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What Moving On Really Looks Like

There are so many misconceptions about the process.

Roberto Nickson
Source: Roberto Nickson

I’m not a big fan of the term “moving on.” I mean, if it’s been four years, it may be time to move forward with your life. But usually, we slam ourselves with the need to “move on” only a few weeks after the breakup. The trouble is, pushing yourself to move on discredits the depth of what happened and also hands you a ticking clock, which adds even more pressure to move on.

Everything that has happened in that relationship, good or bad, is a part of your story and a part of you. If you reject parts of your story, you are rejecting and thus disconnecting with parts of yourself. I understand that your relationship may have been toxic and abusive. But you don’t heal by rejecting it, ripping it out, and not looking at it. You’re actually keeping those flames going. The anger and hurt will continue to glow. If you really want to move on, start with acceptance.

Acceptance is the beginning of any healing. When we don’t accept something, it continues to grow, like a virus. We may be able to bury it for a while by distracting ourselves, but it will eventually come back. By rejecting it, denying it, pretending like it never happened, or minimizing its ongoing impact on us, we actually continue to feed it, allowing it to grow until it makes us destructive—to ourselves, to other people, or to another relationship. Whether you’re dealing with a job loss, an illness, or an expired relationship, acceptance is the first and the most important step to getting past it.

Acceptance doesn’t mean you want to get back together with your ex. If you do in fact want to get back together with your ex, then you must accept that as your truth and start there. Maybe you need to accept how much you’ve been hurt so you can start grieving the loss of the relationship. Maybe you need to accept that it wasn’t your fault. Or that it was—maybe you need to take ownership so you’ll be better in your next relationship. Maybe acceptance means forgiveness. Maybe acceptance means boundaries. Ask yourself what you need to start accepting and what that looks like for you. And remember, acceptance is a process. It takes time. It’s not something you do over a weekend. What’s important is that you start the process.

As you start to accept what happened, you will naturally start to move on. I’m going to give you another new definition: You are not moving on. You are moving through. Acceptance isn’t a corner you turn. It’s a journey, and journeys take time. But eventually a journey can lead you back to the village a changed person, because with every journey there is a transformation. You have to go through the process. You are grieving. You are sad. You are angry, and you are allowing yourself to be angry.

You have looked at the crash and taken ownership of your part. You have examined the black box. Learn the lessons and apply them to your life. You are a better version of yourself because of what happened and everything you learned from it about love, life, and, most important, yourself.

Acceptance allows you to start moving through, past what happened, so you’re finally able to let go and be present in what you’re in now. With acceptance, you can finally pull your other foot out of the sticky past and plant both feet in the present—the relationship you’re building with yourself, and then with someone else. Let’s explore what moving through looks like in action.

This article is an excerpt from my new book, Single on Purpose.

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