“Life always waits for some crisis to occur before revealing itself at its most brilliant.” Paulo Coelho
It’s so easy to allow ourselves to fall into the trap of hurt. After my most recent breakup, I was crushed. So many parts of my life seemed to collapse in on me at once. What I found interesting was that it wasn’t necessarily about not being with him. It was that I had a dream that I thought had become reality and the dream was dashed.
I know how this works. I’ve experienced it so many times in the past few years. I know my focus creates what I experience, and that if something seems to fall apart it is always -- always -- falling into something better.
And yet, I remained devastated.
I couldn’t figure out why, until I paid close attention to my own thoughts.
And there it was.
I was replaying the victim version of the story.
I was allowing the pain to rule my mind.
It wasn’t until I got clear on what benefits I wanted to take away from the seeming devastation that I found my power again.
If you allow it, there’s the incessant version of the story that plays over and over in our heads:
“What could I have done differently?”
“Why didn’t it work out?”
“I thought this was the one.”
“I’ll never find someone.”
This version is ripe with blame, guilt, and shame. It’s the heartache amplified.
And it isn’t healthy.
What is a story, anyway?
It’s something we create.
And the story of a breakup? It’s memories. And those memories? Well they aren’t always that reliable.
Check this out:
The content of our memories changes over time.
Over repeated retellings of a story (which is all a memory is), it becomes distorted. “Facts” change or are emitted, and new “facts” can pop in.
Another issue with memory is that we are only ever remembering the last time we told the story of the memory.
“Human memory is a marvelous but fallacious instrument. The memories which lie within us are not carved in stone; not only do they tend to become erased as the years go by, but often they change, or even increase by incorporating extraneous features.” Primo Levi
Even our memories of events highly charged with emotion may not be accurate. Science tells us that highly charged events are those we remember the most and with greatest detail, but even those can be distorted.
Verbal overshadowing is a phenomenon that happens when our retelling of situation changes how we remember it the next time -- in line with how we are retelling it.
And… our memories will shift in order to match what we believe about ourselves and the world.
This is key.
When you replay the breakup and lessons in your mind, be choosy.
Be specifically choosy.
What beliefs are you feeding?
Are they fear-filled, or faith-filled?
Recall the details that remind you of your strength.
“We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.” Joan Didion
Those things you thought you could never stop replaying in your mind? You can. It’s important that you do.
Play the highlight reel of the breakup. On purpose.
Choose which lessons you want to focus on and actively recall how they happened *for* you.
The story you tell yourself after the breakup needs to be empowering. The empowering version of the relationship and the breakdown of it.
Pay no mind to the voices that tell you you have to face reality. Or that you’re ignoring areas for your growth.
The most effective way to grow is to actively create the story you desire to live.
Part of this story will inevitably include what you can do differently next time.
There’s no use in wondering what you could have done differently in the past, because you can’t go back there and change it.
The breakup, the trauma, the crisis, is there to serve you.
It is your duty to serve your higher good and your fullest potential by telling yourself the story that sees you thriving.
You aren’t a victim to your breakup story.
Make it a good one.