When a relationship comes to an end, there can be a multitude of emotions that fluctuate over any given period of time.
Dependent on the significance of it to you and how you generally deal with loss.
Some may have coping mechanisms in place that mean that they just shut down and move on, either with someone else or just shutting everything away.
Others will mourn and constantly think about what went wrong, struggle with feelings of rejection and abandonment.
There will also be those that carry resentments and blame and so constantly find themselves anger, bitter and just won’t let go.
Some losses can leave you lost, debilitated, heartbroken and not knowing which way to turn next. Not eating, sleeping and a sense of emptiness that you believe may never be filled again.
There are many ways to deal with losing a relationship and none of the above is overly helpful or healthy. You may recognise yourself or an ex, who dealt with things as already mentioned.
It can be especially hard when it is sudden, you never saw it coming and are left wondering why, with no answers forthcoming.
You may have witnessed break up’s within your family and use the examples you experienced to manage yours in the same way, that could be a positive or negative experience.
The good news is, that matter how difficult a break up can be, you will be able to survive and even thrive if you are willing to look at what happened and work on it moving forward.
We all need our own closure in same way shape or form and today I am going to talk about some of the ways in which we can work towards it.
It is very important to learn how to process whatever we experience emotionally and frame the relationship in the right way. Making that closure healthy and as full as possible.
One thing we can use to help us move on is forgiveness.
It may sound a bit cliched, but there is evidence that forgiveness will not only allow you to let go of a lot of the pain that you may be experiencing but is helpful for your own peace of mind. It allows you to let go of any negatives that you may be holding on to and see them as learning experiences rather blaming and inflaming.
That isn’t that you let the negatives slide as they are critical in informing your future choices, but that you balance with the positives and the love that you held or still hold for them. It is very rare that someone will intentionally set out to hurt you (and I will look at this type of break up a bit later) and with this in mind forgiveness can become an easier decision to work through and more effective recovery.
As already intimated to, you need to let yourself grieve.
Grief is something that we experience with all loss, not just in the death of someone, something we cared about. Relationship losses can be just as traumatic as someone dying too.
There are generally 7 stages of grief that you will go through when experiencing loss and grief does not disappear overnight (unless you have honed the shutdown technique – but even then, it sits and festers for another day). You need to give yourself the time to recover. It can be this way even if you have come to an agreement that the relationship needs to end.
The stages of grief are:
Denial – signs of this are waiting for calls and messages, scrolling over your social media moments or photos together, and convincing yourself that they will come back. It helps to shield you from the reality of the ending you aren’t open to face.
Pain – after you accept the loss is real, the pain begins. It is also the stage of fear, vulnerability and possible self-doubt. Blame is here too, how could they, why? And you could even move onto the I hope something bad happens to them bit at this point.
Guilt and/or Bargaining – what could you have done differently? It’s all my fault and a whole lot of what ifs and if only at this point. Living in nostalgia to avoid dealing with the pain also happens here. This is also when you need to be strong and not reach out to your ex, unless there is the real possibility it could work and that it didn’t end for the right reasons.
Depression – or situational depression. Quietness and alienation, retreating into your own space to deal with your loss are signs of depression. You shut down in order to try and cope better. It can feel hopeless and there is no light of day, let alone a light at the end of the tunnel.
Mood shifting – this is when the light does appear. A calmer more relaxed emotional state arrives, the toxins of those negative hormone releases subside and you begin to feel a bit lighter and more optimistic.
Reconstruction – you begin to put the pieces back together again and move forward with your life. You are more open to the reflecting and learning from what has happened and see the relationship more objectively.
Acceptance – you allow all that has passed and set your sights on your new future.
There is no telling how long grief will last after a break up and how many times you may cycle through the different stages. You will do it in your own time.
If the break up was from a more toxic relationship, then it can be a lot more difficult and up and down. Trauma bonding could have occurred and that takes a while to ween yourself off of. I have talked about this in other podcasts, so please do go back and listen if you haven’t already.
In essence, toxic relationships can feel addictive and as we know, an addiction is a difficult thing to let go of. Because of this, the pain could seem more unbearable and the rollercoaster ride you have been on can be harder to get off of.
The remaining tips for moving on are even more imperative if this has been the case.
Cut off contact
It can feel tempting to keep in touch, to keep the lines of communication open (and in some cases this can’t be avoided), but it is often best to go no contact. It can help avoid triggers and reminders bring up difficult emotions that hinder the healing process. We all need time and space to move on and this will give you more of it.
If you can’t go no contact then keep it to a minimum and only discuss the issues you need to, don’t go over and rehash arguments or things about your relationship that went wrong. No tit for tat discussions either.
As mentioned, as with the end of the grief cycle you need to focus on your future.
Dwelling on the past in not a productive way to think and can be harmful to your emotional and mental health. Reflection is good, if you are telling yourself what you don’t want to experience again in your next relationship and recognising what went wrong, but spin it to look for what you want next time around, when you are ready and have some time to process this relationship of course.
Set yourself some new life goals, make plans with friends and look to new possibilities and opportunities.
Own your responsibilities
It can be easy to point the finger at the other person when a relationship comes to an end, especially if it was a messy one. Ultimately, you will have your part to play, no matter how small it may have been and knowing this will help you in the future.
Now, I don’t mean self-blame here. Being hard on yourself for no reason isn’t going to help you, but knowing where you were responsible can help with the forgiveness and enlighten you to who you are within your relationships. The roles you play and the person you become. If this isn’t serving you then you can then make the necessary changes.
This leads me onto my next point.
Work on and take care of yourself
Self-development, especially around knowing yourself when it comes to relationships is key to making yourself feel more positive about your future choices.
Knowing things like your attachment style, relationship beliefs, relational patterns can help to ensure that you make healthy relationship choices and attract healthier relationships into your life in the future. These are some of the things that I cover in my coaching programmes, link is in the notes for more information.
When you are ready, get out and see friends, do things you enjoy, make healthy choices, i.e. exercise, food, sleep. Avoid drugs and alcohol, start a new hobby, visit new places.
Self-care leads to you not only feeling better in the moment, but will help build self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth, attracting someone who wants to be with someone with these qualities and avoiding those who don’t. But be single as long as you need to be.
I have already mentioned spending time with friends. Ensure these are healthy friendships that don’t want to extend your grief, trauma or only buy into the negatives of your break up’s!
And it is the same with family too. Only turn to those that can and will actually help, that want the best for you and will support you through this time.
If you find that your grieving process is going on for more than say, 6 months, then you also may want to consider professional assistance. The same if you are coming away from something unhealthy and toxic. If you are finding it hard to let go and move on, a coach or therapist will be able to help you to explore the why’s and wherefores’ and how to let go and move on to something better.
These are a few ways that you can deal with the loss of a relationship and some can be used in relationships that aren’t of the romantic kind.
You may have your own healthy ways of doing this too. Please feel free to suggest what these are.
Remember that break ups are rarely easy and can cast a dark shadow on your life at times, affecting your emotional, mental and sometimes physical health. Emotions can run riot as well as your thoughts. The grieving process is immediate, but knowing how long it lasts is unknown. You will dip in and out of feeling ok and not being ok. One of my previous podcast guests even said that they were laying on the floor in tears one moment and then feeling free and happy the next. It can and is likely to be a complex and complicated process.
As long as you know that you aren’t and don’t need to do this alone.
Other show link – https://omny.fm/shows/the-relationship-guy/is-it-as-easy-as-walking-away
Link to course – Get Relationship Ready / Relationship Coaching