Navigating Breakups: A Practical Guide

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We’ve all experienced the heartbreak of friendships, relationships, or familial breakups.

It’s fucking hard.

The rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts isn’t for the faint of heart. This becomes extremely difficult if you’re the one maintaining your dignity while the other party is throwing metaphorical daggers at you.

I often have the thoughts:

  • When will this ever end?
  • Why couldn’t I have just had a normal parting of ways without so much collateral damage?
  • Am I that hard of a person to love?
  • When will this be over?

Then I check myself, before I wreck myself:

1. Allow Time

If someone is being vindictive and blaming everything on you—attempting to make it ‘better’ or trying to help them see things rationally will only fuel the fire.

Things will settle with time. This may include them coming around to being a kind human, or maybe not. You can’t control this. Acceptance of the truth, that nothing you do in this moment will change things as they currently are, is essential.

Time will tell when emotions have lost their power.

Patience, grasshopper.

2. Check Yourself

Look at your actions and analyze them. When a relationship ends, we want to take on the victim role and point fingers. “They hurt me, look I’m a victim and they are evil.”

But you must actively decide you’re not going to take on the victim role in your life. You are not the victim of the world you see, my friends.

The best way to remove ourselves from this perpetual cycle is to take complete ownership of your part.

Do you really think you had no part?

Most people have a hard time here. Even in my past relationship, I had a part—I stayed in a place I didn’t belong for too long. I allowed him to think it was okay to hurt me and I wouldn’t leave. I was opinionated and had standards that were too far-reaching for him. That wasn’t his fault. It was mine. I stayed.

Get your journal out and make a list of all the ways you played a role in the chaos of your broken relationship. Ask yourself, “How did I participate?”

3. Not Everyone Will Take Responsibility

Sometimes, you’re simply dealing with someone who hasn’t invested in personal growth and may not even be interested in doing so.

Occasionally, you might encounter a genuine narcissist, though that’s rare—most people are inherently good.

One of my biggest annoyances is when people misuse the term “narcissist.” It doesn’t apply to everyone with a healthy sense of self. True narcissists genuinely can’t recognize their own faults. If you’re dealing with one, your words will likely fall on deaf ears.

Many people struggle to take responsibility due to various reasons: denial, conditioning, cognitive distortions, and reinforcement from others who support their victim mindset.

You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into. Trying to do so is a waste of time. People only see what they’re ready to see, and you can’t rush this process.

You’re only responsible for yourself and your thoughts. Focus your energy there.

4. Personal Integrity

This one is big for me. Integrity is being honest and having strong moral principles. If you’re a person of integrity, you need to trust that your truth will shine through. The roots of integrity are about doing the right thing even when no one is watching.

It’s natural to want approval from people whose opinions we value; friends, family, and colleagues. With that said, this should never be at the expense of your self-worth and personal integrity.

It is harmful to value others’ opinions above your own moral compass. If you felt that you responded in the best way you knew how, in a way that aligned with your values or knowledge in the moment—and yet you give more weight to another party’s negative opinion about your actions, this can ultimately damage your sense of self.

I know how easy it is to get sucked into that whirlwind when they are lashing out at you and you start to personally identify with their hurtful words—but we choose what we believe.

Who benefits if you believe their opinion of you holds more weight than your own?

Definitely not you.

5. Gratitude for What This Experience Has Taught You

Reframing pain as a catalyst for growth was another life-altering shift in my perceptions of the world and directly impacted the quality of my life.

Success and happiness in your life come down to the ability to create positive reframed worldviews. Seeing all the pain as an opportunity to learn and grow—rather than a disadvantage that makes you less of a human.

Remember this, my friends: two people can have the same exact tragedy occur in their lifetime and walk away with completely different perspectives and alternative interpretations of the facts.

Paying attention to language here will be monumental in your ability to reframe. Words matter. They inform your conscious and unconscious mind about the energy of the situation.

If you walk around speaking negatively about other humans—even if it was abusive, chaotic, and scary—you will make the situation more unbearable. Instead, reword it: “I’m grateful for that experience because it taught me exactly what I don’t want, or will no longer accept.”

Start to move into an energy of gratitude for everything that has shaped you into the phenomenal human that you are. Ditch the anger and resentment for perceived hurts and loss.

6. Forgiveness is Essential

We need to open our minds and hearts to release our attachments to situations beyond our control. Carrying resentment only leads to bringing that negativity into future relationships.

Forgiveness is hard when people have hurt us, but it is a hallmark of strength. It doesn’t mean subjecting yourself to ongoing pain inflicted by others as they wrestle with their own demons. It doesn’t mean what happened was okay, or that the individual should be welcomed back into your life.

Forgiveness means making peace with the pain and being ready to let it go. It’s ultimately for our own benefit. Holding onto resentment is like staying locked in a jail cell of bitterness, serving time for someone else’s crime.

Let’s do this for ourselves. We can walk away with forgiveness and send love their way.

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