Whether you ended the relationship, or your partner ended it against your desire or it was mutual, doesn’t matter when it comes to healing and moving forward with growth.
What can often go missing during these times is to consider the fact that the purpose of relationships are to help you grow to evolve into your best self. Enter pain!!! We don’t tend to grow mentally, emotionally or any other way when times are good and we are happy. Those are the times we kinda lay back and say to ourselves “life is good right now”. Sort of an auto pilot mode.
Consider when we are in pain and life is in turmoil, there is an opportunity for growth. This can happen at the break up stage or has been happening for years. Either way there is a golden opportunity here when we decide to end a relationship or someone does that for us. Consider the case of separation and divorce, both partners are often hurt and in pain (which can manifest differently). As humans we would prefer to simply “get rid of that pain”. Hence we find distraction through various ways such as calling a friend, going out, etc.. But make no mistake about it if you continue to distract yourself from pain now, it will rear its head down the road. That said, so will the potential for growth and learning.
When we typically see a break up, as a therapist what we are often seeing is a process of grief and loss. Notice I said “process” which suggests that this won’t go away quickly. But you can learn to think differently about it.
We are humans are trained through well intended upbringing, media, friends, family and others to believe that when we are in pain, it is important to “get rid of it” and quickly. The opposite could not be truer. When we are in acute moments of pain, often by being triggered by a memory or something, there is room for self compassion. It is afterward we can make some changes.
Follow a few steps:
1. When we are triggered by a memory of some sort, and feel pain afterward, it is time for self compassion. Recognize the trigger, acknowledge the pain at that moment and breath (you are anyway, might as well pay attention to it). It will pass.
2. By not acting on the trigger by texting, emailing, calling or whatever communication tool you prefer and simply allowing ourselves to feel it, the emotion will leave within a few minutes typically.
3. After the emotion passes, self inquiry can begin. Why did I feel that way? What am I really feeling? For example, loneliness, hurt, some anger, relief, shame, guilt, the list goes on.
4. Enter self compassion again. Tell yourself it is ok to feel this way and in fact it is normal to feel this way as everyone does.
5. Remember we can’t change what we are not aware of and this is a process of becoming aware.
Next time we will start talking about taking steps toward the process of growth.
Donna has a Masters of Social Work and is a therapist who specialists in Family Counselling in Calgary. To learn more about Donna click https://www.thedivorceangels.com/vendor/donna-murphy/