We all behave differently when experiencing the pain, hurt, disappointment and rejection of a significant relationship ending. Some will retreat into a cave, where it’s safe – cutting off from temptation, hurt & disappointment. Choosing the illusory protection of the proverbial cave or hut to prevent further hurt to their fragile heart.
Others go partying – pretending they are better off and feeling alive and great!
‘I’m free again!’ Let’s party (drown our sorrow) with drinks and illicit substances, that will help me pretend, I’m not really in pain. Swimming (drowning?) in a turbulent sea of one-night stands, casual hook-ups and ego inflating flirting. Often leaving one with a yukky feeling in the morning after. When we ask ourselves, ‘Why did I do that?’
Some of course will jump into the deep end with next one. Using the intensity of a new passionate love affair, to pretend the pain & grief does not exist.
Still, there are others who will use this pain, as motivation to learn about themselves. To minimise the risk of it happening again.
If you are one of the rare breed who want to use the grief and pain to ensure it does not occur again. Read on.
Six Steps to Heal a Broken Heart
1 – OWNING OUR ROLE IN THE CO-CREATION OF WHAT OCCURED
It’s so easy to point the finger ‘at the other’ when relationships end and we are in pain. “YOU hurt me!” “YOU Betrayed me!” “YOU Lied to and deceived me!” “YOU weren’t honest!” “‘It’s all YOUR fault!” “They made me do what I did” “If it wasn’t for them I would not have done…”
INSERT IMAGE OF FINGER POINTING
Yet when we look closely at our finger pointing at the other, we notice there are three finger pointing back at us!
When you find yourself once again accusing them in your mind. (Yes, we all do this!)
Choose instead to challenge yourself ask:
- How did I disappoint, hurt, betray, my lover?
- In what ways did I deceive them, and/or myself?
- What was my responsibility in the breakdown of the relationship?
- How was I out of integrity?
- What did I choose not to do, or say, that contributed to me feeling hurt?
- What choices did I make, that dis-empowered myself?
It is more challenging, and yet far more empowering and rewarding, to honestly & compassionately have the courage to own our part in the co-creation of the relationship dynamic between us.
Discard the comforting cloak of victim hood.
Ultimately, it does not serve you, or the success of future relationships. Never doubt that each relationship is something you have willingly, if unconsciously, co-created with another.
2. BREATHE TO FEEL. FEEL TO HEAL.
This is a challenging prospect for most of us.
We have been conditioned for generations to avoid our feelings, push them down and pretend they do not exist. ‘Keeping a stiff upper lip’, while being stoic and ‘keeping a brave face’, is the expected, encouraged and acceptable response, to tragedy, grief and loss.
While these behaviours and attitudes have their place; so we can navigate the demands of work, children and family life – or being an essential part of self-control in situations of emergency and high risk.
These avoidance strategies do not serve us, or our relationships, in the longer term.
Pretending we do not have feelings after a relationship ends (badly) while experiencing heart break is counter-productive to moving on, letting go and creating something better in the future.
We live in a culture that supports ignoring feelings, and anyone who does not feel after a tragedy or heartbreak is ‘being brave or showing bravery’.
Keeping a brave face is the cultural norm – it does not take bravery to do what everyone else is doing!
Actually feeling the feelings is what takes great courage.
It takes immense courage to allow the feelings to take over for even a short time- often we feel if we allow ourselves to be overtaken by grief we will not come back – but we will and we do.
Find someone to coach you in how to feel safely in a supportive environment. The last thing we want is to feel somewhere where we will be shamed for feeling our human feelings.
Feel it and express it – safely, productively, appropriately, without hurting anyone else or yourself.
Breathing to feel. Feeling to heal
3. GENUINE FORGIVENESS AND LETTING GO OF THE PAST
In this time of New Age love and light, spiritual hocus pocus and Christian ideals of forgiveness, it is easy to bypass the process of healing, when we attempt to take the shortcut to forgiveness.
Convincing ourselves we do not need to feel the grief, pain, rage, hurt and anger – as we have ‘evolved’ beyond mere feelings, we have ‘the strength’ to be brave, or we can jump straight to, forgiveness due to having such an open, loving heart.
Forgiveness of others, for their choices and behaviour, often comes AFTER, we have truly forgiven ourselves, for the choices we made, that hurt others and our-self. After we have fully felt the depth pain we feel and that we caused another that we supposedly cared about.
Some are convinced that by forgiving the other, we have not made them pay for what they have done. Which is easy to understand in relationships that were charachterised by trauma, bullying or eomotional and physical violence.
Here is a truth.
Forgiveness is something we do for our selves – not for the other. It is a gift we give ourselves.
We have not ‘let them off the hook’ by forgiving them – they were never on a hook to begin with. They may have just moved on, while we are hanging on to what was done – the injustice, hurt, betrayal etc.
Forgiveness, is the gift we give ourselves when we are ready to let go of the other and move forward into our life – we turn our face – away from being focused on the pain and hurt. We turn our eyes towards a future with less pain and hurt or maybe even no pain and hurt.
‘The old door must be closed, before the new one can be opened’
The grief and healing process cannot be by-passed – if you want to enter into new relationships, with fresh self-knowledge & awareness – you must first let go of the previous partner/lover, and the feelings left over from that relationship.
4. TRUSTING YOURSELF AGAIN
As a relationship counsellor and facilitator of many, varied groups. I’ve heard it many times ‘I don’t trust women anymore’, ‘I do not trust men – they are all the same’.
I hear people say in honesty and vulnerability ‘I do not trust the vulnerability of my heart with anyone. Anymore.’
They fear: being hurt again, the loss of control, the exposure & vulnerability, the risk…
So they tell themselves, “I don’t trust anyone. I will never trust anyone”
This is only partially accurate.
At its deepest place, the issue is not that we mistrust others.
The core issue is that we mistrust ourselves – in making the right choices, with the right people.
Can I trust myself to choose the right person to open up to?
Am I capable of recognising someone who will respect my heart, appreciate my gift of love and genuineness, and be kind with my vulnerability, fragility and gentleness?
We have so much evidence that we cannot choose wisely – we have chosen to give precedence to good looks and attractiveness, great sex, charm and flattery, rather than our innate wisdom.
It is we who have chosen, often repeatedly, unconsciously, that similar ‘type’ of person who has; betrayed, hurt, abused, used, disappointed, or abandoned us.
So it is we, who must re-learn how to listen to and trust our innate capacity to – discriminate, assess, feel into and intuit others. Empowering ourselves with better decisions when it comes to prospective lovers and partners.
Trusting your body wisdom when dealing with people in relationship is key too. Your body knows. Trust it. ….
Learning relationships skills is accomplished experientially – we must practice being in relationship, to learn all there is to learn about being in relationship with other human beings.
This is a worthwhile life time journey to embark upon!
5. LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF BY BEING IN RELATIONSHIP!
After a few relational disasters and the consequent heartache for all concerned. Some of us start thinking about ‘Why do I do this?’ ‘Why did I do that again?’ ‘How do I not repeat this again?’
The pain of heartache begins to generate a desire to learn about ourselves. And there is no better way to learn about ourselves than being in relationship. If you really want to learn about your-self be in relationship.
If you really want to magnify the intensity of self-knowledge that can come from relating – Have a child or two!
When in relationship, our stuff’ and their ‘stuff’ is constantly being triggered – both trying to get what you want, keep safe, communicate effectively, and constantly negotiate your life together – all while keeping our sensitive hearts safe from hurt.
‘How we operate’ in relationship is there for us to observe and witness, every day – if only we can be still and witness what we do and say. Not judging or condemning mind you, for that will bring no change – just witnessing what is going on and what you say and do, with curiosity and detachment.
You just might find yourself saying to yourself – ‘Oh, I didn’t know I did that!’ ‘Ooo, I don’t like that about myself’.
Relationship skills are learnt ‘on the job’ – you can only learn so much from books, podcasts, blogs and videos – then come s the time when you have to get out and do it!
So get out there and practice relationship skills aby being in relationship.
6. WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE RELATIONSHIP OF YOUR DREAMS?
In my work and in my private life. I hear so many people saying they enter relationships with no clear idea of what we want, or where they want to go. Just blindly trusting the emotional roller coaster of passion, sex, love & relationship, to guide them in deciding who to spend time with, who to enter and be entered by and whom to trust with their heart.
Often when I ask an individual, or a group, “Where are you going and what do you want from relating?”
I receive blank stares and comments like ‘I’ve never thought about it’ ‘Doesn’t that take the romance out of relating?’
Entering a new relationship is one of the most important, and potentially life changing decisions we can make. Yet we most of us leave to luck or destiny, or chance.
Consequently, they will enter a committed relationship, only to discover AFTERWARDS they and their beloved, want very different things in life and are headed in wildly differing directions.
Leading to more hurt, anger, frustration and potential rejection…
So get clear on what you really want.
Are you wanting:
- The love of your life?
- One-night stand?
- Casual ongoing sex?
- Friends with benefits or a f*&k buddy?
- Something else?
Once you have some clarity go out there and ask for it!
NEGOTIATE FROM THE BEGINNING
Once you have some clarity on what you’re wanting, it will mean starting a negotiation from the first meeting – if you dare!
Getting clear, on where you are going and what you want to create, helps immensely when a potential lover or beloved, appears in your life. You can begin light negotiations to determine how in alignment with your values and desires they might be.
Far from putting a damper on romance and erotic frisson. Two adults discussing what they want and how they want it, can be highly erotic and empowering.
Clarity is empowering, revealing & energising.
If your desires and direction do not match. That is fine. Say thank you for your time and good luck in your journey. Let’s part ways here, and I hope you get what you want in love and life.
Maybe the next person you meet will be more aligned, or not. However, you will not find out till you ask.