Tag: relationship issues

When It’s Over: How to Let Go of a Relationship

couple in fightIn the post, Evaluating Your Relationships, I shared how to determine if a relationship is not working for you. Sometimes, even when we come to the realization a relationship is over, it can be hard to heal and move forward. When we end a relationship, it can be helpful to remember the positive aspects we enjoyed about the relationship. Since Adrenaline and Cortisol are released whenever we are upset, we usually remember the unpleasant incidents more readily. So the unpleasant ones are probably fresher in your mind’s eye. Here are some ways to help you let go of a relationship that has ended, so you may move on in a way that is loving for you.

Think of what you gained from the relationship. Did it teach you something? Did you learn something valuable about yourself or experience personal growth because of your interactions? If you are looking for the meaning and purposes of why the two of you came together, do you now have a better sense of it? Discovering the lessons and positive effects of the relationship can provide a path to growth and successful closure.

Remember the good times. Recall some good moments you shared with that person. Even if the relationship has ended badly, there were times that you were both in harmony and enjoyed each other’s company. Try not to go past the recollection into judgment (for example, I had a good time but if I had known what kind of person s/he was…). Remembering what you liked about the person can help facilitate forgiveness.

Allow forgiveness. This one can be very difficult but most important in letting go and moving on. Here is a blog post that focuses solely on the topic of forgiveness, The Freedom of Forgiveness.

Find closure. Determine what resolution you need in order to move on permanently. When we do not, or cannot, receive closure through the other person, we can come to it on our own. Some ideas on how to do so:

  • Write down any strong feelings, memories, or thoughts about the other person, each entry on a separate notecard or piece of paper. Nothing is too insignificant…if it causes any sort of upset, it is important enough to write down. When you are finished, read each note aloud—allowing its full effect on you—and then destroy the note by using a shredder, scissor, or by simply ripping it up. Take a deep cleansing breath and imagine the weight of that thought leaving you. Continue this process with the remaining notecards or pieces of paper.
  • Write a letter to the person, detailing exactly how you feel. Let out all your lingering frustrations, hurts, betrayals, resentments, etc. You can feel safe in not holding back because you will not mail this letter to them. This letter is a chance for you to acknowledge all of your feelings and allow their release harmlessly. Once you have completed your letter, seal it in an envelope, address it, and “send” it on its way…in the same manner as the notecards and pieces of paper.

Make a supportive choice with mementos and reminders. There most likely will be many reminders of your past relationship, such as a song, favorite dining spot, or item you bought together. Some of these can be painful or not supportive of your desire to move on. You have the choice to either let go of painful reminders—discarding, selling, giving away physical items—or to assign new memories to them. For example, something like a song or location is difficult to remove from your life, but you can choose to replace your associations with positive ones. Perhaps you can think of an important person in your life who ALSO loves that song, so that you will guide your thoughts to them each time you hear that melody. Likewise, take a friend you have fun with to that favorite dining spot and make new memories you can go to from now on.

Honor your process. The way someone else has moved on from a relationship, or how you think you will move on, may end up looking very different from what actually happens. Allow the process of letting go and moving on to unfold in its own way. You are unique and therefore, your journey will also be unique. Be kind to yourself, practice awareness, self-love, and do your best.


The Freedom of Forgiveness

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“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
― Nelson Mandela

 

“True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.”
― Oprah Winfrey

Forgiveness is not about pretending something didn’t happen, surrendering, accepting injustice, or being weak. It is about acknowledging what happened and moving past it, hopefully with more wisdom and enlightenment.

When we hold onto the feelings caused by a wrongdoing—anger, resentment, fear, hurt, shame—we keep ourselves imprisoned in that story. We relive the injustice and its effects on us, which prolongs the pain and can even cause it to grow. Releasing our feelings through forgiveness releases us from the story.

The following are some ways to facilitate the process of forgiveness:

Try to separate the facts from the story. Think of how your situation would be presented in a scientific journal. Only things that could be proven would be included, and anything not directly observed would be considered a hypothesis or prediction. Anything related to emotions, feelings, and hearsay would be useless to a scientist. This exercise can help untangle emotions from events to provide a more objective view of what happened.

Remember that this involves another human being. We all make mistakes. While being human doesn’t excuse us when we do something that is considered “wrong,” it is helpful to remember we all have faults, weaknesses, and errors in judgment.

Examine why you feel the way you do. Perhaps your feelings are tied to a previous betrayal, or the person’s actions brought up issues with which you are struggling but have nothing to do with this person. Knowing specifically what you are upset about and why can shed light on the real issue. It can also allow you to have a clear conversation with the person you want to forgive, if you decide to talk with them about it.

Make a commitment to forgiveness. Sometimes we say we want something, but don’t really want it or aren’t ready for it. To forgive someone and move on, we have to truly want to forgive that person. Give the same kind of focus and energy to forgiveness as you would a meaningful goal or intention. Imagine your desired future relationship with that person, or if dissolution of that relationship is in order, imagine yourself making peace with that decision and moving on in a way that is supportive to you. You may want to try Loving-Kindness Meditation.

Be gentle with yourself. Forgiveness can be difficult when the wounds are fresh. If you do not understand the reasons behind the injustice, or you can’t find any positive light from the experience, you may not be ready or willing to forgive. It often does not happen overnight, and it is also not something you master like a learned skill. Forgiveness is the subject of many spiritual teachings and can be viewed as a daily spiritual practice. Therefore, allow yourself to see forgiveness as a journey, not a destination you must reach. Try to release any self-judgment in the process. Forgiveness starts with you.


8 Loving Tips To Improve Your Relationship

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Do you feel a little distant from your romantic partner? Could your relationship with a family member be closer? Are you experiencing some friction with a friend? Here are some Loving Tips on boosting contentment and happiness in your relationships with a loved one:

Accept the person for all that they are, and all that they aren’t. To truly love someone is to do so for who the person is right now, not for their potential or who you want them to be.

Resist keeping score. Keeping track of what you’ve done for him or her and comparing it to what you’ve received in return puts the focus on competition, judgment and may lead to resentment. Instead place your focus on love, kindness and gratitude. When you give or are kind to a person, do so because you truly want to rather than thinking that they will then give to you or be kind to you. If you do something nice for them and then expect a certain level of gratitude from them, you are not coming from your heart but from your ego. When we come from our egos, all that we do is unconsciously or consciously self-serving. When we come from our hearts, all that we do both consciously and unconsciously is purely from love. On an energy level, people know when affection or help comes with strings attached, which will create tension, distance and resentment in your relationship.

Keep your mind open instead of “knowing” their next move. When you predict someone’s actions based on your imagination or past experiences, you might be setting the relationship up to fail. If they do what you expect, there is the possibility that you have now cemented your negative prediction, which may close off possible positive future outcomes. And of course, if they don’t do what you expect, you may not fully accept it because your ego wants to be right. There is a saying, you can be right or you can be in a relationship, but you cannot have both. It is best to consider this if you find your ego wanting to be right and blinding you to the positive change that your partner or friend has made.

Offer the benefit of doubt. Remember that they are human and things happen. Some are within their control and some are completely outside of it. When a loved one falls short of their promises—or our expectations—and disappoint us, allow them the opportunity to have their side heard. Instead of jumping to conclusions based on what you think you “know” about them, ask him or her what happened. Be honest with your feelings of how their actions affected you. When the conversation has reached a resolution, even if that means to agree to disagree, let it go.

Listen. This simple tip is often overlooked. We sometimes go on “listening autopilot” when a loved one speaks, either because we “think” we’ve heard it before, are preparing our answer, or just daydreaming about other things. Think of a time you knew someone wasn’t listening to you and how that felt. It probably didn’t encourage a closer relationship with that person. Now think of a time someone really listened to what you had to say, and how that made you feel. For more on the skill of listening: How to be an Active Listener.

Get permission before unloading your day. When you have the urge to vent to your loved one about all the “crap” that happened in your day, first ask if they are willing to hear it. This shows that you respect their time and their choice to take on the energy you will be passing along to them. You will be expressing to them that you are aware that they are emotionally separate from you and that you know they may have other things on their mind. Often when one person shows this kind of consideration and respect, the other person learns how to show it as well.

Make distraction-free time for them. It’s not the amount of time you spend with someone that brings you closer; it’s the quality of that time. Set aside regular time with them that is “distraction-free,” which means silencing and putting away the cell phone and putting all your energy and attention on being in the moment with them.

Let them know how much you care. Friends, family, and romantic partners are sometimes the last people to hear how much we love them. Although you might consider it a given that the person knows your feelings, everyone appreciates hearing a reminder. At least 10 years after my grandfather had passed on, a much older cousin of mine told me how my grandfather used to tell everyone how proud he was of me. I had no idea as he never told me. It was nice to find that out. I would have appreciated knowing this when he was alive.


Dealing with Vexatious People

Each one of us has people in our lives that just make things a bit more difficult. They may be co-workers, acquaintances, friends, family members, or even our significant others. They come in many forms, but their behavior and their effect on us are the same—they drain our spirit, make us frustrated and doubtful. And instead of making our lives happy, many times, they make things less than easy for us in a variety of ways.

We all know them, we may even love them, but they’re not necessarily the best choice as a confidant or compadre for our long-term success. It could be anyone, even be someone that has been in your life for years, take a moment to reflect on how some of those closest to you impact your life—is their influence and existence mostly positive or does it tend to be a negative? It’s important.

If it is, indeed, negative, where do these feelings stem from? If we strive continuously to be a good person in our own opinion, and in the opinion of those that know us best, wouldn’t it make sense for most everyone to find that genuine goodness as a positive trait? Not necessarily. There are two key reasons why people may find fault with you, even if it’s not justified.

Sometimes, it comes from jealousy. They see what you have—your accomplishments like a strong family unit or great job security and they find reasons to make you feel guilty about your achievements or make light of their weight and importance. It may not be in obvious ways, either. A lot of time we’re unaware of that habit because we often either give them the benefit of the doubt or just aren’t even aware of it because we assume they care for us.

And if it’s not jealousy it’s fear. When others don’t believe that they’ll succeed personally, they can push those undesirable emotions onto others and it shows in their actions or attitude towards us. Many times, the distaste that person has for us doesn’t actually come from anything we’ve done to them, but more so, it comes from their perception of a situation and the opinions that they create from it. Self-perception is powerful. It may not be the universal reality, but it’s theirs, and many times, that’s a very difficult mindset to change.

So what can you do to save yourself some stress when dealing with someone like this?

Try being open and honest. Ask them politely but directly if you’ve done something to offend them—make sure to do this in private to avoid the person shutting down or becoming angry. If they feel embarrassed or put on the spot, you’ll lose the opportunity to fix the situation right away.

When you’re talking to them, keep it short and to the point. Stay on topic and use ‘I’ messages instead of ‘you’ messages. Avoid approaching it as ‘you make me feel this way’ and try ‘I feel that there may be something that I’ve done’— when you explain out loud to someone that you may have hurt them, even unintentionally, it may change their mindset and a resolution can come to fruition. It may not work with everyone, but it’s at least worth a shot—especially if it’s someone that you spend a great deal of time with.  When you take the leap and show them you care, they may soften their walls and start to create trust with you—everyone wins.

Working it out won’t always be that easy, however.  There are people that are sadly stuck in their misery and they’re hard-pressed to find happiness for themselves, both in their life happenings and their relationships. All we can do is try to do our best with what we’ve got, we can’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

What’s most important, is to be the best version of ourselves as much as we can, that way, within our own hearts, we’ll never have to question the reasons behind our own motivations or actions.  The ones that matter most will see that and appreciate and celebrate us for who we are, and we’ll have peace within ourselves that we stay on the side of what’s good and what’s right.


How Do You Know If You Are Co-Dependent?

Codependence is developed in childhood by how we perceive and receive love from our parents. When we come from dysfunctional homes as many people do; we are often given contradictory messages about love by our parents, such as: ‘I love you; ‘Go away’; ‘you can’t do anything right’; ‘I need you’; ‘I will be there for you—next time’. These messages will lead us to grow up yearning to be loved but having no healthy idea of what love looks like. Often we become givers in order to merge with another person whom we believe will show us love. This is how codependence begins.

Feelings of vulnerability are often present when we receive and one way to avoid them is to be nice and consistently be the giver. Many of us are uncomfortable with receiving, and quite comfortable with giving, as receiving taps into our own fears about being loved or unloved. Codependent personalities find it challenging to allow love in and so will become a giver for fear of feeling unloved. Giving is a way of creating the illusion of love and feeling love for the time you are doing this.

Receiving requires a person to allow him/herself to be vulnerable. Many people are much more comfortable giving as it unconsciously creates a position of power.

One way to know if you are codependent in your relationship is to notice if you are willing to put up with almost anything to keep the relationship together. If this is true for you, chances are, you are giving consistently and over time you may feel resentment and most certainly will feel unloved eventually.

Need some more advice? There are free Codependent Anonymous groups in all major cities and other outlying areas that you can attend to learn more and understand yourself better.