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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 October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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