Are You Painting With A Clean Brush?

Many people are looking for that great love relationship.  You know, the one that is better than the last one and all the ones before it. The one that will really fill your cup.  If you are in this position, I encourage you to do the inner work that will make it possible to have what you desire.

In a book entitled “Triumph,” written shortly before she died, my dear friend and wise woman, Darlene Diehl, talked about how we need to do the emotional healing whenever a relationship ends: 

I’ve noticed throughout my lifetime that when I have not emotionally cleared a relationship the tendency is to take that muddled energy into the next relationship(s).  I call this “painting with a dirty brush.”  The problem grows and grows.  For instance, one might think that one can focus their love on a single person, making that person the center of their universe, while keeping all other unresolved feelings and relationships compartmentalized elsewhere.  I have never once seen this work.  I have, however, noticed how everything and everyone becomes entangled in the old emotional web until it has been swept clean.

In the same spirit, author John Lee writes: “The only healthy way to start a love relationship is to be over your former relationships.  This takes time and work and pain.  And most people are too impatient and needy to wait.”  In his wonderful book “Facing the Fire” he says to be ready to love again, you must do the following:

  • Grieve out the sadness of your last relationship and any earlier relationship that cling in your memory.
  • Discharge the anger you have concerning those relationships.
  • Forgive yourself for any “mistakes” you made in those relationships until you realize you didn’t make any mistakes given who you were then and what you knew then.
  • Forgive the other person  This doesn’t mean you have to see or communicate with him or her.  It means that in your own heart and mind you can feel gratitude for the time and love you shared and honestly say:  “I thank you.  I love you.  I forgive you.  I wish you the best.  I let you go.”

If the present loss is tied to a painful experience from earlier in your life — which is very common — then additional work is needed to emotionally clear the trauma and be ready for a healthy new relationship.  Examples of these sorts of issues include childhood abandonment or neglect, childhood loss such as through death or divorce, or a painful rejection earlier in your life. 

All this takes time and hard work, but it is well worth it.  As we rinse our brushes, and the painful experiences of the past flow down the drain, we free ourselves to begin anew.  Finally, we are free to paint with a clean brush and create the love relationship we truly desire.

About Eileen Barker

EILEEN BARKER has been writing and speaking on forgiveness, and guiding people who need to either forgive themselves or someone else, for many years. A practicing litigation lawyer who rejected the traditional adversarial role, Eileen has focused her practice on mediation, helping thousands of people resolve disputes outside of court. This work led her into a deep exploration of forgiveness as it relates to resolving conflict and making peace, both with others and oneself.

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