A friend once told me that “sometimes the hardest thing to shed is the weight of another human being.” This is true when saying goodbye to any person who, for whatever reason, will no longer be in your life. And it is particularly true when you’re closing the door on a relationship and breaking up with a significant other.
Regardless of whether you initiated the break-up or not, the end of relationships affects us in many unforeseen ways. For starters, you lose someone who served as your day-to-day companion. Therefore, there are daily routines that you have to get used to doing alone. Like that show on Netflix that you’d binge-watch together and then discuss, at length, as you were going to bed. There are also the memories that you created with the person. Your favorite Thai restaurant you’d frequent or the way he or she ordered their latte. Whether fond or distressing, memories often flood our psyches after break-ups, and many people don’t know quite what to do with them.
I know all too well the rollercoaster of emotions that one feels when they’re going through a break-up. And as cliché as it may sound – the proper self-care regimen is more needed than ever during this time. But I’m not just talking facials and bubble baths. I’m talking about emotional and spiritual self-care. The practices I suggest you incorporate to help your heart healthily heal.
Acknowledge How You Feel. When we’re witnessing people we love in a position of pain during break-ups, it’s easy to throw cliché advice their way.
Everything happens for a reason
You’ll be better off this way
He or she was no good for you anyway
But when you’re the one in the thick of it – you don’t care for these platitudes. Therefore, before you do anything, I suggest you acknowledge how you feel. I’m talking about really getting it out. Scream loudly (into a pillow if you’re worried about neighbors). Free write or journal exactly how you feel. Be as descriptive as possible. Tell a friend you need a 15-minute, uninterrupted vent session. The biggest thing here is that you don’t try to put a lid on your feelings. Don’t try to find the perfect words. Don’t try to be okay. Instead, just try to be honest with yourself.
Express Gratitude. After you spend time acknowledging it’s okay to not be okay, it’s time to attempt figuring out the “reason” that “everything happens.” However, instead of being naively optimistic about who the person was, find ways to express gratitude for what you’ve learned from the relationship. At the end of the day, a selfish boyfriend could’ve still taught you a lot about yourself. A cheating wife could’ve still evoked in you a love of different cultural experiences. Be creative with your gratitude.
Apology Letter. Many people going through break-ups feel wronged somehow. They feel like their needs were not met by the person they were with, and that can lead to resentment even after leaving the relationship. I highly recommend writing a transformational letter to the person, telling them how they wronged you, how you feel, what you wanted them to do better, etc. I learned this method in an emotional detox training and it has worked wonders for me. And instead of waiting and hoping for the perfect words from your former lover, respond to your letter with an apology from the person. Write what you would want to hear from them; every bit of acknowledgment, assurance and appreciative word you deserve.
Create Affirmations. After you’ve done the first three steps, you’ll still need daily practices to heal. Although many people may think of affirmations as just “wishful thinking,” affirmations train your mind. Instead of repeatedly thinking of how a person may have hurt you or what you could’ve done differently in the relationship, if you spend time repeating words and phrases that are empowering, you begin to reprogram your mind to think – and eventually act – in a more fruitful way. Some examples to incorporate:
I will follow my intuition
I listen to my heart and trust my soul
I am love.
I am courageous with my life.
I am whole and complete all by myself.
Intention Setting to Move Forward. When you’ve really decided to leave a relationship behind you, the most important thing is that you don’t repeat the situation again. There is a part we all play in the type of person we date and the type of relationships we manifest. If we are not intentional, we’re liable to be in the same relationship with several different faces. That’s why it’s so important to set an intention for the relationship you desire moving forward. Use what you learned through your gratitude exercises and apology letter to craft what aspects of the relationship you loved and want to continue bringing forth in the future. Also acknowledge the qualities that didn’t serve who you aspire to be, and that you would not want to surface again.
Break-ups are hard. Bits of the people we love and leave stain our memories and our hearts. And while you cannot outrun the pain that often accompanies the end of a relationship, you can (and should) find ways to go through the break-up with more intentional self-care. Tell me about the tools that you’ve used in the past and if any of the ones I shared are helpful for you or a friend.