If we’re going to love, we’ve got to be prepared for love to end.
That is the likely outcome of most relationships.
Although no one falls in love expecting it to fall apart, reality warns us that we must be prepared.
Just as no one plays the slot machines expecting to lose each time, so the discouraging house odds shouldn’t deter us from the hope that THIS time things will be different.
But at the same time, you’d be a fool to gamble without having emotionally prepared for the possibility that you’ll lose it all.
If you fall in love without having prepared yourself emotionally for the possibility that it might not last, you’re setting yourself up for devastating heartbreak.
You don’t want to think negatively! You want to stay focused on the positive, and be hopeful, and keep your vibration high.
I’m going to help you do that AND at the same time teach you a skill that can help you bounce back better if a love affair ends.
Keep reading to discover what your Dream Self and your Fear Self can teach you about dealing with loss.
Healing Isn’t Optional
The way you end your last relationship sets you up for the next.
That’s why it’s so important that you make time for healing work after the end of a relationship.
It’s not just about waiting for the pain to fade away. It’s about thinking through what the relationship meant to you.
What will the legacy of this relationship be? How will the future be different as a result of your experience?
How has it changed about the way you see yourself and the way you see your life? Who are you, now that this has happened to you?
Crazily enough, your answers to those answers matter much more to your recovery than the amount of pain you’re feeling.
Face Your Feelings, Don’t Bury Them
We tend to think that the best way to get over a relationship is to make ourselves feel nothing.
Pretend he didn’t matter. Tear up everything that reminds you of him. Numb the pain with carbs. Get out and have fun and keep yourself so busy you don’t think of him.
And that certainly is one way you can deal with a breakup.
If you act like it didn’t matter, maybe you can convince yourself that it didn’t affect you.
But what we refuse to deal with goes underground.
If you’re not going to process this breakup consciously, then your subconscious will draw its own lessons. Lessons like, “Men can’t be trusted,” or, “Caring about someone always ends in disaster.”
And when you meet your next partner, you’ll always hold back something, because you’ll remember how much it hurt last time.
There’s another way to deal with the end of a relationship.
A better way.
It has to do with using your possible selves to bounce back better than before.
Possible Selves Theory
Possible selves theory was proposed by Hazel Markus and Paula Nurius back in 1986, and since then it’s been used to motivate everyone from teachers to juvenile delinquents.
In their paper, Markus and Nurius discuss a small study they conducted along with a colleague where they looked at 30 people who’d lost someone they loved, either through death or a breakup.
The study participants were asked whether they felt they’d recovered yet and then separated into a “good recovery” group and a “poor recovery” group based on their answer.
Whether they felt they were recovering or not, pretty much everyone was having negative thoughts about themselves. They identified with words like lonely, underachiever, poor, weak, and resentful.
Losing someone you love tends to make you doubt yourself and see your own worst flaws.
But the researchers didn’t stop there.
Next they asked the study participants how they could see their lives in the future. “Tell us what’s possible for you,” they said.
The folks who weren’t recovering said that they could imagine themselves being unpopular, unimportant, weak, unable to fit in, a failure, or depressed in the future.
The folks who were on the road to recovery said that they could imagine themselves being motivated, independent, rich, creative, trusted, active, powerful, intelligent, and attractive.
Wow—what a difference!
Researchers compared this group to a control group that hadn’t gone through any life crises, and they found that the good recovery group imagined an even better possible future for themselves than the control group.
Which means that going through a life crisis AND recovering from it can give you the imagination and motivation to imagine an even better life for yourself than before.
Can we use that information to help us bounce back faster?
I think the answer is yes.
Imagine the Possibilities
When you lose someone you care about, don’t just dwell on thoughts of the past.
It hurts to think about what your life is like now that he’s gone, and how different it used to be back when you were together.
Rehashing the past and feeling sorry for yourself are normal and necessary stages in recovery, but there’s a third stage you don’t want to miss:
Imagining what’s possible for you, now that the relationship is out of the picture.
No matter how great he was (or wasn’t), I’ll bet there were things in that relationship that were missing. Things you wish were different.
Being with anyone limits our possibilities. All our possible selves collapse into the one self that he likes, the self that fits into the relationship.
Now that you’re free to meet someone new, what do you really want for your life?
Do you want a relationship where there’s more commitment, more trust, more compatibility?
How were you holding yourself back in this relationship? What weren’t you able to do, because you were with him? What can you do now that you’re single?
Set your imagination free.
But be warned:
As you imagine what’s possible for you in the future, your Fear Self might creep in.
The Two Voices of Your Future
Your Fear Self is the opposite of your Dream Self.
Your Dream Self is the self you want to be. Your Fear Self is the self you’re afraid to be.
You might find yourself imagining that you’ll be lonely, bitter, a failure, loved by no one.
That’s a sign that you’re not done with the work of recovery.
Your Fear Self tries to tell you, “You’ll never find anyone like him again. You’re not worthy of a great relationship. You’re not lovable.”
It wants you to believe that the only possible future for you is worse than the future you would have had with him.
Your Fear Self has good intentions. It’s trying to protect you in its own way.
It wants to keep you safe by scaring you into falling in line. If you try to get him back, then at least you’ll have something rather than nothing. A bad relationship is better than no relationship, it reasons.
The best way to deal with your Fear Self is to acknowledge it. Of course you have those fears. Of course it’s scary to think about a future that’s unknown.
But invite your Dream Self in to have a dialogue.
Yes, the future could be bad, but it could also be REALLY good. Something amazing could happen that you can’t even conceive of yet. If you stay open to possibility, and keep your heart open, then who knows what the future might bring.
The Dream Self is the part of you that sees winners everywhere. Yes, some people play and lose, but others play and win beyond their wildest dreams. Why can’t that winner be you? Especially if you get smarter at how you play the game.
I’m wishing you so much joy and luck as you get back into the game of love.
Keep dreaming, keep visualizing, and keep moving towards a love that’s better than anything you could have imagined.