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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 September 20, 2018

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

    If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

    1. Breathe

    The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

    • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
    • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
    • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

    Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

    2. Loosen up

    After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

    Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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    3. Chew slowly

    Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

    Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

    Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

    4. Let go

    Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

    The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

    It’s not. Promise.

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    Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

    Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

    21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

    5. Enjoy the journey

    Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

    Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

    6. Look at the big picture

    The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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    Will this matter to me…

    • Next week?
    • Next month?
    • Next year?
    • In 10 years?

    Hint: No, it won’t.

    I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

    Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

    7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

    You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

    Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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    8. Practice patience every day

    Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

    • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
    • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
    • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

    Final thoughts

    Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

    Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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