What love has taught me… And what I’m still learning.

I believe that our closest relationships are the greatest catalyst & incubator for personal growth.

This belief may not be a scientifically validated truth, but it has certainly been true in my life.

I see how my relationships continually reflect back to me the lessons I need to learn about myself. Specifically, the things I’m doing wrong in one area of my life – but choose to ignore or suppress – will be reflected back to me in my most intimate relationships.

Learning this principle alone has made any heartbreak or pain I’ve ever felt completely worth it. (I wrote this post: 3 Ways to Deal with Challenge or Conflict a few years ago and created a list of 16 painful truths that became sobering & liberating realizations.)

“There are no failed relationships. Every person who enters and exits your life does so in a mutual sharing of life’s divine lessons.” ~ Wayne Dyer

Lately I have been filled with gratitude for all of my past relationships… and the lessons they’ve all brought.

In addition to the above lesson, some of the other significant treasures I’ve unearthed in recently include:

  • Hurt is not a bad thing. I learned this after the most painful breakup I’ve ever experienced. I had never felt pain to the degree that I did at that time. I thought it was a bad thing; something I wished I could avoid. After what felt like crying for months, I realized that… sorrow increases our capacity for joy. Instead of wallowing in pain, I embraced it, and appreciated it for what it was: a sign of how deeply I could feel love. Learning this lesson made a subsequent breakup approximately 10,000x easier. (See this post for a bit about how I applied it on the 2nd go-round)
  • Shakespeare was on to something when he penned the famous words “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.” Pondering the question “What is love, really?” lead me to discover that we don’t fall in to love, we don’t fall out of it and it isn’t defined by the feelings we get from another person. Real love is having an undying commitment to the well-being of another person. Though the nature of a relationship may change, if it you truly ever loved someone, you will always want for their best interest… however that may look.
  • Most clichés are founded in wise truths. We’ve all heard the saying: “If you love something, set it free… If it comes back to you, its yours. If not it was never meant to be.”  There is timeless wisdom in this adage, and by applying it I’ve learned that Letting Go Opens The Door To Receiving.

Living life Outside The Boat, has brought a lot of painful mistakes… all of which are my own doing, but it’s a process I wouldn’t trade for anything. These lessons have forged me into the person I am today. A very imperfect person, but one that I love.

What I’m Currently Learning. (Or at least trying to…)

The most important lesson, though, is the one we are currently learning. (Then, when we learn it, the next one becomes the most important… see how it works?)

So, here’s mine:

Learn to say no to the ones who are not the one.

This takes a lot of faith. A lot.

I love people and often find myself connecting with people in a very deep way, very quickly. I see this as a good thing, but it also makes it easy to get caught up in a good situation, instead of focusing on the best. It takes faith to say no to the ones who aren’t the one.

Now, I’m not talking about being overly picky. That’s nonsense. It’s not about seeing some people as better than others and trying to get the best one… or someone “good enough” to meet an unrealistic standard we’ve set (that we often don’t meet ourselves). It’s about finding the right one.

Will you be my puzzle piece?

Are you my puzzle piece? (Photo by AceFrenzy)

I believe that people are all just like puzzle pieces. We all contribute to a beautiful painting called life, and we are all equal – just one piece in a big masterpiece. Some of those pieces aren’t even close to the same shape to fit together, no matter how hard we try to jam them. (Been there, done that) Still, others may be a close enough shape to fit, but they don’t make the right picture. (Check) But then there’s one that fits, perfectly. It’s not necessarily better, or of more value, than the other pieces, but… it fits.

(Now, I don’t necessarily mean that there’s only one person on this planet we can build a successful life with, but that’s another post…)

We know when we’ve got the wrong piece. Both in puzzles and in relationships. Every “wrong” relationship I have been in was preceded by an intuitive nudge that I chose to overlook. I’ve dated, proposed to, and even married… despite the inner voice whispering, in one way or another, that: “this isn’t the one.”

And, when we ignore those lessons that first come in the form of a whisper, they usually come back with a sledgehammer. ;)

The inner voice knows the end from the beginning – it takes faith to listen.

And it takes faith to say no the ones that aren’t the one. But faith always precedes the miracle. I’m learning to have faith that even if a puzzle piece is almost the right one, no matter how many great the connection, that if I exercise the courage to Let Go… that just around the corner, I will find my perfect fit.

Until then, I’ll patiently exercise the courage to say no to the others…

  • Karina

    Wow I really enjoyed reading this, It has open my eyes and my heart to think better, It helps me  see people and life differently because it helps me understand why some people act how they act. love when you said:  “I believe that people are all just like puzzle pieces”
    And like you I know I will find that person that fits correctly into my life.



  • http://twitter.com/beatriz1986 Beatriz B

    I really enjoyed reading this post. Just today I was talking to my best friend about love, breakups, and relationships. This is exactly what I was telling her, she can’t believe I still speak to my ex-husband, not only that, she can’t believe I care about him. Not to be confuse, like I tell her, I’m not in love with him, we’ve been separated for 2 years now, I just can’t stop caring about him, there is not switch for that. We were together for 8 years, to me he is like part of my family, but we were not meant to be together. God has a better plan for both of us. It took me a while to think this way, but this is why, like you, I think hurting is not a bad thing, and to a certain point I’m grateful for it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.



  • http://twitter.com/Verocamila Vero L.L.

    I really enjoyed it !! I have always thought that writing help
    us to know and project who we really are.    Love, relationships are wonderful gift…  I just came back from a trip, I had time to think about this “issue in my life” and I am so agree with you. I do not like tattoos but I want to share this, after several “wrong relationships” I decided to have an imaginary tattoo inside of me, starts
    on my head and connects with my heart, it says  “Let it go”, any person
    or thing that doesn´t allow me to grow, beacause as You say I can meet an amazing person, but no the rightone ( your inner voice is always talking to you), Is Letting Go Painful ?? Yes … But after this thought, I feel peace again,almost healed, ready to be open to love again – step by step- We never know what is coming.         Faith, hope = Open Door .   Thank You= ) Vero Camila

  • Joseph Ranseth

    Thank you Karina… and yes, I’m sure you will find your puzzle piece. It might just be hiding under the couch cushion. :)

  • Joseph Ranseth

    Thank you for sharing Beatriz… I appreciate your insights & example. Sounds like you’re able to turn your experiences around to help your friends & others. Keep it up. :)

  • Joseph Ranseth

    Vero, thank you for the comment. You are a courageous woman, I respect your openness & vulnerability. Sharing helps the healing process, so thank you again.

  • http://twitter.com/nicoledimas Nicole

    If the key doesn’t fit the door, why keep it on the keyring???

    Thanks for sharing this!  I will admit, only after I had planned a (failed) engagement did I realize why do we think we can go INTO a relationship wanting different things out of life, expecting the OTHER person to change?  To them WE are the other person.  Like Beatriz, below, people can not fathom that I see my ex, JJ’s dad, on a daily basis.  That we do things as a “family” and such.  If I loved him then, why wouldn’t I love him now?!  Granted, we don’t always “like” each other, but the past 10 years happened.  Life is too shore to regret anything, especially LOVE.  Just because he wasn’t happy with me, it doesn’t mean I don’t want him to Never be happy with anyone.  For me, I don’t see myself making that leap, just yet, if ever again but it’s not because I’m so “damaged” or “hurt”  I have taken this time to be in a relationship with myself.  Sorting out my own puzzle pieces, as Joseph would say.  And of course, I have a little man to think about.  But I think no matter what stage of Love: New, Old, or Past- we learn and take bits and pieces of each relationship to fit us.  We don’t need to be completed, just complimented : )

  • Cami Hewett

    You think there’s only one? 
    How does your own evolution play into this search?

  • Joseph Ranseth

    I don’t believe at all that there’s “only one.” Quite the opposite, in fact. However, it’s more about finding “one” that fits, not forcing it when it isn’t in alignment with our values, our vision and our nature.
    I’d actually really like to write a post about how I believe that the idea of “finding the one” is a harmful fallacy that we perpetuate in mass media and our culture’s current zeitgeist.
    If we believe that we “fall in love”, then it also implies that we can “fall out”, an idea that is leading to skyrocketing divorce rates. However, if we opt to “grow in love” then the success of a relationship is a matter of choice, not chance.