On self-reflection, pain and values
Welcome to the first and probably one of the longest editions of the Monday Newsletter, lovingly named the “Beyond The Breakup Newsletter.”
It’s the newsletter that provides you with big ideas on how to grow and improve as a person and build better relationships so you can avoid a future breakup.
sign up and join the adventure!
Along with the fancy weekly newsletter, I’m also going to give you access to 4 exercises that will help you stop obsessing over your ex as soon as you sign up.
So without any further ado, let’s do this shit. Let’s help you let go of the past and create a new, brighter future.
So here are my handpicked three that will not only help you let go of your ex quicker but maybe even change your life. Or not.
1. The importance of self-reflection after loss
While we’re going through heartbreak, we often find ourselves amid a beautiful yet terrifying thunderstorm of clashing emotional tides. This downpour of inner-anguish engulfs all our strength and expectorates us into a cesspool of pain. But if we take a moment to look up into the sky from it, we can get a glimpse of a silver lining buried at the very kernel of the downpour and thunder and our minds outcries.
The inner chaos we face at the end of our relationship brings our insecurities and emotional issues closer to the surface of consciousness.
This is the silver lining.
How can this be beneficial, you might ask?
It’s simple. The first step to self-improvement is identifying which part of the self do you want to improve. And since most of your emotional issues and insecurities are more pronounced during heartbreak, it’s easier to point them out. Hence, start working on them.
Now, if you want to make radical progress in your recovery, be sure to engage in self-reflection frequently.
This activity will help you flesh out the toxic parts of yourself that you need to work on. In other words, self-reflection enables you to make the subconscious, conscious way faster.
Here are three examples of how self-reflection would look like in a best-case scenario:
“Hey, maybe I wasn’t such a good boyfriend/girlfriend, after all. Maybe I did put too much emphasis on the amount of time I’ve spent with my ex. Maybe I was too clingy. Why was I like that? I was scared that my ex might leave me if I don’t chase after them and fight for their love. But where did those tendencies come from? Maybe because I never felt good enough to be loved unconditionally. Maybe I do feel inadequate. Maybe I do have an unhealthy desire to hold on to others way too tightly due to my irrational fear of losing them.
Ok. What do I need to work to improve my worth-based beliefs and learn to manage my fear-based and needy tendencies?“
“Maybe I wasn’t such a good boyfriend/girlfriend, after all. Maybe I was scared to open up. Maybe I did hold too many secrets from my ex. Maybe I do have problems with intimacy and an unhealthy case of avoiding commitment? Where does this all stem from? Perhaps my childhood?
How can I become more vulnerable with others? How can I lose my fear of letting people in?”
“Why did my ex cheat on me? Why did they lie about being with their friend? They did have shitty values, but there has to be a reason why they blatantly cheated on me. Maybe I was too clingy, and they saw me as an object that was restricting their freedom. Or maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention to them. Maybe I failed to meet my ex-partners’ emotional needs, and therefore they found someone else who could do it instead of me.”
How can I work on my neediness or avoidance to not sabotage my future relationships in the same way? How can I find a better match next time – someone who is healthy and values loyalty?“
Remember that your reflective self-discourses won’t always unfold quickly or in such a concise and logical order as described above. In actuality, you might be self-reflecting for weeks or months before you can precisely pinpoint what life-sabotaging emotional issues you need to work on.
Ultimately, every failed relationship fails for a reason. And without participating in self-reflection, you might miss what that reason is. If that happens, you will be inclined to make the same mistakes or bad decisions concerning a compatible partner in the future. These errors will later lead to another heartbreak. Then another. And another.
So to avoid getting caught up in the cycle of breakups, the first thing you should do is engage in heartfelt self-reflection.
Nevertheless, there’s more to self-reflection than just realizing your imperfections, values, or beliefs. By reflecting upon your past, you can also begin to make sense of your ex-parters’ flaws and, more importantly, their incompatibility.
I remember when one of my long term relationships went up in flames. After months of reflection, I recognized that the relationship didn’t end just because of my needy qualities or my ex-girlfriends’ toxic quirks. It had a more prominent issue on a fundamental and collective level. The core values and beliefs between me and my ex were mostly incompatible. Unsurprisingly, this caused massive friction.
Till now, we talked about what self-reflection is and its benefits, but now let’s talk about how to actually do it.
So how do you do it? Unfortunately, this is one of those questions that has an irritating answer.
Let me ask you this. How do you turn on the TV?
You probably just grab your remote and press the big, often bright button at the top? And BAM! Hustler TV it is! There’s no real thought to it.
Self-reflection works in the same way.
Just go somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. Sit your ass down, close your eyes, and start analyzing your past. Ponder why your relationship ended. Think about your emotional hangups, when and where they appeared, and their triggers? Ask yourself if your ex was compatible, healthy, and what you really wanted or not?
And that’s pretty much it when it comes to self-reflection. Don’t make it rocket science. It’s straightforward. Just seize the remote and hip thrust that motherfucking power button.
2. The importance of changing how you perceive your pain
A lot of people believe that when a relationship ends, their world ends. Even the people who left their ex for a good reason, like their infidelity, often feel like it’s game over for them.
But all of this is an elusion. It’s nothing but a mirage orchestrated by your unyielding and turbulent emotions.
Let’s unpack this idea further.
Breakups do hurt. They feel like being cut all over your face with razors. However, even though they hurt, they are far from some monumental and groundbreaking event that you can’t possibly get over. One could even argue that most relationships you cultivate in your life are replaceable. Especially in this day and age, when we have Tinder or Bumble.
Here’s another lens through which you can view your pain.
What if you change the angle of your breakup from something soul-crushing and disheartening to something that’s, well, still painful but also normal. Because what you’re going through is nothing else but normal, even though it often doesn’t feel like it.
Surprisingly, this peculiar awareness will make you feel more at ease, so try it out. Try looking through the lens of someone who thinks, “my pain or internal experiences are no different from those of millions of other people.”
But now, let’s take this concept even deeper.
What if you not only learned to accept your pain but to obtain an empowering life meaning from it? One that will help you push through your hardships.
Surprisingly, this is not impossible.
There are ways of finding, or as existentialists would say, formulating a life meaning, thus making your life worth living.
According to Victor Frankl, we create meaning in 3 different ways:
- by creating a work or doing a deed
- by experiencing something or encountering someone
- by the attitude, we take towards unavoidable suffering
For this article, we’ll turn our focus on the third bullet point.
In a nutshell, our attitude towards the pain of a hopeless situation will significantly influence how we end up. We can label a breakup as something that breaks us and consequentially get spiritually destroyed, or we can mark it as an event that helped us grow into a better person and, as a result, feel better.
The concept is simple to understand. It’s the execution that’s hard.
Nevertheless, give it a go. Try identifying your tragedy as a triumph.
I mean, what else could you do? The event has already concluded, and the only other option besides turning your predicament into an outstanding achievement is to play the poor self-loathing victim.
Ultimately, the sooner we realize that suffering is an ineliminable part of life and learn to live with it, the better. So don’t try and run away from your pain. But also don’t make friends with it. Just accept it.
Pain is what makes us human. The more we try to push it down or cover it up with things like excessive drinking, gambling, shopping, fucking or toxic positivity, the more damage we’re going to do to our brain long term.
And don’t be deluded by the popular belief of “there’s no limit to what you can do!” There is a limit. You can’t achieve everything you set your mind to. None of us can. And that’s perfectly fine.
Society has become so brainwashed by the belief that you can avoid and should avoid pain if you’re just motivated, positive, and persistent enough.
As a result, more and more people turn to unhealthy forms of self-help that turns them into self-absorbed twats and narcissists. Some even develop an addiction to self-help material. Be that courses, books, or articles like these.
I’m embarrassed to admit, but for years I’ve been exactly that kind of person. A self-absorbed twat, obsessed about every new self-help fad, who thought he deserved all the feel-good shit in the world.
Here’s the reality: you don’t deserve jack shit. You’re not special. Your breakup is not special. Billions of people have the same experiences as you. I know I sound harsh, but you’re going to feel way less stressed if you think about your heartbreak, or life for that matter, in this way.
3. The importance of finding something more important than heartbreak
One way of feeling better about your heartbreak is to find something that you attribute a greater emotional attachment to. That is something like a value you’re willing to strive for despite any hardship you’re facing.
When I was heartbroken, the value I was prepared to struggle for was becoming emotionally stable and secure. I said to myself something along the lines of, “ this breakup sucks, but I can’t end my life for it. I want to evolve into a more well-rounded, emotionally stable, and resilient man because of it. And then I want to find someone who will stay with me for the long-run. I want someone better.”
So now it’s your turn. Try to find something that you value more than your dead relationship and focus on it wholeheartedly. Find something that’s healthy and will keep you moving in the direction of healing and unapologetic self-expression, that is, the only right direction.
This value can be something as grand as a life purpose or as small as your ambition to become a good cook or dancer. Ultimately, it can be anything that means more to you than going berzerk for someone with who things didn’t work out.
Maybe you feel intellectually raped right now, but try out the perspectives and ideas outlined in this article. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
When trying on these perspectives and ideas, think of them as buying a new pair of leather boots. At first, they will feel rigid and stiff, like they don’t fit. But after time, when the leather gets fused and moulded to the shape of your foot, they will become comfortable. And if they don’t, you can always return them and stick with your old worn-out sneakers, that is, your old ways of thinking and being.
But I doubt that’s what you’re going to do.