Healing Mindfully through the Loss of a Relationship
Featured on Medium Digest: https://medium.com/@yurikavu/healing-mindfully-through-the-loss-of-a-relationship-2d3f17e8ff37
“A lot of things broke my heart but fixed my VISION.”
I have gone through several breakups in my life. Some breakups were more serious where I literally felt like my heart was being torn out of my body and some break ups were like “Meh- I wasn’t too into him anyway”. Regardless- it is the loss of a relationship with a person that I spent a lot of time with, shared my life, thoughts, feelings, and vulnerability with- and it really sucks. It sucks even when I was the one doing the breaking up or when we both knew that it was the right thing to do. Sometimes we just don’t know how to deal with the pain and we create distractions or jump into new relationships too quickly. We make decisions that we know are bad for us-but it makes us feel better in the moment, but then that moment passes and we feel even worse. I know, I’ve been there. I’ve done ALL those things. But what I’ve learned after practicing mindfulness for the last 3 years is: how we choose to heal, reflect, learn, and implement the lessons learned from the relationship is the greatest gift you can give yourself to grow as a person.
I believe that all healthy beginnings start with healthy endings. Healthy endings doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be friends with your ex nor does it mean that you have to have to have a loving conversation of healthy closure (although this is ideal and can help the healing process). It means not having negative energy around him/her or the relationship. When you think back upon your relationship, it doesn’t stir up anger, hurt, or “bad” feelings. Not having negative energy is to feel neutral or even better to think fondly and lovingly about your past relationship. When a picture of him and his new girlfriend comes through your Facebook Newsfeed, in your core being- you are happy for him. THAT is having no negative energy around it. Right now it may not seem possible but with time, you can get
“Time heals all wounds” right?
For example, you probably are not triggered when you see a post from your ex you dated back in junior high because enough time has passed. That was 20+ years ago and you barely remember his name so it no longer affects you and you feel neutral. The problem with time…is that it could take a VERY long time. Even one year of carrying around negative energy is unhealthy or before you know it, 10 years have passed and you’re still holding onto resentment. Worse, because you didn’t heal through it- you bring that baggage into every future relationship. Stop. You don’t have to live like that. With a combination of some mindfulness work and (an appropriate amount of) time, you can healthily heal through your break up and move on.
This process has helped me heal quickly through my last 2 break ups in a healthy way and has prepared me for my next relationship. This is not a quick fix- it requires real work, reflection, and implementation. I encourage you to write in a journal. There is a sense of ownership when you write things in your own handwriting and you can easily flip back to pages to see how you have grown throughout the year. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Forgiveness
Write a list of everything you forgive your ex for even if you don’t FEEL like forgiving him/her. Even if you don’t currently feel like you have forgiven them for it- write it as if you already have. Your feelings are the by product of your thoughts so if you start to practice different thoughts, you will begin to feel differently. (Example: I forgive Mark for judging me.)After each item write their possible reason. Try to think from their perspective of why they did what they did or said what they said. What pain did they go through or what was their childhood or upbringing like which made them act this way? This is not an excuse, nor does it mean what they did was okay or right. But this allows us to understand their perspective, puts us in their shoes and we are able to be more compassionate. (Example: I forgive Mark for judging me about my ambition level. I know that people who judge others are often really hard on themselves and constantly judge themselves too. That probably doesn’t feel good for him either).Write a list of everything you forgive yourself for and also your reason or something empowering. (Example: I forgive myself for allowing me to feel hurt by Mark’s judgements about my level of ambition. I am proud of where I am in life and am celebrating my progress.
I think about the word “forgive” as 2 words: “for” and “give.” It’s something you give to yourself and has nothing to do with the other person. It’s allowing yourself to let go and release the pain because holding onto it isn’t serving you. Hear this: the only person it’s hurting is YOU. Your ex probably doesn’t doesn’t even know about the resentment you’re holding onto. You’re the one suffering by hold on. So forgive and let it go.
Step 2: Appreciation
Write 5 things that you appreciate about his/her character. Not an action or something they did for you in the relationship, but something about them as a person. (Example: I appreciate that Mark is a very hard worker and committed to his work).
This is limited to 5 because you could go down the rabbit hole and write pages about all the sweet things they did or said in the relationship and you will start to reminisce and wonder why you broke up in the first place. The goal is to simply see them as a human being and appreciate their positive attributes.
Step 3: Lessons Learned
This is probably the most important part of this practice. List all the things you have learned about yourself while you were in this relationship with this person. Don’t just scratch the surface, dig deep. What did you learn about your values or beliefs? What did you learn that you absolutely do not want in your next relationship? What was revealed to you that IS absolutely important to you in your next relationship? (Example: Speak your truth — do not self sacrifice in fear of judgement).
Step 4: Gratitude Meditation
Close your eyes and just sit in gratitude for the entire relationship experience. Both the good times and the bad times, because this relationship experience you shared with your ex contained many lessons your soul was meant to learn. Every disagreement was a teacher, every obstacle-an opportunity for growth. How can you not feel grateful? You are learning. It can bring you closer to the type of partner you desire. It can create greater clarity about what you value and desire in a relationship. It can make you realize areas in you life that you need to work on. All these things have the potential to make you better, stronger, wiser, and closer to the person you want to be.
Step 5: Ask for Support
You have a choice. You can harden your heart and avoid everything that reminds you of that person and live with triggers for the rest of your life. Or you can open your heart, feel the pain and let it pass, and heal THROUGH it. Right now, it may not seem possible to do on your own, but you have support. Ask for it. Ask the universe/God/higher power to support you and give you strength (Example: Please give me the strength to get through this tough time because I feel like I can’t do it on my own. I know this difficult time will pass. I know that the universe is supporting me and will see me through this). If asking a friend for support, don’t get into your drama and your “story”. Ask your friend to sit with you through your pain. Ask them to just be present with you and love you. It’s the most supportive thing they can do.
If you truly set aside time and did this healing exercise, you might feel immediate lightness or release. That’s wonderful. But there will be days when you wake up with that sinking heart feeling all over again. Don’t get discouraged. Healing is a process. When that happens, re-read what you wrote in your journal. Go through the 5 steps again. Don’t revert to your old habits and stories. It will only prolong your pain and harden your heart. Do the work, and keep doing the work. It gets easier, it’s worth it, I promise.