One of the most difficult events in the human experience, besides the death of a loved one, is the end of a relationship. This is an all too common occurrence on a global scale as statistics tell us that the divorce rate is close to 50%. This does not take into account the countless non-marriage relationships that end on a daily basis. Relationships are one of the most challenging entities that we can encounter in our lives and can take us from the heights of ecstasy to the depths of despair.
We we enter relationships there is no guarantee that they will last for any length of time and they are transient by nature even though we live in the illusion that they should last forever. This illusion is perpetuated by an idealistic society which glamourizes the happy ending where the guy gets the girl or vice versa and they both live happily ever after.
Of course this only happens in fairy tales, books and movies. Now, I’m not implying that relationships cannot ever have longevity but, more often than not, they will face challenges and, sometimes, these challenges will be too much for the relationship to bear. Please see my prior blog post to learn how to deal with these challenges.
So how do we consciously uncouple when a relationship cannot be salvaged. The first step here is to honour both the relationship and the other individual. The fact is that you had, and probably still have, feelings for that person and this needs to be recognized and even expressed to that individual.
The reason for this is not to try to salvage the relationship but to give credence to the fact that you and you ex-partner’s lives were once intimately intertwined. The end of a relationship does not imply the end of feelings but simply that the two people involved can no longer live together in the same space.
You may or may not be able to honour your relationship in the presence of the other individual depending on the terms on which it ended. If nothing else, in your heart you can send the other individual your best wishes for a joyous and prosperous future. This way you facilitate the release of any hard feelings in your heart which will can only bind and shackle you to ongoing suffering.
The second step is to express you feelings of grief, anger, despair, relief or whatever you are feeling. The end of a relationship can be an emotionally turbulent time and those feelings need to be expressed not suppressed. Suppressing difficult emotions can only lead to suffering instead of the transient pain that you experience by allowing yourself to feel them.
These feelings can be expressed to a trusted confidant such as a close friend or family member but can also be expressed in solitude whether it is in the privacy of your home or while immersed in nature. The important thing is to not resist and suppress those feelings that want so desperately to be acknowledged, expressed and released.
The third step is to engage in a practice that grounds you. The end of a relationship is an unnerving experience and can disorient you and disrupt your entire current life situation. This is why it is important to engage in a grounding practice. This can take any form you want and can range from taking long nature walks, meditation, yoga, martial arts, running, cycling, playing your favourite sport, reading, etc.
If you need to get away from everything to get grounded then you should do this. Sometimes, you need to get away from your regular routine to find your bearings when your relationship ends and by all means you should do this. This may involve simply leaving town to spend some time with a trusted friend, getting away to your cottage or taking some other kind of mini vacation in a cabin on a lake, in the mountains or some other natural setting away from the busyness of your normal setting.
The fourth step is to acknowledge your true nature of unconditional love. People often feel that when a relationship ends they have lost the love that they had. The fact of the matter is that you can never lose something that is who you truly are. Our true nature is unconditional love whether we realize and acknowledge this or not. It is only the trauma of human experience which obscures this from our inner knowing.
The way to acknowledge our true nature of unconditional love is to express this in some way. This could be by helping a close friend or a family member, volunteering for a worthy cause, spending quality time with your children, nephews or nieces, if you have any or any number of other ways. Get creative! If nothing else, you can go to your local humane society and spend time with abandoned pets who desperately need your love and attention.
If you engage in these four steps you will be able to transition to the next phase of your life with greater ease, joy and peace.
Nauman Naeem MD