Breaking up is hard to do. In the throes of a bad breakup, we’re often blinded by negative emotions: anger, sadness, despair, fear and even depression. But two of our experts, Debi Berndt and Karen Finn, see things a little differently. Instead of wallowing, they suggest taking a good, long look at yourself and at the relationship.
By being gentle, honest and inquisitive with yourself, you’ll discover that your heartache might just be the best thing that ever happened to you.
From Expert Debi Berndt:
The toughest time we have in life is when we think we’ve lost something: a friend, a pet, loved one or a romantic relationship. We feel out of control, as if there is nowhere to run to find comfort. During a breakup, we must face ourselves and our deepest hurts directly. Most people do not see that the experience is a transformational gift.
However, breakups are a love wake-up call that show you what’s out of alignment with your relationship goals. As you are forced to see the rawness inside of you, you begin to take notice of the fears that were lurking just beneath the surface of your initial attraction.
When a person leaves your life, they aren’t “the one that got away,” and there is nothing you should regret. Even if you acted like the perfect woman and followed all of the rules, you were dealing with someone who only responded to your negative qualities instead of your positive ones. They were bound to go, in the same way other wrong partners were.
A breakup exposes a clue to why you haven’t found true love. There is a great opportunity in the end of a relationship to clearly see your romantic blind spot, so you can make changes and attract someone who is meant for the real you.
To see the gift and to employ it in your life, become aware of recurring patterns from past relationships. You will notice that the pain you feel now isn’t novel or fresh, and while it is related to your most recent heartbreak, the ache is an old suffering that wants to be heard. The feeling has a message and is a cry for help. If you don’t resolve this, the same heartache will continue to repeat in future relationships.
By facing this head-on you can find your own strength without the crutch of another. Ask yourself tough questions like, “When have I felt this before?” “What is the story that I make up about myself when someone leaves?” Then, find peace within yourself and remember your true value is not dictated by anyone else but you.
Be there for and be gentle with the part of yourself that felt discarded and disowned, and reclaim her back into your life. You don’t have to heal everything right now; just accept every part of yourself. Stop pushing away the things that you don’t like into your love shadow. The relationship you have with yourself mirrors the relationships you have with others. If you discard the imperfect parts, you will attract people who’ll discard you when imperfection creeps back in.
If you don’t run away from uncomfortable feelings, you will attract a partner who is also emotionally available. Most men run when they can’t face their own vulnerabilities, not necessarily because they aren’t attract to you anymore. Accepting all of yourself — even the parts that might have contributed to your last breakup — will draw in a partner who accepts and loves all of you too. When you enter your next relationship, the pattern of heartache will be broken and you will find a love that will last.
From Divorce Coach Karen Finn:
I’m not going to mince words: breakups suck! When you invest your time and very being into a relationship, it’s earth shattering if that partnership ends. When I got divorced, I felt like a tornado had come through and wiped out everything I thought I was, and everything I thought my world was off the face of the earth. I was left feeling desolated and uncertain what to do.
Back then, there wasn’t a Red Cross for my tornado of a breakup; someone to help me get back on my feet and find my way back from the desolation. I had to piece things back together on my own, and it took me a long time to figure it all out. The good news is that I was successful. I have a great life now that includes a new husband and a fabulous career along with a newfound love and respect for myself. The even better news is that I’m a divorce coach and consultant now. I can help you really move on after your breakup and get on to living the best of your life.
There’s plenty to learn about your next relationship from a breakup. But in order to do that, you’ll first have to step out of the strong emotions that you’re probably experiencing.
Once you can put the emotions to the side for a bit, you’ll be able to clearly see the things that did and didn’t work for you in the partnership. You’ll probably discover things about yourself and about your ex that will shed some light on why things failed. When you figure out what did and didn’t work in your old relationship, you’ll know what you want to be different about your next one.
A breakup also gives you the chance to look at yourself differently. Lots of the people I work with discover they developed some bad habits in their relationship that they became ready to leave behind with their ex. We all make compromises to be in a relationship. Some compromises are easier to make than others. Some are too much, and prevent us from being our best selves.
When you take the time to look closely at who you were in the relationship, you just might discover that you’re better off without it — and more able to be completely you. I call this process rediscovering the best of yourself.
By taking the time to look at your breakup from more than just the emotional turmoil it created in your life, I know you’ll be able to choose your next relationship wisely. It will be even better than the last and, as a bonus, you’ll like and appreciate yourself more too.
Now you can get on to living the best of your life.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Jun 2014
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Experts, Y. (2013). Growth: The Unexpected Gift of a Breakup. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 26, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/08/13/growth-the-unexpected-gift-of-a-breakup/