.
We’d rather go to our graves having never mended fences with our mother or father or children or siblings, because we can’t let go of the past and it’s more important for us to be right—to hold onto our anger and resentment and righteousness—than to make the slightest move toward forgiveness.
Here’s what I believe ruins every good relationship—not just romantic, but friendships and family relationships and quite frankly every damn relationship we will ever have in our lives:
That three-letter word is, in my opinion, the root cause of everything wrong in our society and all of our broken and lost relationships.
And my greatest wish is for all of us to consider letting go of our egos in the new year so we can have the possibility of having something better.
The truth is, we let our egos run the show.
We let our egos destroy the very things that are most precious and sacred and beautiful to us.
We let our egos create a multitude of misunderstandings and false assumptions about people, uncertainty in our relationships, and missed opportunities in our lives.
You know where it shows up for you as much as I know where it shows up for me. It hides in the shadows of our longing to express ourselves to another person when our pride intervenes and prevents us from speaking the truth.
It resides stubbornly in our chests when we know we’ve hurt a family member or close friend with our words and we’ll be damned if we’ll see their side or say we’re sorry first, because they’ve hurt us and we need to teach them a lesson by hurting them back.
It creates a false sense of power and superiority by convincing us that if we withhold making the first move we’ll appear cooler, stronger, better than—and completely in control of the situation.
None of this actually serves us. It doesn’t serve our friendships. It doesn’t serve our marriages. It doesn’t serve our relationships with our parents or siblings or other members of our family.
It doesn’t serve our would-be relationships that might turn into true love, because we never allow it to get there.
It most definitely doesn’t serve our highest selves.
So this is the year I invite all of us to stop.
Let the ego go. Stop allowing it to get in the way of having the things you truly want.
We all want peace. We all want harmonious relationships with the people closest to us. We all want to authentically be able to say what’s there for us and express who we are and what we need and want from another person without fear.
We all want to be forgiven. We all want a second chance. We all want to sometimes be the person on the receiving end of an an unexpected apology we know we don’t even deserve.
But we won’t ever get this unless we start modeling it for others. That means sometimes we need to be the one to make the first move.
Here’s where I’ve started in my own life:
I don’t allow anyone to stay mad at me for longer than a few hours if I can help it, because I try to always reach out first and say I’m sorry for my part. And if I really believe I’m not in the wrong, I just say a simple, “I’m feeling badly about our last conversation and am here when you’re ready to talk because I care about you.”
I don’t take anything my family says to me personally anymore. I allow them their opinions. I don’t have to agree with them, but I allow it because I refuse to let my ego create a wedge between us—ever.
I have stopped playing the coy and elusive games with men so I can appear to be the “cool girl.” If I like you, I’ll tell you. If I miss you, you’ll know. I’ll say it.
If I fall in love with you, it may take me awhile to admit it, but I’ll never withhold that from you. You deserve to know.
I don’t care to be right. I don’t care to look cool. I don’t keep lists of what you do for me versus what I do for you.
I’m fully committed to modeling for others what it means to put our egos aside and do the things that make us uncomfortable.
Because I want something better for all of us. I want to see you all go into the new year mending relationships, building new ones and taking chances on love.
I want to see you show someone else what it means to be the bigger person even when you don’t want to be.
I want to see all of your relationships flourish and improve.
Do this, and I promise you: by the end of next year you’ll have it.
Author: Dina Strada
Image: Aud Koch on Instagram
Editor: Toby Israel