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Everyone who comes into your life is either a blessing or a lesson. I’ve had my share of both, and in essence, everyone was a blessing since the lesson is the blessing. I never regret a relationship. I do sometimes regret my own actions that may have hurt another person, but in any relationship that goes sour, if nothing else, it has taught me what I don’t want in a mate.

I’ve learned a bunch of lessons that when applied make me much happier and at peace in my interactions, yet one of the most simple, and least followed pieces of advice I’ve heard is this.

Things that leave you feeling bad, do less of. Things that leave you feeling good, do more of.

Many of us live in the moment. We convince ourselves that even though the relationship has brought us more bad than good, Mr. or Mrs. Right Now will suffice for the night, or the month, or the year.  And when we do end the dreaded fiasco, we find ourselves back in his or her life one Friday night when we had nothing better to do.  We convince ourselves that although nothing good has ever happened after 2am, tonight will be different and so instead of going home to bed, we have one more drink, locate the number that should have long ago been deleted, and send that text.

I’m guilty of falling victim to past loves like a drug addiction I just can’t shake.  But any recovering addict will tell you, the greatest struggle is in the mind.  In order to get over an old habit, you have to replace it with an equally satisfying good habit.

It’s not enough to simply learn a lesson. We have to find practical ways to apply it if we really want to see change in our behaviors.  My last love affair ended because I didn’t see a long term future in the works for us. Let’s call him Omar. I enjoyed him in the present, but I knew the present was all we would ever have. My problem was that when the weekend rolled around, as much as I wanted to be the woman who had plans since Tuesday, I simply wasn’t, and boredom often got the best of me. I would call Omar, spend the evening with him and wind up feeling drained and let down after it was all said and done. “What? I did this again?” was a recurring question I asked myself.  Whether the question referred to dinner, a movie, or sex, I scolded myself for allowing him to linger in my life.

So like a good parent, I took away my own privileges.  I call when I’m vulnerable, lonely, or bored, so the quick and easy way to eliminate that possibility was to delete his number. Done.

Secondly, I decided to make a list of the bad qualities in Omar and all of the reasons I decided to end my relationship with him as a reminder to not go back. I tucked that list under my pillow and read it every night before I went to bed. After time, the bad things were all I could remember and those feelings of desire subsided.

Lastly, I made plans for myself to fill my downtime doing things I loved and was interested in doing.  I signed up for a free class to hone my creative side. I found fun events to attend in the city, even solo.  I made time to reconnect with old friends and family who really had my best interests at heart.

I’m not an member of the independent woman, “I don’t need a man” club. I enjoy men. I prefer to have one in my life, if it’s a relationship that edifies me.  But one last great piece of advice I heard from TD Jakes is this: When the man of your dreams does find you, let him find you …busy.

Herina Ayot is a freelance writer living in Jersey City by way of New York.  She tweets @ReeExperience.

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