Do I know you from somewhere? Don’t wait for 20-20 vision in hindsight

Self-awareness is such a powerful tool to have in your arsenal. Paying close attention to how events unfold in your life – who was involved, the actions that were taken and the outcomes can become a blueprint you use in the future.

Many of us have had difficult relationships  – be it work, friends or family. The thing is, if a certain kind of person pops up into your life more than once and the experience for you was not pleasant it’s important to break down the elements, figure out why and get the tools to prevent that from happening again. Go further than just realising the lesson – get into more detail about what happened, so the next time you can see it coming and choose differently.

Two of my strengths are I make friends easily and I enjoy believing the best in people. Infact I look for their good side at the expense of seeing the whole person. This has  landed me in sticky situations. It happens only every now and then, but it happens. For this reason I am wilfully blind to things like warning signs (it’s empowering to take 100% responsibility for what you do and what happens to you, which is why I use the term wilfully blind) . A while back I knew someone who tended to have alot of disagreements and fall outs with different people. After sticking it out with them for a while, eventually I too had to part company, and it was sticky extricating myself from the relationship.

Here’s the thing – a few years later I found myself in a similar situation with a different person. Different time, different name, different setting – but the same character. I’m glad to say though the 2nd time it happened I extricated myself far sooner than I would have in the past, and with less scars. I remembered the first time, remembered exactly what actions I took that didn’t work and chose not to repeat the same behaviour the 2nd time around.

So where are you experiencing a difficult relationship with someone? Imagine this person standing infront of you, and in your mind ask them “Do I know you from somewhere?” Then think of other people in your past with whom you’ve also had difficult relationships, and tease out the similarities. What did you do? How did this type of person come back into your life? Are they pushing your buttons because they remind you of a friend or relative who pushed your buttons the same way? And be aware too that it may be someone with a different gender. Your challenging male coworker could be reminding you of the sister that you don’t get along with –  “Do I know you from somewhere?”

Think then of specifics: what you did that previous time that did not work (for me, it was the hope that things would come good or the person would change). Make sure you don’t repeat that course of action that didn’t produce the results you desired. Alternatively think of what did work the last time and repeat that behaviour.
Going forward you won’t need to wait for hindsight, you become aware with foresight of some of the behaviours in yourself and others that get you into trouble. You become able to spot your pattern (and what you attract) and choose differently. I’ve learnt that seeing the whole person is probably better than just looking for “the good”. Nobody is perfect.

So for me it is now a choice of whether the relationship can continue  – warts and all. Some relationships can’t continue because you’re both sinking (and you doing so is you perpetuating a facade that will eventually crumble). Instead of growing, or becoming better people you are both regressing by staying in the relationship.

So go on, take 100% responsibility for what you’ve done. Tease out what you did and what you did not do, what worked and what didn’t. Perhaps before the same thing happens yet again you can choose different, make an about turn and take another path. If you didn’t get it the first time, it’s coming back for round 2 – we all know this. When you’ve really learnt that lesson, and chosen differently the 2nd time around, only then will you not require another class. There are other lessons waiting.
Go on and share your comments!



  1. shazz

    Yes! I do know you from somewhere!… Your post was spot on and true. I’ve recently had to do the same thing with someone very dear to me but also very toxic to me and hard as it was for me, it’s made my life much easier and the boundaries created protect me. Thank you for your post xxx

  2. em

    I keep coming back to this post, and getting a little something more from it each time I read it. Detaching from a negative/toxic friendship/relationship with grace & dignity… & to do so for the well-being of self… also helps release the other person, no matter how many years you’ve been in each others lives. Being able to reflect on past experiences (& seeing how the negative has outweighed the positive) within that relationship helps makes the transition easier… this lesson has taken me a few rounds, but I’m a lot steadier on my feet now 🙂
    x x

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