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Going through a relationship change or break up, whether or not you saw it coming, can be a life-changing event.
For some, these changes will also be felt by those immediately around them – children, siblings, parents, pets, close friends, work colleagues.
Not only are you having to deal with the overwhelming emotions and changes you feel inside you, but you are still expected to interact with the outside world and maintain your existing commitments, professionally and personally, even though a part of you may just want to curl up into a little ball and put up a DO NOT DISTURB sign!
After the initial shock has worn off, what can you do to not only cope with this massive change in your life but also emerge on the other side a stronger, wiser and better person for it?
Allow yourself to grieve
Whether or not you were the initiator, you are still experiencing a personal loss so it is crucial that you allow yourself the time and space to acknowledge it and grieve.
Be aware that your grief may manifest in different ways and will pass through different stages – anger, denial, guilt (what could I have done differently?), sadness and finally acceptance. This is natural and there is no time limit to the grieving process, as everyone’s healing process is different. Being aware of this, acknowledging this, and being gentle with yourself during this time is very important.
For some people, it may help to journal your emotions as they arise and what are the triggers. Apart from helping you to become more aware of your emotions, and helping to identify a possible pattern, it can also be a great form of release.
Gaining closure on the relationship can help you move on. For many people, it can be important to understand the WHY. Why did the relationship end? Could I have done anything different? Could it have been saved?
You may find the answers to these questions from your former partner. However be also prepared for this not to happen as the other person may not be willing to be honest with you about this, or be in the frame of mind to openly communicate with you. If that is the case, you may need to find a resolution or form of closure which does not involve the other party.
You may even have to face the possibility that you will never really know however the acceptance of this can act as closure in itself.
Surround yourself with trusted friends and family throughout this time. You don’t have to do this alone. This is an important part of the healing process.
Spend time with those who uplift and energise you. Who will listen to you without judgement and criticism, and be positive and keep you grounded.
Cultivate new friendships, particularly if you lose friends as a result of the break up. An infusion of new energy and people not associated with the break up might be just what you need.
Seek expert guidance and assistance in the form of a counsellor, dispute resolution expert (if you require legal assistance) or life coach if you feel that you are struggling to do it with the current resources at hand. Draw upon their experience and expertise to help you make the transition. Having an outsider’s perspective can be vital in helping you to take a step back, bring in a fresh approach, and stop you from not seeing the wood for the trees.
Take Good Care Of Yourself
Like any highly stressful experience, it is vital that you take good care of yourself in every way – emotionally, spiritually and physically. It is well documented that emotional stress can affect your immune system resulting in physical ailments like head-aches, getting the flu, and being more vulnerable to becoming sick.
Make sure as an absolute minimum that you get plenty of rest, keep up your fluid intake, eat well and exercise.
Take time out to nurture yourself and engage in activities that will calm, recentre, rebalance and relax you. This might be going for a walk, meditation, listening to music, reading a favourite book or getting a massage.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself first and say No without feeling guilty or anxious. Do what you feel instinctively is right for you and don’t worry about what others think or say.
Learn From Your Experience
When you are ready and are able to take a step back and be more objective, ask yourself what you can learn from this experience to turn this into an opportunity for growth and a platform to springboard into the next new phase in your life.
Remember though that it’s not about assigning blame or who is in the right or wrong. It’s about how you can do better next time, what you can learn about yourself and how you relate to others, and as a result of knowing yourself better, how to make choices in the future which are more aligned with who you are. As we say in the NLP world – there is no failure, only feedback.
Questions such as –
- How did I contribute to the issues in the relationship?
- Am I repeating the same mistakes and is this a pattern for me?
- How do I behave in situations of conflict and could I have handled it more constructively?
- How do I deal with stress?
- Could I have communicated more openly or more constructively?
- Why did I choose to be with this person? How are they a reflection or mirror of who I am?
By adopting all or some of these strategies, not only will you be doing the best for yourself, but you will importantly be able to gain better clarity and perspective, which means you will be in a more effective mindset and be better equipped to tackle some of the more practical issues that may need dealing with as a result of this, such as taking steps to protect your financial interests, custodial arrangements if children or pets are involved, and the division of assets including businesses you both may be involved in.
A relationship change can be a positive experience and one from which you can grow and learn from, opening up new opportunities and providing the chance for self-discovery taking you on a journey that may have never been possible before. Take it from someone who has been there herself and who knows …
You can read more about my story here – www.mimifong.com.au/me.
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