How to turn a relationship breakup into an incredible opportunity for personal growth

2 July, 2010

When a relationship ends, energy that has remained stagnant for time suddenly mobilises. For this reason, it is one of lifeís amazing opportunities to learn, grow and expand yourself and therefore your life.

I am currently seeing a lot of clients in my practice for relationship issues and dealing with break- ups. When someone has ended a relationship for you that you were emotionally committed to, itís easy to start doing some very dodgy thinking and believing about yourself and about life. This needs to be addressed and turned around into a positive as soon as possible, before you do yourself an injustice and damage your own, precious, self-esteem. I want to show you how to deal with your break-up in way that turns it into an incredible opportunity for YOU. The focus is on when someone makes the decision for you Ė because this is the place that can feel the most disempowering and I want to show you how to steer it into an empowering place that will help set you up positively for the rest of your life. Sound interesting? Read on...

The last time a long term meaningful relationship was ended for me, it was the beginning of an incredible journey that changed the course of my life forever. It turned out to be an embedded gift Ė or at least I decided to make it into one. I was deeply in love and deeply convinced that I would spend the rest of my life with this person, only to have the rug ripped out from underneath me at an extraordinary speed! Needless to say, I was heartbroken. I had just arrived in New Zealand where I had left my life in London, moved to the other side of the world and only knew a couple of people in Wellington (vaguely, from my travelling days). I found myself heartbroken without my support system. I thought to myself: Something positive has to come out of this! And I made it so it did.

I addressed myself and my issues for the first time in my life, trained in a professional discipline and started a very successful business. A private therapy and coaching practice was something which had been my dream since I was a teenager. It became full time and fully sustainable very quickly, and is one of the most consistent therapy practices in the country. I train newly qualified NLP master practitioners in how to market their own practices and have been very influential in the practice of professional NLP in New Zealand. I started to make a difference in the world Ė finally! Itís not so much a rags to riches story as a journey from disempowerment to empowerment. I hope to help you on your own journey:

1) Accept that they were not ďThe OneĒ: If the relationship ended, then they were not The One for you. They just canít be Ė the math does not add up does it?! Please avoid pointless regretful thinking like ďIíve lost the one love of my life and will never be loved againĒ as this is unfair on you and untrue. If theyíve ended things then the relationship had issues that you definitely knew about and didnít want to face because you wanted it to work. And forgive yourself for that - we all just want to love and be loved at the end of the day. This one just didnít fulfil that for you. Realise then, that they have done you a huge favour by being brave enough to be the one that made the decision and be thankful for that.

2) Continuing contact and dialogue: Break ups can be tough. You go through so many emotions (below). If we allow ourselves to be reactive to each of these emotions, we may do something we are not so proud of later, or something that could damage the other person. You will probably want to seek revenge and hurt them back Ė you may want to text them and tell them you faked all your orgasms anyway, leave angry messages on their phone, tell all their friends they were bad in bed, post a flyer around town publically declaring all their shortcomings (e.g. Samantha Jones, Sex and the City). You may feel like writing an angry letter setting the record straight. Here is where you need to be demonstrably self-possessed; ask yourself: In six months time, how do I want to be looking back on myself and my behaviours in a way that I can be totally proud of myself?Ē If you donít yet fully trust yourself not to be reactive - recruit support. Text a friend (who agrees to this) every time you get the urge to text your ex. Delete their number from your phone. De-friend them on Facebook. Write that angry letter (a good way of purging bad feelings from your system) but wait a week and see if you still want to send it (you wonít).

3) Allow yourself to go through the Break-up Stages: You will go through; hurt, disbelief, anger, revenge, wanting to set the record straight, blaming yourself, rejection, disappointment, frustration, sadness. Please avoid trying to ďfightĒ these stages, just accept them and let yourself feel them. You might cycle back on them a few times before you fully move through them. Seek support from friends or family that you really trust to go to and be your authentic self; whether this is crying, shouting, being angry, or just talking it through. Itís important you can be with people that you trust who accept you and what youíre going through, and can just be there to support you in your process. Eventually you will move on to the more positive stages; acceptance and then moving on. I have noticed in my practice that some of these stages are stickier and harder for people to move through, so I would like to focus on some of the main ones and what to do to move through them:

a) Blaming yourself: When the decision wasnít yours, it feels very disempowering at first. You were perhaps willing to sort things through and they were not. You may experience all kinds of feelings, the common one is starting to believe it was all your fault. Recognise you are doing this first; and then get realistic! It is inconceivable for one person to take 100% of the blame for the relationship ending. Relationships are of 50 / 50 input, always, which means you both brought things to the table that affected the harmony of the relationship. They are a unique individual that has come to a decision in their own neurology, which is out of your control, and in a greater sense, nothing to do with you. If you are stuck in the cycle of blaming yourself Ė pull yourself out of it, now! Here are some exercises that will help move through this stage (and, itís important to note here, that some of them seem a little negative at first ...... they are simply to help your mind process things whilst at this stage, and will help you move through the stage into a more positive stage. I am NOT advising you to wallow here for too long Ė these are just processing exercises that help you move on to more positive stages):

Write down all the things you didnít like about them: did you really enjoy the way they were rude to shop assistants? Or the way they asked to borrow money from you? This helps you realise that you knew things werenít right for you either, and it was not really the relationship you thought it was or wanted it to be.

Write down all things that you were dissatisfied about in the relationship and all the reasons you knew the relationship wasnít going to work: didnít you argue about unnecessary things? Did they really match your key values (financial, spiritual, health, relationships, goals), did you really have the same aspirations and goals in life?

b) Revenge: Revenge is a dish best served cold (please refer to no. 2!). The best revenge you can get is to bounce back quickly and genuinely, and move forward to create a happy life for yourself. This way, you will not only be a good role model for others, you will demonstrate to them the person you really are and can be, which will hopefully influence good self development for them too. However, their journey is their journey and what is important now is YOU.

c) Sadness: Once you have moved through the more active stages like anger and hurt, you will feel sad at the loss of a relationship, which, if you were involved in it, was bound to have many good points too that you will miss. This is a natural stage, and again, need not be ďfoughtĒ but ďfeltĒ. We do feel sad when we have ďlostĒ something. When I made the decision to end my last significant relationship three years ago, I felt sad for a little while. I thought about using NLP to adjust the intensity of the emotion, and then I thought: actually, it is appropriate to feel sad right now, it is sad this relationship has ended. I let it come and go, and it passed within a few months. My advice here is to feel it, understand it for what it is, and let it pass. If you stay there too long, then you may need a bit of professional help to move through it, and thatís OK too.

4) Getting your ex back or becoming friends: There is so much literature on the internet about "Get Back Your Ex And Keep Them Forever!" Ignore it! It wasnít the right relationship for you - if it was right and you were meant to be together, then you would be. They made a decision that makes sense to them in their model of the world at that time and you need to be graceful about accepting it and be thankful for it. Unless there are children involved, donít attempt to become friends. You canít really do this until you have dealt with your own emotions anyway Ė and by then, you will realise that you probably do not need them in your life after all.

5) They will hurt too: I have ended relationships and had relationships ended for me, and it hurts both ways. It is easier to have the decision made for you, as you wonít go through that regret and doubt stage that they will go through. If they were in a relationship with you then they definitely cared for you on some level, and will therefore feel disappointed about it ending too. In time, you will be able to realise this and will be able to feel some empathy for them soon.

6) What you can control and what you canít: You canít control their decision. You canít control what they say about you to your friends. You canít control other peopleís perceptions or opinions of you. You canít control what they do next. You CAN control what YOU do next. Notice how much energy you are spending focussing on what you canít control, and see if you can make a shift. Ask yourself: What do I need to be focussing on for ME right now? And put all your attention there.

7) Moving on: This can only really happen genuinely, when you have passed through the previous, more stressful, stages. Again, I want to advise to allow yourself those initial stages. Donít fight Ė feel! If you allow yourself to feel them fully you will pass through them very quickly Ė trust me. And then, you can focus on moving forward positively:

a) Deluded thinking: ďI will never find anyone like them, no one will ever love me and I will be single foreverĒ. This is delusional thinking. Itís not true. You create your own life and your own opportunities and you need to start realising that! Nothing useful can be created by that kind of thinking. Snap yourself out of it by telling yourself: I canít predict the future and therefore I am just making this up right now. I am in charge of my life and I am making way for my better relationship to come next.

b) Avoid rebound relationships: Be careful about jumping into bed with someone else or diving into your next relationship. If you rebound you are likely to have not dealt with your own stuff and run the risk of hurting the person you rebound to. Bottom line Ė you DO NOT want to take your past baggage straight into your next relationship, because you will just repeat the same patterns! I always advise, for a significant relationship break up, to have a period of time on your own, to work on yourself and the issues you brought to the table so that you leave them behind you and move forward.

c) Use it as an OPPORTUNITY for YOU: This is not longer about them and why they did what they did. This is now about YOU and only YOU (the most important part of the equation!). When a relationship ends, you canít blame yourself. And you canít blame the other person either. It is a 50 / 50 input. What is likely is that you brought a number of issues to the table that disrupted the harmony of that relationship (as did they). If you can be honest with yourself about what these were for YOU, and make a plan to deal with them, you will go into your next relationship a significantly better and more developed person, significantly more whole inside, attract someone else developed and whole inside and therefore have a relationship that is much more likely to work long term. Have a close and honest look at:

What behaviours did I demonstrate that I didnít enjoy about myself?

If I were to know/guess, where did these come from? A place of: Insecurity? Vulnerability? Neediness? Fear of getting hurt? Fear of rejection? A need to be the rescuer? A doormat Ė difficulty saying no? A need to please the other? Approval?

If I were to know / guess, where does that place within me (i.e. insecurity etc) come from? When have I felt this before? How old is this feeling? Does this feeling serve me now?

What would it be like if I were free of this feeling now? What I be like? What would my next relationship be like?

How good is my self-esteem, really? Did I fish for compliments? Did I get jealous? Did I place unrealistic demands on this person? Did I criticise them? Did I try and control them and their feelings? Did I try to manipulate them to feel good about myself? Did I get defensive? Did I need to prove myself right and them wrong?

Can I honestly look in the mirror and say ďI love you and you are totally and utterly worthy and deserving of a great relationship?Ē

There are no hard and fast answers to these questions AND a bit of honesty with yourself goes a long way in self-development. Remember Ė awareness is the key to change and you canít change what you donít acknowledge. The best relationships are when both people are whole and love and appreciate themselves, and can therefore fully love and appreciate that other person freely. Working on your own past baggage and issues can be challenging, and I would recommend lots of focussed reading and / or professional guidance. Your friends love you and some of this they simply arenít qualified to help you with. So, seek guidance if you know you have some of the meatier stuff to work on.

d) Your Next Relationship: If you take time to recognise what you brought to the table, work on yourself and your self-esteem and release your past relationship baggage, you WILL go into your next relationship a better person, and therefore start a new relationship pattern, which will be better than the last one. You WILL attract someone equally like you: whole inside and self-loving. If you donít attract the right person straight away, at least you WILL be a step in the right direction! And every relationship is progress as long as youíre learning. Take some time to work out and understand what didnít work in your last relationship and what it is you actually want your life-long relationship to be like. Think about:

What do you want the person to be like? What values or qualities do you admire? What characteristics do you love in a person? What are the essentials?

Write down everything you know you like / love about yourself to realise your own self-worth and the value you can add to your next relationship.

Who do YOU want to be in your relationship? What kind of person? What kind of behaviours do you want to demonstrate?

What do you want the relationship to be like? Think about shared values, goals and aspirations, lifestyle.

e) Feeling good: What do YOU need to do for YOU to feel GOOD right now? Have you been meaning to start yoga? Take that dance class? Clarify your life direction? Have you had the same haircut since 1992? Is it time for a new winter coat? Now is the time to use that energy to get some positive movement in your life. Donít sit around thinking Ė go for it! Itís all about you now.

Positive parting note: Remember, not every relationship in your life is SUPPOSED to last forever! As long as YOU learn from it positively it WAS NOT a mistake or a waste of time. You have been given a huge GIFT to learn about yourself and decide what you really want your life to be like, and what role you want your life-partner to play in that life. If you get clear now, you will attract the right person for you Ė please have hope and trust in yourself and in life. You are the creator of your own life, and I know it doesnít always feel like that, and it is the truth. Remember: People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Put this person and this relationship in perspective and allow your own personal movement and power to mobilise. Have fun and enjoy the incredible gift you have been given.

As always, with love and positive thoughts. I welcome your comments and feedback as always.

Charlotte. for NLP services and products.

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