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Breaking Up Is Hard To Do--Or Is It?

Nov 9, 2007
There's a time in almost everyone's life when it happens: someone you care about breaks up with you. Sometimes it comes out of the blue. Other times, you knew it was coming. Well, at least deep down.

But no matter how inevitable, it still hurts. Even if you initiated the break-up, it can be painful. Someone who was deeply embedded in your life and your thoughts is now gone--poof! There's a loss of comfort, familiarity, and even of habits and routines that became yours as part of that relationship.

But what's so important about habits and routines? Over time we often make them part of our identity:

* Being John's girlfriend
* Meeting Jen at the Red Apple Café every Tuesday
* Talking on the phone every night around eight, and knowing that, reliably, you have someone to analyze your day with you, someone who actually cares about the minutia
* Having someone to go out with every Friday night
* Someone to split your favorite dish with
* Someone to laugh with about the antics of friends you both know so well
* Someone to agree that you were right and your boss was wrong, wrong, wrong
* Someone who could be counted on to help you out if you were sick

Enough? There's plenty more, but why belabor it? Suffice it to say that every relationship has its benefits. You may not even be aware of them because they've become so readily available. But when gone, they create a hole, a gap, a sense of "something missing."

Even the irritations become something you're sad to realize you'll "never have again."

Never-have-agains take on more power and importance simply because you believe they are now forever out of reach. Forever is a long, long time. So what do you do? How do you go on living with this gap, this loss, this bit of emptiness?

Well, have you ever had to deal with emptiness in some other part of your life? If you're over sixteen, you probably have. Think back. How did you recover? How do most of us do it? What is the secret formula?

Don't worry, you won't be guessing forever. I know you know the answer. It's just so simple, you may not even consider it. .....Really, it's obvious....Super-duper obvious.....

Give up? The answer is we fill the emptiness. Moments once dedicated to a particular activity, thought, or person, are now free and open, ready to be assigned to another. And they do, quickly or slowly, get assigned.

We fill the emptiness.

"How cold!" you may be thinking, "Does that mean you expect me to walk away from a eight-month/year/decade love affair and take a flying leap into another?"

Maybe. But frankly, probably not. Not quite yet anyway.

Filling the emptiness immediately is tempting, I know. What a salve to the ego to discover that someone new has a mad crush on you, thinks you're amazing, worthy and fascinating just when you feel upset, unglued, and unhappy!

Except that unhappy isn't always bad, is it?

Oh, you think it is? Wait. Let me explain.

When you sit with your unhappiness, you can discover its precise cause. You can discover exactly what you really want and need in a relationship. Not what you've accepted as your needs from reading magazines, watching talk shows, or listening to friends. I mean the non-negotiables.

Your real and personal non-negotiables.

And if you let yourself notice them, imagine them, picture them, hear them, feel them, you'll know what you're looking for. Now.

Not what you were looking for when you were sixteen, eighteen, twenty-five. What you're looking for now. Because your list changes, not necessarily because of the years that have passed but the life experiences you've gained.

Now you won't be stuck looking for traits that don't matter anymore, but the ones that are of maximum importance now. Today.

Wouldn't that be useful?

Now, what are those traits?

Frankly, a lot of people still come up with their list--and yes, you have a list even if you're not conscious of it, even if you've never written it down--by thinking the same thoughts they did when they first got interested in the opposite sex (or the same sex, if that's the case).

Sexy body, big eyes, giggly or nervous when you're in the room--or whatever floated your boat when you were eighteen.

Nothing wrong with still loving big blue eyes, or small brown ones for that matter.
But, and here's the important but, maybe there are some other items that experience says must be on that list now.

Like someone you can trust. Someone who shares some of your interests so you have something to talk about, something to do together.

Sex is great, but these days do you really want to be doing that 24 hours a day?

So...how about wanting someone who won't make your life a heart-pounding nightmare? Someone who won't abscond with your bank account or your best friend? Someone who won't bore you? Or be bored by you? Someone who won't cause trouble with your family (unless you wouldn't mind trouble)?

Now you may have noticed, we just then started identifying things you don't want in a mate: a nightmare life, a thief, a cheater, a bore. Truth is those may be just as important as the things you do want.

Because for some people, avoiding certain traits or behaviors or even physical characteristics are just as important as seeking elements they enjoy and admire.

And guess where you might find some of those "don't want" traits to add to your list.
Yup, some of them can come from your ex. But please don't eliminate everything about him or her. Avoiding someone with a nice smile and an ability to cook up a feast may not be necessary just because your ex had those.

However, avoiding someone with a roving eye that often lands on your best friend is probably smart.

"So what does all of this have to do with breaking up?" you want to know. Because it may seem like we're talking more about your next relationship than the one you're thinking of getting out of, or maybe already got out of.

You're absolutely right.

We are.

And that's because of a simple principle:

"Nature abhors a vacuum." When something is removed, nature needs to fill the space. And like nature, when something is taken out of our lives, we want to fill the space it has created. To some people that desire to fill a gap results in a rebound relationship, which is not a pleasure for anyone, ultimately.

But you don't need to create a rebound relationship to fill the space.

For now you can fill it with thoughtful consideration. Taking the time to meditate on your old relationship and discover what you need now.

What you now don't want, as we discussed earlier. And what you now do want.

In Words that Change Minds, a book geared toward business but with applications for relationship, author Shelle Rose Charvet names motivational directions....

Away From (what you want to avoid having, doing, or being)

and

Toward (what you want to have, be, or do)

So if you're motivated most strongly to avoid what you consider negative, that's an "Away-From" motivational direction. And if you pay more attention to acquiring what you consider positive, that's "Toward."

Most of us have something we definitely want and something we definitely don't want. So naturally most of us want desperately to avoid certain things and acquire others.

Okay, enough explanation. What to do something concrete? Something that could make your next relationship worthy of you?

Ready to do it right here, right now?

Great! You'll need a note pad, a computer, or some other way to keep a record of your thoughts.

Start by making two lists. Name one "What I Want to Have, Do, or Be" in the context of relationship. Name the other "What I want to Avoid Having, Doing or Being."

Got that?

Now start adding to the lists. You can do it one at a time or by moving back and forth. Add to the lists by thinking of your most recent relationship and the ones before it.

Add further by thinking of friends, family members and co-workers who you wouldn't necessarily date, but who have characteristics you would (or wouldn't) want in a life partner.

Put the lists aside for now, and add a little more, day by day.

Feel free to remove the things that really aren't essential. Or prioritize them.

Whatever you do, don't beat yourself up if you discover that your ex or ex-to-be has
a large number of don't-wants, or a large number of do-wants.

Just focus on using your wisdom to create your new future.

It works....as quickly or as slowly as you're ready for it to work. You'll see.

In fact, this is the first approach I often take when clients meet with me in my Chicago office thinking about or recovering from a break up. Sometimes it's all they need. Other times, we use additional coping and enlightening techniques like visualization, hypnosis, the Emotional Freedom Technique, neuro-linguistics, and plenty more.

But this is the starting place.

And you've already started.

©2007 by Wendy Lapidus-Saltz. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Wendy Lapidus-Saltz, principal of Jaguar Mind LLC, is a mind coach certified in hypnotherapy, NLP and other disciplines. She created the Hypno-Attraction® Hypnosis for Love CD and workshops on the topic of love and relationship. Her office is located in Chicago's Gold Coast area. Website: http://www.hypno-attraction.com
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