This morning I was perusing a toy catalog, shopping for a gift for a friend’s child, when I stumbled upon an item that brought hours of enjoyment to my children. It’s a square box that has different shapes cut out into each side with accompanying matching pieces. The goal of the toy is for children to fit each piece in its corresponding hole thus learning to recognize shapes and how to fit “like” things together.
My boys spent hours placing the various shapes into their respective holes. Most times the pieces fit together with ease, but on occasion, they would work tirelessly trying to make the wrong piece fit into the wrong hole: an oval in a circle; a square in a triangle; a rectangle in a square.
As I reminisced about them sitting on the floor working at this task, I began to think about how this activity mimics what we do throughout our life: work to make the pieces fit. Sometimes our choices fit perfectly, but sometimes we expend tremendous energy trying to make the wrong relationships fit.
How many times have you been in a friendship or romance that didn’t work out? In most situations, when the breakup occurred, anger, heartbreak, and disappointment soon followed. Then blame. Someone must be at fault! Someone was wrong! You tried so hard so why couldn’t it survive?
Instead of being consumed with anger and resentment, did you ever stop and think that maybe, just maybe, it was simply a wrong fit? And that no one is to blame?
Like the pieces in the toy, each of us has an individual design derived from life experiences. We are each as unique as a circle, square, triangle or octagon. When we make the right match, everything fits perfectly, but when we have the wrong pieces, it doesn’t work no matter how hard we push or on what angle.
It would be ridiculous to say something is wrong with the circle because it doesn’t fit in the square, we recognize the shapes as being different, so why do we make those claims about people? Why do we assign blame to a person and then spend the rest of our life being angry and resentful, thinking about what could have been?
Perhaps a new perspective would be to view each of us as the pieces of the toy – unique with our own characteristics, perfect in our design – but not always a fit, no matter how hard we try to squeeze it together and how much we want it.
Perhaps looking at life experiences in this way may make it easier to let go and stop assigning blame. It may enable us to forgive and move forward.
So, the next time you experience the loss of a valued relationship, rather than being consumed with anger and bitterness, just release it. Try to view yourself and the other person as shapes, different from each other, but with their own purpose, beauty and value. Perfect in their individuality, but they just don’t fit!