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Recovering From Relationship Loss…

The loss of any important relationship has a powerful impact on our lives. Many of my clients report feeling a mixture of emotions: sadness, grief, anger, bitterness and sometimes relief (every situation is different).  There are no “correct” feelings to have, so it is very important to validate whatever you might be experiencing.

Healing from the end of a relationship varies with each person and circumstance. It is important to allow yourself time to properly deal with loss.

Depending upon how the relationship ended, it is possible to get “stuck” in some of these intense feelings. Some common signals that you may be “stuck” include deep feelings of resentment and anger that do not seem to subside over time.

I often explain to my clients that carrying around these intense feelings of resentment or anger for long periods of time are detrimental only to the person harboring them. It’s like constantly hauling around a heavy boulder on your back. These feelings can drain you of energy and result in impaired functioning across many areas of your life (with friends/family/in the workplace). Carrying this proverbial boulder around can also make moving forward into new relationships extremely difficult and can act as emotional baggage.

Sometimes we deny the feelings of loss at the end of an important relationship. Instead, we rush forward and try hard to “get on with things”, failing to fully process and come to terms with the emotional residue that has built up. It is important to have a stable foundation upon which to build your future relationships, which means giving yourself the space to slow down and heal…as opposed to becoming quickly attached to someone new.

Once the feelings of grief have abated, it is time to reassess your future wants and needs. Working with a therapist to review patterns of past relationships and your personal values can be helpful. I often see many of my clients compromising on these issues in order to be in a relationship with a certain person, only to later find out that this was a steep price to pay. It is important to reexamine exactly what type of relationship you want. If you haven’t found what you were looking for in the past, you may need to take a closer look at what you are actually trying to get.

  1. What qualities do you want in a partner?
  2. What can you do to change your past relationship patterns? Remember…the past does not have to dictate the future!
  3. Try to complete this sentence: I am drawn to partners who are initially _____, and who turn out to be ____. I do this so I can feel_____.

If you take the time to know yourself and what you really want, you stand a far better chance of having a healthy, loving relationship in your future. All of us have the ability to learn from the past and create a brand new future…as long as we are willing to work on becoming more conscious and aware and making a commitment to personal growth.

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