Recently, I’ve been gifted second chances to reassess what I had previously ruled out in both my professional and personal life. While not all life experiences are destined to have an encore, it seems that some are meant to come around again, after we’ve grown and healed old wounds, our perspective has evolved, and we’ve dropped the blinders we had on when we experienced—and rejected—them the first time.
Inspired by these recent developments, I’d like to talk about second chances, especially in relationships that are chosen in adulthood, not the familial ties with which we were born. What treasures is life seeking to offer us through second chances in these chosen relationships? The short answer is to be continually supported to know ourselves at a deep level and be who we really want to be. Want to know how I came up with that answer? Read on.
You Reflect Me
In the past, I had written about relationships serving as mirrors for us. This is a phenomenon the sociologist, Charles Cooley, coined “The Looking Glass Self.” In others’ reactions to us, we see reflections of ourselves—the traits we like and don’t like, the parts of us we find easy to embrace and the parts we’ve rejected (unknowingly).
With every quality we admire in others, the very same quality within us hungers for our attention. For instance, when we are mesmerized by someone’s charisma, our own charisma yearns to be developed and expressed. By the same token, things that irritate us about others serve to point out shadows we don’t wish to own. For example, being suffocated by highly controlling people is meant to trigger reflection on the ways in which we don’t trust our own judgment and hold our own ground—such that healing can take place.
You Inspire Me
In the movie, Mrs. Doubtfire, there’s a scene in which Sally Field’s character tells her estranged husband, played by Robin Williams, why they can’t stay together. Among all reasons, she tells him that she simply doesn’t like who she has become being married to him. Ouch! Tough to stay married to someone whom you feel brings out your worst, even if you may be two objectively fine individuals.
Can you think of people who are to you like Robin Williams is to Sally Field? Conversely, can you think of people who inspire you, e.g., to be more authentically you, to be braver, more compassionate, more accountable, etc.? Don’t you love them not only for what they bring to your life, but also how they make you feel? They have a way of inspiring you to be the best version of you. They have a way of bringing out the aspects of you of which you’re most proud and which you most love. You simply feel like a better person when you’re around them.
Related to the above point, why are some people so impossible to let go and forget? How did they manage to get so deep under your skin? Consider this: What you crave isn’t necessarily them or their presence in your world for its own sake. Rather, what’s intoxicating is what they evoked within you and the part of you they helped to bring out, which thirsted to be developed and expressed. This unforgettable person was simply the catalyst who drew out that part of you that yearned to be seen, heard, felt and understood. What you really miss is the precious part of you that went back into hiding once that catalyst left.
I Inspire You
The flip-side of the above is also true. After all, relationships are a two-way street. Can you think of people you’ve inspired? To quote someone from my past, “Alice, you are someone who makes those around you want to rise up and be a better person.” Others have expressed similar sentiments over the years. I feel truly grateful and privileged to be a catalyst in their lives. I’m not sharing this to brag, but rather to point out that, as much as others come into our lives for a reason, we’re in their lives for a reason as well. We are mirrors for each other, and we serve each other in this life after all.
We aren’t always ready to look at what seeks to develop within us and/or what disowned shadows we need to accept compassionately. That’s why the same kind of relationships shows up in our lives one after another to prompt us to embrace our virtues and shadows. This cycle will continue with different counterparts, until we extract the lesson repeated. For instance, using the above example about controlling people, we’ll keep attracting different individuals with similar behavior, until we heal from old control issues and learn to trust ourselves and hold our own.
In the case of second chances, I believe these are soul agreements we’ve made with certain individuals who are meant to come into, out of and back into our lives again—through seasons of personal growth and evolution in consciousness. These soul partners are meant to be in our lives for more than a single period, even if interrupted between appearances, and even if we don’t know ahead of time how long they’ll remain in our lives. Nonetheless, the gifts they come bearing for us are tremendously valuable and always for the ultimate purpose of supporting our soul desire to know ourselves deeply and be the person we really want to be.
Nearly twelve years ago, a former significant other asked for another chance to put us back together. Even though we had a great connection, I turned him down because my heart—and ego—didn’t want to risk further bruising. Then, he moved across the country, and we quickly lost track of each other. For a number of years after that, I had wondered off and on what might have been if I had said “yes” to his request for a second chance.
With that missed opportunity as a teacher, I vowed not to miss another second chance. In fact, if I should ever find myself mishandling an opportunity the first go around, I’d meditate on whether it’d be wise for me to create my own second chance—before the window closes permanently, leaving behind regrets.
Over to you: Do you believe that life presents us with second chances to support us to know ourselves and be who we really want to be? Have you ever had a second chance with something/someone? Did you take it? What did you gain/learn from your choice? Would love for you to share in the comment box below!
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