In many cases recovering from living with an addict leads to ending the relationship. It is quite natural that you carry feelings of disappointment, betrayal, anger and pain with you after such a rupture for quite some time. You blame your addict for them and these feelings can stand in the way of engaging in new relationships. You are afraid to get hurt again. We generalize our anger and mistrust towards people we meet (“men are all the same anyhow” or “you cannot trust women.Period.”)
We have to realize that it is not the addict that generates our feelings. It is our own thought process. Fortunately we are in control of our thoughts.
I find that a good way of doing this is by consciously avoiding judging the people you meet. I sometimes refer to this as “not sticking labels”. This is hard because our mind – the ego- is lightning fast and incredibly cunning in labeling people. This mechanism makes perfect sense of the problem too: if you meet someone who you really, really like and at the same time you carry all the negativity (anger, fear, frustration, distrust, etc.) with you, there is a clash between the reality of the nice feelings the person generates in you, and the negative emotions you feel at the same time. This can only lead to confusion and increases the risk of making the wrong choices.
Try to notice yourself sticking these labels on people, places or things. And as soon as you are aware of doing it, mentally step back and consciously remove the label you were sticking. When doing so, I actually visualize this process in slow motion and picture my self removing an actual label (including the words printed on them in black capital letters) with my thumb and index finger. Just as you would remove a label from something you bought in the store. I then in full consciousness crumple it up and throw it away in my kitchen’s garbage bin.
You will find that in doing so a calmness and a sense of relief will come over you. And you will be surprised at how it changes the way you look at people.
The beauty of this is that in stead of occupying your mind’s activity with negative emotions and the additional stress and unrest it causes in you, you have now created space in your mind to take a look at yourself when engaging in new relationships and not lose yourself in emotions. There is no more need to feel angry or to feel afraid of being rejected or disappointed.
Focus on what your soul really needs and imagine how this new person would fit these needs. You may be surprised at how well this works. (It does for me…) Instead of a clouded judgment this will allow you to make calm and conscious choices.
Some may argue – especially when referring to falling in love – that this takes away the spontaneity. I would suggest taking a good look at your past relationship with your addict and the unnecessary suffering it has caused. Chances are that listening to the head and not just the heart may be the path you prefer to chose in establishing new relationships. And don’t forget that most of the time the truth (or reality) is not what our emotions tell us! (see my previous posts on denial)
PS: This little technique not only works for me in affectionate relationships, e.g. with a (potential) significant other, but also with colleagues and friends. The next time you meet someone you dislike, notice yourself sticking your label(s) on them and then remove them slowly and consciously, one by one. The results can be amazing.