The Jennifer Aniston Effect
A few years ago during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wrote a newsletter entitled "What Is Your 'Angelina Effect'?" In it, I talked about Angelina Jolie's powerful impact on the number of women with a family history of breast cancer getting tested. The newsletter then went on to discuss how we all have the ability to be the ripple. We all have the ability to be the catalyst for motivation or to play the part of a game-changer in the life of one or many.
Lately I have been thinking about what I am going to call "The Jennifer Aniston Effect."
Let me start by saying I do not know Jennifer Aniston at all. The closest I have gotten to her is that I stood behind Courteney Cox and her daughter in line at the Los Angeles Airport a few years ago. Other than that, Jennifer Aniston will always be a "Friend" that still comes into my living room thanks to reruns on cable television. So admittedly anything I write here is my speculation about a woman who, in my eyes, is conscious, cool, kind, and a class act.
This past week it was announced that Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt. When the news came out, pictures of Jennifer Aniston taken throughout her career were splashed all over social media and in the news, pictures that showed her smiling, laughing, rolling her eyes, and grinning like a Cheshire cat. There have even been headlines saying, "Karma's a bitch!" (I am just trying to figure out my own karma so I have no idea what anyone else's is.)
When I look at Jennifer Aniston, I see a woman who went through the heartbreak of a broken relationship and the dashed dreams of divorce. Then she used her pain as a catalyst to look inside, dig deep, heal her wounds, and go on to create more vibrantly and love more whole-heartedly. She surrounded herself with loving friends, healthy relationships and positive wellness structures that feed her soul and allow her to be in integrity with her highest self.
Our work is predicated on the concept that our relationships, especially those closest to us, serve as our clearest mirrors. They are there to show us the parts of ourselves that we have disowned, tried to hide, or suppressed. They are there to show us the wounds from our past that are waiting and wanting to be healed. That is why we often say, "There's no one out there."
When we are in relationship with others, we often try to make it all about them. We think about what they did wrong, how their behavior was inappropriate, and what they could or should be doing differently. But the fact of the matter is it's not about them. It goes back to that saying, "If you spot it, you got it!" The people in our lives are just there to act as reflections - to highlight the shadows we need to own, the wounds we need to heal, and the outdated beliefs we need to unconceal and shift so that we can be our fullest and most loving selves.
Even the people who break your heart come bearing a gift: their presence in your life and all that transpired occurred to give you the opportunity to gain some new insight so your soul could evolve.
Now when most of us get hurt from a break-up or experience some pain from a relationship, we don't automatically think, "Wow! How lucky am I that I just got my heart broken?" Instead, we tend to blame the other person or beat ourselves up. We think, "If only I was smarter, better looking, in better shape, more successful, sensual, or spontaneous...then maybe things would not have happened as they did. Maybe he or she would not have left or found someone else."
BUT here's the thing. Although it might hurt -- and believe me, I have been there and know that it can leave you breathless --
What if their leaving was the best thing
that could have ever happened to you?
What if their leaving had nothing to do with you?
What if that one more broken heart was exactly
what your soul needed so you could do the work
and create the insight and opening to finally
find the love of your life?
If there is no one out there, then on the one hand, their leaving, cheating, or doing whatever they did had to do with their wounds and the opportunity to discover what they needed to learn in this lifetime.
And on the other hand, their leaving, cheating, or doing whatever they did was totally for you in that it gave you the invitation to see what you were projecting on to them or the relationship so you could own back that light or dark and more fully embrace all of yourself. It also served as the catalyst to rip the band-aid off of some old wound from the past so it could finally be examined and healed, allowing you to love more deeply.
To me, "The Jennifer Aniston Effect" is an inspiration for people everywhere to use whatever happens to them as a catalyst for growth, to turn pain into possibilities, and to find the wisdom in their wounds. It will be a reminder to everyone that it truly doesn't matter how beautiful, creative, successful, fun, and fabulous you are because your soul is meant to evolve and grow and the Universe will send you experiences and people who will aid you in doing so. Sometimes the lessons happen easily, but, more often than not, they are accompanied by pain. And it doesn't matter how fast you dance, how much you try to fix, change, or improve yourself or others, the Universe will bring you opportunities to evolve. That's the good news! Because if you embrace these opportunities, then you can go on to be the next version of your highest, most authentic self - to love more generously, cultivate enriching relationships, set healthy boundaries, and step into new levels of self-worth and respect for yourself and others so you don't engage in behaviors that do not represent the person and friend that you are...whole and complete!
Transformational Action Steps
(1) Think of a relationship that caused you pain.
(2) Make a list of all the ways that you blamed the other person for what transpired.
(3) Make a list of all the ways you beat yourself up for what happened.
(4) Looking at the two lists you made, allow yourself to see the cost of those negative behaviors, thoughts, or reactions. How many years has this been going on?
(5) Dwell in the question about what you learned as a result of that experience, exactly as it transpired. How did that relationship serve the evolution of your soul?