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10 Ways Of Letting Go Of A Past Relationship Peacefully And Moving On

10 Ways Of Letting Go Of A Past Relationship Peacefully And Moving On

Letting go of a relationship that you were certain would last forever or that you just knew was ”the one” is painful. At the same time, letting go will be the most empowering thing you’ll ever do. Loving another is a lesson, in and of itself. Learning to let go and make peace with things you cannot change is vital. Letting go may involve you rethinking boundaries and negative relationship patterns, becoming more assertive or deciding to end contact with toxic people or others who have harmed you. Learning to understand that you can’t force people to do things, or to love you in return, in the way you want, will set you free.

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wrote many years ago, ”Let us forget with generosity the people who cannot love us.” Some people won’t have the ability to love in a healthy way. We can heed Neruda’s advice and wish them well on their journey, while saying farewell. Letting go of a past relationship is a lot like mourning a death. You’ll notice denial, anger, rationalization, obsessive thoughts on the relationship and the other person, among other things, and eventually, acceptance.

Here are 10 ways that you can let go of a past relationship and move on.

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1. Accept that the relationship has come to an end.

This is the hardest but most important step in letting go of a past relationship. If you are not aware and present to the fact that it’s over, you won’t be able to process the grief and loss. You need time to get in touch with your pain and understand your feelings. Acceptance is a form of closure that you shouldn’t ignore. Mindfulness-based meditation could be helpful. During this time, you may find solace in making art, embracing your favorite hobbies and friends.

2. Take your time to process the pain.

It’s your right to mourn the relationship, grieve its death and release the ensuing sadness. Let yourself process the rejection. Don’t avoid the more intense parts of this transition. Don’t force yourself to get over it in a rush. This will help you understand yourself better. If you are a more sensitive person than most, and struggle with issues of abandonment, this may be a good time to seek out a counselor or psychologist that can support you and help sort out remaining wounds from past relationships. Do remind yourself frequently that healing is not a race.

3. Don’t internet-stalk or make plans of revenge.

Confucius once said, ”Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” And in matters of heartbreak, this is very fitting. You may be so hurt and confused that you want the other person to experience what you are going through, and some may even encourage you to do so. No one wins in the game of revenge. Trying to hurt another because you are upset is immature, dangerous and a waste of time. If you are busy making revenge, you are not healing. Avoid obsessively following and finding them on the internet and in real life. The last thing you need to see is them off doing things you once enjoyed together, or pursuing another partner. Reading their posts can also keep you stuck in false hopes.

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4. Don’t try to be ”just friends”, if the relationships end was not mutual.

Pushing for a platonic friendship right after the breakup of a romantic relationship is too much, too soon. No one can turn their emotions on and off like that. If you or the other person can, this can be a marker of an emotional issue that may require professional help. Remind yourself again that you cannot fix, change or do someone else’s healing for them. Suddenly reseting the relationship back to a casual friendship is not helpful in letting go. If the other person is pushing you to be their friend and remain in constant contact, it could signal their own issues with abandonment, control or poor boundaries. They may also be pushing for your friendship so they don’t have to feel bad or guilty for breaking up with you. You are not required to be friends or in contact with the person. If the relationships’ ending was mutual, you may choose to attempt a friendship with the person later on, but you’ll still need your own time and space to decide what is in your best interest. Keep in mind, some people will need to be loved from afar.

5. Don’t maintain an intimate relationship with your ex.

This seems obvious to some, but for many this can easily become a pattern. Someone breaks up with you, and you agree to continued intimacy after they’ve rejected you as a partner. This is unfair. It not only keeps you stuck in the dead-end relationship, but may give one of you the idea that the other person does want you back and the relationship will come back to life. The person initiating the intimacy may be thinking that this is just until they find someone else they want to pursue. This is heartbreaking for the person who was convinced it meant something more. Continuing an intimate relationship with your ex also won’t allow for you to make room for other relationships that may be presented to you. You will experience love again, and with someone who wants to commit to you and be in your life, not just for the “fringe benefits”. Don’t settle.

6. Fall in love with your life, again.

Reconnect with your friends, family and favorite hobbies. Do something you’ve avoided doing out of fear. Refocus your energy. You may have given so much of yourself to the relationship that you neglected yourself and your favorite things. Be aware that your self-esteem will be fragile, and you may do a fair bit of crying as you get through this. It’s ok. Make lists of dreams and goals for the coming year, and go out and do them. Volunteer in your community, go on a road trip, hike a mountain, get in touch with nature, write poetry, read a book, sit in silence, take a class, focus on your career, go back to school — the options are endless. Be who and what you’ve always wanted. Write down things you are proud of yourself about, and revisit the list when you feel down. As you start on this journey of self-love and acceptance, you’ll find yourself attracting quality friendships that allow you to be your authentic self.

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7. Reflect on what didn’t work in the relationship.

Once you’ve made it past the grieving and acceptance, you’ll be able to see things more clearly. It may be that when you think about the relationship, you may realize there were red flags or things that didn’t work well for you. Use this to better all your relationships — romantic or otherwise. Maybe you or the other person were passive-aggressive, conflict-avoidant, co-dependent or people-pleasing. Endings can be amazing beginnings.

8. Don’t rush into another relationship.

Some might try to replace the last relationship as soon as possible to avoid feeling loss, loneliness or any pain. Some will keep another person waiting in the wings, as one relationship is ending. Don’t be the other waiting in the wings, and don’t make someone else your rebound. It’s unfair to use others as you try to get over your ex. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to game the system of a broken heart. If it was simply that easy, no one would ever need to read an article about letting go and moving on from a relationship that’s ended. When the time is right, you’ll know it. With the time and space you’ve allowed yourself, you’ll be able to better understand if this new relationship is one that will be healthy and positive.

9. Remove their photographs, gifts and love letters.

Waking up to their photographs and love letters won’t aide you in letting go and moving on. You’ll continue to romanticize them and the relationship, even if it was not a great one. You may want to put the photographs, letters and gifts out of reach in a special keepsake box, under lock and key. If this is too much of a temptation or the person was particularly toxic, you may want to burn the treasures as a symbolic way of releasing all of the negative energy. You can also repurpose the items and turn them into an art piece expressing what’s occurred. Donating or recycling the items are other options.

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10. Remember that there is not always a “one true love” for everyone.

Some people come into our lives for a brief period of time to teach us a lesson or expose us to a new way of thinking. We will keep reliving the same things until the lesson has been learned. While you may have loved someone, and continue to do so, they will likely not be the only person you will ever love. If it is supposed to happen, it will. You don’t need to beg someone to love you or care for you, in the way you do for them. Open up yourself to the possibility that this ending is the beginning of something far better than you’ve ever experienced before.

Featured photo credit: PictoQuotes / Trudy Bloem via photopin.com

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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