Burning Bridges

Sometimes, in relationships (business, personal or otherwise) it is necessary to burn the bridge that connects one person with another, so that there is little or no possibility of crossing over it again. Such is the case of those engaged in an abusive relationship or in the event that you are entangled with a psychopath.

burning bridges mending fences relationships bridge burning

In my work with individuals making their way through this life it is not uncommon for me to work with someone harboring deep regrets about a bridge-burning episode in life that was fueled by a temporary emotional state. Though the emotional state was temporary (and appeared more significant, even emergent, at the time) the resulting bridge destruction was permanent.

Many people in their last moments tell stories about their regrets about bridges burned beyond repair in their lives, the result of their own incendiary devices, that if ever given the opportunity of a do-over, they would have done it differently.

Working with people who are on their individual path of personal or spiritual growth, occasionally the subject of severed relationships – relationships dissolved with a life sentence and no possibility of parole – surface in the form of regret.

In doing the work of achieving one’s highest and best, you never know who can be an asset to your growth or potential, the idea is to retain as many options in your life as possible. Think about the options in your life being represented as a deck of cards; shuffle the deck and you have 52 options. Now, shuffle the deck again, only this time pick a card – any card – and burn it. No problem, now you have 51 options. Repeat the process another 50 times and now you’re down to your last card.

You no longer have the ability to shuffle or burn a card and you are left alone with no options.

People are the conduit connecting the events and opportunities traversing throughout our life. Making a habit of irrevocably severing connections with other people is counter-productive to say the least, because it limits your opportunities exponentially. When you burn a bridge between you and another person, it is likely to be noticed or affect someone else.

Do you think successful people with integrity are in the habit of burning bridges? Only if it is absolutely necessary and no other way can be found to circumvent the severance. Even so, care is taken to minimize the damages or potential extenuating ramifications. They painstakingly attempt to preserve and retain all the cards they have.

Yet, not all of us can conjure up the necessary fortitude to conduct all of our relationships with this level of social prowess, especially when emotions have the better of us. In the immediacy of the moment – feeling as though there is no other option but to fight or flee – burning the bridge seems like the best option at the time, in an effort to preserve one’s self. It’s as if, in that moment, you felt as though your life depended on the permanent separation.

With a few cards burned from your deck, you can still likely survive, but if you continue to burn cards the community at large sees this and begins to further reduce the number of opportunities otherwise available to you. The universe also matches your opportunities based on how you manage your cards.

If you’re in the habit of saying (or thinking), “I’d rather be alone than…” Don’t be surprised if you are rewarded with more alone time, or less quality time with others.

Mending Fences

On the bright side, bridges are rarely FUBAR (beyond repair). A little fence-mending can go a long way as you continue your life’s journey. Though waiting for the other party to initiate the reconstruction is ill-advised. Remember, the universe is watching you and rewards you with what you give.

If you are more likely to reach out in forgiveness and not alienate others (unless it’s absolutely necessary) then you can expect to receive more of the same.

Your future will be brighter, satisfying and you will enjoy more happiness, without the remorse that comes with extricating others.

Build a bridge

It can be as easy as saying, “How’s it going?” This may be enough to bridge the gap. It needn’t be a full on apology, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking,” or, “I was just overwhelmed at the moment,” and, “not thinking straight,” or any combination thereof. But you might offer up such a response if challenged with, “I thought you hated me.”

But in most cases, people are pretty much open and forgiving to others but we tend to make things more complicated in our mind’s eye than is so in reality.

A little humility goes a long way, plus it puts you back in the driver’s seat as you increase your opportunities and take back the power of your own heroism.