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Suffering from a break-up? Six ways to turn your pain into gold.

Suffering from a break-up? Six ways to turn your pain into gold.

Break-ups can be painful. That’s why there are so darn many songs written about them.

Are you going through one right now? I bet you are feeling one (or more) of these feelings:

  • Angry at your ex- for letting you down.
  • Guilty for hurting your ex-.
  • Worried that you are making a mistake.
  • Sad that you failed.
  • Jealous that your ex- might be with someone else
  • Afraid that you will never find love that lasts.
  • Disgusted that you ever wasted your time on their sorry self.

When I left my ex-fiance, I felt most of these at various stages. Maybe one week would be a worried week, the next a sad week. Which one are you feeling right now?

With all of these negative feelings swirling around, it’s tempting to rue the day that you ever got into the relationship in the first place.

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But that would be a mistake. Because the truth is that each relationship is a key part of you “growing up” to become an adult in the world of love. They’re like classes toward your master’s degree in love, and then one day, when you have mastered the material, you get to graduate and have “the one.” Just like school, some classes are more fun than others, and no one likes finals. But the end result is worth it.

So save yourself some break-up angst and get busy figuring out what exactly is being taught in the curriculum of this ex-relationship. Here are some possibilities.

1. You sand down your rough edges.

Let’s face it, each one of us has aspects of our personalities that make us difficult to date. For me, I can be hyper-critical of my partner when he doesn’t do things my way. And, in case you were wondering, nit-picking does NOT lend itself well to a happy relationship. My criticalness contributed to several failed relationships until I finally learned how to get it in check and instead accept my partner as an equal. While learning this lesson certainly took a lot of time and heartache, it was well worth it to have my current relationship as great as it is.

What part of you needs to be tamed in order for you to be a good partner?

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2. You learn how to “do” relationships right.

After a few beers at a scientific conference, a professor in my Ph.D. program once told me that I should only date men who had been married once before. The first marriage, he claimed, was to figure out how to “do” marriage, so that you could get ready for your “real” marriage to your second spouse. While I disagree with much of his philosophy, I do agree that relationships take practice. Like making pancakes for the first time, you are likely to botch a few attempts before you figure out how it’s done. A failed relationship is the best way to learn what doesn’t work, and how to build a better one the next time around.

3. You learn what you are looking for.

Think back on the first person you had a crush on. Do you think you would have a crush on that person if you met them today? The answer is likely “no” and that is a very good thing. With each failed relationship, you learn something about who you are and what is important to you in a partner.

What did you learn from your last relationship?

4. You figure out your failure rituals.

As much as we may hate it, being alive means failing at a bunch of things. You wanted the cool kid to ask you to prom and he didn’t. You applied for a great job and didn’t get it. You wanted to fit into your size 4 jeans by memorial day and didn’t make it. There is a skill to picking yourself up from these failures and trying again. I recommend designing a “failure ritual” that is your go-to whenever you fail at something. It can involve things like listening to your favorite mourning songs, calling a trusted friend, writing a eulogy for the “death” of whatever you failed at, or taking a period of “down time” to fully process what happened.

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What will you design your failure ritual to be?

5. You learn how to tell the difference between fact and fantasy.

My friend recently suffered from a break-up in which she put her man on a pedestal. She found him to be so well-educated, successful, interesting and funny, that she reasoned he really was the perfect man. She chose to ignore the things he did that were less-than-stellar, like refusing to meet her family and never really giving her his full attention. But after the break-up, she could see him for what he really was: a decent man who was simply not that into her. Use break-ups as a wake-up call to help you learn where you tend to dupe yourself so that you can enter the next relationship fully aware.

Where do you tend to live in fantasy land?

6. You see that life can be impermanent, and that is OK.

Maybe you thought that this relationship was forever, and it turned out that it wasn’t. That’s OK. That’s life. Deaths and break-ups are good reminders to cherish the people you have in your life right now, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

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Who are you taking for granted right now in your life?

Break-ups can be painful, but if you compare the pain to all that you can gain from them, you will see that they are worth it. As soon as you feel comfortable, start to do an autopsy on the relationship. What were you supposed to learn from that relationship? What gems make it all worth it?

Write a note and share!

Love,

Samantha

Featured photo credit: Un-married/Paul Moody via flickr.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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