Letting go of the pain and sorrow from breaking up with loved ones is difficult for most people. Not only do we grieve our loss, but we also find ourselves shackled by our fears and unable to move on with our lives.
One young man (I’ll call him John) that I recently counseled was unusually tormented by the recent break up with his girlfriend of several years. Although it was she who broke up with him, John recognized that the relationship had been unhealthy for him as well, but nonetheless couldn’t get her off his mind.
As he kept obsessing about her, John quickly spiraled down into the depths of self-pity, frustration, resentment, and pure self-torture. He was afraid of what was going to happen to him. Would he be able to live without her? Would he ever find someone else? Was there something wrong with him? And so on.
A Worst-Case Scenario Exercise
It was readily apparent to me that John’s enormous fears were preventing him from letting go of the tormenting dramas he kept scripting. I asked him what was the worst thing that he feared would happen to him and the following dialogue between us ensued:
John: “I will be all alone.”
Me: “What would happen then?”
John: “I would have to find new things to do.”
Me: “What then?”
John: “They would be different than what I did before.”
John: “Some of them might be fun.”
John (with a smile): “I would be happier!”
Me: “So, it seems like the worse thing that would happen is that you would end up being happier. Is that right?”
Both of us cracked up laughing.
Addressing Your Love Fears
The above exercise is an effective way in which to put your love fears in their proper perspective because it allows you to separate the real, objective facts from the nightmares your strong emotions script for you. (I write about effective ways in which to defuse our fears in other vital areas of our lives in Losing Control, Finding Serenity: How the Need to Control Hurts Us and How to Let It Go.)
As you begin to address and process your love fears, they will diminish, and as in John’s case, you will begin to “see” options and choices that had been obscured to you before. You will have glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel.
In simple terms, when you process your love fears, you will no longer feel so hamstringed and be able to move on with your life in a positive manner.
The next time you’re hampered by foreboding fear do your own worst-case scenario exercise and see where you end up!
And remember to,
Let It Go!