Ask Yourself These Four Questions To Finally Move On
A common misconception while moving on from a breakup is the notion that you need to get closure either from or together with your ex. That’s not always possible for a variety of reasons. Maybe they aren’t willing to have that conversation with you, or they are unable to give you honest and straightforward answers. Perhaps you’re like me, and their answers will never fully satisfy the itch you have in trying to grasp why things blew up in your face.
Closure is the final piece of the moving-on puzzle. It brings us peace, insight, and lessons that will prove to be invaluable as we go through life. It can’t always be found in other people. After all, the only closure that matters is our own truth, our own stories.
When I was trying to move on from an excruciating heartbreak, I searched for answers, both high and low. Countless articles and books were read, videos and podcasts were consumed, and advice was sought from both friends, family, and strangers. I was desperate for any sort of secret that could help me move on.
I collected all sorts of different types of tips:
Change your hairstyle.
The only way to get over someone is to get under someone.
Work on your revenge bod and make them regret walking away.
Make out with a stranger at a bar.
Block their number and just forget about them already!
While these tips were meant good-heartedly, they weren’t exactly helpful. I’m not into changing my appearance for the sake of revenge, I prefer not to get involved in casual encounters, and I was already practicing no-contact.
Somewhere along my path in healing, I found that the truth can’t be found from external sources, and closure isn’t meant to be sought from another person. All I needed was to explore the questions I had inside my own heart, my own spirit, and my own mind. It was there that I found the answers I sought; it was there that I discovered my own empowering truth.
To be honest, it wasn’t a “bam, wham, thank you ma’am” kind of deal. I had to ask myself these questions more than a few times until the lessons stuck to my bones. And when they finally stuck, my heart was provided with much-needed relief.
Although I asked myself a lot of questions, these four questions were the ones that had the most to teach me. Each one allowed me to dive into some profound truths and enabled me to dust myself off and move on. I hope they will help you in the same way.
What can I learn from this?
Every person, situation, place, and experience in life has something to teach us. It’s just a matter of looking for the lessons among the smoldering ruins of our most heartbreaking experiences.
Heartbreak teaches us how incredibly strong and resilient we are. You are now surviving one of the worst-case scenarios of your relationship ending. And you are here, alive and breathing. You might be a little worse for wear, but just the fact that you are reading about how to get back up and move on is proof that you have grit. We often don’t get to see what we’re made of until shit hits the fan.
Are there things that you did or said over the course of your relationship that you regret? Behaviors you wish you had fixed then and there? I, for one, am ashamed at how jealous and insecure I could get. Even though I very rarely acted out on my jealousy, it kept me stuck in a place of smallness and left me feeling like I was undeserving. I kept my partner in the loop about how I felt through conscious and vulnerable conversations. Still, at the end of the day, I just looked like someone who was uncomfortable in her own skin. This is something I am actively working on post-relationship so that my future partner doesn’t have to endure the same thing.
Our past relationships can teach us what we want from our future ones. Are there things about your ex-partner that rubbed you the wrong way? Things you found yourself wishing that they would change? That’s the silver lining of moving on. You can go and find someone better suited for you. Someone who you won’t want to change as they have the qualities you want in a partner. Qualities that you only learned about through experience.
Which parts of myself do I need to heal?
Breakups have the tendency to break us wide open, taking with it the stitches on the wounds stemming from past emotionally traumatic experiences.
Emotional trauma is defined as damage to our psyches when something happens that’s out of our control. Trauma is things or situations that hurt us or invalidates our beliefs and experiences or situations where we were made to feel small. It’s what happens when we don’t have the emotional capacity or ability to face the distress we’re being presented with.
And breakups are just that. Emotional trauma. They have the potential to truly wound us and negatively impact our well-being. No matter if you’re on the giving or receiving end, it can be a painful thing to go through if you loved your partner.
Often, our wounds in breakups stem from long ago. Wounds we’ve carried with us since childhood and have tried to bury. Scars from past relationships or romantic encounters that we thought were behind us. It can be hard to put a finger on why this breakup is especially hard, but an excellent place to start is to examine your original scars.
For me, my most significant wound to heal was abandonment in childhood. Being left by my ex triggered me hard. Suddenly, I was the little girl who, at different points in time, was left by each of her parents.
My emotional reactions to being left by my ex were extreme. When he pulled the proverbial trigger, I lost all composure. I started shaking so hard and hyperventilating that he stayed with me in my apartment until I eventually had to kick him out.
In my experience, healing my heart hasn’t only been about the breakup. It’s been healing the little girl in me that was begging not to be left again, the little girl that couldn’t believe yet another person she trusted and loved could just walk away.
Once I found that wound and understood my rooted pain, I knew that my suffering wasn’t just about my breakup.
In these situations, it’s best to explore your own emotional past through the present. How are they connected? Where can you start the deep digging and initial healing process? Are any past scars amplifying the pain you have now?
By naming these wounds, you can find perspective on why you’re stuck in your healing journey.
How can I further accept the situation?
What is standing in the way of accepting the situation you’re currently in? Loneliness? Hope? Fear? Pain? The weariness of starting over?
We tend to hold on, especially if we feel we invested a considerable amount of time, effort, and love in another person. Even after they are long gone. It can feel like a stock that has lost most of its value, but you’re still waiting for it to miraculously make up for the loss and get a return on your investment.
When our world comes crashing down, it’s not easy to just give in and accept the situation. We feel helpless yet restless. There must be something we can do, there must be something that we can fix. If only we could get through to them and make them see our side, our pain.
But that isn’t possible. Denial of the situation will not help you, and to be honest, will only further alienate you from your ex. You can only control yourself and your life, never anyone else’s.
If you genuinely love them, respect their decision. Respect that your ex chose that this relationship just wasn’t right for them, for whatever reason they may have. Try to see your ex as human, just like you are. They are flawed, just like you, they are trying to live their lives, just like you. Practicing compassion and empathy can help us remember that we are all trying to do the best we can.
Acceptance includes giving up all hope that they’ll change their mind and come back. Or if you’re the one who left, it includes accepting that things couldn’t have possibly been different. You need to examine what you are still holding on to and why.
What do I want for myself?
The most significant step in moving on, once and for all, is changing your focus from what’s in the past to what you want from the future. And how to work hard in the present to make it happen.
And, no. That doesn’t include getting your ex back.
Closing the door and locking it behind you, gives you the freedom to explore what’s behind the other doors, what other things life has to offer you. What are some things you weren’t able to do while with your ex? Which freedoms do you have now that you’re unattached?
Your future is now in your two hands, free from being tangled up with another’s plans.
You get to shape a life that you’ve always wanted. Yes, it hurts that it’s going to be a life without your former partner. I, myself, still feel that sting sometimes. But the moment I decided what I wanted in my own life, is the moment things started happening for me.
Embracing and planning for your next steps will set you free. Whether that’s pursuing education, a career, a new place to live, travel, goals, or growth; it’s all up to you.
Consider what you want to use this painful event in your life as a springboard for. Sometimes, heartbreak gives us a little extra determination to get shit done. You had dreams before you met your ex, and you will continue to have dreams afterwards too. You get to choose what you want to chase after.
Picking yourself up and leaving behind what you thought was meant to be, will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. I know this because I have been there myself. There are so many sleepless nights, salty tears cried, and defeating moments on the journey of moving on.
But it’s in our darkest valleys of life that we learn what we want and where we want to go. We get to meet ourselves at a deeper level than ever before. Parts of ourselves that were previously unknown are brought to the light, brightening the path towards healing.
By asking these four questions and daring to get vulnerable, raw, and honest; you’re giving yourself closure, you’re giving yourself a fighting chance to move on. And I can’t think of anything more admirable than someone who has the power to turn something like heartbreak into a beautiful self-learning experience.