“Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it’s no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.”
– Eckhart Tolle
Clearly, you had imagined something different for yourself. Despite having only two potential outcomes, that you’d stay together or that you would go your separate ways, you were optimistic.
Good for you.
Imagining the possible end to a relationship is a morbid thing to do while you are still in the relationship. But now, your relationship has some to an end, and you find yourself trying to imagine a moment in time when your heart doesn’t hurt every time someone says your ex’s name.
If you haven’t gotten there yet, just go ahead and dare to imagine what it would be like.
Your friends have been careful not to bring him up. But someone slips and you find yourself face to face with a memory. They had run into him somewhere and he looked like he was doing well, was happy even.
For the past several months, thinking about the time the two of you spent together has brought you nothing but pain. For the first time though, you find yourself smiling. He had made you happy once.
And even though you have been throwing mental darts at his picture ever since the day the two of you split, somehow that urge has left you and you find yourself wishing him the best.
Now maybe you’ve gotten to that place already, where you’ve dared imagined a day without heartache. And, like I said, good for you. For some people it takes a lot of time and effort even to think about it. For some, the thought alone causes great heartache.
You see, after a split, the go to is, “I’m going to get him back!” which clearly we advocate greatly for. We only want to see you happy.
But a lot of people come to the conclusion that they are tired of the heartache and they’re ready to move past the hurt. We’re here for that too.
Imagining the end goal of finding that day when you can wish your ex well, without bursting into tears or feeling your heart rip in two for the thousandth time, has a caveat.
Have you ever gone on a diet only to find yourself giving up after giving into temptation?
I mean, I’ve definitely been there.
Going to the gym 4 times a week and getting a great workout in. Doing yoga at 5am the other three days of the week. Tennis lessons every Thursday after work.
I was feeling great. Giving away clothes that hadn’t fit since High School, not because they were too small, but because the pants would literally fall off me.
But I would find myself face to face with a bag of Oreos in my mom’s kitchen at 2am when my will power was nowhere to be found, or staring at a table full of Thanksgiving desserts and me without the decisiveness to choose just one.
I mean, who would blame me?
My mom makes some incredible cherry cream cheese pie, but I couldn’t skip out on the chance to tease my aunt about the time she brought an inedible pecan pie.
Inedible, because no one could cut it, let alone eat it.
Don’t worry. She’s actually gotten better since the Pecan Pie debacle of ’08, although I secretly think she started buying them from the store after that small mishap.
Regardless after dousing myself in tons of delicious “off-limit” snacks I found it a bit harder to say no to other temptations.
I found it more difficult to get out of bed and put on my running shoes to go to the gym, even though I knew that that was where I needed to be if I was going to reach my goal of being the fittest version of myself.
This is what I call a derailment. My fitness train had jumped the tracks.
Do you know how much work it takes to get a train back on the tracks after it jumps them?
The difficulty of rerailment depends on several factors, what causes the train to jump a track, the damages the train suffered, and how far it wound up from the track.
I know in school it was considered bad form to quote Wikipedia, however since I am not a train expert, but this analogy is the one I chose to go with, I am going to do just that.
“Following a derailment, it is naturally necessary to replace the vehicle on the track.
If there is no significant track damage that may be all that is needed. However, when trains in normal running derail at speed, a considerable length of track may be damaged or destroyed; far worse secondary damage may be caused if a bridge is encountered.
With simple wagon derailments where the final position is close to the proper track location, it is usually possible to pull the derailed wheelsets back on to the track using rerailing ramps; these are metal blocks designed to fit over the rails and to provide a rising path back to the track. A locomotive is usually used to pull the wagon.
If the derailed vehicle is further from the track, or its configuration (such as a high center of gravity or a very short wheelbase) make the use of ramps impossible, jacks may be used. In its crudest form, the process involves lifting the vehicle frame and then allowing it to fall off the jack towards the track.
This may need to be repeated.
A more sophisticated process involves a controlled process using slewing jacks in addition. Photographs of early locomotives often indicate one or more jacks carried on the frame of the locomotive for the purpose, presumed to be a frequent occurrence.
When more complex rerailing work is needed, various combinations of cable and pulley systems may be used, or the use of one or more rail-borne cranes to lift a locomotive bodily. In special cases road cranes are used, as these have greater lifting and reach capacity, if road access to the site is feasible.
In extreme circumstances, a derailed vehicle in an awkward location may be scrapped and cut up on site, or simply abandoned as non-salvageable.”
So, did my Thanksgiving Pie-tastrophy deem my fitness journey non-salvageable?
No! Absolutely not.
But I can attest to the fact that our brains are wired to give up at the first sign of failure, which is silly. Is it not?
You see? When we imagine a goal, being comfortable in my own skin and having a darn good reason to buy a new closetful of clothes, we rarely imagine the roadblocks that we might come up against along the way.
This is completely normal.
No one wants to think about negative things when they are imagining good things for themselves, it just seems counterproductive. Right?
However, being real with yourself when setting goals is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
It can save you a lot of time, and, yes, sometimes heartache, if you are willing to be honest with yourself and address the issues before you reach them.
I told a friend this last night and she said,
“Yeah, but you can’t possibly foresee every single speed bump you might come up against.”
But, if you were to prepare for 80% of the speed bumps that you might possibly encounter, wouldn’t that make it easier to deal with the other 20%?
You see, The American Psychological Association, published a paper on willpower. It was a collection of the results of various studies done over the years, by many experts in the field. The general idea being that willpower is an exhaustible resource.
“A growing body of research shows that resisting repeated temptations takes a mental toll. Some experts liken willpower to a muscle that can get fatigued from overuse.”
Every time you give in to temptation, you will find it more difficult to find the will to summon the will power to either fend off other temptations or do something that is difficult.
But, if you prepare yourself for these tiny failures along the way ahead of time, you’ll find yourself facing molehills rather than mountains. I’m not sure if that saying is universal. Suffice it to say you’re failure won’t be so hard to get over.
We all know it’s easier to look at someone else’s situation that out own and make judgement calls. So you look at my situation. If I had been in the gym for months working on getting into shape and then threw all of my progress away because I had an extra slice of pie, you’d tell me I was over reacting.
The same thing happens when we are trying to get over a failed relationship.
CHANGING COURSE or CHANGING PERSPECTIVE?
Since you have found your way here, I’m going to make the wild assumption that what you’ve been doing hasn’t been working. You can actually imagine a moment where you don’t cringe at the sound of his name or run to the other side of the street when you see him down the sidewalk. But you keep running into snags along the way.
I get it. It isn’t an easy path to take.
To be completely honest, I’m still working on getting to that point with my last ex. Although it’s a little hit-or-miss, because his name is a word used in everyday language, just casually.
So I hear it quite often. Sometimes, I can deal. Sometimes, I have to fight the urge to hole up in my room and be sad for a week or so.
How do I know I’m even on the right track?
Well, I can tell you this right now, if you are having trouble moving forward because you keep getting sucked back into being said, you are probably on the right path.
That seems a little backwards, I know.
I can’t remember who told me this, but let me see if I can repeat it correctly anyways.
“If I’ve learned anything from videogames, it is that when you meet enemies, it means you’re going in the right direction.”
The same principle applies here. If you aren’t having any trouble at all getting over your relationship, there are only three explanations.
You weren’t ever really invested in the relationship. Although, I find it difficult to believe that anyone enters into a relationship without being even minutely invested. That kind of heartlessness would not have landed you here on this page though.
You checked out of the relationship before it actually ended, meaning you had a bit longer to really settle into the idea of not being in it before you had to actually accept it.
You aren’t actually trying to get over the relationship.
More often than not I find that number three is where we land.
Why do you think that is?
It’s because when we have invested time, emotions, and effort into something, it’s not easy to let it go. Few people realize that you can get over a breakup and still have an inkling of hope that one day the two of you will come back together.
“What?! You’re telling me that getting over a relationship doesn’t mean I have to completely abandon hope that my ex will love me again one day?”
You’re darn right, that’s what I’m saying!
If you truly want to move past the aftermath that is the heartbreak you are feeling right now, you have to let go of the idea that the only way you’ll ever be happy is to get your ex back. That is 100% not true.
It’s easy to get stuck in the mindset that the only way you’ll find happiness is to find love. I mean todays movies, books, and TV shows are completely and totally pushing that on us from every direction. From the moment we are born we are spoon fed “Happily ever after” stories where the guy always gets the girl or the girls dream comes true and her and her true love ride off into a sunset together.
Even Movies like P.S. I Love You (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it) has a woman whose husband has just died not only being romanced by her dead husband, but finding a second love because of her dead husband’s strange little post-mortem romancing.
There are so many other ways to find happiness besides finding someone to share your life with.
It’s a matter of perspective. Don’t get me wrong, if you have lived with that mindset for a long time, changing perspective won’t be easy.
However, I’ve found that the only way to even see the other options available, you have to let go of the one you have latched onto.
Have you ever heard the story of the three stonecutters?
It goes like this.
One day a traveler, walking along a lane, came across 3 stonecutters working in a quarry. Each was busy cutting a block of stone.
Interested to find out what they were working on, he asked the first stonecutter what he was doing. “I am cutting a stone!”
Still no wiser the traveler turned to the second stonecutter and asked him what he was doing. “I am cutting this block of stone to make sure that it’s square, and its dimensions are uniform, so that it will fit exactly in its place in a wall.”
A bit closer to finding out what the stonecutters were working on but still unclear, the traveler turned to the third stonecutter.
He seemed to be the happiest of the three and when asked what he was doing replied: “I am building a cathedral.”
Now, how hard do you think it would be for the first stone cutter to change the way he saw what he was doing?
Do you think the third stonecutter could just tell him, “No, you’re building a cathedral”? What if he’d seen it only as cutting a stone for a long time? It would take more convincing the longer he had held that belief, right?
Let me tell you about a friend I’ve had since college.
We’ll call her D. We met when we were nineteen and have been fiends ever since. Over the years, I started to see our friendship as being a staple.
When I thought about the future I imagined her being a part of it.
However, our friendship has always been a bit one sided. She would call me at 2 o’clock in the morning and I would run over to her house to be her shoulder to cry on after her boyfriend treated her like crap and they had broken up… again.
This happened often. I couldn’t even call her to have lunch to celebrate something, let alone get her to answer the phone at 2 in the morning. It was an uneven friendship and borderline abusive. She would get mad at me and stop talking to me if I dated someone she didn’t approve of, which, let’s be honest here, was anyone I dated at all.
Anytime I asked her opinion on an outfit, it was “tacky. C’mon we’re adults. Adults don’t where things like that.”
Anytime I passed up an unhealthy meal choice she offered, I was being too much of a healthy nut.
Anytime I ate a cupcake or wedding cake. “You disgust me. I don’t know how you stay so skinny.” Then she would go on a tirade of how she wants to lose weight and how it’s totally unfair that I stay so tiny, even though she knows I’m at the gym every morning before work.
But I digress.
Which, I’m not sure if any of you know, but that is NOT a compliment. It’s called a neg, a device used by pickup artist to compliment a girl while also putting her in her place by reminding her of some flaw that she has.
It’s one of the rudest things anyone, let alone someone who is supposed to be your friend, can do. I don’t let men talk to me that way, I most certainly wasn’t going to let someone I called friend treat me this way.
But I did. I allowed this toxic friendship to go on for far too long.
The reason I held onto our friendship for so long was because her family and I had become close, and I could not imagine life without her or them in it, even if being her friend was one of the most taxing non-romantic relationships I’d ever been in.
Once I recognized how toxic our friendship was, I realized I had to change how I envisioned my future success and happiness. I had to stop trying to force her to be a part of my life, when she only wanted to be a part of it when it suited her.
If you and I were friends in real life, you’d tell me to cut her out. Right?
You wouldn’t tell me to keep assuming that she was going to be a part of that future success and happiness. Hell, from what I just told you, you’d probably assume that if I got there she’d probably just give me hell for trying to by successful and happy in the first place.
So now let’s look at the way you envision your future happiness.
Do you still want to hang your future success and happiness on the idea that your ex is going to come back?
Imagine you and your ex holding two ends of a limbo stick. And you hang all of your efforts put toward your future success and happiness on that stick assuming that he will be there to hold that idea you have of the future together.
If he isn’t there to hold his end up…..
here’s how that ends.
The only time you should allow someone to hold stock in your future is when they’ve proven that they value the outcome as much as you do.
Until then, the way you view the road to happiness needs a makeover.
There are literally infinite ways to find your way to success and happiness.
Now let’s knock out the ones that put someone else in charge of that journey.
- Your ex being a part of your life.
- The love and support of friends and family.
- You children making you proud.
Yes, each of these can be a source of great happiness, but relying on these to be constant is like asking the tide not to ebb and flow. You can’t control how your ex feels about you. You can’t expect your family or friends to ALWAYS understand your goals or values.
And let’s face it, if you expect anything of children they are pretty much always going to try and do the exact opposite, except for Cathy Shipguard. She made us all look bad as kids. Brown-noser. Even her class notes were perfect.
Basically, as always, I’m telling you to rely on what you can control. Eventually, the people you let exit your life will wonder what happened, usually when they need or want something from you.
Do not put your life on hold waiting for other people to value you and the direction you want your life to go. This goes for your ex, this goes for any toxic relationships in your life, and it goes for anyone who holds the power to keep you from getting there. Needing you and needing something you have to offer on occasion are two entirely different things.
If wallowing in self-pity because your ex hasn’t come crawling back is holding you back, and believe me it will, then it’s time to cut that ideal loose. I assure you that wallowing in self-pity isn’t helping you get anywhere, if anything it splits your focus from doing anything else.
If you are trying to move forward while dragging an anchor, you won’t get very far.
How to Deal
This entire article is written with the assumption that you’ve decided that you want to move forward with your life. You’re fed up with trying to get them back. You’re tired of feeling like crap. And you want to start aiming for something positive.
Instead of focusing on the various pitfalls along the way that land you in a place where you are blaming yourself for everything, focus on how far you’ve come. Regardless of the time that has passed since your break up, I’m certain that at some point you said to yourself, “I don’t know what my life will be without him.”
The fact that you are even reading this article is a huge step. Envisioning a future where you only rely on yourself to be there and hold yourself up is a great first step.
Re-calibrating your focus to encompass the things you have control over and seeing the things that you don’t have control over as consequential is the main goal here.
If for you, your idea of future success and happiness was a house with a white picket fence and a wraparound porch, stop picturing you and your ex sitting on that porch every morning drinking coffee and doing the crossword. If that’s the only thing that makes it worthwhile, then maybe that wasn’t your dream in the first place.
If your dream for your future is reliant on your ex being there, then a little reassessment is needed.
In a relationship it is tempting and almost impossible not to imagine a life later on down the road that is shared between the two of you, even if the relationship is brand new, even if it isn’t all that serious. Believe me, I do it too.
It is easy to get caught in that fantasy of a perfect future that includes you and your ex. But let’s look at the probability of that future coming true, considering that your ex is currently not in your life in that aspect. Keeping this realistic outlook, answer me this. Who is 100% guaranteed to support you no matter what?
Are you tempted to say you mother? Your father? Your siblings?
If I were to answer this question, I’d probably be tempted to say my parents before anyone else. But realistically, if I were to start pushing toward my goals today, with nothing distracting me or standing in my way, the likeliness that my parents might pass away before I ever reach my goals. Not to mention, even if my parents believed in me and loved me regardless of what I do, I cannot rely on them to help me get there. Honestly, we see the world differently.
We have different beliefs and different ideals. I can’t expect them to stand beside me in everything, nor would I want to.
In a committed relationship, unless you literally discuss every goal you have, both individually and as a couple, the likeliness that they will be a part of your future is higher still. But even still, thngs happen, couples split up and even happy marriages end. So, the likelihood that they’ll be standing beside you all the way till the end isn’t exactly 100%.
The only person who you can without a doubt say will be next to you 100% along the way and till you reach your goals, whether your ways of getting there are strange or your goals are hard to understand, is you. Especially, when you aren’t seeing someone.
So if you were to take something positive away from this, I hope you take this. Now that your ex is out of your life, and you are considering moving forward to reach your goals without relying on whether they will be there or not, you are much more likely to reach your goals.
Now, like I said, this is in relying on someone else to help you reach your goals, and stand alongside you putting in effort along the way to help you get there.
It is still great to have people that stand in the sidelines and cheer you on. The difference if when you start relying on the to get you through, when their absence starts affecting your drive and focus. That is when It’s time to start questioning whether your goals are for you, or for someone else.
When you find yourself spending an hour on social media stalking your ex and feeling crummy that he went to some concert, that you had planned to go to together, with someone new, you might unknowingly allow yourself to fall into that trap of feeling sorry for yourself. Then you might find yourself skipping classes, or foregoing going to the gym in lieu of eating an entire gallon of Chunky Monkey ice cream.
It’s easy for me to say don’t do that. It isn’t, however, easy for anyone too actually just… not… do that.
So how do you keep from giving into these things that send you down the rabbit hole, so to speak?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The best way to stay on track is to prepare for failures.
No, I didn’t say prepare to fail. I said prepare for failures. As you work towards a goal, several instances might arise that could knock you off track. I call theses micro-failures.
They come in all forms and differ from person to person. So, how are you supposed to prepared for them?
First of all, you can identify them simply by looking at your past. Since your breakup, what has left you feeling down or uninspired?
Looking at his Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram?
Taking the long route home so you can drive past his house?
What initially makes you choose to do these things, even though you know there is no possible positive outcome?
Start paying attention to what happens that causes you to do these things. For lack of a better word, I’ll call it a trigger.
Such as, when you drive home and you automatically feel the urge to get in the turn lane to drive down his road, don’t.
Take a notecard, and on one side keep a tally of how many times you give in. On the other side of the notecard keep a tally of the number of times that you don’t.
By making yourself aware of what sets these events in motion and taking control of them, you can avoid getting into these situations and press forward to achieving your goals without taking your eyes off the goal you’ve set for yourself and no one else.
What it all Boils Down to
In this life, it is wonderful to have people you can count on. Building a life on something that is unguaranteed is a crap shoot and makes it easy to be deterred from your goals.
Increase the likeliness that you reach your goals by focusing on building a future for yourself and assuming that, until there’s a ring on that finger and you have a perma-partner-in-crime, that anyone else can just join the quest or cheer for you from the sidelines.
If you’re in a funk now, I suggest you follow these guidelines and make a move toward chasing YOUR future success and happiness… for YOU.
Don’t let waiting for anyone else slow you down.
Go get it!!
I triple dog dare you!