The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn. (David Russell)
Burning bridges: the act of eliminating all possibility of return or retreat. (www.urbandictionary.com)
(photo courtesy of flickr.com)
How many of us have burned a bridge or two in our lifetime?
Burning bridges may happen intentionally or unintentionally, as with most things in our lives. We make decisions and choices every day; even inaction is a choice. Sometimes decisions are made for us as well. How we choose to handle the situations and circumstances in which we find ourselves often are conscious, intentional actions. One of those decisive actions may be to burn a metaphorical bridge, eliminating our connection to someone, something, or some event which has hurt us and/or which we no longer wish to be associated with.
There are times when burning a bridge is necessary to the emotional or physical health (or both) of the individual. Burning a bridge can be an act of self-preservation from a person, people, or situation which continues to hurt, disrespect, or damage our well being. If someone continues to hurt us or no longer represents positivity in our life, burning the bridge, destroying our ties and connections to him or her may be the route that must be taken. On the other hand, if we find ourselves repeatedly hurting (intentionally or unintentionally) someone else, we may choose to burn our bridge to them in order to prevent us from continuing to make them feel less than adequate.
At times, we burn bridges unintentionally with our actions, miscommunications, and shortcomings. We may unknowingly hurt someone causing a relationship to be destroyed and ruined; a bridge burned beyond repair. The spark which lights the burned bridge is often a seemingly unforgiveable hurt or action, or may also be a throwing in the towel, a discontinuation of our efforts. There are times when we just feel that we can no longer continue in the direction of the hurt; travelling the bridge becomes unbearable. The bridge needs to be burned so that we no longer can cross it, further putting ourselves in harm’s way.
Burning a bridge can also prevent us from coming back to a place we never should have been to begin with. We may attempt to rebuild that same bridge, but oftentimes we realize that the structural foundation, the strength at the base of the bridge, can never be completely trusted again because of the damage which it has sustained. What’s important to remember is that when one bridge burns we need to keep building new ones to new positive experiences and to people who truly care about us. A wise friend once likened burning a bridge to a forest fire. The fire ravages, but it also gets rid of the dead life and decaying undergrowth allowing for a whole new and fresh beginning.
Burning bridges can allow us to see with clarity and come to the realization that things do not have to continue in the direction in which they are headed. We have choices. We write the chapters in our own books. The reality is that not all friendships, relationships, and people in our lives are good for us. We need to make decisions which are best for us, for our health, and for our loved ones. There are moments when those decisions clearly mean cutting ties.
We also need to be careful and to not be too hasty in striking the match and setting the bridge on fire. Sometimes the bridges we burn today are the ones we need to cross tomorrow. It is a chance we take, I suppose, but it is probably best to only make the decision to burn a bridge after careful consideration and deliberate thought.
While some may feel that the idea of burning bridges is harsh, it is clear to me that putting up with garbage behavior can be the more destructive alternative. We all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and, if we aren’t, then we need to seriously ask ourselves if that bridge needs to be crossed or if we should let it burn.
Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge. (Don Henley)