How do you let go of someone, a friend or significant other, that was once a key player in your life? After changing my opinion several times on the matter, I’ve concluded that cutting that person out entirely is the easier, although certainly not optimal, way when it comes to abandoning those last bits of feelings. Sometimes, it just isn’t that simple; people remain in your life due to circumstances out of your control…or maybe entirely within.
No matter the situation, the most difficult part of the “grieving” process is being weighted down by what was said, what wasn’t said, hurtful words that no one meant, hurtful words that you both meant, etc. You’ve gone over them in your mind countless times and still, you can’t seem to let those memories fade. Here is a guide to help catalyze that process.
Step 1: Acknowledging the Problem
Something huge has happened if you didn’t realize. You’ve had to make an enormous adjustment as a result of someone else, perhaps the result of someone else’s long-term negative influence. Recount the issues aloud, or write them down in a letter, both of which help to relieve your mind of the burden. In order to move forward, you must first recognize the reason for your persistent emotions.
Your mantra: “[This] is what happened, [this] is why I am upset, [this] is what I wish I could have done/said.”
Step 2: Seeking Help If You Need It
You’ve tried to push through on your own and you just can’t seem to make the leap. Reach out to someone that really cares–and I mean truly cares. Half-baked advice from your hungover coworkers might steer you in the wrong direction or make you feel worse. If you feel you need therapy, it’s an incredible resource, and you should take advantage of such professionals. For more on how to find the right psychotherapist for you, click here.
Your mantra: “I want to make life better for myself.”
Step 3: Allowing yourself to feel that thing you don’t want to feel
If you’re overwhelmed by anger, be angry. If the tears are welling up and you’re trying to hold them back, cry. Much like a puppy running in a circle, we must tire ourselves out before we can feel relief. Pretending you aren’t hurting will only prolong the process and won’t leave room to grow. If you can determine what makes you feel bad, you can learn and apply such knowledge to future relationships. Know yourself, and improvements will come.
Your mantra: “[She/he] was hurtful, and I am feeling angry/sad/frustrated.”
Step 4: Finding Something Funny
Good news: As part of the breakup code, you have the legal right to all of your ex’s embarrassing stories and habits! Now I’m not saying you should use that information maliciously, but use it (in your mind, not as gossip) to find some ridiculousness in the midst of a serious situation. Remembering reasons to laugh at your ex can remind you that he or she is just human, not some supernatural, gut-wrenching force sent to tear your heart in half. All humans have the capacity to hurt, and all humans have the capacity to heal.
Your mantra: “Remember that time when [insert memory that was once serious, but you now realize is entirely ridiculous/embarrassing for your former partner].”
Why Should You Stop Caring (about things that are resolved)?
You are experiencing long-term stress, a factor that could increase your risk of poor health in several respects. Constant stress can significantly increase your risk of heart disease, decrease your immune system functioning, and increase the risk of hypertension. It’s okay to feel that stress and pain…in the short term, but relaxation and tension release are crucial to maintaining your health and happiness. So stop caring about the people in your life that aren’t so great, and care more about yourself (because you are). Start living your life again.
- Collingwood, J. (2007). The Physical Effects of Long-Term Stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 7, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-physical-effects-of-long-term-stress/000935