Carrie couldn’t believe her eyes — Big was standing just a few feet away with his new girlfriend. She hid behind the wooden chest that her boyfriend, Aiden, made, at his display in the furniture expo. Her heart raced, she became giddy and clumsy, and when Big saw her, her cheeks went red with embarrassment as she stumbled into view. “Act cool!” she thought as she sheepishly greeted him. 

Most of us know the story of Carrie Bradshaw (fictional character from the hit HBO series, ‘Sex and The City’) and her dysfunctional dating life all too well. Whenever she would fantasize about Mr. Big with her way-too-patient friends over martinis, we would groan (if you didn’t, we must talk). Why couldn’t she just move on from this elusive, cigar-smoking, narcissistic, model-chasing, commitment-phobic man?

We could chalk it up as bad luck, the abysmal New York dating scene or daddy issues, and thank our lucky stars that we don’t have that kind of drama. Or do we?

Is the forbidden terrain of broken relationships still haunting our love life?

In a recent survey through the Love Magnet Quiz, an online tool for women to gain clarity of their dating patterns, nearly 66% of women still think of their ex (34% are still annoyed and angry, another 21% still feel hurt, while 11% stay up nights, wondering what they did wrong).

Further results shows that 70% of the respondents feel either stuck or sad that their life feels ‘pointless’ and have nonexistent dating lives.

While the correlation between one’s dating life and their past relationships may not be clear at first, the impact on the psyche must be examined.

Common wisdom says, “Time heals all things” but as a transformational coach and a woman who’s lived through my share of heartbreaks, I’ve realized it simply isn’t the case — through our relationship ‘disasters’, we accumulate baggage, subconscious beliefs about our unworthiness, become self-doubting and mistrustful, and lose ourselves in ‘performing’ in the dating game to find a partner. Scars are formed on every level — physical, emotional, spiritual and mental.

What are the ‘Ex Files’ anyways?

Most women I consult with are confident, successful women who know how to get what they want and are ready to finally meet the man of their dreams.

And yet, when probing how they would really feel if they were to meet ‘the one’, we find that they are guarded, cautious, numb, scared, doubtful or mistrusting. This becomes an impetus to explore what’s creating that ‘Heart Wall’ (a protective layer formed by their subconscious mind around the heart, a concept developed by Dr. Bradley Nelson) that’s keeping them single.

When people are afraid, they create other obstacles to finding love, such as becoming too busy with work, feeling jaded or untrusting, dating folks they know deep inside aren’t right for them or creating stories about why they’re single.

The ‘Ex Files’ are an entry-point for understanding what’s keeping people blocked in love.

The ‘Ex Files’ are a collection of stories, feelings and events that arose in the last significant relationship(s) a person had. They become a gift from the past that informs the present about why one struggles in love.

The past relationship becomes the proverbial philosophers’ stone, through which one becomes an alchemist, turning their gunk into gold. It’s an opportunity to learn about one’s patterns and the root causes, dealing with unprocessed hurt and pain, and honestly exploring where one was inauthentic, gave up on her power or hid her truth.

It’s also a unique chance to learn the relationship and communication skills one lacked at the time. For instance, you may learn that indeed, you are controlling, lack empathy, insecure, a vamp and have daddy issues. Maybe your relationship foundation is wobbly, upon which romance becomes a house of cards. It’s ok — it’s better to face it, and find the root cause and embrace healthy solutions, and move on.

Some women know that they are still hooked onto an ex. Comments I get from women on how they could be sabotaging their love life include:

“There is definitely a lack of trust in guys because of past situations that always seem to repeat themselves — maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy?”

“I still have pain from my past heartache. I met someone new recently and I feel unsure… perhaps I compare the new guy with my past love.”

And my own favorite:

“I’m still hoping my ex will realize he wants me back.”

Divorcées may still be recovering from the emotionally-wrenching experience of the divorce itself, or have some physical connection with their former spouse, such as sharing custody of children or disputes over property, for instance.

Many women, after each breakup, shove the painful memories under the rug and are almost instantly ready to get back up and fight for love as true warriors. For these women, the ex isn’t the skeleton in the closet, and yet, they still aren’t able to crack the code on their frustrating relationship status.

Your Trash May Be Your Treasure

My own journey to finding love wasn’t easy.

As a single 30-year old in New York City, I’d gone on over a hundred first dates, and had several relationships along the way. I finally got engaged to the man of my dreams — an Indian doctor I met online, and I was ecstatic that I was *finally* leaving the dreaded single scene.

A month after he proposed, he broke up with me. 

I begged him to stay, but he told me he didn’t love me anymore.

That night, I cried in my sheets, and I heard a voice from my heart that said, “I need spiritual healing.”

The very next day, I stumbled into a psychic, and she told me something very interesting: My heart was blocked, and I was a magnet for heartbreak. If I didn’t heal from this relationship and learn the lesson I needed to, I would keep attracting the same patterns, over and over. Like Groundhogs Day.

Instead of my normal pattern of getting back up and dating immediately, I took the plunge of going through catharsis — healing my heart, loving myself and detoxing. I processed my devastation, grief and anger. Patterns that were evident in all my relationships surfaced. Somewhere through this process, I found it in my heart to forgive and release him and felt a deep sense of peace and enlightenment.

Just three months after the breakup, I met my husband, Krishan, in a meditation group.

I became a much better partner — because of what I learned through my ‘Ex Files’ — and was finally ready for a real adult relationship. 

It’s not just my story.

After having mentored hundreds of smart, go-getter women in the area of love and dating, I have noticed a trend — many women are able to transform their dating life after we go through the process of closing their ‘Ex Files’.

Baggage-free and much wiser, they stop attracting the typical jam that keeps most women up at night — emotionally unavailable men and narcissists — and start enjoying dating again, this time in a healthy way. The partnerships they create are built on a solid foundation of trust, respect and love — no more games.

It’s Time to Close Your ‘Ex Files’

Do you have an inkling that there’s still unfinished business lingering from your past? Do you experience the same painful relationship patterns, over and over? Or are you recently coming out of break up?

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, unfinished business from the past can compromise your future.

Here’s a do-it-yourself version, although given the vulnerable nature of the process, it’s helpful to work with someone.

  1. First, ground yourself in self love. Know that, no matter what, you are your own soulmate. Learn how to be there for yourself, your feelings, and find acceptance in your life.
  2. Set a heart-felt and sincere intention to release your ex’s hook on you (or you, them).
  3. Create making an inventory of incidents in the relationship, understanding the feelings and needs that arose, accepting your own responsibility. Turn it into a letter where you express everything you have wanted to say (don’t worry, you don’t need to send it!). Tweak it till you come from a place of compassion, even if you’re angry.
  4. Go through the catharsis you need — the emotions you have bottled up during, and since, the relationship.
  5. Create a ritual of cutting your energetic ‘cords’ with him. Imagine karate-swiping your hand around the places where you feel the tug. Allow those areas to be filled with golden light. Say a release prayer, and burn the letter.
  6. Get rid of anything in your home that reminds you, or was given to you, by an ex — even stuff from your marriage. Move, if you need to.
  7. Try to find wisdom from your past. Where did you betray yourself or your partner, lose trust or not speak with compassion?
  8. If you feel the desire to meet with him, once you’re in a much stronger, more compassionate place, for reconciliation, then do so.

Strange things may happen, such as an old mate reaching out to you for no reason, or bumping into them at the grocery store.

You will feel uplifted, empowered, and best of all — free from baggage, and ready to take on life (and your relationships) by it’s reins.

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