"Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened." Those nine words by Ted Geisel (Dr.Seuss), one of our country’s favorite storytellers, contain so much wisdom. They apply to many different aspects of life, but I would like to focus on the area of relationships. Most of us are going to have relationships end at some point in our lives, whether they are marriages, partners, friends, relatives or any other type of relationship. People leave, or die, and it hurts. What to do with the hurt?
There is a person that has been in contact with Barry and I who had a relationship end in a hurtful way. This individual is so hurt and does not know how to handle the pain of this situation. The feeling of rejection seems overwhelming. The other person has walked away and there is no negotiation. For this person, it is over and there is no desire for contact.
Stuck On A Feeling
Dr. Seuss’s words give great wisdom. Many people are stuck in the feeling that “it is over.” But the way out of the pain is to remember the good and feel grateful. The feeling of gratitude will open a door to your heart and allow the feeling of love to enter.
When a person ruminates over all of the details of the ending, they stay in the pain, and it can even become worse with time. The best thing to do is to feel gratitude. Write down the things you can appreciate about having been with this person. Even sending the list to the person (if still alive) can be very healing. In this way you are transitioning the relationship in a very conscious and loving way.
If the person never responds to your letter and expression of gratitude, still you have reached out. The expressed gratitude will free you to go on with your life and even open to a new relationship or friendship. There is the great saying, “Whenever one door closes, another door opens.”
A Class Called "LOVE"
One of my very favorite stories is from Leo Buscaglia, who was my teacher at USC in 1971 when I was 25 years old. I was in his master’s degree course, and most of my classes were with him. He was beyond wonderful, and taught me many valuable lessons that I still cherish to this day.
My favorite class was an extra, no credit class called, “LOVE.” Anyone in the university could attend this class. Perhaps fifty students came each week. Leo taught about love. He was the only professor teaching about this subject in a university in all of the United States.
Those of us who chose to attend the class absolutely loved it. He was teaching us how to reach out and really love people in a heartfelt person-to-person way. He had wonderful ideas and could back it up with great literature. His favorite was “The Little Prince.”
He had us practice appreciating people, seeing beauty in each other, expressing gratitude, and writing letters to our family with messages of love. There was such a beautiful energy in the room each time he gave the class that I felt as though I could just float I felt so high and happy.
Seeing Beauty and Strength Where Others See Weakness
He was really the first person to acknowledge that my sensitivity was actually a beautiful thing and that he appreciated that side of me very much. Up until he spoke to me in that way, I had felt ashamed of my sensitive nature. He had a way of acknowledging his students and, sometimes like in my case, he saw beauty and strength where others saw weakness. Those of us in the class were opening so beautifully under his teachings.
One day I had an appointment with him at his office in the university. While I waited for him, I could not help but overhear the voices of three men that had come to meet with him before me. They spoke in loud harsh voices, and told Leo that he could not teach his love class any more. They told him it was an embarrassment to the university, and he had to stop immediately. This was nonnegotiable. They walked out soon after that pronouncement. I felt so sad for my beloved teacher. Here he was giving of himself on his free time to teach this wonderful class, and it was rejected. He must feel so hurt.
I walked into his office when the secretary told me to go and I tried to think of how I might cheer him up. Indeed he looked very sad. But his words surprised me, “I feel so sad for those three men that were just here. I have so much love to give and they do not want it.” His sadness was not for himself, but for those university officials. He saw what they were missing by rejecting what he had to offer.
We All Have So Much Love To Give
Shortly after that, Leo left the university. I do not know if he was asked to leave, or if he just left. He went on to become one of the most popular speakers in the United States and other countries, with crowds of over 10,000 people at each talk that he gave. He gave his love class to the world, and they received it with great enthusiasm. He wrote five books about love which were on the New York Times best seller list.
Whenever I start to feel rejected by someone, I think of Leo and his words, “I feel so sad for them, as I have so much love to give.” And also I think of Dr. Seuss’s advice to all of us, “Remember to smile that it happened.” Acknowledging that we are beautiful and have much love to give, as well as expressing gratitude, can bring a person out of the pain of seeming rejection.
* Subtitles by InnerSelf
Book by Joyce & Barry Vissell:
The Heart's Wisdom: A Practical Guide to Growing Through Love
by Joyce Vissell and Barry Vissell.
About the Author(s)
Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA. They are widely regarded as among the world's top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk To Be Healed, The Heart’s Wisdom, Meant To Be, and A Mother’s Final Gift. Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell: Jul 16-21, 2017—Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, Oregon; and Oct 11-17, 2017—Assisi Retreat, Italy; and Feb 4-11, 2018 — Hawaii Couples Retreat on the Big Island. For further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org.
Listen to a radio interview with Joyce and Barry Vissell on "Relationship as Conscious Path".