You Are Not The Replacement
In my work, I notice that many people struggle with the idea of being replaceable. We like to feel that we can’t be substituted with ease and that we mattered enough that another person won’t be able to just come along and seemingly take over where we left off. We want to believe that we matter and that yes, people move on but not in a way that we feel would disrespect what we had with them. A prime example of this is after a breakup. It cuts to the core when we discover that they moved on before things had ended or had someone else in their mind and/or bed within hours or days of us leaving. We feel replaceable instead of realising that the person is clearly avoidant.
One of the things I’ve learned from looking at my old relationship habits and those of clients is that often, people who base their value on whether they feel replaced also live in fear of being replaced; spending a lot of their dating and relationship time trying to be the replacement for others.
It is the Replacement Mentality. When we look at who we spend our relationships with and what we’re basically trying to do, it is about taking the place of someone or something. It is like saying, ‘Choose me over him/her or your problems.’ or, ‘Replace him/her or your codependent behaviour with me.‘ If you make your life about competing, you may become too embroiled in what others are being and doing and you may get caught up in plotting about where you can offer a ‘competitive advantage’. Once this begins to happen, then you’re not truly respecting yourself or others.
When you’re so caught up in replacing, you don’t go in as an individual entity, knowing your own worth, values, boundaries or how to show up as yourself. You are in danger of getting too hung up on looking at what others are doing and using that to influence where you think you need to adapt to be even more pleasing than they were. You look and listen for clues as to what will make the object of your affection keep you and not look elsewhere. If they mention that they didn’t like something last time, you start scratching things off of your personality and character to stay in play. Bye bye boundaries, self respect and sense of self.
When we want to know that we are ‘better than’ someone, we wonder why they keep pining for that person when we are right there in front of them, trying to be the replacement. It is what fuels many an affair; the want for the person that you are involved with to take the other party out of their role because obviously something is wrong with that person (even though that may very well not be the case at all) and to be the ‘better option’. Even if you get the role, you might desperately want to give it back or backtrack when you realise the reality of your involvement and what it actually means to be in that position.
When you get into that competitive state of mind, what you are seeing is that you can occupy and do that role best, so you keep yourself available to be the replacement. If you see beyond the ego at play here, that role isn’t about you and actually detracts from you. In this mindset, you will barely have two self-esteem beans to rub together and in all likelihood, you will be living in perennial fear of being replaced at any moment.
When we don’t show up as an equal who is deserving of love, care and respect and who gets to choose what they do and do not want to be involved in, we’re carrying on as if we’re in the X-Factor or Dating Idol and that our job is to position ourselves to be chosen. We want the role of The Next Big Thing. The problem is that when we treat our relationships like this, aside from automatically putting the person on a pedestal and giving them far too much power, we’re basically carrying on as if this magnificent person who actually just isn’t that special, has a vacancy of ‘Good Enough person’ who will provoke me into making them the exception to my rule and closing that vacancy for good. You can see the job description including duties such as…Must be willing to run over hot coals and jump through hoops for crumbs. By trying to be the exception to the rule, you are saying that you will make yourself into whatever someone else wants you to be in order to accepted and to fill up a void. The question is, which void are you really filling, theirs or yours?
The trouble is that when we have this replacement mentality, we keep making the mistake of assuming that if a person is out of a role then it’s because they’re not good enough and that we’re being given the opportunity to replace them, but conversely, when things don’t work out for us, we then assume that it’s because we’re not good enough either and that we’re being replaced by someone who is ‘better’ than us. Round and round we go. Same script, different cast.
Its not a job vacancy. It should be a mutual relationship.
It is crucial to decide who we are and get on with this first and foremost, instead of running around as if we have no choices and that people’s wishes are just imposed upon us. You have got to show up as somebody who is getting to know their worth (or knows it) and be prepared to go through the discovery phase and mutually unfold, not to audition for a role and perform. There is no need to slip into desperation and to slot into people’s lives as if you’re a person who just goes with whatever flows their way. You matter. Trying to be a replacement gets you filling someone else’s shoes and into pretending. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Be mindful of the replacement double standard too. If you don’t like feeling as if you’re replaceable, then you have no business deriving your worth and value from trying to matter more or as much as the last person or the harem. You will lose our integrity in the pursuit and gradually forget and lose your true self. You may just end up realising that you’ve become someone that you even don’t recognise (or even like) because you’ve replaced yourself with a caricature because you do not value who you are enough. The truth is that you don’t own them and they don’t own you. What has their previous or next relationship got to do with it (got to do with it)? You will be a second rate them and they will be a second rate you. If you’re so busy trying to fill a roles that hurts you, you may miss that by being a replacement instead of being ourselves and respecting our individuality, you’re basically trying to give a person the same relationship in a different or slightly enhanced package, even if that relationship isn’t right for you or even them.
Relationships are not job vacancies. You shouldn’t be in training to take over from where your predecessor left off. You are not a replacement.