Tag: relationship guidance

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.


Evaluating Your Relationships

valentine cats3We are social beings. We crave connection and relationships. Relationships can bring us much joy, fulfillment, and security. However, there are times when we have to decide whether we want to continue our involvement with a friend or significant other. How do you know when it’s not working for you?

Counsel yourself like a friend.

Ask yourself questions you would bring up in a conversation with a good friend who is unsure whether they should stay in a relationship. For example: Do you find yourself making excuses for the person? How does the person usually make you feel…positive about yourself or feeling low? There is a difference between someone challenging you to be the best you can be and someone putting you down.

Make a list of pros and cons.

It may seem trite, but it’s a useful and important exercise. The purpose is to be able to see—in print—what you view as reasons why you are in the relationship. Compare the two columns. Is one stronger than the other?

Look at the items you’ve put under the pros column. Are they superficial or important? Did you have to struggle to make this side longer?

Look at the cons. Are they serious considerations? Your not liking the way the person holds their fork is very different than your not liking the way the person treats your friends. Are any of the cons deal breakers? If so, why have you continued to stay in the relationship?

Consider a wider scope.

Think of what other people say about the person. Not that you should make your decision based on popular vote, but it’s telling if no one has anything nice to say about him or her. For example, if you repeatedly hear that the person is not to be trusted, it’s possibly an attribute the person has hidden from you or you haven’t wanted to admit was true.

On the other hand, everyone liking who you are with does not mean the person is right for you.

Tune in, and listen up.

You will know in your gut what the answer is, if you allow yourself to look inside and consult your inner guide. You may not be able to put your decision into words or explain why you don’t want to be with someone. Your ability to verbalize your reasons should not affect your decision. Trust your instincts. If you feel less than yourself when you are with that person or that you consistently have less energy around them, you’ll want to seriously consider if that person is complementary for you.

It can be especially confusing when “nothing happened” that has caused you to feel the relationship is over—no personality change, abuse, breach of trust, etc. This confusion may be exacerbated when you try to answer the “what happened?” question from others. Just because “nothing happened” does not mean you should push your gut instinct to the side. It can also be difficult to admit it’s over when we have spent considerable time in a relationship…we may feel obligated to stick it out. Many relationships have a time when they come to an end. Some relationships are for our entire lives, but most are only for a portion of it.

Remember, it’s ok to decide a relationship isn’t for you. You can honor the good memories, lessons learned, and growth experienced, and move on gracefully. This is your life, to be lived authentically and with self-love.


Take Responsibility and Let Go

Instead of focusing on how you may have contributed to your relationship ending are you spending hours of your time analyzing why he/she acted the way they did?

Overanalyzing is often bred from avoidance, thinking  about our feelings and/or about understanding ourselves, personally without being self-reflective. How it is that we act in the ways that we do. Usually when we overanalyze it is about what someone else did or did not do, rather than our own thoughts, actions, behaviors and feelings. Does this sound like you?

If it does, than you might be wondering what you can do to feel better, stop going on and on in your mind, over and over what they did or what you could have done. The answer is learning how to be in the moment rather than in the past or your idea of the future. So, how do you do this?

Here is are two easy exercise that you can do anywhere when you find yourself caught in on the merry-go-around of analyzing:

Repeat these steps several times:

  1. Close your eyes and breathe, noticing your body, how the intake of air feels, what sensations you have in your body, what you are smelling, hearing, sensing etc.
  2. Touch your fingers together and feel your hands or touch your arms and feel them

You can also do this with your eyes open. If you do make certain to consciously notice what you are seeing. It is important to use all of your senses.

Another helpful tip:

If you begin to analyze: think (or even say out loud) “STOP”, and replace the analyzing thoughts with a pleasant image: walking on the beach at sunset, relaxing next to a waterfall, watching a butterfly dance in the wind; you can choose your image, whatever allows you to feel calm and peaceful.

Identify your personal pleasant, relaxing image and see it anytime you find yourself analyzing the why/how’s/what’s/whens of another, or yourself excessively.

Analyzing can be a useful tool when used for explorations or options such as looking at our own actions, thoughts, behaviors and feelings. This form of analyzing can help us make great career choices as well as relationship choices. Used in this way what you are actually doing is deciding what is best for you as opposed to over-analyzing and taking no action at all.