Yesterday we discussed how relationships empower, grow and strengthen us. We also discussed toxic relationships that offer false validation that put us at risk of losing our sense of self. So what do we do when we come to a crossroad, and must walk a different path? It could be because he or she has gone where you cannot follow because of beliefs or values. Or you must walk your path, alone, because it is what you need. This is when you realize the person you are with is not meant for you…because of a lack of respect, or you had grown apart, or the spark had faded. Remember, a relationship is alive, and when the flame goes out it is a reason for mourning, for something once cherished has passed.

How do we treat ourselves when we must part with what is not meant for us?

We cope…whether it is a welcomed or saddened loss. In psychology coping is a means to endure pain. Some coping mechanisms help us eliminate or avoid pain, while others allow us to survive it. It is a conscious activity that doesn’t include subconscious defense mechanisms where we react to painful situations without truly understanding the cause. Broadly, there are three ways we cope…

First…perspective change, as the original perspective causes pain. Such as denying facts in order to ignore the pain we face. This also includes distractions by engaging alternative activities to keep the mind off of pain, such as extreme levity to “laugh it off.”

Next…over managing emotions, which often lead to bottled-up feelings, or anger management. This hinges on the notion that stress and fear are all a state of mind and our feelings are invented to manage the reality of danger and harm. This includes practices to calm boiling emotions such as meditation, self-control, acceptance, blame and avoidance.

Lastly…directly dealing with the pain by finding ways to eliminate the reason for the pain. This could be seeking information and rationalizing why it occurred. It could be adapting to the pain, such as avoiding people who have a bad temper if a past relationship was jaded because of that quality. But, there must be a balance with this coping device as it can lead to obsessive behavior.

There are constructive and destructive practices we can use to cope. Ultimately, when you treat ourselves kindly, there can be a grace about it. To gracefully let go of someone takes an act of courage by wanting the best for you. Sometimes you must let go of both what is healthy or toxic, since either may not fulfill you in a way your life demands.

But to gracefully let go does not only apply to people. It applies to dreams as well. To let go of the idea of what we think life may be like…be it a lavish career, earning a coveted award, or achieving a physical milestone. Sometimes we are offered twists in life and end up in a place we never imagined. And sometimes that new destination is bittersweet, as it is not what we wanted in our hearts.

But mostly, we must not be blinded by the idea of the person we see ourselves with. This is an idea we all must gracefully let go, as no person will fit into the mold we create. Your future partner’s journey is a wonderful gift to discover, and to have an expectation of who they are before you meet them will rob an opportunity to experience something that may be beyond your wildest dreams.

Let me borrow a quote, wrongly attributed to Buddha, but still has an elegant radiance… “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”