Are you a professional Bridge Burner?!
Been burning bridges lately? After much conflict with a friend, you’ve now cut off all communications with them. You feel relieved that you don’t have to talk, hear from or see them. Ah, peace at last …or so you think. Problem gone. Done. You’ve moved on.
Burning bridges. That’s what it looks like, doesn’t it?
Does that scenario sound familiar to you? How do you feel now? Would ‘happy’ be about right, or would “numb” would be more true?! This depends on how you see ‘it’ of course. Or, maybe, you’re not even thinking about ‘it’. You’re too occupied with other ‘stuff’.
We are all made to enjoy well connected, harmonious relationships – but life isn’t perfect, it throws us lemons. Clearly, people aren’t perfect – when you get closer to others, you may in fact encounter more conflict. But that’s just life, sometimes we will have conflict. It’s how we deal with it that counts.
In any close relationship, you become more open and vulnerable, you let your guard down, you let yourself be you. But then that’s when you open yourself up to not so good things too like disagreements, offences, mis-understandings. It can get pretty painful. And ugly. Fast.
Hhhhmm that’s the worst case scenario of course. Why we have so much conflict or pain is that we are innately self seeking, self centred. We’re always trying to protect ourself, to defend our position, to be right, to think we’re better than others. And it’s not us that’s at fault, it’s always the other person…of course!
The list goes on. You know what I mean. And I’ve been there, and I’ve not quite arrived. I won’t, till I get to heaven (I hope you can get to heaven, there’s A way to get there, let me know if you want to know).
We’re only here on earth for so long, so it’s best to make the most of it, to enjoy it, not just to endure it. You don’t want to waste your precious life, time and energy on what you could exchange for peace and joy. I know what I’d rather choose. So, we all have choices to make.
Now, maybe it’s time to ask yourself why you love burning bridges instead of building them?!
If you care to know, I’ll try to shed some light on this matter – with 9 lies we believe to be true, when we burn bridges – and why you shouldn’t – for your sake and for the sake of others around you.
By the way, these lies are very toxic. You want to know the truth, not lies, if you want to build bridges instead of burning them. Ready?
9 lies we believe, when we burn bridges:
#1 They don’t meet my expectations.
We all need to have healthy expectations on certain things. But when we hold others up to our own expectations that stem from our own rules, standards and limitations, and we’re set on them for others to meet them, we will certainly set ourselves up for disappointment.
The underlying issue is control. The belief that we ‘like to be in control, to know and to predict ahead, to stick to what’s knowable and comfortable for me’. Otherwise, to be out of control would mean the pain of not knowing, not being able to trust the unknown, to be uncomfortable.
Also, perfectionism’s root is the need for control. Positive control is excellence – the heart to put your whole heart into it, rather than the fear of letting go.
But, we need to let go. Let go of our rigid expectations and see the other person and their merits, their strengths and for who they are, instead of expecting them to fit into our mould. We need to adjust, be flexible and work with any unexpected stuff that happens. This takes faith.
Letting go and accepting, is the antidote for control and perfectionism. Or we could be perpetually upset to the point of withdrawal or anger.
#2 It’s their fault
There wouldn’t be anyone to blame unless at least two people were in it. It always takes at least two people in any relationship to spark up something or rather. And you were one of the two?
To blame the other person means we are transferring the responsibility to the other person, instead of self evaluating first and foremost, to examine oneself. That’s the most responsible and free-ing thing to do! We are quick to blame others because it’s easier and maybe we truly believe we have done no wrong, in any way. Or we may genuinely think they triggered us.
But you have something inside that’s triggerable. Even if the other party was at fault, your response is your responsibility. No-one can change how you see or feel about something except you. Owning your part in it, doing what you can to put your heart and emotions right is the right response instead of to blame. Then you will be able to see clearly.
Analyse, look at yourself first, to see if you need to do some changing – is it something you said or did? Maybe it was your tone. Maybe you spoke too quickly, or you were reacting rather than responding. Now, who’s to blame?
#3 They’re holding something against me.
Have you been given the silent treatment or been on the receiving end of an accusation or mis-understanding? Silence from others is what most women interpret as hostile while men see it as relief! A natural response is to harbour the same presumption.
If someone has been talking badly about you, (you think they’re holding something against you) go directly to that person, ask them about it. Confront is a strong word, but that’s what it is. But what you’re also confronting is your own pride too, because you choose to be the one to humbly initiate reconciliation.
Instead of through a third party, you’ll get it directly from the ‘horse’s mouth’ and it’ll probably not be as bad as you think it was. Release grace to the other person, and you’ll see and feel differently after. There’s power in forgiveness. Forgiveness will give you a brand new start, a reset. A healing.
#4 It’s not fair.
Yes I agree, life isn’t fair. Are you feeling a sense of injustice because someone did wrong to you or you were unfairly treated? Things like this do happen. This feeling can stem from jealousy too. Like, ‘I should’ve got that promotion, and why did that newbie colleague get it instead?”
That quote, ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ is so true! That’s the perspective we can take on, because while unfair things happen, many fair things happen to us too. Focus on that. Make lemonade by making the best out of a situation.
Be fair to the unfair person – that takes humility doesn’t? It takes a big person to do that. Small people hold onto the smallest things. If you’re feeling a deep sense of injustice, forgiving that person (and yourself) is the best antidote too.
#5 I’ll always feel the hurt.
Being deeply hurt emotionally feels more difficult to heal or to breakthrough than physical pain. Many of us can handle physical pain because we can medicate it but our feelings – how do we deal with those out of control, deeply painful ones?
Knowing that feelings are connected to, and produced by thoughts is a good start. Dr Caroline Leaf, an expert on Neuroscience https://drleaf.com/ has much research to back this up. The bible also says that ‘as a man thinks, so is he’. So he lives. You live out what you truly believe – and feel.
If you want to manage and deal with your hurt, you need to deal with your thought life. What and how we think creates our feelings. Changing our thought life will definitely change how we feel. It comes down to a choice we make. You always had a choice. Will you choose to not stay hurt but to heal?
#6 If I avoid it, it’ll go away
Isn’t this always the easy way out? We’d all prefer to not deal with problems – why face them when we can avoid them? But finding temporary relief or a distraction, will only put us back to square 1. The cycle will repeat itself. Just when it does, not if, is the question.
Are you putting on masks? Telling everyone you’re fine? You could be in denial, making excuses, or convincing yourself endlessly that you’re “ok”, when …you’re not. It’s ok to be not ok – that’s a good start. You can only put up a charade for a short time, until you’re worn down and burnt out from plastering over your pain.
Maybe when you’re tired of the cycle, then you decide to move forward, by courage, to face the issue. Be honest with yourself and the other person. Yes, it could be painful and uncomfortable at first – but later on down the track, you’ll have real freedom and peace. Knowing that you faced, rather than buried an issue, will produce confidence in you and your relationships.
PS Professional counselling is recommended for deeply rooted, painful memories and trauma.
#7 I’m not ready to face it
I know that feeling. But deep down, I know it’s because I don’t really want to deal with it, therefore I say “I’m not ready”. It’s a good alternative for “I don’t want to – yet”. Just. being. honest.
When would you be ready for something? Of course, we don’t have any problems being ready for a dinner date, a movie night or something fun and relaxing, do we? But when it comes to difficult feelings and situations, ‘I’m not ready!”.
Is this just another form of avoidance? Perhaps. When are we ready? When we decide to be. It’s a decision you make from your will. Then the feelings will follow that choice, where the next steps are revealed.
Decide to be ready today. Each time you move a step forward, you’re progressing towards freedom.
#8 I don’t know what to do
Have you ever been desperate for something? Take for example, hunger. You haven’t eaten for 6 hours, and you’re starving. What do you do? The hunger takes over, and you run for the kitchen, you’ll eat anything to fill that growling stomach, to stop that shaky, fainty low sugar feeling!
If you’re truly desperate to change, to do what you need to do, even though you’re not sure of exactly how to go about it, you’ll find a WAY. Also, don’t stop at the “I don’t know how” but instead ask, read, and seek out advice. If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way, for sure.
Be wholehearted in your decision. Your yes is yes and your no, no. The ‘what to do’ comes after the I WANT TO DO. Do you really want to do it?
#9 It’s just my personality
Character is a choice, personality is what you’re born with, but it does develop and change over time, to line up with your character. Character is that inner voice, the love, care, compassion, integrity, convictions, values, that drives your choices, your life. You character is connected to your heart.
When you make excuses for character issues such as a quick temper or not speaking up, and label them as ‘personality traits’ you may just accept that it’s a part of you, that you just have to live with it. No! Do you want to really want to live with this?
The good news is, you can have a change of heart. It’s not your personality. You may have a tendency to say, be impatient, but anger doesn’t have to be the driving force behind impatience. Instead gentleness can be – now how would others respond to you then? Be intentional to build your heart – your character, not personality.
Then you’ll mature as a person and be able to take on more responsibility and be able to relate to a bigger range of people, because you can be nice to them.