Mindfulness And The Art Of Breaking Up
When my kids were toddlers, I wanted them to not fear water. So I urged them to just jump in the pool. I’d catch them, but they had to find the nerve to say “what the heck” and take the plunge, not knowing what was next.
A brilliant strategy for teaching youngsters to swim. But a disastrous one for ending a relationship.
Yet, that’s what almost everyone does. We just plunge in, without considering what might ensue. The result can be a hot mess. Raw feelings, grudges, unresolved issues. And the ripple effects linger for years…or the rest of your life. So before you leap, look. Pause. Breathe. And employ some mindfulness to make your split less hectic and painful. No matter your circumstances. If you think you don’t know what mindfulness is, well, you probably do. It’s a broad term describing the techniques, goals, and benefits we can get from meditation, yoga, prayer, therapy and other body and soul-centering practices.
And you don’t have to be an expert or even a practitioner at all to use mindfulness to make your breakup a less awful or maybe even an amicable and loving dissolution.
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Step one is easiest… and the most difficult
Just… relax. Any way you can. For a minute. Or a lifetime.
Take a moment, or however long you need and just breathe. Acknowledge the obvious: You’re navigating a storm. It ain’t easy. So reset your mind and heart. Be the calm, steady pilot who announces, “Turbulence ahead. Please fasten your seatbelts.” Or consider that you’ve got your eyes closed – your mind’s eyes – and that walking through a minefield is far less dangerous if you have them open. So, calmly open them. The alternative is to be in pain – groping and hyperventilating. And as the man said, we have nothing to fear but fear itself.
Now you’re ready for the next step: To calmly consider what matters and what doesn’t. To contemplate what you can and can’t do to make your breakup whatever it is you need it to be, whether that’s quick and uncomplicated or protracted and intense. What do you really want? Is that different from what you actually need? How much time do you want to spend breaking up? Are you willing to let go of things to keep your eyes on the prize – moving on and starting your next chapter?
Next comes an essential step
The decision to, yes, get what you want, but not by being brittle. To instead be easy and gentle, seeking minimal scarring all around. I believe this is possible for almost everyone, but only if you can be relaxed and clear in your soul. And no, it doesn’t matter what your soon-to-be-ex does. Here, it only takes one to tango. Your soon-to-be-ex can rant and rage and be a goon. So what. You’re calm, open-hearted and focused on what really matters: Getting the breakup done with minimal baggage.
For example, if you’re mindful, you can consider: Is it worth re-hashing old arguments? Settling scores? Or is it actually worth more to ignore all that and get your break up done? A year or two from now, will you care about that old fight? Probably not. So can you mindfully transport yourself in your head to that near-future and just get that release now? It’s not easy. But yes, you can.
And if you can muster such mindfulness, maybe you’re ready to take the most difficult, but deeply helpful step:
You may have been hurt or poorly treated. Or worse. So bravo – by breaking up, hopefully, you’re moving on, starting anew. But after you break up, will the bad people and situations just poof, disappear? Or will you continue seeing, working or co-parenting with them? Use mindfulness, now, to create a future where that’s not dreadful.
This doesn’t mean forget. Or approve. Or like. It just requires you to grip your cosmic tweezers and pluck out the thorns in your being that think about these folks at all. And in so doing, forgive them. And free yourself. Relieve yourself of caring about them. Banish them from your head – because that’s where they live, when you let them. Evict them by forgiving them. By saying, yes, they screwed me, but that’s history and I’m focused on my new future, and there I don’t have to care anymore.
I know, that’s hard. But believe me, it’s worth it. As is forgiving perhaps the hardest one to forgive of all:
Is the mess you’re in your fault? Maybe it is. Or maybe it is not and you’re legitimately a victim. Either way, you feel you screwed up and let yourself get into this place. Didn’t listen to so-and-so who warned you, didn’t recognize the signs, let baser instincts rule. So what. That’s done. There’s no time machine to change things. You’re moving on, and guess what? You’re a good person. A horribly-flawed, messy, sometimes ugly or dumb human. Still, a good person who wants to do the right thing and tries. Every darned day. Who deserves a break – especially from the one person who can give it.
I know this is all a tall order. You’re ending a relationship, not applying for sainthood. But still, be mindful. To help you be calm and kind to the world and yourself. The result can be a breakup that, while full of tough emotions and situations, is still a healing, a renewal, and a fresh start – not painful litigation of what, after all, is now the past.
Steve Kane is an entrepreneur, investor, author and founder of http://gethappy.life.
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