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Dealing with a Break Up and Learning from the Experience

Dealing with a Break Up and Learning from the Experience

April 19, 2012

“Why worry about things you can’t control when you can keep yourself busy controlling the things that depend on you?” ~Unknown

Relationships end; everyone knows that. The tough part is actually dealing with suffering, accepting, letting go, moving on, and processing a whole lot of other feelings at the same time.

Six months ago my ex-boyfriend decided to end our relationship because he couldn’t forgive me for a mistake I made.

During the first weeks of our break up I decided that it would be best if I just gave him some time to think things out.  I accepted the consequences of my error and decided not to pressure him.

I knew it was my fault we were in this mess, and he was suffering from my wrongdoing (which didn’t involve infidelity).

After a month we saw each other again, and he told me that he could not forgive me for what I did—that my mistake meant that I didn’t love him and had never loved him throughout our three years together.

I asked for forgiveness. I asked for a second chance. He told me he couldn’t trust me anymore and couldn’t risk getting hurt again. I accepted his decision, and started moving on with my life.

Two months passed, and one night he called me. He told me that he missed me terribly and wanted to see me. The next day we went to Starbucks.

He told me he couldn’t stop thinking about me, that he compared every woman with me, and that he wanted to give “us” a second chance. But then he told me he was too scared to fully commit to me and that he wasn’t sure what he wanted.

I was surprised. I thought he came to me because he knew that he wanted to be with me, but he didn’t. He was confused. I told him he should figure out what he wanted before hurting someone.

Three weeks went by, and one day a friend of mine told me he had a girlfriend.

He had made the decision to move on. Now I had to do the same.

I was devastated. I loved him so much. I was still waiting for him because I had hope. I was still waiting for that second chance. I was left with a big hole in my heart and a turbulent, uncontrollable mind.

If you’ve also had to accept that someone you once loved doesn’t want to be with you anymore, you probably understand the rush of feelings and thoughts that come to you every day, every hour, every minute.

It feels like even though you try to move on, to stop remembering, to stop speculating and thinking about this person, you make no progress.

Even though I never felt guilty about the end of the relationship (I am certain I did everything I could to save it and I was not going to torture myself), I did feel sad that he was with someone else, and I was still thinking about him and how great we once were.

Talking about it to my friends only helped momentarily. Hours later I always found myself thinking all those things I shouldn’t be thinking again.

My mind was a hurricane of all the wrong thoughts.

Suddenly I found myself not worrying about the fact that the relationship had ended. Instead, I was worrying about the way I was living each day, the way I was thinking with a “victim” mentality.

I was torturing myself with my own thoughts! And the only person who could help me was me. The answer was inside—and only inside—me.

I read books, articles, essays. I was trying to find the key wisdom that could allow me to finally feel peace of mind.

Through this process, I discovered the power of positive thinking and acceptance.

Everybody is different and therefore handles situations in different ways. For instance, I am a very sensitive and vulnerable person. When someone hurts me, I cry a lot, I forgive immediately, I don’t hate, and I don’t seek revenge.

However, the feelings of disappointment and sadness stick with me for a long time, and I strive a lot to finally let go of those feelings.

Dealing with a break up requires immense strength from us. We need to be strong to control our thoughts, to stop the crying, to find happiness in the present moment, and to let go of that person we love so much.

So, how do we get this strength? How do we start moving on? How do we begin to let go?

I’ve come to learn that there is no one single effective method to deal with a break up.

Some people might tell you it’s better to get involved with someone else as soon as possible; others might tell you to be alone a couple of months; and some others might argue that love is not worth it, and that you will always get hurt.

I want to share what I have learned from my experience. I’d like to tell you it’s easy, but it’s not. It requires a lot of strength, patience, determination, hope, and self-esteem.

If you are currently dealing with a traumatic break up or you still have the memory of the loved one so close to your heart you think you might never forget them, these tips may help:

1. Stop any contact with that person.

Stop calling, sending texts or emails. Respect his/her decision.

2. Stop looking for reasons why it ended and of what you could have done better.

The only thing that matters is the fact that the relationship came to its end and it’s time to move on.

3. Stop thinking about what that other person thinks, does, wishes, plans, and feels.

The only person that matters is you. It matters what you think, do, wish, plan and feel.

4. Practice acceptance.

Commit each morning to fully accepting what is happening in the now. Believe there is a reason why this is all happening and trust that it’s for the best.

5. Do not hate or wish anything negative to that person.

Negative feelings are like holding a hot piece of charcoal expecting to be thrown at someone else. Only the person holding it gets hurt.

6. Allow yourself to feel and to grieve.

This was the most important one for me. Do not feel guilty for being sad or wishing things were different. Allow yourself to feel the pain of losing the person you love.

Do not hide your emotions; do not be embarrassed because you are hurting. It’s only worse to respond to a negative feeling (i.e. sadness) with another negative feeling (i.e. guilt). Just let yourself feel for some time.

7. Enjoy the sensation of knowing you did everything you could.

Maybe you fought for that person, or asked for forgiveness. Be confident that in the future you will never regret making the wrong decision and will never think about “what could have happened” because you made an effort.

8. Practice gratitude.

Make a list of everything good going on in your life that you’re grateful for. Include attributes that make you a special and desirable person. Keep adding elements to this list, including all the things we take for granted, such as our health, our education, our families, our friends, and our skills.

9. Embrace positive thinking.

Start each day thinking something positive, something that inspires you. Fill your mind with positive thoughts to counteract the negative ones.

10. Read.

Read self-help books or articles related with this topic. (Don’t be embarrassed—no one needs to know!) Stop watching romantic movies and listening to love songs. Instead, read, read, read! Books can transform your life.

Even though four months have passed since my break up, I still practice what I have shared with you. It’s not easy and it’s definitely not an automatic change. But the key is to start.

Only you can change how you are feeling. No one else can.

Remind yourself every day that life is good and that eventually the pain will pass. Life is happening right now, and there’s no reason to waste more days feeling sad about the past.

Change your perspective about life, loss, and pain; learn to view everything that happens to you as a positive thing.

You can’t control someone else’s decision, so focus on what you can control: your thoughts, your attitude, and your reaction. 

We’ve all dealt with break-ups before. You are not alone on this. Don’t give up hope; give it time!

And remember:

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” ~Confucius.

Photo by Ed Yourdon

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