Whether you're the one who got dumped or you're the one who called it quits — mutual or not — getting over a breakup and moving on isn't the easiest. Especially when things seem so abrupt, when it's all said and done, the end of a relationship can leave you hanging in a not-so-comfortable limbo. It's much of the same way with any big transition in your life. Closing the chapter to something you've grown so familiar with and to which you've become so connected takes more than just acknowledging that it's over. Sure, you know you're done, but it may be hard to feel like it's done. Something's missing and incomplete in the picture. The parting gift just doesn't look right and ready without that final ribbon snugly tied on, you know?
If you're following my metaphoric flow here, that pretty little ribbon we may be looking for is just a little bit of closure. How poetic, right? Closure means finality, and letting go of something that once was, psychiatrist Abigail Brenner, M.D explained to Psychology Today. And that's the key — coming to terms and letting go. But as much as we may want to just move the heck on already, it's hard to know where to even start resolving anything for that closure we need. Here are seven healthy ways that can help.
1. Acknowledge & Embrace
I'm not saying you have to literally call up your ex and hug it out, though you totally can if that's your thing. But you have to embrace it all for what it is. Acknowledgement that it's over and done with is necessary, but useless without truly accepting it. Brenner described the process of closure beautifully, "Finding closure implies a complete acceptance of what has happened and an honoring of the transition away from what's finished to something new. In other words, closure describes the ability to go beyond imposed limitations in order to find different possibilities."
And of course, during the delicate time of a fresh breakup, you'll have your doubts, fears, second guesses, and hopes inevitably pop up and make it difficult to firmly close that door. But no one said it was going to be easy.
You need to feel the feels to get to that healthy place of finalized acceptance. As Joshua Duvauchelle wrote for Livestrong, gloss is for lips, not past experiences. Though it can be tempting to gloss over the pain and lessen it through distractions, minimizing it all for the short term doesn't allow you to properly heal during the long term. You need to be able to give yourself the freedom to feel the full extent of your emotional spectrum and avoid falling into the trap of denial. Because until you've felt it all out, you won't be able to get to that next step.
Think about it this way. If you still have left over feelings of anger or sadness buried beneath the "everything's fine" smiles, you're not leaving much room for genuine happiness to grow later on. Face it, embrace it, and give it a tear-stained kiss goodbye.
Forgive yourself, forgive your ex, forgive the situation for just not working out. Because holding on to any feelings of resentment and toxic grudges will make it very hard to move on to a healthy and happy place. As Kaylee Scafe wrote for the Huffington Post, there is nothing more unhealthy for the soul than letting anger add up to the point that it overpowers the love inside of you. Forgiveness acts like a trigger to move forward. By letting go, you're at peace to be yourself and get to where you want to be rather than being held back by the paralyzing negative.
It's especially tricky when you hold any portion of responsibility to account for the breakup. If you're doing the breaking up, or something you did led to it, apologizing helps both parties get closure. It sucks, especially when you may feel like you have nothing to apologize for or whatever occurred was totally justified. We all know apologizing is difficult because you're essentially admitting to some sort of fault and when is that ever fun? But in doing so, you're simply helping things settle peacefully. It's easier to walk away from something resolved and accounted for rather than lingering, bitter conflicts that may come back to haunt you.
5. Ceremonies, Rituals, & Symbols
Hit up your local bookstore and dig up some books on witchcraft and black magic to look into some spells that will help you get that closure. Just kidding. But really, a little imagination can go a long way here. As suggested on relationship website All Women Stalk, having a little symbolic ceremony can help you more easily visualize the process of moving on. By making it a seemingly more tangible thing, it can seem real, comforting, and more possible overall. Some ideas discussed were outlining everything you feel, every thought that crosses your mind, everything you want to say, and putting it in a letter, a journal, or, a common psychotherapeutic technique, talking to an empty chair and imagining the person is there.
6. Focus On The Positives
Everything in life is about perspective. And what's beautiful about that is that it's all up to you. You have that control. Livestrong's Duvauchelle suggested to shift your perspective on the relationship in a positive space. Focus on all of the good that relationship brought to you and value that time and those moments. Because anything you look back on that made you smile should not be considered a regretful waste of time, even if you're strongly feeling the pain of its absence at the present moment. Of course, I'm not suggesting you play out a sappy montage of your relationship on a loop in your head and viewing it as something you won't ever get back. Rather, look at it as something great that happened and that's now put you in an exciting place for new things.
So taking it a step further, focus on all of the positive things this change in your life can offer you, because there is always something. New opportunities, chances, and people come into your life all the time. So look at it all as a stepping stone to the next amazing thing.
7. Create A Plan To Move Forward
As pointed out in an article for Her Campus, it’s important to note that closure doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re ready to date again, just that you're ready to move forward. This is the important part of getting over a breakup that will open you up to new relationships down the road. Once you've felt the feelings and confronted the situation from all angles you could, create a plan for yourself that will help you move forward rather than dwell on the past. Duvauchelle suggested to simply let yourself do new, exciting things that help you discover there's more to life than what that past relationship meant. This is the final step to tap into in order to ensure you've truly gained that closure in a healthy way.
People view closure differently. Some say you don't need it to heal while others swear by it as the only way to move on. However it is that you deal with reconciling the end of a relationship or some period of your life, the most important thing is to focus on staying healthy and positive for yourself. To wrap this up with more glorious metaphors, you're the one holding the ribbon and standing in front of the door, so you have the ultimate power to decide what to do and how to do it. Remember that.
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