How to Heal From the Loss of a Relationship
Everything in our lives is cyclical, including relationships.
Posted Nov 23, 2020
“Am I the same person with a new coat of paint or have I really learned something from my breakup?”
If you are not careful you can go from one relationship to another without learning about yourself.
We are happiness junkies. We simply love to feel good and deeply avoid feeling bad. While breakups feel like a crisis, they are also a wonderful opportunity to grow if you know how to actually face the feelings surrounding them.
In fact, the word crisis originates from the Greek word krisis, which means “decisive moment.”
Imagine if we were to see breakups as a decisive moment to reflect and learn what did not work and release the past relationship. How much happier would we eventually be?
To see a breakup as a chance to change for the better we must accept an important stage of life that as a culture we are not comfortable embracing—death.
This dilemma came up recently when I was in discussion with Liyana Silver, the author of the book “Feminine Genius” and experienced coach helping women live, love, and lead with more flow in their lives. She is truly one of the best people to discuss how to face the “dark night of the soul” of breakups because she guides women to feel all their feelings with abandon. As Liyana says, what we learn as we move through the dark night we will use to regrow our brightest life.
Liyana reminded me that everything in our lives is cyclical, including relationships.
We typically put most of our focus on the spring and summer cycles of relationships when things are blooming and thriving, but we forget that culmination and death are natural parts of fall and winter.
These aspects of a relationship are usually avoided.
However, when a relationship is over we need to be able to release using our dark winter skills, which are skills that allow us to look inward.
Why do we need winter skills?
When a relationship ends we can get stuck in hoping it will revert to where it was before. This takes a lot of energy. Typically, our desperate attempts to reclaim a relationship that has ended simply wipes us out and do not lead to change.
What would it even look like to accept the change?
You might hear yourself saying:
“What I knew yesterday is not what I know today.”
“Here is who I was and I honor the process of letting that go.”
“I will regrow based on the foundation of a deeply new version of who I am.”
Since our culture doesn’t encourage grief and letting go, but rather encourages fighting and winning, we are infrequently taught wintering skills.
Liyana explains that the key to wintering skills is to stay with ourselves and not abandon ourselves. We want others to connect to us when the work is for us to connect to ourselves. We feel lonely because we do not have internal locators. We do not know how to be alone. Many people feel that it is better to be alone in a relationship than to be alone with yourself.
Liyana shared some special wintering skills to help prepare you to heal and grow from the pain of a breakup.
Name the emotion. See if you can actually name the emotion that is coming up. Most of us only think of five to six emotions but there are more than 35 ways to describe how you feel. Google an emotions checklist and explore some of the feelings you might never have articulated.
Turn toward the emotion and remember it won't hurt you. Research shows that if you simply allow an emotion to flow through you without trying to control it, the feeling will only last 90 seconds. As Liyana explained “if your feelings are a storm say to yourself, ‘I am going to be drenched and still find a way to breathe.’”
See if you can ask a deeper inquiry of your feeling. If you notice you feel anger, acknowledge that this feeling is trying to communicate something to you. While you might just feel “I am mad,” ask what feels threatened. Anger is a response to threat; be curious about what feels threatened. Ask “what is it that I value that feels threatened?” Liyana explained that often what is threatened is you and your sense of yourself.
It is hard to turn inward, but it is also incredibly rewarding. Noticing the loss is the difference between truly healing and putting on a new coat of paint.