Happy February! The Valentine’s Day displays went up around January 2nd, causing many of us anxiety around getting love “right”. We want it to look like it does in the most romantic movies or in our minds as we read the romance novels. It’s supposed to be poetic and beautiful. Right? Every day?
Intellectually, we know that isn’t possible. We saw our parents fight, regardless of whether they were divorced (like mine were from the time I was two years old). We know why wedding vows often include “for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health”. Yet we are surrounded by messages from advertisers, family members, friends, film makers, musicians, partners, retailers, and more who want us to believe in the fantasy. There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting the fantasy, but we must also manage our minds around it, just like any other fantasy. This can be especially hard around Valentine’s Day, if you’re still healing from a break-up. Hopefully, The Seven Choices will bring you some peace and strength:
- Forgive yourself. More often than not, break-ups occur because the people involved were or became incompatible. You probably did nothing “wrong”. Even if you cheated on your former partner, your ex-partner cheated on you, or one of you disclosed a different sexual preference than you thought was the case when you entered the relationship, it’s not 100% your fault. People cheat because they are inexperienced at confronting their unhappiness directly and doing the self-exploration necessary to resolve the related conflicts. It’s not ideal, of course. But little in life is. Forgive yourself and vow to seek a more compatible partner, discover what you truly want in your next partnership, and build skill in creating it.
- Acknowledge yourself. Regardless of your role in the break-up, acknowledge yourself for taking any action to move on from a relationship that was not compatible for you, your former partner, or the lives you want. It takes courage to believe in your dreams and take action toward them. Many people settle for what is presented, in fear that’s all there is. Congratulations! You are choosing the path less traveled. Let’s see what others are missing!
- Forgive the world. Again, don’t worry so much about who was “right” or “wrong” in this break-up. Playing judge of yourself or your ex-partner is not going to move you out of your pain. That requires you to keep analyzing and re-living the past—and the pain that comes with it.
- Free the emotions. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes up. It’s okay to feel anger, sadness, worry, fear, and nostalgia. Give yourself a space to let all those emotions flow through you when they arise. If you need to take a break and walk around the block and cry or go in the broom closet to throw a tantrum, take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and others. Then, go to it. You’ll feel lighter and freer.
- Clear your mind. There is only this moment. Stop looking at old photos, listening to music that reminds you of your ex-partner, and re-playing the movies in your mind that make you sad—unless you need them to help you free the emotions. You can take as much time as you need there, but when you’re ready to choose the only thing that is (this moment), it will be here. Then, gone. Then another is gone. And another. And another. Join us in the present, with an ever-clearing clean slate.
- Assume you know nothing. When the amygdala detects harm, it becomes fearful and triggers thoughts that sometimes make situations worse. You probably aren’t going to be alone forever. There are approximately 7.6 billion people on the planet. There’s a great chance that you will meet someone else—and someone more compatible. Be open to the full possibilities of the universe, not just what you think you know. Approach your future with a learner’s mind.
- Listen with your heart. People around you will want you to feel better so you’re more fun and hopeful again. They will say things that are unhelpful and hurtful. Practice listening for their intent, which is often to express their love or concern for you, despite how ineffective they can sometimes be when they are uncomfortable. Listening to them with your third ear, or your heart, is great practice for your next partnership, as well as your relationship with them.
Was your break-up with someone from work?
It will take a little time and effort, but you can likely develop a great working relationship again.
Nance L. Schick, Esq. is an attorney, mediator, and conflict resolution coach based in New York City. Her goal is to keep people out of court and build their conflict resolution skills. She helps primarily managers and business owners have conversations others avoid about topics such as gender and race, so they can build inclusive workforces that exceed expectations. As a survivor of violent assault and other crimes, she often goes beyond the workplace issues to identify what is holding clients back from having the big lives they want. Sometimes the obstacle is a break-up wound that hasn’t fully healed. But it is never too late to heal or create a life even better than the one you once wanted.