Through my own transformational / healing journey, I have seen that no matter what, we collect stories and memories on a subconscious level, which inform our current life choices. This can happen with all of our relationships – work, family, self, romantic partnerships.
This revelation came to me after a breakup, in 2012. My fiance had dumped me after a month of our engagement, and I was a mess – devastated and heartbroken. I nearly wanted to kill myself! However, a voice came from my heart that said, “I need spiritual healing”. (I share my story in this talk)
The very next day, I met with a spiritual healer. She told me that unless I fully heal from this relationship, I would keep attracting the same relationship patterns over and over. My heart would even shut down.
I did notice that my life seemed to have this pattern of men breaking up with me – apparently I was a “magnet for heartbreak”.
As it turns out, I was also harboring anger towards myself for having made the ‘mistake’ of being in this relationship, and getting dumped. I had regrets for all sorts of decisions and choices I’d made – and somehow, these fed my sense of unworthiness.
I spent the next three months, deeply loving and accepting myself. Forgiving myself for all of my life ‘mistakes’. And also, I took the time to develop compassion, understanding and forgiveness for what had happened with my ex – and I could see how I had been part of the process of the breakup – and why he wasn’t the right partner for me. I was able to release him, with a sense of love and empowerment. And 3 months later – I attracted my now-husband! On a spiritual level, I had to ‘learn my lesson’ and release the psychic cord I had with this man – and other past lovers (whom I thought I had ‘forgotten’) – to magnetize the partnership I truly deserved.
Another key thing that I learned was that I had started to send ‘rejection’ signals to my partner(s), way before they even broke up with me. This means – that on a very deep level – I knew that the person wasn’t right for me – but my ego wouldn’t let me see this. I had somehow ‘co-created’ my breakup. Coming to this acceptance was a huge part of forgiveness and letting go.
This is a key part of the work I do with single women – as I call it, “Close Your ‘Ex Files’”.
When a person forgives their parents, exes, siblings, themselves – and all others who may have harmed them – they feel free and baggage-free and self-loving – and open up to new possibilities!
The Five Stages of Catharsis
As I’ve now learned, there are 5 stages of catharsis:
- Shock and Denial
- Pain & Guilt
- Anger & Bargaining
- Depression, Reflection and Loneliness
- Acceptance, Meaning & Upturn
Unless we allow our emotional body to experience ALL of them, we harbor these feelings within us – almost as a form of repression. I talk about ‘healing one’s heart’ in a webinar I did “From Grief to Peace – How to Heal Your Heartbreak… Mindfully” along with the notes (attached).
The reality is, unless we don’t learn what we needed to from any breakup, we begin to grow a layer of resentment, fear, regret, anger in our heart – energetically known as the ‘heart wall’ – and these feelings/memories can live in other parts of body as well (Chinese medicine talks about organs being centers for certain feelings getting stored).
This ‘release’ process can take a day or even months – depending on the level of support you need. However, I’ve noticed that people carry these for years – or all of their life – without seeking the right kind of ‘medicine’.
Also, I’ve seen that there are different stages of breakup, depending on whether the 3 key physiological needs aren’t being met, “I feel safe, I belong, I am loved”.
The physical breakup is the last – and usually, you can start seeing signs early on:
- Spiritual: You make a deep soul-level decision that this relationship isn’t right for you
- Emotional: You begin to find trust, safety, love and connection outside of the relationship. You start feeling disconnected with the other.
- Mental: You’re not mentally present for the other. You lose interest, or begin focusing on other areas of your life
- Physical: You leave the relationship
One or both people may be on different levels of the spectrum before the breakup. However, the reverse may be true in addictive or co-dependent relationships.
The Standard Breakup
First, begin to offer yourself, and the other person, empathy. Get through the phases of shock, pain, anger, etc. mindfully. Take a 30-day break from contacting the other (let them know too, if it supports you). And begin to offer yourself self-love, and space to process your emotions.
Then, begin to understand:
- a) What were you supposed to learn?
- b) What patterns did you fall into?
- c) Was this man/woman really right for you?
- d) what would you do differently next time, if you could be more intentional?
- e) Understand what pain you may have inflicted on the other person and take responsibility – asking for for forgiveness – on a soul-level;
- f) Understand why you weren’t right for them – and how letting them go was the most compassionate choice for them; and
- g) If it’s appropriate, express how you feel with the other person. What needs were/weren’t being met? Allow the other person to express themselves too. This takes a great deal of inner harmony and strength (and some conflict resolution skills), before a healthy conversation can happen
Usually it’s only after all of this reflection can someone have compassion for the other – and find a place of true forgiveness.
Then I would look to cut the psychic cord with the person – physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally; and respect the other person’s decision to move on as well.
I tell my clients to practice a lot of ‘Ho’oponopono’ – an ancient Hawaiian practice of “I’m sorry, thank you, I love you, please forgive me” with all of their relationships – especially exes.
And practice a lot of self-love and self-compassion throughout this process!
If you still feel that there was something that can be salvaged, then after the 30 days, speak with them. Maybe even bring on a coach to help you through this process, to handle it with a sense of power and equanimity.
An Emotionally Taxing Breakup (involving cheating, lies, scandal)
I would follow a similar process with the above – but highly recommend working with a coach/healer/therapist to help get through the process – as it’s emotionally disruptive and may even lead to a breakdown for a person. Self Love is really important.
It’s hard to understand how you could have gotten yourself embroiled in such a situation (and what role you played) – and have compassion and forgiveness. A third party can really help with this.
I sometimes see these types of extreme situations of betrayal as spiritual blocks – life lessons to learn, and energetic patterns to break so that you don’t create these situations again in your life.
A Physically or Emotionally Abusive Breakup
Similar to above. Emotional and physical abuse can leave scars, and again, having a third party to support you is practically critical. Studies have shown that the same parts of the brain light up when being rejected or abused as physical pain. There is trauma that is generated, which must be healed/released. There may even be a form of PTSD that remains, if a person doesn’t heal.
Interestingly, from my experience with clients, I’ve noticed that there’s an addictive quality to abusive relationships. People tend to stay in them, even though they are clearly bad, because they somehow ‘program’ their pain and pleasure pathways to wire together. It may even feel safer to stay in something abusive, than potentially ‘be alone’. There may even be a lot of love and sexual chemistry – but again from a wounded space. For instance, if you received abusive love from a parent, you may seek or tolerate this from a partner.
It’s hard to understand why a person may have abused you, but after doing some inner release work, you’ll start to understand the other person – what made them abusive in the first place – perhaps starting from childhood? How did you potentially help create this abusive situation? Remember, even when the other person abuses, they are usually doing it from a place of deep pain and suffering within themselves.
Thich Nhat Hanh says, “When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment, he needs help. That’s the message he’s sending.”
Now this doesn’t mean you need to help them (as many women feel they need to) – it just gives context for why an abuser does what they do.
Can You Really Just Forget and Move On?
We know what the dictionary says:
Forgive is to: “Stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake.”
Forget: “Fail to remember.”
Forgiveness is a sense of understanding and having compassion for both you and the other person. You forgive for the sake of your own ego – your ego wants to keep a sense of separation between you and the world. You forgive to connect with your deeper sense of love and purpose. As mentioned above, forgetting is never really an option – as we are a collection of memories, stories and so much more.
Ken Wilber explains it well:
“The theory behind forgiveness is simple: The ego, the separate-self sense, is not just a congnitive construct, but also an affective one. That is, it is propped up not just by concepts but by the emotions. And the primal emotion of the ego, according to this teaching is fear followed by resentment. As the Upanishads put it, “Wherever there is other, there is fear.”
In other words, whenever we split seamless awareness into a subject versus an object, into a self versus an other, then that self feels fear, simply because there are now so many “others” out there that can harm it. Out of this fear grows resentment. If we are going to insist on identifying with just the little self in here, then others are going to bruise it, insult it, injure it. The ego, then, is kept in existence by a collection of emotional insults; it carries its personal bruises as the fabric of its very existence. It actively collects hurts and insults, even while resenting them, because without its bruises, it would be, literally, nothing.”
I’ve also shared some cliff notes here on the topic of Forgiveness.
Remember: Forgiveness is a choice, a decision. You do it within yourself, whether the other person knows about it. To grant someone else forgiveness is an act of the ego. You may or may not actually pardon them.
If you simply choose to forget and move on with your life, this is a form of withdrawal, disconnection and apathy. Many people fall into the ‘avoidant’ category, and may even shut down their hearts, if they try to detach their emotions.
How Does One Actually Forgive?
It really depends on the situation. But the first place to start is within oneself. Forgive yourself, then gain understanding of what happened. Don’t start complaining and bringing others into your drama. After all, words are creative and potentially dangerous – and whatever you say from a place of anger is never really a good thing.
If you do speak with some wise friends or a mentor/counsellor, try to come from a place of wisdom or openness.
Then begin to practice Ho’oponopono. Do the analysis of how you were responsible for the suffering; and begin to have compassion for the other.
Then, you have to choose the appropriate timing and methodology to actually forgive, or seek forgiveness to the ‘betrayer’.
It also all depends on the severity of the betrayal or suffering.
Create a Forgiveness Mindset
Given our fast-paced times, we have become somewhat of a reactive society. Sometimes we make a bigger deal out of things – especially if we’re highly disconnected with ourselves or insecure.
Different practices/tools may be helpful to help alleviate anger and bring on more tolerance and forgiveness in general:
- Mindfulness / meditation to slow down your reaction and gain wisdom
- ‘Instant Forgiveness’ – where you forgive the person immediately, but then take time to process AND THEN take action
- Deep breathing
- Working out / walking / yoga – to help circulate your energy
- Self Empathy (I teach a process on it)
- Empathy / Deep Listening of the other – see my notes here
- Conflict resolution
- Healing / releasing old wounds and blocks (sometimes we are triggered by people for a reason!)
- Working on releasing self-judgement and judgement of others