Is a past relationship holding you back in a new one? Or only stopping you from enjoying the moment? Here’s how to let go of past relationships so that you can start embracing the now again.
Face the Pain
There’s no denying that it hurts losing a person. You have to face that hurt. Sit with it. Allow it to be there. Don’t try to repress it, or fight it, because that will only lock it inside you. First, see it. Let it be. Once you acknowledge it, it will start to let go.
Let Go of the Regrets
Do you think things would have been different “if only”? Well, let me tell you, “if only” doesn’t exist. You can’t go back and change things. And the truth is, if you went back, you’d do the same things all over again, because you hadn’t yet learned your lesson, or simply didn’t know what you do today.
The cool thing is, if you learned your lesson, you’ll now go out there and attract someone who fits the new and happier you. If you hadn’t learned what you did, you would keep messing up all your relationships.
If it was a misunderstanding or some other hick-up…then think about it this way: you have this moment. You’re angry/sad because you lost something in the past, something you’re still holding onto, but that only means that you’re losing the now. You’re sitting contemplating how things could have been different if only…but right now is a moment you’ll look back on tomorrow thinking “if only.” So make sure you use this moment so wisely that when you look back on it tomorrow, you won’t be thinking “if only.”
Change How You See Your Loss
When we lose someone, it’s terrible because we know no one else will ever be the same as them. Unlike ice cream, you won’t be able to find precisely the same person again. That, frankly, sucks. However, instead of thinking you’ve lost your one true soulmate, realize that everyone else who lost someone found someone else if they wanted to. And if you’ve grown, your relationships will grow. That means you’ll attract someone even better next. You might not be able to comprehend what that means yet, just know that it will be great.
The Dalai Lama wrote in one of his books that we attract and feel attracted to the people who are in the same place as we are mental. When we grow, our attraction changes. That means who we’re destined to be with might also change unless they grow with us.
There are billions of people on the planet, and even if you don’t know it now, there will be someone who will create an even better relationship with you than the one you had. Someone who fits you even better.
Check Your Thoughts
What do you think about all day, every day? Make a habit (set the alarm if need be) to check in on your thoughts every twenty minutes or so. Are you focused on positive or negative things? Are you looking for solutions, or are you dwelling on problems? Are you putting yourself down, or are you cheering yourself on? And I don’t mean the apparent thoughts, like the Excel sheet that you’re working on, but rather the thoughts hovering in the back of your mind.
When you change your perspective in life, you tend to let go of what no longer serves you, including past relationships.
Have you ever seen/read The Time Traveller’s Wife? The time traveler goes back in time, meeting his younger self. What would you have told your younger self if you’ve gone back in time? What do you think your future self would say to yourself right now?
It’s fascinating how much easier it gets to love oneself if one views oneself from the perspective of one’s older self or a friend’s outlook. Treat yourself as if you were your best friend.
And remember you don’t need to achieve things to love yourself. You were given this life as your gift. You don’t have to do anything other than what you please with it so long as you don’t intentionally hurt others. So if you think you can’t love yourself because you haven’t “succeeded” yet, think again. Success is a human concept. Not a vision for life.
The thing is, once you love yourself and are strong enough to open up, you will find the right partner. What’s more, you won’t hold onto past relationships because it won’t serve you. Someone who loves themselves, do what’s best for them.
Engage in Your Life
Sure, when we’re single, we all have days when we feel like climbing the walls because we want love, romance, and s*x, but apart from that, your life as a singleton can be very fulfilling. Being single is the perfect opportunity to focus on making your life feel great in every area. You have time to exercise, socialize (Meetup groups are great if you don’t know many people in your area!), eat well, pamper yourself, read all those personal development books you always wanted to read, and focus on your career. It’s also a great time to challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and do what you know you truly would love to do, be it daring to compliment strangers, or going skiing. Find a way to open your heart and be you. The true you.
In short, single life can be the me-time you’ve needed for quite some time. And remember, it’s not a time for becoming a better person, it’s a time for being the great person you already are in your heart, even if you may have been sidetracked from that person.
Emergency Feel-Good Tactics
There will be days when you feel your loss worse than other days. Do not wallow in it. Put on The Holiday or any other movie that helps you to remember that after a break-up, you will find love again.
Not in a loving mood? Watch a stand-up comedy gig, head to the gym, go with friends to the theatre, read a great book, go for a run, go with the girlies on a road trip…just do something you enjoy and which makes you feel good (truly good, i.e., not binge eating ice cream or binge-watching Netflix – have half a pint and one movie for the evening, not more!). The best thing is usually to be around people doing something which forces your mind to engage. I.e., not sitting with the girlies talking about love, but rather going paintballing, or watching stand-up comedy.
If you’re feeling stuck here’s a tip: fill your bathtub with ice-cold water, then have a hot shower (if you have a separate shower), or do some exercising till you’re steaming hot, then get into the bathtub and get under the water for 30 seconds at least, then have a quick hot shower. Ice cold water gets your body into survival mode, and your brain will forget anything and everything else. Alternatively, head to a sauna and do it there.
Even if you aren’t feeling entirely stuck, cold baths are great for your health and overall mindset. Do bear in mind though that if you have heart problems, you shouldn’t do it.
Look After Yourself
The more things you do to make yourself feel good, the easier it will get to let go dwelling on a break-up that doesn’t make you feel good.
Feeling good, first of all, means you’re looking after yourself. That means sleeping on regular hours and getting enough sleep (if you mess with your circadian rhythm, your mood will be affected), being outdoors to get daylight every day, exercising, eating healthy foods (save the treats for Saturdays), meditating, doing breathwork and ensuring we’re looking after your social life and career; spending time doing what you love. Even if you don’t feel motivated at first, force yourself to do the things you know will be good for you. In the end, it will pay off.
Secondly, remember that feeling good also has to do with your thinking patterns. As explained earlier and in this article, you need to let go of resentment and other negative thoughts (the article also describes how to do it). Instead, focus on the positive aspects of who you are and your life.
Get a Change of Scenery
Lastly, try to get a change of scenery. Nothing is keeping us in the past like being stuck in the same routines, as they are reminders of the past.
Sometimes it helps to go away for a week or two – visit a friend in another city, go for a trip with the girls, or simply book yourself in at a spa. If you can’t get away for a week, go out for weekends here and there. Remember that things like CouchSurfing can help keep prices down.
Try things like attending weekend workshops, meetup groups, and doing new activities in your town too. By doing new things that you enjoy and meeting new people, you’re creating a new life for yourself—one which you genuinely enjoy.
Another tip is to change homes with a friend for a week or two. It will allow you to get away from the daily things you associate with your ex.
If you have your ex on social media, it could be a time to step away from that for a while as well. It’s easier to forget people you aren’t constantly reminded of.
And remember to be excited – you’re carving out a new life for yourself, one that will be even more amazing than you’d ever realize. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Maybe you’ll end up on a gondola in Venice, or on a flight to Shanghai. Be open to new things entering your life.