Many years ago I became friends with a wonderful woman named Lisa who rarely took anything personally. It wasn't that she never felt sad or had her feelings hurt, she just never took on other people's stuff as her own. She was a little older than I was, and wiser.
I remember one conversation we had that changed the way I think about relationships. The details are fuzzy to me now, but the gist is that her boyfriend told her he was having doubts. Lisa was just sitting there with her cup of tea, calmly outlining the details. I remember saying something like, "Oh, whoa! What does he mean by that? Why does he think he can treat you like that?" And part of me was saying to myself, "How can she fix this? What is she going to do if he really leaves her?"
Lisa, however, had an entirely different take on their conversation. She said, "It's good information for me to have." And pretty soon she broke up with him.
I remember that so clearly because it was the first time I'd seen someone do that and it felt impossible to me. I would have tried to figure out what was happening in his head, tried to decide how to get him to talk to me about it, tried to analyze the situation and make it better. Lisa was accepting reality, checking in on how her values and needs fit with his, and deciding whether to move on. She was confident that if she moved on, she'd be able to find what she needed elsewhere. She understood that not every romantic relationship that starts well is actually a good fit.
When I started therapy a few years later, the seeds of what Lisa said germinated and put down roots. I learned that I can go out and find what I want, I can hear bad (and good) news with an open heart and take appropriate steps. I can usually stay pretty grounded when things are blowing out of control around me.
I'll always be grateful to Lisa for that conversation (and many others). She had another saying that I took to heart along the same lines: "If you're not happy, move your feet." I agree with Lisa - letting go, moving on is a great skill to have.