Archive for June, 2011

Breakup Advice: How To Get Over Your Ex

June 26, 2011

YourTango Experts provide guidance on how to let go of an ex after a breakup.

If you want to bring new long lasting love into your life you have to make room for it. This means letting go of that relationship you know is not working. If you are fanning a dying flame by playing that special music, ogling online, and revisiting the fantasy just because it’s BTN (better than nothing), you are robbing yourself of a new, exciting opportunity.

Every time you go back to the past, you sprinkle that “gotta have more” neurotransmitter, dopamine, on a dead-end relationship, and program yourself for loneliness. Kick the habit; axe the ex! Declare a moratorium on any type of contact, IRL or URL.

Don’t kid yourself about being “just friends.” Take hold of your brain and your body and STOP! Stop your thoughts every time they move in that dead-end direction. Put a red stop sign everywhere you’re apt to digress.

See yourself with the love of your life: happy, fulfilled, passionate. Emblazon this image in your brain and replace any old vision with this new picture of bliss. A few signs you’re moving on:

  • You automatically think of the future when you are tempted by the past.
  • You make a purchase to attract your new lover (real or potential), not your old.
  • You notice the attention you are getting from other interested people.

My advice? Put your antennae up: tune in to new and better opportunities. You can make this happen by letting it happen.

Pat Love, Counselor/Therapist

“It’s not over with your ex until you stop looking for ways to emotionally connect with them,” says Carol Kramer Slepian, an Imago-trained couple’s therapist. Imago is one of the leading methods of couples counseling developed by myself and Helen LaKelly Hunt, PhD. “If you feel blue on your ex-wife’s birthday, that’s a bad sign,” Carol explains, “Along with weeping at that song you shared together, or boring everyone over dinner with tales of their shocking mistreatment of you. Take their name out of your lives. Don’t leave it in your phone, or email list, where you keep tripping over it.”

According to Hendrix & Hunt, each member of a couple constructs and acts upon a narrative about their relationship that is based on emotional needs deeply embedded from their past. Often those stories conflict, and cause painful conflict. Imago therapy helps you become aware that. If you don’t understand the deeper history of the relationship that just failed, chances are you are going to go straight out and find a partner with whom to repeat the painful experiences all over again. Ouch!

To become more aware, Imago has developed a ritual called “The Goodbye Process.” To practice this exercise at home, ask a friend to join you in the ritual—not your current partner, or ex. Your friend plays the role of your ex and for a few moments, asks you the question: “What was it like being in a relationship with me?”

During the Goodbye Process, you speak about both positive and negative experiences. After each one you say goodbye to them, effectively saying goodbye to the pain, hope and attachment to that event.

As you complete the exercise, one real benefit comes from acknowledging times when you reacted defensively to your ex, so that you become more aware of the things a current partner might do to trigger the same reaction. Imagine being able to say goodbye to that, too!

Harville Hendrix, Imago Relationships

However you want to spin it, it is imperative to end all contact upon a break up. Why?

Because it’s the only way to achieve what you desire—LOVE! Hanging on emotionally, physically, and energetically keeps you stuck.

If your partner initiated the break up, they no longer desire to be with you, and you require time to heal. If you initiated, then it does more harm attempting to be their “friend.” Every time there is contact it prolongs the pain and keeps hope alive.

To let go of love, you have to let go of the “lie of love,” which says:

  • That love exists only with that person.
  • That you will never feel this way again.

You must remember that love only exists with another because it exists within us. A clean break includes deleting:

  • Phone numbers
  • Social media connections
  • Birthday reminders
  • All photos (physical and digital)

And most importantly—MOURNING.

The end of a relationship is a loss and feeling the grief is healthy for you. We enter into a relationship with hope, and hope is the last thing to go. Identify where you are holding on to hope (the lie) and transform that vision. Disconnect energetically from your ex by using this process:

Imagine them in the room with you. Notice where on your body you feel energetically connected (your heart, throat, hands, groin, etc). Imagine there are ropes connecting you to them. Imagine a powerful white light lowers down over you and cuts through those ropes, severing them and creating a force field around you.

Ask yourself, “What did I receive from being connected to that person?” Make a list—love, confidence, security, etc. Widen that force field to allow another person inside. Imagine a future version of yourself that has all of those qualities. Now, connect energetically to that future version of yourself, by imagining those ropes now connect the two of you.

Feel yourself receiving those qualities from the future you. Imagine being that future version of you who embodies all those qualities. Magnetically pull the future you inside of you. Dismiss your ex from the room. Release them for the highest good.

Reclaim your love for yourself.

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Why The Path To Self-Actualization Is Through Your Spouse

June 7, 2011

This week we bring you another wonderful guest post by Imago Executive Director, Tim Atkinson that originally appeared on YourTango.com.

For Jane, marriage was great once. When she was in her 20’s and even early 30’s it felt romantic and satisfying doing all the domestic things together, having kids, creating a home.

Then one day she realized that 15 years of marriage to Robert was stifling her. She didn’t know who she really was any more, except somebody else’s wife and mother. “Who am I? How do I find myself? I’m just in my forties, but my life feels over” she complained.

Robert found her new attitude terrifying. She was changing right in-front of his eyes, from contented wife to spiritual warrior. She would come home from Yoga and talk about the lonely path to self actualization. She emphasized the solitary part. “I’m not preventing you from having a self” he would say. But for Jane, she was beginning to feel the only way she could reclaim her life was to leave the marriage and breathe fresh air alone.

When the couple came to me for marriage counseling, I gave Jane a challenge. “Do you want to know the best chance to discover who you really are?” I asked her. I explained to her that being free of her relationship might help her feel better, but the best path to personal growth is actually to stay with the one you love. Being alone is emotionally easy, so it doesn’t create growth. You can just choose to hang out with people who say nice things about you, and avoid the others. It’s your significant other who has the power to push all your buttons and also give you more of what you need to heal. The trick is being able to use this experience in a positive way. If Jane left Robert, she would cut off her own potential for growth.

At the heart of Imago Couples Therapy is a belief that the purpose of committed relationships is to enable each partner to develop to their fullest potential. Even conflict, rather than being an entirely negative force, is seen as just a sign that growth is trying to happen.

Here are five steps that helped Robert and Jane build a stronger relationship and meet their deepest needs together:

1. Be clear about the purpose of your relationship

Take a while to look at your relationship as an amazing opportunity to help you both reach your full potential. Explore your differences together, in a constructive way, and you can find ways in which you can help each other to grow. The partner who is spiritual and deep can help their more emotionally reserved partner see more magic in the world. The partner who is safe and dependable can help their more extravagant partner learn to be comfortable with financial planning.

2. Create a vision for your relationship

If you are traveling a road together, it’s so much better to be pulling in the same direction. Spend some time looking at what you both most want out of your life together. Ask your partner to talk about their dreams, and without commenting on them, simply mirror back their words to show you have heard them. You will find that as the list grows some things you will both want, and some you will be happy for your partner to have.

3. Learn about non-blaming

It’s easy for Jane to blame Robert for the limitations in her life. Instead she learned about how he could be the strongest resource she has for self-growth. The Imago Dialogue offers a way to explore your differences with your partner, in a non-judgmental way. By looking at the stories and your personal histories which lie underneath conflicts, you can learn more about each other. Often that leads to finding ways you can each stretch into new ways of being, but with the full loving support of your partner.

4. Be patient.

Back to Jane, who is wrestling with some difficult issues, which aren’t going to be solved overnight. Robert would love the security of knowing that it’s all going to be alright in the end. That’s where it is important for both partners to take time to let each other know how much they love each other, whatever the outcome. One great way is through the Imago appreciation dialogue.

Robert might start by saying “Jane, I really appreciated the great meal you cooked tonight”, and Jane would reply in a way which builds a connection around that, like “I hear you appreciated that meal, thank you.”

5. Pay attention to the other’s needs

Jane is looking for a radical change in her relationship both to life and to Robert. She is feeling stifled in some way, so however hard it may feel, Robert must try to learn about what she is really needing from him, and to see how in a loving way he can stretch to meet those needs. In the same way, Jane can learn to grow by stretching to understand and meet Robert’s needs more.

This part can be particularly successful with an Imago professional who is skilled at creating safe and supportive dialogues about things which really matter. But the secret is to become really curious about your partner, and as they talk about their needs, or even their frustrations, just listen. If you speak at all, it might be to show you have heard, by repeating it back, or by gently asking them to go a little deeper and share more.

Keep your focus on what it is that is going on for your partner, and try to let go of whatever reactions you have, because they will just obscure your ability to see what it is that is happening for them. This kind of listening and acceptance is the start of  deep and loving growth.

Yes, Jane can have her life back, but together with Robert she can find ways to have it back that are both deeply loving and shared. On her Imago journey with Robert she has discovered herself more fully. She even feels more romantic just like she used to. They both feel more secure within the relationship.