I Want My Ex Back - Part 3: The Tools
Tool 1: Stay Inside the Chalk Circle: For obeying your highest self
This is a tool for dealing with painful reactions to this situation, when you’re not acting as you would like you. It’s how to recognize your highest self vs. your pain and clinging. Your highest self is really the voice of reason that speaks when you are balanced, calm and empowered. You know it best when a kid calls you a name and you can say, “Now, now, that’s not nice.” Instead of “Shut up you little brat!” You have access to this part of your brain when you are chemically balanced and also not in the fear-threat-response state. So this tool is really to remind yourself of that fact when you’re suffering and longing and triggered (at your lowest). The first goal you have is to get back to center – return to the most chemically empowered state you can be in and DON’T STEP OUT of that RING. I want you to imagine that right now you’re in hell and there are swirling chemical demons and ghosts all around you – and there’s one chalk circle that I am drawing on the dirt floor for you that will allow you to see what is around you for what it is. Inside this circle, you are in control of your emotions and you are your most rational, highest self. Your job in those moments of being triggered is to get back into that circle. Don’t act on anything when you’re outside of it. How to get back inside the circle? That will be a personal process that you will fine-tune, but here are some places to start. In the simplest terms, you are going to enact things to calm the chemicals and distract yourself. Slow down the response – this will give you one toe inside the circle because it will release the chemicals that get you out of the fight-flight-threat response. For example, go running or do some jumping jacks.
Another helpful move is doing ANYTHING that’s new. I call it zag-ing – just removing yourself from the train of thought, the triggered track of actions. So if you’re on the computer in the middle of the night – throw the laptop in the trunk of your car and start dancing your ass off to loud pop music. Put a comedy on the TV or start cooking a complicated recipe. Literally ANYTHING that you can fully immerse yourself in that will help you empower yourself and slow down the REACTIVE thought process. Time is your best friend in this zone. Add time – if the chemicals aren’t soothing fast enough, waste time doing your hair in the bathroom. Keep dawdling before enacting the triggered response. If you need something else to do, begin practicing a breathing exercise – I have several meditations on my playlist, but I also recommend slow, even, loud breathing in and out so that you can only hear the sound of your breath.
The short of it is – happy=rational. If you really want to get your ex back, the first thing you need to do is be rational and clear-headed. You need a brain and a self-respecting, strong person that values themselves. You need a person who is taking care of themselves, who is capable of making change, who has a smile and a solid core. You need to remember who you are – and be great at that self. And in order to walk through this process as a quality individual, you need your head on straight, now, more than ever. You need to be at the wheel and not on the ground, clinging to someone’s ankle. So stay in a place that allows you access to your highest self. Your highest self will not react based on fear or pain – your highest self will CHOOSE based on reflection. Your highest self is powerful and self-assured, and attractive for this reason. So empower yourself to act from this place. If you’re blinded by the swirling pain and the clinging, your FIRST STEP is to get back into that chalk ring I drew for you. Where you can see the situation clearly and you KNOW what you need to do, and be capable of doing that.
Tool 2: Walk the Walk
This is for anyone who neglected their partner or perhaps for the first time – cheated on their partner, and now sees how truly horrific that was. I wanted to start this tool by saying that a lot of my clients are baffled by their own behavior – when they blow up their relationships and betray those they love, seemingly when everything is perfect. I’ve heard it called “panic” and “fear” or “helpless watching” when they enact these things. This is a very specific kind of break-up and one you absolutely NEED to get therapy for. If you are a self-sabotager, I want you to know that this will not go away and this issue needs gutting. It’s coming from something old and totally unrelated to your partner and you can and should get therapy for the good of YOUR happiness and self-love, and the good of your future partners. Do the work, you owe it to yourself and to the person you hurt – because this kind of self-destruction is cruel and unfair to those who welcome you into their hearts. Not to mention it makes YOU believe you are a piece of crap, which you are not – this is just a misunderstood and confusing loop of survival machinery operating inside of you. If you need a starting topic for therapy, I can tell you it’s either tied to trauma and loss or your family of origin. Do it right. Start the work. It will be done faster than you think if you just get specific and aggressive about it – don’t let fear of “knowing” or change, be the reason you continue to suffer. Life doesn’t have to be this way for you.
Whether that’s you or not, the tool is the same in that the only power you have in any situation is changing yourself for the better. And if you broke trust, your word means nothing – all that matters are your actions. If you want to win someone back, you must demonstrate real change over a long period of time. And this can’t be faked. It must be acted on. So if you broke your partner’s heart, start walking the walk of change and get into therapy. Start some self-work in the areas you suffer – not for them, for YOU. Because the fact that you hurt someone else and betrayed your values hurts you, too. It makes YOU feel like a bad person. And that shows me you have some self-worth issues that need to be unearthed and untangled. If you did not betray your own values by cheating, then that shows me you need to be more honest with yourself about the kind of relationship you can be in – and you need to be more honest about that with your partners. In love, there are lots of inconvenient truths and sometimes it comes down to learning to own them so you don’t destroy people with them down the line. Not to mention – there are people out there who want the same thing you want and that would be a much more self-loving act than forcing yourself to live a lie.
Regardless, if you want to show this person you are changing – the only way is to actually change. Trust will be rebuilt over time – and because of the betrayal, the process you are going through is but an offering of peace. It does not require they come back to you. And hopefully they will – but you should do it for yourself, regardless. Know thyself and trust thyself. There’s nothing more stressful that living in fear of what “you might do” and not knowing the answer. Knowing thyself is like an intoxicating form of confidence and comfort. I want you to have it, too.
Sometimes breakups are the resetting of things that really need attention – so I would look at this as a positive process. Use it. Don’t shy away from it because it truly can be the answer to all that was wrong with the relationship originally. If you are overcompensating in one area where they are weaker, this means right now is when you can balance that out. So if they cheated on YOU and you are afraid to lose them, that means you have to see them grow self-worth in order for you guys to be back together again: you cannot accommodate sickness, otherwise it thrives and you reset the unhealthy loop. For love to work both partners need to feel strong and equal and confident. They need to be capable of loving you, too. So grab this window when everything is in flux and milk it – be aggressive about setting up all the change that needs to take place – it’s often the only path to happiness and love, in the future.
Tool 3: Welcome Newness
Your perception of your own value has been confused and your routine has been injured by the break-up. One of the best ways to get back on track and feeling good about yourself is to grow. It’s also when you appear more attractive as a partner. Your job is to get yourself into a state of, “I have something great to offer and I am a gem.” The best way to do that is to practice living a great life and conduct yourself with confidence, even if it doesn’t feel totally authentic just yet. To build confidence from scratch, try new things that intimidate you. Expand what makes up “you” – welcome change. This is how you grow and with that, you get stronger.
Think about yourself, right now – when you see a person looking happy and glowing, you immediately think, “What do they have? I want to be around that…” It’s an intoxicating energy. So by welcoming newness, I mean say yes to things that scare you. Be around new people often. Go out, get dressed up, be social, act as if – even if you’re not feeling it. Because this also has an effect on how you feel– via the visual feedback. Act nice to yourself and it will actually change you – and when you build self-love, you quite literally build your value to others, so by investing in yourself you build more of what you have to offer someone else.
Before I close, I want to thank my monthly sponsors! Judy, Katie, Katie, Holly, Hanna, Ivan and Hilda! You are awesome!!! One of you asked me to talk about myself, specifically any personal growth journeys I took to learn what I had to overcome to become the person I am now, and how I did it. And because I want to protect the innocent I will keep that answer vague. I speak from personal experience and I offer the tools I have used myself. So for now, you can fill in the blanks. As I told the person who wrote me, I will write a memoir one day and spill it all on Oprah, but for now. It’s all obtuse – mainly because I don’t like dwelling in the negative, it’s irrelevant to the tools. Which is what I really want to give to you all! And if you are looking for more on this topic, you can check out the pre-order for the Break-Up Album on Yaywithme.com/podcast right now. xo
If you were with someone who you loved and they don’t want you anymore – they don’t deserve you. And if you don’t believe that – that is where you need to start. Not in the trying to get them back. Because truly we can only love others from a healthy place if we love ourselves. It’s vital! If you don’t have self-love and you cannot tolerate being alone, you are selling your life short – because that is a very painful life to live. What a nightmare to exist in fear and excruciating pain unless you have someone to blanket that pain. I used to be like that and I am not anymore – so for you I would say, undo that for yourself. Get to some self-work SO that you can feel okay, solo. It’s a lot easier than going through that painful addictive loop of loneliness, then settling for less-than, then getting hurt and feeling lost and terrified all over again.
If you are sad because you lost someone you love, that is a really hard place to be in. I want you to know that it’s okay to feel all the things you’re feeling – and we’ve all been there. It’s the pits. Pain and mourning is a necessary part of this process, and it’s not all wrong or bad. You mourn a loss because it meant something to you – and that is a beautiful thing. It means you live, you feel, you invest – and that you have heart. And this is truly how you get to the best of life – by feeling it and livng it. The pain of loss is just the other half of having something of value. Just because things ended doesn’t mean it wasn’t something of great worth in your life and in the life of the other person. It is always better to have loved and felt the depth of something than to have not – in my opinion. It shows you have great range and depth and you will bring more to your next relationship. More compassion, more clarity about who you are – and more understanding that you can gift to everyone you meet.
The key is to not become a victim of your experiences – and instead MILK them for all they’re worth. Use this as a gift that can grow you – seek out the lessons that are built into this. That’s what my album is all about – because break-ups, truly are an opportunity for post-traumatic growth. If something needs to change, don’t hide from it – run into it – because this is a window of time that can springboard you into another level of life. If you’re hurting, why not use it! Don’t allow yourself to wallow – pick up some tools. Or if you want to wallow a little while, just make sure when you’re done you put a clean shirt on and get right back out into the world. Life is for living and yours is not over – this can be a great teacher in your life, but you must choose to use it. I can tell you from where I stand that it is well worth it – it holds the keys to gifts you never knew existed. So I wish you well, be gentle on yourself, forgive yourself readily – and act from your highest self. You deserve love, first and foremost from yourself. And that includes investing and committing to working on the things that need to be addressed and owning your truth – and what you want for yourself. This isn’t about what someone else wants – I want you to ask yourself first: what do I want for my life? How do I want to feel? What do I want to solve in myself – for myself? What do I deserve from someone else? What do I want to have in the future for my happiness? The rest is just a process of taking steps that align with those things. I think you should have all of it.
Much love and be good to yourself. You need you in your court right now.
XO Sarah May B.
If you're looking for more on this subject - here's my reading list for this blog:
Men Who Can't Love (this is relevant to men and women - sorry bout the title :/ )
Featured image © Emma Feil Photography