What To Do When a Relationship Ends

I recently had a conversation with a woman who ended a five-year relationship. She hoped this relationship would lead to marriage, but found that as she made positive changes in her life, her boyfriend felt threatened and uncomfortable and decided to move on. She was deeply hurt and disappointed and wondered what to do to handle the pain of her loss.

I was reminded of how difficult it can be when one person starts to grow and the other isn't ready for or interested in change. While the goal is to include our loved ones in our evolutionary journey, the truth is that we sometimes move apart as we head down different paths. My heart went out to this woman. Like her, I remember the pain of losing a love who chose a different direction.

As we start to improve our lives, it will ruffle some feathers. To help those you love, it's important to share your journey and remind loved ones that your commitment to growth will result in you becoming a better spouse, parent, friend, colleague, etc. We all have our own spiritual path to walk and we can't make someone follow along. The best you can do is focus on your own work and let your power of example inspire others to do the same.

Next to the death of a loved one, facing the end of a relationship is probably one of the most painful experiences to endure. If the path you've chosen leads you to the end of a relationship (whether it's romantic or not), there are several things you can do to comfort yourself during the grieving process.

1. Write, write and write some more. This is perfect time to use a journal (or to start one) to record your thoughts and feelings. The act of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, can help relieve the pressure of your pain. Write about your fears, your sadness, or the ending of a dream you thought would last forever. Pouring your feelings out on the page will help you to get to the truth. You may discover, for example, that you've been in love with the potential of what could be rather than the reality of what is for a long, long time.

2. Find a supportive community. When reaching out for support you might try two things. First, find a safe person to share your feelings with as you go through the steps of grieving your loss. Having the support of a few good friends who know how to listen (without giving advice or opinions) can make a world of difference at a time when you just need to be heard. You might even ask a couple of friends to be available for late night phone calls when you might feel especially lonely. Second, consider joining a group of people who understand what you're going through. Sometimes a divorce or grief support group can be very helpful as well as online groups. Check with friends, your doctor or therapist, or search the web for resources. You can certainly use our message boards here: http://www.cherylrichardson.com/forums/

3. Use your loss as a learning opportunity. There's an excellent book called, "Coming Apart: Why Relationships End and How to Live Through the Ending of Yours," by Daphne Rose Kingma. This book offers a very useful step-by-step process designed to help you navigate through the rocky waters of ending a relationship. The exercises will challenge you to examine your relationship and gain a better understanding of what went wrong so you can avoid similar pitfalls in the future. You'll not only find support for letting go gracefully, you'll also learn more about how to make even healthier relationship choices in the future.

Be gentle with yourself during this time of transition. Remember, for every ending there is a new beginning waiting just around the corner. The more you allow yourself to fully heal from this experience, the better the new beginning will be. Letting go can be very painful, but with time and a strong dose of self-care, you'll be back to feeling like a better version of yourself again soon.

Take Action Challenge

If you are in the process of ending a relationship, or suffering through one that's already ended, use the advice above to take good care of yourself during this difficult time. If you're not going through the ending of a relationship, use this week's broadcast as a reminder to thank your partner, children, siblings or friends for supporting your efforts to change your life for the better. Don't take loved ones for granted. Send a card, make an unexpected phone call, say "thanks" in some meaningful way. Remember that our relationships need extreme self care too!

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Cheryl Richardson

Cheryl Richardson is the author of The New York Times bestselling books, Take Time for Your Life, Life Makeovers, Stand Up for Your Life, The Unmistakable Touch of Grace and her new book The Art of Extreme Self Care. She was the first president of the International Coach Federation and holds one of their first Master Certified Coach credentials.

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