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Breaking Up is Hard to do – 20 Questions to Help You Know When it’s Time to Let go

Breaking Up is Hard to do – 20 Questions to Help You Know When it’s Time to Let go

    Do you remember the story about the new prisoner on the block?   He is settling in nervously on the first night of his sentence, when he hears a series of numbers yelled out, each one followed by raucous laughter from his fellow inmates.   Nervously, he asks his cell-mate what is going on.   The cell-mate replies, “That’s the lifers, they have been in here so long that they have heard all of each others’ jokes, so rather than telling the joke, to save time they just shout out the joke’s number.”  If your friends and family could tell this joke to describe how you talk about your relationship issues, you might want to read this post.

    But seriously, breaking up is hard to do and inspires procrastination in the best of us. The writing may have been on the wall for months or even years, yet the exit out of a relationship can be a painstakingly slow process.  Even without marriage and children in the mix, wrestling with the dilemma of when to hold and when to fold is often painful.

    There are times when it may be blindingly obvious to everyone around you that it’s time to walk away, yet you still need to come to your own conclusion. The exception to this rule is if there is any kind of violent or abusive behavior taking place. In this case you need to get help and get yourself away and to safety immediately.

    Loyalty, commitment and a willingness to work through difficult times are all valuable qualities to bring to any relationship but it’s good to be aware that these virtues can also sometimes work against us and cause us to prolong the suffering by clinging to a relationship long after it has ceased to be good for us.  At times like this it’s great to have kind and patient friends who can support you along the way.   But most important, is to give yourself some space and time to really explore what you are thinking and feeling.   As one of my wise friends says,

    “You’re not done ‘til you’re done and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, because only when you know you’re done will it really be over and when you’re done, you’ll know it.”

    Sometimes it’s helpful to ask yourself a series of questions. Journaling your responses may allow you to go deeper still, in search of the clarity you need.   Here are some to start you off.

    1)   What am I afraid of?

    Get really honest with your answers here, – some of the most common are,  the fear of being alone, fear of what other people will think and fear of making a mistake.

    2)   Are those realistic fears?

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    Once you have listed your fears, go through the list one by one and ask yourself how realistic they are.

    3)   If I wasn’t scared that x,y,z might happen– what would I do?

    Next, taking each fear in turn, ask yourself how your course of action might be influenced if this fear wasn’t a factor.

    4)   Am in love with this person, or the person I wish they were? (aka The Imaginary Boyfriend)?

    This questions deals with the perennial problem of falling in love with the potential.

    5)   If I could get an email from myself ten years from now, what advice might it have?

    This is another good trick to get a different perspective on the problem and to get in touch with the inner wisdom we all have. My thanks to Havi Brooks for inspiring this one with her dialogues with her “slightly future me”.

    6)   Is this relationship bringing out the best in me?

    Take a look at the person you have become in relation to who you were before. Do you like the comparison?

    7)   Have I given my best? 

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    It’s always easier to come to closure when you can honestly say that you gave it 100%.

    8)   Should it be this much work?

    What does this relationship add to your quality of life?

    9)    Do I make excuses for or justify my partner’s behavior towards me?

    Your friends and family will be able to fill you in here.

    10)   How would I feel about my little sister/brother/daughter/son being in this situation?

    This one may surprise you, it’s often a little shocking to see the standards we will tolerate for ourselves compared to what we think the people we love deserve.

    11)    What have I learned from this relationship?

    What have you learned about what works and what doesn’t work for you?

    12)     What haven’t I learned from this relationship?

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    Where are you stuck?

    13)      Is this a familiar pattern?

    Have you seen this all before?  What do you need to do to take responsibility for doing it differently from now on?

    14)      Have I honestly expressed what it is that I want without trying to hide my vulnerability or blaming or judging?

    It’s hard to ask for what we really want when we are scared we won’t get it but everyone deserves the opportunity to hear requests kindly and clearly.

    15)      Do I think I can love this person in the way they deserve to be loved?

    Let’s turn the tables for a second, can you give your partner everything they have a right to receive?

    16)      If this is all there is, will it be enough?

    It’s a great test to ask whether if nothing changes. Could you really be happy with this person?

     17)      If I weren’t angry, how would it change things?

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    When we have had our needs unmet for a while, resentment can build to the point of rage and obscure rational thought.

    18)  If I forgave my partner, what difference would it make?

    To err is human, but to forgive is divine.  One of my favorite quotes says that refusing to forgive is like continually drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.   If your partner has done something or many things that have hurt you, ask yourself what might happen if you gave them a fresh slate?

    19)  If I forgave myself what difference would it make?

    Self-compassion can be a wonderful vehicle for growth and clarity, if yesterday didn’t exist at all, would you still feel the way you do?

     20)     If today was my last – would I regret ending or not having ended the relationship more?

    Finally, this question raises the stakes a little and challenges any sense of complacency.  It can give you a real sense of perspective, by asking how you might do things differently if you knew you wouldn’t have another chance.

    Try these questions out or add and subtract your own and don’t forget to trust your inner knowing.  Deep down, you know what’s best for you.

    Good Luck.

     

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    Last Updated on August 12, 2020

    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

    Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.

    Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things:

    Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place; and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.

    Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps on how to plan your life goals should get you started on a journey to your destination.

    1. Make a List of Your Goal Destinations

    Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them.

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    So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth?

    Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.

    If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.

    2. Think About the Time Frame to Have the Goal Accomplished

    This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it.

    Learn the differences between a short term goal and a long term goal. Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.

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    3. Write Down Your Goals Clearly

    Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.

    For each goal, write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal. This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.

    4. Write Down What You Need to Do for Each Goal

    Under each item listed, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal. 

    These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!

    5. Write Down Your Timeframe With Specific and Realistic Dates

    Using the time frames you created, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by.

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    For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.

    Work within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.

    6. Schedule Your To-Dos

    Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.

    Write these action points on a schedule, you have definite dates on which to do things.

    7. Use Your Reticular Activating System to Get Your Goal

    Learn in this Lifehack’s vlog how you can hack your brain with the Reticular Activation System (RAS) and reach your goal more efficiently:

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    8. Review Your Progress

    At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.

    Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it.

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    Featured photo credit: Debby Hudson via unsplash.com

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