Breakups are hard. That’s probably the understatement of the century. A breakup can leave you reeling – feeling unbalanced, emotionally raw and unstable, unmotivated and generally very lacking in the self esteem department. As someone who has gone through a major breakup of a long term relationship, there are a few lessons I’ve learned that have comforted, motivated and inspired me. Thought I would share.
When we’re in relationships, we often use other people as crutches to make up for the weaknesses that we see in ourselves. What we need to realize is that we need to learn to love ourselves first in order to properly love others. After all, it’s impossible to love another in a way beyond the way in which you love yourself. Self-love represents the highest form of love you have to offer – so if you don’t love yourself, you aren’t going to be able to fully love someone else. Focus on building yourself up again and giving yourself the love and validation you’re craving. Take yourself out on dates and spoil yourself a little!
2. You attract what you are.
“My primary relationship is with myself- all others are mirrors of it. As I learn to love myself, I automatically receive the love and appreciation that I desire from others. If I am committed to myself and to living my truth, I will attract others with equal commitment. My willingness to be intimate with my own deep feelings creates the space for intimacy with another. As I learn to love myself, I receive the love I desire from others.” – Shakti Gawain
It’s funny how life works sometimes. After a major breakup, I completely threw myself into the things that I loved. I wrote feverishly, played the piano into the wee small hours of the night and began to really nurture my love of the outdoors. When I began dating again, I met another writer, another musician and another lover of nature. None of this was planned – these were all coincidences and things I learned after getting to know each person. When you know who you are, you begin to attract what you are. It’s important to find who you are, to nurture that and to love yourself for it. When you are doing what you love, you will naturally attract and find similar minds who will love you for exactly who you are.
3. You can only forgive others if you learn to forgive yourself first.
Forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made, and recognize that you’re human. Humans make mistakes, and that’s perfectly alright. When you cannot forgive yourself, you’ll find that it’s even harder to find it in yourself to forgive others. Once you learn to forgive yourself, you’ll be able to see the humanity in others as well and let go of things with ease and grace. Holding onto resentment only hurts you more in the long run. Life is short. Forgive quickly, love deeply and focus on happiness.
4. Positive energy attracts positive energy. Negative energy attracts and perpetuates negative energy.
Have you ever noticed the fact that when you’re having a bad day, your day just seems to get worse and worse? In the same vein, when you wake up in a great mood, almost everything seems to go your way. They say that when it rains, it pours, and there’s a reason for that. The energy you put out into the world will be returned to you. Make sure that the energy you’re putting out there is positive, and you’ll see that the positive things in your life will begin to multiply.
5. When your problems seem too big, expand your world.
This is something I learned from my dad. Your problems will seem a whole lot bigger when the world in which you operate is small. When you’ve got a lot going on in your life and when you have many things to focus on, your problems will automatically become smaller in proportion to your universe. This is something we experience when we stargaze, venture out in nature, travel, or learn more about the world around us. When you realize that there is a great big world out there that is living, breathing and humming with energy, you’ll begin to appreciate the miracle that is life and this beautiful world around us. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, step outside and expand your boundaries. Go somewhere you’ve never been, do something you’ve never done, and try something that scares you. Anything that makes you feel small (in a good way) will make your problems seem smaller as well. Don’t forget to laugh. Life doesn’t always have to be serious, and it’s definitely not a test. Remember – none of us make it out alive anyway.😉
6. Trust the process. Trust the universe.
A lot of us are so focused on control. We try to control the outcomes of our relationships, the outcomes of our days, the outcomes of our careers and ultimately the outcomes of our lives. What we don’t realize is that everything – literally everything – is outside of our control. Bad things happen to good people sometimes, no matter how hard we try to prevent it. Sometimes it is our very resistance to what is actually happening that prevents us from moving in the right direction. Learn to be fluid and flexible, moving with life as it changes shape and brings us to new places. Trying to force things that aren’t meant to be is discordant in nature, and will create discord in your life as well. Move with life and know that if something is yours to keep, it will be yours in the end. Focus on fluidity, loving yourself, and being a positive ray of light in your own and in other peoples’ lives.
7. Nothing is good or bad. Just alive.
As humans, we tend to place a value and judgement on everything. This is good – this is bad, this is right and this is wrong. The world we live in is not perfect. Unfortunately, we don’t have a users manual – and no one can tell you the right way to live your life. Sometimes you’ll do the “right” things, and sometimes you’ll do the “wrong” things. Try to take the value and judgement out of your life experiences, and recognize that you’re just a human being – being alive.
8. You must love and accept yourself unconditionally – just the way you are, right now in this moment.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha
Being focused on self-awareness and self-improvement is a good thing, but you also need to learn to accept that you will always be a work in progress. There isn’t a destination that needs to be reached – you are perfect just as you are, right now, in this very moment. Being a work in progress is a very positive thing. You will always be changing – so love and accept yourself exactly as you are and embrace yourself in your perfect imperfection. Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to make mistakes.
9. Nothing is yours to keep. Enjoy what you are given.
Nothing is permanent – not even life. Our expectation that certain things in life must have permanence causes us pain. We are just here, passing through and enjoying the beauty that is given to us. So let go of attachment, let go gracefully of what is not yours to keep, and give love freely and unconditionally. Enjoy what you are given and embrace simply what is – and not what is past, what is in the future, or what could be. And when you enjoy what is, you will start to realize that what is becomes all you’ve ever needed. There is something so beautiful about that.
10. Never let your happiness depend on something you may lose.
Everything in life that is given to you can be lost. The only thing that you’ll always have is yourself. Focus on letting your happiness come from within. Find ways to make yourself happy, and do things that make you feel good about yourself. Make sure that you are providing yourself the happiness you need – because in the end, you really are all you’ve got.
11. Live with intent and practice radical self-love.
It’s easy to go on autopilot and to let life pass you by. Focus on becoming alive and staying close to things that make you excited to be alive. What are the things you’ve always wanted to do? What are the things you’ve always wanted to try? Life is so, so short. Collect experiences and memories – focus on that – and love both yourself and others as best as you can along the way.
12. Let yourself be weak.
“Feelings are just visitors. Let them come and go.” – Mooji
Realize that it’s okay to cry, that it’s okay to feel lonely, and that it’s okay to not feel strong all the time. Being strong all the time can be exhausting. Part of being strong is also allowing yourself to be weak and to feel everything that you’re feeling. Relax knowing that it’s perfectly alright and that you’re doing the best that you can. One day at a time. 🙂
We’re laughing in our bedroom, arms and legs tangled around each other. I don’t know where I end and where you begin. It’s bright and warm, there’s food in the kitchen and music plays from the laptop we have hooked up to the speakers next to the heater. We’re dancing in the hallway the way we always do, right next to the open bathroom door – you look at me and my heart feels full. If happiness is anything, this is it and this is the most I’ve ever felt. You laugh and pull me close and your smell brings me to where I know I belong.
Suddenly you fade from view. The lights turn out and I am standing alone in the dark crying.
Watching 500 Days of Summer for the second time got me thinking about love, and what happens when love ends. In the film, Tom has a jilted and awkward conversation with his ex-love Summer after running into her after a long period apart. Their resulting conversation made me think about the artificial distance that two people who once loved each other create when they are forced to see one another again.
Tom and Summer’s exchange was filled with empty inquiries as to how the other person was doing, and what they had been up to after all that time. They spoke as if they were strangers. The truth is they had shared a bed together, had fights, watched movies together, held hands in IKEA together, and spent intimate moments together talking into the wee hours of the morning. To see the two of them conversing so politely and acting like they barely knew each other was all at once disconcerting and heartbreaking. How sad it must be to love someone so deeply that if that trust were to be broken, one would have to keep an artificial distance just to stay sane in that person’s presence.
What broke my heart even more was the scene where Tom discovers that Summer is married. In that scene, Tom revisits a part of the city where he and Summer used to idle away afternoons together. Summer happens to be there as well, sitting at another bench.
“I thought you would be here,” she says, as she greets him unexpectedly. Dressed sharply in a business coat and dress, Summer looks decidedly married. There is a definite air of unattainability in the way she looks at Tom. It is evident that she is happy with the way her life is going. While Tom is hurting and missing her, it is clear that Summer is merely curious about his life and simply wants to know that he is happy. She is no longer his. She is gone.
The pungent mix of emotion that comes from being so in love with someone who now belongs to someone else is more than hard to take. Seeing that person happy and having them tell you that they are now sure of something that they were never sure of with you must feel like a giant tear in your heart. The feeling of that lack of control – the mismatched desire for someone that almost makes it seem like life should recognize such strong love by making things fair – that someone you love with all your heart should love you back – is untrue.
Ex-lovers try to avoid that dangerous potency of love and that fire of emotion by creating artificial distance, but the falseness of a feigned and distant conversation is as revolting as it is sad. The truth of the matter is that every person who was once part of your life will always have been a part of your life, never to leave your timeline. I’m not going to say that everyone who has been in your life was there for a reason, because it simply isn’t true. Perhaps there wasn’t a reason. Perhaps you did not learn some lifechanging lesson by being with them. Like past seasons, however, they were all different, and they all happened.
Seasons change come and go. To pretend as though a season in your life never happened, however, is strange. The next time those rust colored leaves fall and you are reminded of the past, just think to yourself, “I remember.” This does not mean that you long for that period in your life to return, or that you wish it would never come back…you just remember. You accept it for what it was. You do not think about what you thought it could be, what you wished it would have been, or what you knew it could never be. It just was. I think there’s something kind of beautiful about that.
This innocently wistful song tells a story of loss and heartbreak through the eyes of a girl who has been forgotten.