by Wendy Keller, author and inspirational speaker
In the scope of “bad things” that can happen in life, the end of a love relationship – a divorce or a dating relationship – doesn’t strike people as a Big Deal. But the truth is, it is. Not only is it a Big Deal, it’s extremely common. Women say, “I broke up with my boyfriend” and immediately their girlfriends recommend Next Steps.
But are those steps healthy?
Is there a way to do it “right”?
How do you heal from a break up or divorce in a healthy way?
I’ve been single-again for 18 years and I have heard thousands of stories from lovelorn friends, and certainly endured my share of romantic mishaps. I am always on the lookout for the “best practices” – things that have real life long term positive results. I’ve assembled a list that you may find helpful:
1. Recognize it as a Real Loss. It’s OK to feel any and every emotion about ending a relationship. Let yourself feel it, from anger to exhilaration to sadness to hope. It’s normal to cycle through all of those feelings in a matter of minutes….and back again… Be nice to yourself in the meantime.
2. It’s OK to be bewildered. A major part of your life has just been forcibly removed. Even if you initiated The End, it’s still a disruption in the formerly-normal patterns of your life. This will settle down in time. Take it slow. Put your life back together only when the next steps are obvious.
3. Don’t rush into the next relationship to avoid the feelings. You may want to get the party started as soon as possible, but the chances are high that you’ll be making a mistake and either end up hurting that person or yourself badly. (You can guess how I know this is true, right?)
4. A life worth living is a life worth recording. Write down/journal/type what you’re feeling when the emotions become overwhelming. THAT is the place to say every evil, mean, hurtful, rude, vile thing you may want to say about the person you formerly loved. Write down what they did to you, how you feel, and how it has impacted your life. Let it all out. This will save you from going to your mutual friends and wrecking havoc; it will keep you from saying things that you’ll later discover cause YOU major damage; and it will save you from wearing out your friends’ ear drums repeating the same “I’m a victim” stories over and over again. You’ll start to see how you can improve your own performance next time around – and there will be a next time, promise.
5. Do talk to others. Even if you’re a guy. Talk to counselors; talk to wise friends; talk to people smart enough to know that it takes two to make it work and two to pull it apart. Consciously choose to talk to people who won’t take sides – and who understand that the best thing they can do to help you right now is give you a sounding board so you can see how this happened.
6. Set a goal of NOT repeating the same mistake again. It’s a proven fact that we tend to find relationships in which the other person treats us the same way as our most difficult parent treated us. Muse on that for a bit. Is it true for you? Did you marry your mother? What traits are similar between them? The way to heal childhood issues is NOT with another person…unless that person is a therapist and not your partner. Think back to when you first met the person with whom you are now ending the relationship. Did you ignore red flags? What were they? Write them down so you don’t do it again.
I believe relationships (romantic or otherwise) enter our lives for a Reason, a Season or a Lifetime. Often, you don’t know when it starts how long it will go. We humans tend to hate change. See if there are things you can learn from what just happened and change your selection process next time around. Being introspective now will help you be stronger, make better choices, be able to support your friends better, and make you a deeper, wiser, more compassionate person in the future.
Would you like a copy of Wendy Keller’s FREE ebook
“The Top Ten Tips to Coping with Crisis”?