A breakup, whether peaceful and mutual or painful and one-sided, is never easy. Whether it’s been 6 months or 5 years, there will be a varying degree of grief and pain that we may experience. Letting go of a person whom we’ve been close with and loved dearly is painful.
As I process my own breakup and grasp onto all the tools I have at my disposal, I’m faced with the reality of how hard it is to release attachments. Attachments to the person, attachments to the life built, attachments to the future once promised. In this article, I am sharing with you 3 tools that are helping me release attachments and support my healing.
Mind you, each individual will process a breakup in different ways. I am sharing with you the tools that have helped me and, hopefully, can help you, too.
p.s. I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. I won’t tell you that it’ll get easier with time and that it’s for the better because I’m sure countless other people have told you this. All I can say is: This sucks, I’m sorry, and you’re strong and resilient enough to get through this.
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A Breakup Is Always Hard
The end is never fun, whether you were in a relationship for 6 months or 5 years. Depending on your situation, you may experience varying degrees of grief, pain, sadness, disappointment, and perhaps even relief.
My first real relationship out of high school lasted 1.5 years. After living together for a year, we decided to end it. I remember that I was sad and hurt. However, my grief and sadness didn’t last too long.
As I process my current breakup, I only now realise how emotionally unavailable and closed off I had been years back. My relationship, which ended in 2018, had no emotional intimacy or vulnerability. As a result, even though the separation was still painful, it was nowhere near the depth of pain that I’m experiencing now.
Sure, the fact that my current relationship has been much longer makes a difference. We’ve lived together for 2 years and have been in each other’s lives every day for the last 1095 days. However, the most significant difference is the emotional intimacy and vulnerability we’ve shared.
Creating a place of safety within one another, taking the time to learn each other’s dreams and fears, and understanding each other on such a deep level that one look, one shrug of the shoulder, speaks volumes. When you become each other’s home, how can it not hurt when one day you both decide to pack up and sell the house?
Letting Go: Easy To Say, Hard To Do
Letting go of the attachments and surrendering fully to the experience, even if it’s painful, is the first step towards healing. Saying, “Hey, you need to let go of this relationship”, is quite a loaded statement. Also, it’s not going to happen in a day or two. It’s an ongoing process.
As I’ve been grieving the ending of my relationship, the idea of letting go of this person, this relationship, and our future was terrifying. The first few weeks, as the realization of our ending was beginning to sink in, I couldn’t stop crying.
The grief, the fear, the sadness and even the anger ran so deep I couldn’t do anything else but cry. As I’ve realized, part of letting go is allowing yourself to feel all emotions fully.
At the beginning of the breakup, I told myself that I am committing myself to fully feeling and healing through this. I’ve spent most of my life in states of dissociation and emotional unavailability. This was the first relationship that cracked me open and made me feel so loved and so seen.
It was only fair that the separation, on the other hand, would be so sad and so painful. I wanted to show up for this pain fully, as I have shown up for this love fully.
I’ve also decided to quit drinking alcohol. For me, part of letting go of this relationship meant also letting go of coping mechanisms and habits that would stall my healing. One of the scariest things in the world is being alone with yourself.
No alcohol to numb your feelings, no distractions to help you dissociate. Just you, your thoughts, and your feelings. I knew this would be hard, but I also knew this painful process would feel like a rebirth on the other side. I might hurt and burn to pieces, but once this process is done, I will rise like a Phoenix, baby.
3 Tools to Release Attachments
To support your healing as you go through a breakup and help release attachments, I wanted to share with you 3 tools. These tools are very different from one another. You can either try all of them or pick the one that resonates with you most.
The idea behind all of these tools is that they will help you:
- Make peace with your breakup
- Allow you to reflect on the relationship and lessons learned
- Find forgiveness and gratefulness for the other person
- Help define your next chapter & new life
1. Loving Kindness Meditation
Loving-kindness meditation, affectionately known as “Metta Bhavana” from its Pali roots, is a form of meditation rooted in ancient Buddhist traditions. This meditation is like giving your heart a warm, comforting hug.
It focuses on cultivating unconditional love and compassion, first towards oneself and gradually extending this intention to friends, acquaintances, and even our adversaries.
You start by whispering sweet affirmations to yourself — “May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be safe.” And then, with each breath, you radiate that same warmth and goodwill outwards.
When grappling with the pain of a breakup, the feelings of loss, resentment, or self-doubt can be overwhelming. Loving-kindness meditation provides a supportive framework to process these emotions.
This meditation has helped me cultivate compassion towards myself and my partner. Whispering words of kindness and well-wishes has taught me to go easy on myself during this transition. Even if it takes months, I’m allowed to grieve and feel pain during this process.
At the same time, no matter how difficult it is to let go of my partner, this meditation has helped me see him as an individual on his own journey, and all I want to do is wish him well.
I’m very spiritual, and I believe we come to this world to learn lessons. Grieving this relationship and doing this loving-kindness meditation has allowed me to step back and see the bigger picture. We are individual souls on our own paths.
Our souls needed to meet so we could learn what we needed to learn. Our time together has ended because the lessons had been learned. Now, with love and respect, I wish him well on his own journey.
There are many loving kindness meditations online and each have their own unique take on it. You can practise this meditation through meditation apps like Insight Timer or Headspace or on websites like Youtube. If you’ve never done a loving kindness meditation before, check out this meditation on Youtube.
2. Creating a Vision Board For Your New Life
I’m a big believer in vision boards. I’ve been creating visions boards since I was about 13 years old (so… half my life!) and they’ve been key in me being able to manifest the life that I desire.
Throughout the 3 years of my relationship, I’ve created a vision board every 6-12 months. Vision boards help me gain clarity on my desires, what I want to accomplish, and give a sense of direction in my day-to-day.
Since I’m now transitioning into a very different chapter of my life, the vision board that I had previously created is… outdated. Therefore, it was time to create a brand new vision board to support my healing and my new life that lies ahead.
If you’ve never made a vision board before and this concept is new to you, check out my article on what makes an impactful vision board.
A vision board is anything that you want it to be, but in short…
- It is a visual representation of your goals, desires, and what you wish to create in your life
- It can be done digitally or (much better) in a notebook or on a big piece of paper
- You can write in it, draw in it, or glue cut outs of words and pictures from magazines
- It should evoke strong, positive emotions and make you feel excited when you look at it
- Your vision board can either be time-bound (a 2023 vision board) or have no time-line at all
When I work on my vision boards I get a huge piece of paper (A3 or A2), lots of colourful markers and pens, scissors, glue, and loads of magazines.
I go through the magazines and cut out anything that resonates with me. Words such as “authentic”, “confident”, “CREATIVE” and “LOVE”. Also, I cut out pictures of places I want to visit or experiences I want to partake in.
This is a very cathartic and fun activity. As you are letting go of one chapter of your life, you need to start dreaming about the next one. So… grab your markers and magazines and get to work! You’ve got a whole new life to dream about.
3. A (Healing) Ritual To Mark The End
I’m a big believer in rituals. After all, many of life’s significant moments, like marriage, graduation, or death, are marked by rituals. These ceremonies help us recognize big changes, celebrate or mourn, and move forward.
When it comes to breakups, the emotions can be intense, and letting go can be hard. By creating a specific ritual to mark the end of a relationship, you give yourself a clear way to accept what’s happened, remember the good times, and officially say goodbye.
This clear-cut action can make the journey from the past to a brighter future a bit smoother, helping the heart to heal.
There is no specific ritual that you need to follow. The best ritual is the one that makes sense to you! Whether it’s journaling about lessons learned, burning sage, meditating, or singing a song that you’ve created, only you can decide what this ritual should look like.
See below a list of ideas of what you could potentially include in your ritual:
- Letter Writing: Write a letter to your ex-partner, expressing everything you’ve felt and learned within the relationship. After reading it aloud (privately), you can choose to either burn, bury, or safely dispose of it as a symbolic release.
- Memory Box: Collect all physical reminders of the relationship (photos, gifts, notes) and place them in a box. You can choose to store it away, bury it, or safely dispose of it.
- Candle Ceremony: Light a candle and watch it burn while reflecting on the relationship. When you’re ready, blow it out to signify the end and your readiness to move on.
- Create a Playlist: Music has a powerful way of evoking emotions and memories. Create a playlist of songs that remind you of the relationship or those that resonate with your current feelings. Listening to it can be therapeutic, allowing you to immerse in and then release those emotions.
- River Stone Release: Write memories or feelings on stones and then throw them into a river or sea, symbolically letting them go.
- Friend Gathering: Host a small gathering with a few close friends to mourn the ending of your relationship and celebrate new beginnings.
- Artistic Expression: Create a piece of art (painting, song, dance, or poetry) that represents your feelings or the relationship, allowing your emotions to flow into your creation.
- Create a Sacred Space: Burn sage or palo santo, light an incense, gather some crystals. Create a sacred space where you can meditate upon the relationship and release any feelings.
- Cleanse and Renewal Bath: Draw yourself a calming bath infused with essential oils like lavender or chamomile. As you soak, envision the water absorbing your pain and heartache. When you drain the bath, imagine it taking away the residual emotions and memories, leaving you refreshed and renewed.
- Guided Meditation: There are many guided meditations available focusing on healing and letting go. Find one that speaks to you and allows you to reflect upon and process the end of the relationship in a calm and centered way.
Be Patient With Yourself Through The Process
I hope the tools I’ve shared can be as helpful for you as they have been for me. Going through a breakup is a difficult and painful process. Yet, there is a lot we can gain from this experience.
Be patient with yourself as you go through various emotions. There will be good days, there will be tough days. Most importantly – feel your feelings. I know this might sound scary and unbearable, but do your best to not numb yourself. Feel your feelings and work through the grief.
As I navigate through my own grief and sadness, I am reminded once again how life is constantly in motion. As they say, if there’s one thing that is always constant, it’s change.
If you’re someone who enjoys journaling – or would like to try a simple yet powerful journaling practice – considering checking out my journaling class “Journaling for Self-Reflection.” This practise has been helping me focus on the things that I can control & allowing me to reflect on this big transition.