Do you see that red, hot stove top over there? Just go put your face on that for a few seconds. No, it’s ok. It won’t hurt because this is a special kind of stove and the searing heat feels more like a cool breeze. It’s cutting-edge. You gotta try it...
You hesitate for a few seconds, a nagging voice inside telling you to run. But you fall for the delusion anyway...
“Dang, that hurts!”, you say as you press your cheek against the stove. “Someone pass me a flipper. I think I’m done!”
Well, what were you expecting? Don’t ignore the nature of what is. And don’t allow yourself to be deluded into thinking someone will be different than they really are.
A story from Aseop’s Fables:
A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”
The frog is satisfied, and they set out. But in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog.
The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”
Replies the scorpion: “It’s my nature…”
I have been extremely lucky to have been surrounded by good friends and family throughout my whole life. I have a good judge of character and standards of what kind of people I want to spend my time with.
I met a scorpion, chose to ignore all the red flags and ended up spending too much of my limited and valuable time and energy with her. Although she had her good qualities, she was often negative, disrespectful, controlling, rarely expressed gratitude, was extremely insecure, jealous and was quite happy to receive, but rarely give. These negative qualities soon overshadowed and cancelled out her positive qualities. I couldn't trust her anymore. The relationship quickly became volatile and dysfunctional. Lots of highs and way too many lows. Luckily, it was short-lived.
How did I allow myself to get emotionally attached like this? What was I getting out of this dysfunctional relationship? Where was I being weak? With all the years of personal growth, studying Buddhism and making healthy relationship choices, it should have been a no-brainer for me to stay on the path of sanity.
The tendency is to blame the other person when they are hostile or disrespectful towards us, however, we have to remember that in every moment, we are the ones who are choosing who to spend time with and in what manner. When we stop blaming others for mistreating us and start taking 100% responsibility for our situation, we can then take thoughtful action.
Taking full responsibility for our actions and choices is a form of freedom. Instead of being dragged around by our desires and emotions, we can make real choices. We no longer need to be with one particular person and we no longer need the relationship to be the way that we fantasize about.
When conflict between two people seems unfixable and when the other person’s character is immature and combative, you must drop them from your life! It is the self-respecting thing to do. Clear the space to attract people who are already generally balanced, respectful and kind. Looking at someone who appears to be sweet but has a dark side and thinking that they have future potential to be a good person is folly. You are going to get burned. You can only deal with who is in front of you right now, not the person you want them to be.
Once you’ve made a clear break and resolved not to have a toxic person in your life, take advantage of the experience you had with them and reflect. This is vital. Our tendency after a bad relationship experience can be to stuff the bad memories into a dark hole and try to forget about it as quickly as possible. Or we may look for something to distract us and make us feel better (like another relationship).
Don’t pass up the opportunity to reflect. Review what happened and what you could have done differently. Where were you being emotionally needy? When were you being centred and grounded? Were you giving unconditionally? Did you have unrealistic expectations from the other person?
Moving forward, protect yourself. When you meet a new person that you might want to consider having a friendship or relationship with, be fairly cautious for the first month or two until you know for sure that they are of good character and sound mind. Be open, but keep your standards high and remind yourself continually that you are a high-value person and you will only spend your limited time with other high-value people.
If you don't do your due diligence, be prepared to get burned or stung!