Saying goodbye is step one, but to heal from the pain, you have to let go of the relationship for good. Don’t worry, we’re with you every step of the way.
”Let us forget with generosity the people who cannot love us.” —Pablo Neruda
Two years ago, I was 26 years, living with my parents, depressed, lonely, and jobless. I felt like I was at the end of life, and nothing seemed to get better. Why? Because I was not willing to try anything new or let go of my past.
Let me take you back to one year before, when I broke up with my boyfriend. I had dating him for five years… yes, five.
We met when I was in my second year in college. After graduating, I got a cool job, which I left six months later to care for his daughter. He won a custody battle, so he asked if I would quit my job to work on building a family—to which I agreed wholeheartedly.
When he eventually asked me to leave, I felt my entire life flash by me. I was now alone, jobless, broke, without anything to hold on to.
He moved on three months later and married the new girlfriend a year after we had broken up. Seeing their glorious wedding pictures should have crushed me, but I refused to continue living in bondage.
That is, my dear friends, when I chose to move on.
Two years later, my life is back together. I run a full-time blog and I could not be happier. How did I manage to let go of that relationship? Read on.
How to Let Go of Relationship Baggage
You cannot wish feelings away. When a relationship ends, not only do you lose a person from your life, it also takes away the dreams and hopes you had reserved for that person. This grieving process can be so profound, you may feel overwhelmed by the emotional baggage years after the incident takes place.
There’s good news, though. Sadness doesn’t have to be your story.
The key is to have the will.
Here are some actionable steps to let go of your past relationships:
Accept the Relationship Ended
One of the most robust steps of letting go is acknowledging that the relationship is over. If you do not come to terms with this reality, you will have a hard time processing your feelings.
It is vital to get in touch with your pain and process your feelings. Acceptance brings closure. You may find comfort in spending time with friends, spending time on your favorite hobby, or making art.
Have an Imaginary Conversation with Your Ex
If there are things you wanted to say when the relationship was ending or things you would have liked to have seem them do differently, you should consider saying them out loud.
You can say it to yourself, alone in your home, or to a willing friend over coffee. Either way, express your feelings aloud.
Include the good times, the wrong things, and finally, verbally express that you want to move on with your life. Explain that you want the person to leave you. If you choose to tell these things to a friend, have them open the door and walk out to symbolize that they have gone for good.
Sounds dramatic, right? Well, it works brilliantly, so you should consider it! The method is inspired by a shame reduction therapy, which is effective in releasing emotional baggage carried from the past.
Take Time to Process the Pain
It is OK to grieve over a relationship. You’ve lost something and, chances are, it’s not coming back.
Allow yourself time to process the rejection. Don’t resist keeping in touch with the strong aspects of the relationship and never force yourself to rush over the feelings.
If you are more sensitive than most people or struggle with abandonment, it might even be a good idea to seek the help of a counselor—an expert can help you sort the remnant wounds from previous relationships.
Focus on Yourself
Focusing on improving yourself helps because it takes the attention away from past experiences and the emotions connected to those experiences. Self-development and healing of any kind will help you appreciate who you are in this moment, rather than focusing on who you were in the past or how that relationship defined you.
Starting a new hobby, focusing on wellness and self-care, getting out in the world and experiencing new things—these are all excellent ways to step outside of the past “you” and into a peaceful, thriving person. Choose your experiences carefully, though, they should reshape you for the better and positively water your life.
Release Your Ex’s Energy
It’s easy to feel heavy and stuck after breaking up with someone you cared for, but it’s important to separate yourself from those frequencies when you are able.
When you fall in love, you become energetically linked to that person, especially if you were intimate with them. If you do not cut these ties from them, your ex-partner can continue to drain energy from you and impede your ability to move on completely.
One of the dangers of holding to a past relationship is the potential of suffering from depression from the associated loneliness, so if you are at an extremely low point, consider getting help. Use holistic approaches such as nature walks, working out, spiritual rituals, taking natural supplements for depression, or a combination of several supportive therapies.
Say No to Friendship
Maintaining a platonic friendship after parting ways, especially within the first year of the relationship ending, is too much to take in. It’s not realistic to expect yourself to be able to turn emotions on and off, so do yourself a huge favor and part ways with your ex indefinitely.
You cannot push for someone else’s healing, only your own, so setting clear boundaries when the relationship ends is an essential part of letting go. Turning the dial of the relationship from romantic to platonic is not only unhealthy, but it can make letting go more difficult (or impossible) for you.
Look for the Lesson
If you are still holding on to a past relationship or are bogged down by bad memories and trauma, looking for the learning experience in it can help lighten the baggage.
Every emotional obstacle presents a lesson. If you do not recognize the message, you are likely to remain stuck in a circle of regret, loss, and pain. The general experiences include setting boundaries, self-love, and learning to say no.
What is this relationship’s ending teaching you?
Avoid dwelling on the things you did that injured the relationship. Although it’s tempting to rehash the events, don’t do it.
When you continue revisiting the past in your head, you prolong unnecessary suffering. Concentrate on your current relationships, be it with your family or friends.
When you’re with friends, tempting as it may be, avoid venting about your ex or speaking ill of the relationship. Instead, when you want to release frustrations or pain, revisit the suggestion above and make space to let it all out (whether by yourself or with a trusted friend).
A famous adage advises that if you embark on a revenge journey, dig two graves first.
When going through painful experiences, it is normal to feel so overwhelmed or frustrated by the experience that our brains entices us to make irresponsible choices. Lashing out or trying to hurt someone because we feel hurt is not only a waste of time and effort, but it also delays your healing.
Avoid obsessing on avenging—instead, focus on finding inner peace. You deserve to feel at ease with the situation and, I promise you, an eye-for-an-eye mentality will not get you there.
Nothing in life lasts forever—every experience has to end at one time, it’s only the circumstances that differ.
The best way to embrace this fact is to treat every day like a gift.
Appreciate the people in your life and find the small things that you can gain in each moment. When I feel myself clinging to people and experiences, I remind myself that the unknown could be a curse or a blessing, and I will never know unless I let go.
Fall in Love with Your Life!
Reconnect with your family, friends, and hobbies. Do the things you had neglected when you were in a relationship with your ex.
Refocus your energy on the good things life has to offer. Realize that your self-esteem is now in a fragile place and work on improving it. Make a list of the goals you want to achieve—a fun, post-breakup bucket list—and work on them.
Try out something new—going back to school, getting a new job, learning a new language, reading a book, or traveling. Trust me, your options are endless. The mere fact that your relationship is over should not prevent you from enjoying the beauty of life.
Starting a journey of self-love and acceptance is one of the best gifts you can ever give to yourself. Keep in mind that you attract what you are, so when you learn to love your being, you will attract love too!
About the Author
Annabelle Carter Short is a freelance writer/editor. She writes for Nootropic Underground with a specific interest in brain health. She also works with few organizations to provide families with the best resources for raising and educating a special needs child. When not working, she’s spending time with her family or putting pen to paper for her own personal pursuits. Annabelle likes to make DIY and crafty projects in her free time.