Do you feel like you just can’t seem to get over the betrayal of a past relationship? Or maybe you find yourself constantly thinking about “the one that got away”?
Whether that relationship was recent or decades ago, if you’re still holding on to blame or resentment, or pining away for what “could have been,” I’ve got some ideas to help you get unstuck so that you can open yourself up to love again and free yourself from the blame, shame and guilt trifecta that often comes with being in this kind of situation.
If you want to learn how to move on, why you need to move on and how to stop blaming yourself (and the other person), this week’s episode is definitely for you.
If you’re constantly ruminating over your ex, it’s likely that you’re experiencing regret. Let’s start there. My mom, Janny Cole, would tell you that regret is a wasted emotion. Now that isn’t to say that when something ends or doesn’t go the way you hoped it would that you shouldn’t mourn the loss. But let’s think about the essence of regret.
Regret is actually wishing that you had done something different, wishing that you had reacted differently, and there’s nowhere to go from that place. Right? We can’t get in a time machine and change the past. So stewing in your regrets over something in the past isn’t really productive.
What IS productive (and healing) is to be willing to get your hands dirty and take a good look at what happened in your relationship. To get curious without judgment. In every crappy situation, there is always an opportunity to find gems of wisdom, but in order to do so, you must also be willing to give up being the victim.
Even if someone truly did you wrong, you have to be able to look at your own behavior, because in a relationship, you’re always 50% of the dance. That’s what relationships are. So even if your partner was unfaithful, you have got to be willing to look at yourself and your role in the relationship if you want to be able to move out of the space of blame and regret. Doing the work around this is what will eventually help change the way you’re feeling about yourself and your ex.
Get honest with yourself and accept that you were 50% of the dance– even if it’s a dance that put you in a very unempowered situation. Remember, we always have a choice, and if you chose to stay in that unempowered situation, that’s your 50%. Acknowledge it, choose self-compassion and forgiveness, and learn from this experience. I promise you that if you’re willing to dig through the crap to get to the gems of understanding and wisdom, you will continue to evolve, and your future relationships will be all the better for it.
Listen, we all want to experience real, vibrant, lasting love, right? And while most of us define that within a partnership, the truth is that we all come into this life and go out of it alone. So what that means is that THE primary relationship and greatest opportunity that we have to cultivate REAL love lies in our ability to cultivate our relationship with ourselves.
[bctt tweet="“Self-love is the only path to real love.” - Terri Cole" username="terri_cole"]
If the only place you’re searching for real love is outside of yourself (ie. from someone else), time for a reality check:
Creating and sustaining a healthy loving partnership is an inside job. That is, it all starts within YOU. If you don’t come from a place of strength, if you don’t know who you are, and/or if you don’t think you have value, then you will always be seeking external validation from the person you’re in a relationship with. The problem with that is that then, that person can give it or take it away. Yikes.
Going forward, your job is to create a beautiful relationship with yourself. Take time, do your own personal work, get healthy psychologically. That’s the work it takes to build a rock solid foundation of self-love that no one will be able to take from you, no matter what happens. I can tell you, as a psychotherapist, most people don’t do it. But you’re here and you’re reading this, so I know that you are committed to your own path of self-evolution and self-empowerment. It all comes back to your relationship with yourself.
The last thing I want to talk about is how to get unstuck. First, let me give you a good example of what stuck looks like when it comes to past relationships. Have you ever met someone and they pour out their life story even though you barely know them?
I had this experience: I was at a wedding seated next to someone I didn’t know, and the first moment I sat down she told me her name and said that she’d been divorced for 20 years, and of course that wasn’t what she wanted, but that was the way it worked out. And that she hadn’t dated since, I was like, okay, well nice to meet you.
So what did this indicate to me? Well, besides having weak emotional boundaries, it told me that this woman was so incredibly identified by the failure of her marriage. Even though it happened two decades ago, she was still so connected to that experience. She had a very successful business, lots of her own money, had traveled all over the world, but the very first thing that she revealed to me (an actual stranger) was that she’d been divorced for 20 years and that she didn’t want the divorce and hadn’t dated since.
Here’s what we need to look at: what do you think this particular person might be gaining out of staying stuck in that place?
This is the concept of secondary gain. This is any UN-obvious benefit you receive from remaining stuck. To identify what that might be you can ask yourself, “What do I get to NOT feel, face or experience by staying stuck?” So back to our divorce-confessing woman and her possible secondary gain. By never going back out into the dating pool she gets to NOT be vulnerable to being rejected again. She gets to stay firmly entrenched in her, “I was wronged” story and stays comfortable, but not necessarily fulfilled. I say this because if she were full on happy with her choice and the way her life had worked out, it is unlikely that she would confess to a stranger her unwanted marital status in minute one of a conversation. To get unstuck, she would need to take responsibility for her 50% of that marriage dance, process the loss and move on with her life.
So if you’re in a place and you feel like you’re stuck and can’t get seem to get over something in your past, I promise you there is some unconscious gain. Even if it’s just that you’re comfortable there, even if it’s just that you’ve been in that place for so long that staying there feels better than experiencing the fear of changing or doing something different. Does this resonate on some level with you?
If so, I want to invite you to download the little cheat sheet below I made you. It has questions that will help you think through and identify what your secondary gain (or gains) might be and recognizing this can make a big difference in your ability to move on with your life.
So I’m really interested to hear what you have to say. Did you find this helpful? Did you like it? And if you did, please share it with the people in your world who you think that it may help!
I hope that what I’ve shared today helps you move on past this situation and getting past the blame, shame, guilt because you can blame someone else or yourself forever and waste your amazing one of a kind life. I so don’t want that for you.
Please download the little cheat sheet that I made for you. And let me hear from you! Drop me a comment here, and if you’re not a member of our Real Love Revolution Facebook Group yet, come on over, mama!
As always, take care of you,
I am glad I saw your video today.
I am living abroad a year now because I am studying ballet and at some point I felt so lonely. A friend of mine proposed to me to download Tinder to get to know some people around Milan, after a lot of thought I downloaded it.
My first date was with a boy named Ivan. It was the first time in my life I was feeling that I was sitting on a table with a man who had something to tell me. He was so practical. We continued dating for a month. He did things I appreciated so much, he was always organising our dates, he was always on time, messaging me every day, he was so kind with everyone and he made me think he wanted us to create something beautiful. At the begging I was in so much fear that he could live that I wasn’t sawing a lot of emotion to him, and after a month I thought that he was so good to me and I could also start sawing my emotions. One night although we was always grabbing my hand on the road, I searched for his hand and I felt that he immediately pulled away.
After 10 days I was feeling that he was frozen our relationship, it felt like he wanted to transform our connection into a chill situationship. The last night before he left for vacations when he left me at home. I asked him “my dear what do you want from your life”, and he said “Sissy after I broke up from my past relationship I don’t want to start another relationship, especially with someone from another country because my ex girlfriend was also like you and I moved out for her for three months and it didn’t work out, I don’t want to do this again, because when you will finish you will probably go back to Greece and I also need to get in place with my job and I don’t feel safe right now.
I felt so much pain hearing his words, I gave him my hand to say to him good bye, he asked me if we would ever talk again or see each other, and I couldn’t find a meaning into that. I was playing all my cards, I wanted this man truly and I was thinking that this was the only way to have him back
We hugged kissed, I told him once more how much I appreciated him and I left
I always wished he would come back, but he didn’t
Hi Sissy, I am witnessing you with so much compassion and holding space for your pain ❤️
I was out one night with a man l really cared about and one night l didn’t drink enough water like l usually di this very very hot night..We had walked around for about two hours, then we had a nice dinner out then cane back to my place…l remember the very first part of your the evening, then the rest of he night l do not, as a result of he wine just hit me! The next morning the man l was with just said a couple words to me and was very discussed, and then he just stirred at me in anger..I other hand did not say anything l was too embarrassed, because this never happened to me before…So with that the was no discussion between us, then left, shortly thereafter l was ghosted…I tried to email, call, he cut off all communications wih me l tried many times to talk to him and explain what happened and said l was sorry, etc…It broke my heart at the time, but as l slowly move on l realized, no matter what happened if he cared at all about me he would have wanted o talk to me and work it out, or have some forgiveness and understanding! It would be great to have feed back 6 months later, thank you….
Lynne, it’s sounds like I had a similar situation. And currently am struggling with the behaviour that continues from my ex, in the form of bullying, financial control and from my perspective lack of morals and basic human decency. I am taking responsibility for my 50%, and doing all I can, to stand up to the bullying and abusive behaviour, without talking or engaging in any form with him. However as he continues to do nothing, and ignore, the closing of our marriage in an legal form, it is incredibly hard to move on when I am held stuck from a legal perspective because of his not taking responsibility for his 50% of the closure of our relationship, including a withdrawal of needed financial support. Yet he continues with his life with the other woman and her family as though all is normal. Well then I wish he would do what he needs to end ours officially. So how does one move on through the emotionally draining, time consuming process of fighting for an ending that is being stalled by another?
Hi Kirsten, thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I hear how painful it is for you. I can understand your feelings of being stuck when you have so much unresolved legal business. The best thing to do in this situation is to continue to take care of yourself, especially since you are feeling emotionally drained. How can you fill yourself back up and take care of your needs (emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually?). Sending you so much strength.
I agree with almost all you are saying about blaming myself, doing the dance, and seeing red flags, etc. I do not agree with the cheating leaving the something to the union. My ex was a gaslighting narcissistic with issues from childhood and beyond. At one of our breakups he made believed he was going to therapy to “fix us”. I did not find out about some of this until after I left the relationship. Unless, I am that two percent. I am surprised to hear you say there is only 2% of that. Maybe, if you have time you can explain that.
I agree I am working on self love, getting to know myself, and never to get in the path of someone like I was involved with. I want to dance with someone who is improving and well-adjusted.
Thank you for so many of your fabulous lessons. Between my therapist, you, and one other knowledgable person have made what happened and why has clicked and clicked.
I hope to help someone not get into or who is dealing with what I was in.
Thank you Teri so much for all the wisdom and love you share with those ready to hear it. This one hit home for me personally, I can totally relate to being afraid to open to love…..all the aspects of not having had enough self respect, self love and ineffective communication skills, especially when it came to/comes to setting boundaries. Although I am now in CODA and its helping me grow and heal after my latest narc relationship. Looking back its been one hurtful disappointment after the next, its no wonder to me why I shut down, I am tired of getting hurt. But little by little, I am learning to put myself first without guilt and speak up for what I need and want.
Good for you, Jackie! Progress not perfection, right?
What a blessing it has been to hear this ! Thank you so much Dear Terry for sharing this with everyone, it makes such a big difference
You are so welcome! Thank you for being here with us xo
thank you for making this video for us. I really resonated with most things you mention. I’ve been through a similar experience where I was blaming myself for a break-up and really ruminating about it, just wishing that it had gone the way I would have liked it to go. I felt super guilty. After months of recovery, I have started to walk the path towards self-love, only to realise what I needed most was to honor who I was in that relationship, my needs and wants. From the very first moment that I acknowledged them and started to feel responsible for them, it all changed.
Taking responsibility for what’s yours, really has made a difference in my life.
Thank you for being here and share your insights with us!
Spooky how you must have been looking over my shoulder the night before you sent this post. I had been searching online for info about my ex fiance of over 20 years ago, mostly just morbid curiosity. I was the one who left and have no regrets. But I found out that he has since had a thriving business and had married. I, on the other hand, have had floundering relationships and have struggled to barely make a living. These thoughts left me with a big knot in my throat…what the hell was wrong with me? I am even more determined to work on this, with the help of Terri. #RLR
A synchro-tastic happening;) Thank you for being here with us and sharing your experience. I cheering you on to continue your healing journey and happy to be a part of your solution!
I just don’t know how to move on when it means saying good bye to someone you love forever. When it means you have to accept that you are being abandoned and unloved and unwanted. When you know that pain may be something you never get past and may just succumb to. Nothing on either side but pain, that’s why you stay stuck.
I am sorry to hear about your painful situation, Wendy. YOU and the infinite possibilities of your life are on the other side of processing this loss, mama. You can do it and you deserve it. I am holding space for your healing xo
Spooky feeling that you must have been looking over my shoulder the night before your post. I was searching online for info about my ex fiance of more than 20 years ago, more out of morbid curiosity. I was the one who left, and no regrets leaving, but found out he had a thriving business and had gotten married. I, on the other hand, have ended up floundering in the relationship department and struggling to even make a living. Those thoughts left me with choking knot in my throat….what the hell is wrong with me? I am so determined to work on this, with your help, Terri.
I am here cheering you on, Kathleen!
Thank you so much, you are indeed blessing from God, your video is spot on, clear , l feel good , to be honest , I learned the clarity of a relionship right from the beginning of watching your video. God bless you for the noble work.
Staying stuck in regret is like carrying an anchor around everywhere you go until you choose to drop it and let it go.
Thank you, Terri! <3
I lacked self-love and self-respect
I had no boundaries
I communicated ineffectively
I stayed around even when being treated disrespectfully
I allowed the person to press the ‘reset’ button and slink back after they had disappeared for a period of time and even when they asked someone else out and it didn’t work out for them.
Thanks for sharing your experience here with us, Susannah. I hope the video gave you some comfort in knowing you are not at all alone. Moving on is difficult but it can be done and you deserve to be treated with love and respect (starting with you!) I am glad you’re here xo
Thanks for sharing, Susannah – you took the words to my 50% right out of my mouth. You’re definitely not alone in that!
Thank you Terri for your work, it’s always timely and helpful. <3
So glad the work is resonating with you, Tara!
I so needed to hear this. Thank you! Perfect timing too!
I am so happy to hear it! Thank you for being here with us 😉
The download button for your cheat sheet at the end here isn’t functioning. I am very interested to see the questions it has though!
I love your work and am finding its helping me in my personal experience. I hope the download will work soon. Thanks <3
I just tried it and it worked. If you cannot get it to on your end please email Joyce at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will help you. Thanks for being here!
I always find the information you share both insightful, useful and thought provoking. The cheat sheet you provided will make me take a deeper look into why I still have one foot in the past. Maybe this will be the time I really let go and move on 100%. Thanks for your compassion and always offering topics relevant to where I’m at. You and your work is greatly appreciated. ❤️
I am so happy to hear that the work is adding value to your life! Thank you so much for being here with us xo
Thank you, Terri…what divine timing. Although it has been many years, and I thought that I had moved on, I continue to be stuck in this place of wondering if I had made different decisions, guilt about the decisions that I did make (I went to law school after a 30 year career as an ICU nurse and got sick) and the pain that I caused by my insensitivity to my partner’s needs and the life and death of the relationship that started with so much love. Bless you <3
Thanks for sharing here with us, Marsha. I am witnessing you with compassion and understanding. xo