The end of any relationship is difficult – romantic relationships more so. What makes breakups so painful and how can you interrupt the pain? Relationships are a fantastic tool for us to learn about ourselves and others. We’ll explore techniques on how we can learn from the pain of a break up.
The Mirrors of Relationship is recognized as a powerful coaching and healing methodology because it always seems to bring awareness in the situation.
The reason that Mirrors work so well is that the mechanism merely decodes one of our most basic emotional processes: the fact that we need to project emotion onto others.
To see this for yourself is really easy: you’ve had days where you’ve woken up feeling amazing and on top of the world, for no reason other than you got up on the right side of bed. Now remember back to a time when you were in love with someone, and notice how each time that someone comments on your happiness, you ascribe it to the fact that you are in love.
There’s no guarantee that you didn’t just wake up on the right side of the bed that morning – in fact you didn’t even give that idea a second thought. It’s so natural to you to project your emotion out that you automatically assigned the emotion to something that’s outside yourself.
We even do this in small day-to-day ways. Someone will ask if you’re in a good or bad mood and you’ll say yes and then justify why. Or they will ask you why. We never take emotion as being solely inside — we automatically project it out. It’s just what we do as human beings, how we form connections.
Conspicuous In Their Absence
The reason that the natural emotional projection process becomes painful during a breakup is because the person you’ve just broken up with becomes conspicuous in their absence.
So every time you have an emotional projection during your relationship, you train and habituate yourself to project that emotion towards your partner. This is actually one of the main reasons we need relationships: we need a secure space in which we can project and express our emotional range.
They say it takes three weeks to form a habit, but in the case of the first exciting flush of love, everything is exaggerated, and so it quickly becomes your norm to associate and align your internal emotional experience to your new love.
In fact it’s how we know we’re in love: we feel an emotion and then think about the person, projecting the emotion that is ONLY INSIDE US onto the other party, calling it love.
So even if the relationship ONLY lasted a week, it quickly became your norm to project your emotion onto the other party. Now when you feel an emotion, it’s a double whammy: first you have no one to project it onto and so you feel lonely, and secondly you are REMINDED that there is no one there for you anymore – your love is not welcome there anymore.
It’s Worse For Long Distance Relationships
You’d think that the distance and lack of the person being around in long distance relationships would make those breakups easier, but it’s actually the contrary: a long distance relationship breakup is WAY worse.
For traditional and in-person relationships, the shock of the change in your immediate environment causes you to face the breakup immediately, because there is sharp contrast between your partner previously being around, and their now-visible absence.
In a long distance relationship, the idea of your partner being conspicuous in their absence is a concept that you become accustomed to DURING your relationship.
It works like this: because your partner is hardly ever around, you learn to deal with the pain of not being able to project your emotional needs, e.g. getting a hug or having sex. When things are good, you find alternate ways of dealing with those needs and desires.
Over time then, you habituate your system into NOT recognizing that your partner ISN’T around, and finding alternate ways to deal with and ignore the pain. So when you enter the breakup cycle, nothing in your life shocks you into accepting and recognizing the change, and you get stuck emotionally.
Technically the reason you’re stuck is because your whole long distance relationship has been one long, drawn-out breakup in terms of emotional mechanisms, because our mechanisms of emotional connection are designed to draw us closer together in unity; to overcome separation.
By stalling the process of your partner being conspicuous in their absence, you’ve started but stalled the process of separation. Now, in order to get it going again, you have to identify and change the new habits you formed to work around the emotional pain of separation that you were feeling.
Often, because those of us in long distance relationships don’t want to accept that the level of the relationship can’t be ‘real’ at such distance, we don’t want to acknowledge the pain, distance, and isolation we felt during our relationship.
Once we acknowledge those emotions, we have to admit the truth of what our relationship was, and accept the sense of failure at not being able to make it work. This is a double blow to our pride when we have to face friends and family members who tried to warn us it couldn’t work.
Interrupting The Pattern
The fastest way to interrupt this pattern is to recognize it consciously.
When you feel the pang of pain about your former partner, stop and analyze yourself instead of going into the pain.
Take a deep breath and ask yourself the following questions:
- What was I doing in the moment that I noticed this pain?
- What was I thinking about?
Chances are good you were feeling an emotion, reminiscing over a memory, or thinking about a lost future experience.
If you were feeling an emotion, is there somewhere else you can project that emotion? Someone else who makes you feel love or happiness or even anger?
Is the emotion you are experiencing a result of what is happening in front of you right now or is it a general emotion in your life? If so, are you just looking for a place to project it – a reason to be having this emotion?
Can you be grateful for past experiences that have occurred, remember them, release them, and know that you can have them again in future with someone else that you love?
If you’re considering lost future experiences, are these experiences entirely lost or can you still achieve your desires with somebody else?
Be Brutally Honest
If you start getting brutally honest with the questions above, what you’ll find is that you are more mourning the idea that you don’t have SOMEBODY than you are mourning the loss of a particular person.
Once you can make that energetic change by getting yourself to recognize that it’s more a need to have SOMEBODY there, you’ll be able to bounce back and let go much more easily.
It’s easy to decide that nobody wants us when one person has rejected us, because it’s a safe route that means we don’t have to put ourselves out there and get hurt again.
But you’re human, and the human condition requires that you have a place and space where you can project your emotions. Acknowledging that about yourself is only going to make transitioning between relationships easier, and it will significantly reduce the amount of pain you have to experience chasing after empty dreams you don’t really want in the first place.
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