Come on, happiness feels so much better than sulking.
I’ve been there before, obsessing about my ex and agonizing over our breakup.
But, that was a long time ago. I’ve since worked through the grief and life felt happy again when I decided to finally be happy with myself, by myself.
Only then did I find someone new, someone who loved me for who I am instead of some woman he wanted me to become. We’ve been married 30 years.
Tons of research shows that “positive emotions can occur following breakup, particularly when the previous relationship did not expand the self, and when personal growth occurred after the breakup.”
So, how do you find happiness and confidence again and use the ending of a relationship as a way to grow? Here are four soulful strategies:
1. Fall in love with the brand new you
That’s right, your NEW self. The relationship you just left changed you.
According to an abstract in Science Daily, “When a romantic relationship ends, an individual’s self-concept is vulnerable to change.”
That can leave you feeling not only depressed, but unclear about who you really are. So, first, regroup. Feel free to sit still (and even analyze) for a few weeks, as suppressed grief sticks around, but don’t linger here for months!
Losing someone we love leads us to amazing new life directions, precisely because it changed us or because we’re forced to change after he leaves. Taking that first step is exciting, so turn off your electronics, put down the remote, and reconnect inward.
2. Express yourself in new ways
The best way to move forward is figuring out what interests you didn’t have time for when you were part of a couple. Now, go do those things!
Say, your Significant Other was allergic to pets and made fun of your passion for saving dolphins — volunteer for animal rights or animal protection. Or go back to school for that extra degree or certification that will increase your income or your prestige.
Start exercising; it’s a wonderful way to shake off depression, meet new friends, and maybe end up running a marathon.
When I’m feeling down, I find a group of dancers or singers. Music heals, even if it’s not your deepest personal passion.
If none of the above appeals to you, find YOUR passion, and go after it! You’ll find a NEW piece of you there, and that will help you connect to some of your much-treasured yet forgotten pieces. You’ll feel upbeat and hopeful again in no time.
3. Reconnect with people who lift you up
When you feel that hum of inner happiness, clarity, and confidence start back up that’s when you can make some key decisions and start reconnecting with people again. Taking action and plugging back into our lives leads us away from dependency on our exes. We can now rely on ourselves for self-worth, self-love, and comfort and entertainment.
Hang out with people who appreciate the parts of you that your ex criticized or rejected. Do the things he’d never do with you (ask your friends to join you). And when you’re ready, write a profile about the NEW you, full of the self-confidence you’ve found while exploring new vistas.
You can use this profile for online dating, your social media site, or just to stick in your journal to update once in a while. A reminder that not being attached to another still makes you whole.
4. Forgive … your ex and yourself
It may take a long while to forgive a person who hurt you at your core. I’ll admit, I still have the postcard I never sent to my ex that said, “Wait, come back! There’s a piece of my face you haven’t stepped on yet!”
I also find that many clients and friends stay stuck in blaming themselves for being themselves. They keep searching for something they did “wrong.”
“Sometimes the main reason people feel bad after a breakup is because they feel rejected, not because they really miss that person,” says self-awareness expert Farouk Radwan.
Maybe you did make a mistake, but relationships don’t usually end because of one misstep. If you’re searching for your mistake for a long time, it definitely wasn’t the reason he walked away.
In fact, you can believe him when he says, “It’s not you, it’s me.” When you’ve realized this truth, you might just look at his photograph and smile because you’ve cast off those judgments and burdens he laid upon you.
That’s when your life starts to change again — when you stop simmering in the past, you’ll find your true partner in the present.
After a while of loving yourself, you’ll realize it’s MUCH easier being yourself all the time instead of trying to change or, worse, pretending that you’re someone else for ‘love’s sake.’
Think of all that you’re missing while you hang on to someone you clearly were not meant to be with (and vice versa). Remember, there IS a Mr. Right out there pining for you. Let happiness back in again. Come on now. He’s waiting!