6.. Detach and Revel in Your Independence Again
Attempting to fill the void yourself - without rushing to a new relationship or trying desperately to win your lover back - is essentially what detaching is all about. The Buddha taught that it is attachment that leads to suffering. So, the most direct path to happiness and peace is detachment. In his book, Eastern Wisdom for Western Minds, Victor M. Parachin tells a wonderful story about an old gardener who sought advice from a monk. Writes Parachin:
“Great Monk, let me ask you: How can I attain liberation?” The Great Monk replied: “Who tied you up?” This old gardener answered: “Nobody tied me up.” The Great Monk said: “Then why do you seek liberation?”
It is hard not to look at an infant and think wistfully of a time long ago, when we shared its purity and innocence as infants ourselves. So much of growing up seems to involve losing touch with our pristine self. The real you - your innocent, courageous self at birth, the being you were always meant to be - is not lost.
Remarkably, crisis can force us to get back in touch with this lost part of ourselves. You are so close, having arrived at this point - here, in this moment - to finding a way back to your original self and to bringing it forth in all its miraculous glory to create your new life.
One of the most liberating thoughts you can repeat to yourself when you’re immersed in grief and sadness is this:
There is nothing that I need for my existence in this moment that is lacking. When you’re experiencing the intense pangs of grief, it is so difficult to trust that you can be whole without that person in your life. But you really can. It is your job to fill the emptiness, and you can do it… creatively, and with the help of your higher power.
If your ex was your opposite, he or she represented a core part of your mind that got lost in childhood. You effectively rejected that part of yourself. You thought that if you acted in the way your ex-partner is acting now, you wouldn’t survive, so you broke this part off and repressed it. As adults we go looking for our missing part, find someone who is acting it out, and feel greatly attracted to them. We feel as though they will complete us. Of course, they are simultaneously, but conversely, finding their missing piece in us.
To become whole again, make a list of the qualities or traits that attracted you to your ex in the first place, which often turned out to be the very qualities that you attempted to change in your partner as the relationship began to run into trouble. Perhaps you thought your ex was rational, organized, intelligent, extroverted, or sexy, while you thought of yourself as possessing the opposites of these qualities. Discover your ex’s qualities in yourself, and you will become a much more balanced and complete human being than you ever thought possible.
7. Make a Good and Bad List
You need to know which activities will make you feel good, and which ones will make you want to toilet paper your ex-lover’s home (or apartment). You won’t really know which activity belongs on which list until you start trying things, but I suspect that things like checking out his wall on Facebook and seeing that he has just posted a photo of his gorgeous new girlfriend is not going to make you feel good, so put that on the “don’t attempt” list, along with e-mails and phone calls to his buddies fishing for information about him.
On the “feels peachy” list might be found such ventures as: deleting all of his e-mails and voicemails, pawning off the jewellery he gave you (using the cash for a much-needed massage?), laughing over coffee with a new friend who doesn’t know him from Adam (to ensure his name won’t come up).
Seriously, make a list of the inner qualities that you want to nurture. These qualities of your inviolate self can be injured, buried, hidden, or distorted in some other way, but they always remain. These qualities may include:
· Connecting and understanding
· Creativity and creation
· Healing and soothing
These are some of your inalienable capacities and needs as a human being. You are gifted with and are valued for one or more of the things on this list. These are the constants that remain during any crisis, and from which you will build a new and more authentic life and definition of self.
8. Work It Out and Breathe Better
Heartbreak is what you feel when you didn’t want the relationship to end. Heartbreak is a shock that impacts on all the systems of our being. At a physiological level the body goes into shock because it cannot find a physical solution to the emotional pain. The body has prepared itself by triggering the fight or flight response. Blood flow is directed away from the body’s surface to the major muscles, adrenalin is released, and digestion is halted. But there is no one to fight and nowhere to run. So, the body does not get any clear signals to release this state of tension and heightened alertness. Getting stuck like this is called stress.
Working out your grief quite literally - by running, swimming, exercising, walking, or kickboxing - is going to give you immediate relief. On a physiological level - because exercise increases the activity of serotonin and/or norepinephrine and stimulates brain chemicals that foster growth of nerve cells - but also on an emotional level, because you are taking charge and becoming the master of your mind and body. Plus, you can visualize the fellow who is responsible for your pain and you can kick him in the face. Now doesn’t that feel good.
Another spinoff may of course be that you lose that extra weight and end up not only feeling, but also looking better. And what more soothing balm for a wounded ego than the look on your former partner’s face when they bump into you and you look absolutely fabulous?
One of the reasons why exercise helps us to feel better, is that when we get the body moving, we automatically breathe more deeply.
Learning to control your own arousal or stress levels - mainly through breath awareness and breath control - is really the master key to a happier, calmer, more productive and creative life. A relaxed brain is plugged into its own guiding intuition and natural wisdom.
Diaphragmatic breathing is the most effective way to quiet and calm the mind and soul. It helps contribute to an overall feeling of wellbeing. And who doesn’t need that? Better breathing also allows oxygen to be more freely distributed to every cell in the body. The brain and all of the body’s organs work much more effectively.
Breathing a whole centring breath takes us from the centre of our physical being while uniting us with our mental and spiritual capacities. The physical, spiritual/emotional, and mental capacities work in accord. From here, we eat better, we exercise more regularly, we rest when needed. We simply make better judgements that empower life in balance.
Endorphins are endogenous opioid peptides that act as neurotransmitters. They are five hundred times more potent than morphine. They have physical and emotional pain-relieving capabilities and they give a person a sense of ease and peace. I can tell you from personal experience that deep diaphragmatic breathing releases endorphins.
9. Create a New World
This is especially important if your world has collided with his, meaning that mutual friends who have seen him in the last week feel the need to tell you about it. Create your own safe world - full of new friends who wouldn’t recognize him in a crowd and don’t know how to spell his name - where he is not allowed to drop by for a figurative or literal surprise visit. Take this opportunity to try something new - scuba diving lessons, an art class, a book club, a blog - so to program your mind and body to expect a fresh beginning… without him (or her).
Crisis offers us the gift of limitations, says Laura Day (in Welcome to Your Crisis). In crisis, we must use all of our resources effectively. We have no room to waste time, energy, money, thought, or even feeling on anything inessential.
You have to strip down to what is truly essential to deal effectively with the moment at hand. The gift of this, as you will find, is that you create, become, and surround yourself with what you truly love and value.
During heartbreak you are often experiencing the most difficult part of yourself. You feel that everything important is being lost. The loss itself feels annihilating. You are probably not sitting around, reading this and thinking, “Wow, I am constructing a truly meaningful and authentic life.” The process does not have to feel good to work.
You choose what you end up in life. When you know what you value, you achieve it. If there is any such a thing as destiny, this is it. The stripping away of everything that we thought we needed is not usually a pleasant process. The rewards, however, are wondrous.
Every crisis allows true authenticity. In fact, often we don’t have many of our old resources available to us, and we are forced back to a place we had forgotten, a place of fundamental values and truths. We carry with us many counterfeit needs and beliefs. We acquire them over time from our parents, our society, our friends, our loves.
Getting to that part of us that is uniquely ours, often takes the painful ripping away of false self. Just because something is inauthentic or even unhealthy does not mean that you are not profoundly attached to it. Although we can achieve an authentic life relatively painlessly over decades of evolution, heartbreak can speed up the process to an instant.
Revolution has its own rewards. The miraculous power of the healing we create through loss can be as stunning as looking at the sun.
10. Find Your Heart Through Forgiveness and Hope
There’s a powerful quote in the movie The Tale of Despereaux: “There is one emotion that is stronger than fear, and that is forgiveness.” But forgiveness requires hope: believing that a better place exists, that the aching emptiness experienced in your every activity won’t be with you forever, that one day you’ll be excited to make coffee in the morning or go to a movie with friends. Hope is believing that the sadness can evaporate, that if you try like hell to move on with your life, your smile won’t always be forced.
Your heart is your connective tissue to life. Without it, you would wither away in a seemingly eternal winter, become old and die. With it, you go through each inevitable spring, no matter what your age.
Your heart is your capacity to love, to feel, to enjoy, and to know beyond any scientific certainty what your purpose in life is. Your heart is the root of your courage; your mind is the sum total of your soul. Together, they give meaning beyond the mere aggregate of facts.
It is important to examine the relationship that you have with your heart. How warm, open-hearted, human, compassionate, empathic, and giving are you? How good are you at enjoyment? How well do you receive? On the other hand, how defensive, dissociated, sacrificial, scared, cynical, bitter, or naive are you? How removed are you from life? Are you just going through the paces? Have you lost your sense of passionate giving? Have you lost your fire and zest? Are you tired, burned out, or used up?
These are signs that your heart has been lost - in part or in whole. If you have lost heart, then it is time to rest, reflect, and commit to a course of action to win back your heart because it is the cornerstone of your emotional integrity. It is not too late. It is your life; you choose: wholeheartedness or half a life?