Tag: How to deal

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 Path of Relationships: Dealing with Loss

We oftenbelieve that relationships are supposed to be permanent, yet loss and grieving
is a theme in our lives. Somewhere along
our path someone dies or must be left behind.
Loss of a relationship plays a significant part in all of our lives.
Because many of us define ourselves by our relationships, we believe something
is wrong with us if we do not keep our friends for life.

What is
true, is that change is a constant and that relationships come and go from our
lives. When someone dies, leaves us, moves away or becomes estranged, it may be
a double loss: the loss of the relationship itself, and the loss of the
relationship as a source of our identity, of who we think we are.

If you
have been the dependent partner in a relationship you will find yourself after
the loss of a relationship, through divorce or death, forced to undertake tasks
that you never dreamed of. It is through
these tasks that a new sense of self will evolve. You may have a new career or
the education you always wanted but did not have time for—the future is up to
you, and you can make it bright.

Whenever
we are forced to let go of something or someone a psychological death occurs
and we need to grieve for our loss. Death comes in many forms; it may be an
aspect of ourselves, our youthful qualities, our health, or a dream any
attribute that is no more. Or it may be
a relationship that is ended by death or distance. With every death and rebirth
something of value has grown inside us.

How we
react to the constant changes that occur in our lives through our relationships
is probably the only aspect of a relationship that we have some control over.
Shifting your thinking from a negative to a positive is an excellent way to
change your view of the things. When you find yourself beginning to think
negatively, try to approach it in a more positive light.


Making Peace with Uncertainty

Recently, Pema Chödrön posted an excerpt to her Facebook page from Three Methods for Working with Uncertainty, in Shambhala Sun, March 1997.

Although the article itself is nearly two decades old, it’s advice that is remarkably relevant for the digital age. Today, in a world so full of ever-present distractions, we lose some of our ability to be critical thinkers. Our brains aren’t conditioned to work through problems as they once were— our smartphones and gadgets tell us “Why think when there’s ‘An app for that’?”

Awakened to that idea, it takes a reality check; a look back into insight from the not-so-distant, but much-more-digitally-disconnected past, to pique our interest into tuning into ourselves and tuning out some of the noise and distraction in our everyday experience.

In the excerpt, Pema highlights three key ideas— her methods for working with uncertainty:

  • No More Struggle: “Whatever happens, we can look at it with a nonjudgmental attitude.”
  • Using Poison as Medicine: “When suffering arises, we breathe it in for everybody.”
  • Regarding Whatever Arises as Awakened Energy: “This reverses our habitual pattern of trying to prove that pain is a mistake that would not exist in our lives if only we did the right things.”

From those ideas what lessons can we pull from the principles she addressed and put into practice in our own lives? Here are some thoughts on how to incorporate the core concepts into some mindful meditations:

1. See things as they really are; not how you perceive them to be.

This is the ‘no more struggle’ part. It’s important to note, that the ‘heart of our minds’ are non-biased— in addition, life ebbs and flows, independently and continuously. Pema explains this as, “things dissolving forever and ever.” When we learn to live in the present moment, we experience everything as it truly is. When we’re being judgmental towards ourselves, we’re not allowing ourselves the opportunity to learn from mistakes. To experience how challenges help us grow. Find the ‘silver lining’ in each obstacle, and focus on creating the best moment you can. Be present and peaceful.

2. Use your pain to build compassion for others.

Pema address this as ‘using poison as medicine’. Each one of us has the opportunity to turn our own suffering into empathy— for both those who understand our struggle personally and those who have a different affliction. The post notes, “This poison is not just our personal misfortune. It’s our kinship with all living things, the seed of compassion and openness.” To find this true compassion, we must, first, not be fearful of it. We’re conditioned to push pain away instead of walking through it; the more we embrace each other and learn to accept our lives, flaws and all, the better we feel about ourselves and our relationships within the world around us.

3. Allow the Universe to awaken your soul.

This is explained as the reverse of our “habitual pattern of trying to avoid conflict, trying to smooth things out, trying to prove that pain is a mistake that would not exist in our lives if only we did the right things.” This, too, is about walking through pain. Pema notes that we can’t reach enlightenment until we’ve “walked through our charnel ground.” Meaning, we’ve got to let it all burn down around us into nothing, sometimes, to see that ‘nothing’ may very well be everything. We know that whatever brings us the most suffering always feels insurmountable. However, when we learn that life is not about ‘doing the right things,’ or ‘staying away from conflict’ to avoid this, but instead, learning to accept our journey as our own, unique, individualized path— that, like any road, has beauty, bumps, surprises, scares and tight turns along the way— is a gift. And the bright side? What an incredible adventure!  

Now, take these meditations and find a quiet moment. Indulge the silence of your inner mind and experience that space where you feel less judgmental towards yourself and others. Allow peace, perspective and compassion to fill you— then go out and spread your light and love!