Your heart is not a doormat

The most overrated question in the world is, “Why?”

I’ve sat with far too many broken-hearted, shell-shocked people who were hung up on why.

  • Why did they leave me?
  • Why wasn’t I good enough?
  • Why did they start dating someone else so quickly?
  • Why couldn’t they face me to tell me it’s over?

See, the problem with questions like these is that:

  1. There are no answers that will bring you peace because:
  2. The questions are misguided and:
  3. Your questions assume that the person you’re posing them to both knows the answers and has enough integrity to tell you.
  4. You already know the answers and you hate them.
  5. You’re hoping for a second chance with someone who didn’t deserve the first one.

There are only two important why questions. The first is:

  • “Why do I keep asking why things happen to me instead of considering what my part is in them?”
  • “Why do I complicate my life by over-thinking everything instead of simply trusting my intuition and allowing myself to experience my true emotions?”

My friends in recovery suggest that when we stop endlessly asking why shit happened, we can start asking a much better question, which is, “H.O.W. do I overcome the shit that happened?” Honesty, Openness and Willingness are the keys both to understanding the truth and to changing our lives.

I met with a young man near and dear to my heart today. He comes around every time he gets sick and tired of being sick and tired. He wanted to talk about why the same patterns keep appearing in his life. I wanted to talk about why he keeps allowing them to.

His focus is external – and for all the wrong, if well intended reasons. He seeks to earn love. Like so many of us, he learned as a child that it will not be freely given. In his heart is the false belief that nothing demonstrates worthiness more than martyrdom.

His white horse and shiny armor are wearing thin. It’s time to make some changes.

He kept talking to me about her and I kept annoying him by asking, “what do your choices say about you?”

He’s like I was at a much younger age – a slow learner who cannot reconcile himself to the truth: love is either unconditional or not worth pursuing.

I am not a touchy-feely therapist. I don’t watch people cry and tell them there are many fish in the sea. I tell them to have some dignity, stop wallowing, and to turn their focus inward. Ask yourself, “These patterns I keep going in…what have I wanted to believe they’d achieve?”

Then get honest with yourself about why it’s not working. Honesty is devoid of self-pity. It’s doesn’t involve moaning about how women are looking for Superman but walk by Clark Kent every day. Rigorous honesty means getting really, really, real and identifying what you truly want and need (separate those two – needs come first). Then determine what you’re willing to do to get it.

Because maybe what you really need is a dad or a mom. Maybe what you really need are better friends. Maybe you need to stop being so damned self-critical and lighten the hell up. And when you are READY for a partnership:

Follow the advice of Louise Hays, “Be the person you want to attract.”

Stop being a martyr/caregiver. Stop giving and not receiving. Stop wondering why you, “only attract assholes” or why your exes are always “crazy.”

We gravitate toward the familiar. If you’re straight you probably date people who are either very much like or completely the opposite of your opposite sex parent. If you’re gay it’s likely you date folks like/the opposite of your same sex parent. If you had a healthy upbringing this may work well for you. If not, you’re likely to learn the same lessons over and over again.

We play out the same painful dynamics until we come to terms with a very simple but powerful truth:

Getting it right doesn’t mean you found the right partner. It means you learned to be good to yourself as well as to others.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim is the cofounder of Sobernow.com an online addiction recovery program that is affordable and provides complete anonymity