Unless you get married to your first love, you obviously have an ex. The ending of a relationship one has invested time and emotions in is hardly ever pleasant and negative feelings can linger long after the relationship has ended. All sorts of feelings such as anger, resentment, cynicism, vindictiveness can arise in one and try as you might, these emotions just may refuse to reduce in intensity.
You might have tried prayer, putting the offending person out of your mind and other mental gymnastics best known to you. If these have not worked for you, there is yet another method you can try before you throw in the towel and decide you will never be able to get over your ex. You have probably never heard of it. It is a method known as mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a technique known in the ancient times for helping one move on. It was hijacked by mainstream science and is now used in clinical psychology, especially in the field of dialectical behavioural therapy, which is all about teaching one to use and process one’s emotions in a healthy manner.
Mindfulness is all about acceptance. Acceptance is not avoiding, denying, fighting or repressing your emotions. It is about embracing them so that you attain to a new level of inner peace. You don’t have to like the negative emotion you are trying to accept; that’s not the aim.
For instance, I had an ex towards whom I felt a lot of resentment. I tried every mental gymnastics I knew of to put him out of my mind but none worked. Till I read up on this wonderful technique I’m sharing with you.
I imagined myself looking at my mind as if at an outsider. I said to myself nonjudgmentally, I’m thinking of Albert right now. I can feel my chest tightening as I think of him. I can observe thoughts and feelings of anger and resentment about his emotional rejection welling up within me. It is safe to think these angry and resentful thoughts about him. I will not avoid, deny, repress or fight them. I accept these thoughts and feelings, because so long as I do not express them towards myself or anyone else in a threatening, excessive or inappropriate manner, it is OK. Even if I do, I will still accept myself!
This is mindfulness as I understand it. Very simple. Previously I’d repress my feelings and thoughts about Albert. Repression means forcibly trying to keep under control or not allow yourself do or express something. I had the mistaken belief that good girls don’t feel or harbor resentment towards anyone. Unfortunately, it has been shown that repressing our thoughts and emotions only makes them more intense and overwhelming.
With this new method of mindfulness I’ve discovered, I can say confidently that I hardly feel negative emotions intensely and for long. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I never feel negative emotions. I’m a human being, so I will definitely feel negative emotions. But now I practice mindfulness and things are a lot better for me. I’m definitely a much happier person now.
So what’s a healthy way of expressing negative emotions? You could try writing a letter to the person who offended you. In it, state all your grievances, burn it up and imagine the resentment leaving you. You could also try journaling or talking to a professional (clergyman, counselor or mental health practitioner) in a safe and structured environment. Sure helps. Better than being spiteful, don’t you think?
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