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Let’s be honest: sometimes it feels as if nothing is spiritual about breakups.
Not only do we have to endure a physical distance that has never been there, we also have to endure the emotional ups and downs that come with it.
The ups usually feel good. We feel as if we have conquered this monster called separation and are ready to let go of all the emotional burdens that have once brought us down.
The downs are usually the most stressful. They’re the moments when we think we could never get over this dismal experience. They’re the days when we feel the loss so heavily that we could barely move a finger. And oftentimes, they’re the years that just won’t pass.
I know. I know.
I’m not an expert when it comes to breakups. (In fact, I think I suck at moving on.) However, I’ve been there. I’ve been in that position when I thought I could never get over it, when I couldn’t move, and when the years felt like decades.
I read books, I watched videos, I traveled to the other side of the world and took meditation classes, I carried my backpack and walked for days, I numbed my pain with substances, I got in rebound relationships, I…did almost everything to overcome the pain of breakups.
And despite all the ways and techniques I incorporated into my routine so I could learn how to adapt to my new way of life, there was one line that felt more spiritual than anything else I had ever tried.
I was in India at the time, and it was a lovely morning that I shared with a fellow traveler. Her son had passed away, and she opened up about the reasons why she was making this trip. After hours of talking, one line has stayed with me all these years. She told me, “At some point, I had to let him go. Let’s be honest, he was never mine to begin with.”
He. Was. Never. Mine. To. Begin. With.
I still repeat this line to myself whenever I feel I’m getting too attached to those around me. However, especially during that time when I felt stuck after my breakup, those words brought me comfort and it suddenly became easier—smoother—to navigate the uncertainty of pain.
“He was never mine to begin with” has become my mantra.
And maybe it should become yours too. Thinking about it, my friend was right. People are not ours. That person I lost wasn’t mine. I don’t own him and never will. He’s just someone who crossed my path and for some reason chose to take a different one.
You see, when we separate from the one we deeply love, we suffer for many reasons. We were used to that person—their smell, their voice, their touch, their kiss, and so on. We had certain expectations, then bam, they disappeared into thin air.
But the main reason why we suffer and why breakups are so damn painful is because we might be attached to the idea that this person is “mine.” Imagine losing your phone. I mean, come on, it’s your phone. It has all the images, music, and apps you want. Because you have customized it in a way that feels personal and comfortable, the feelings of pain multiply when you lose it.
That said, when we lose the person we love, it feels as if we have lost a major body part. Something feels missing—incomplete. And we suffer more because we get attached to the idea that this person is our sole object of love. Not only is he/she mine, I also want (only) him/her to provide me with the love I need and want.
The most spiritual thing we can do after a breakup is to change our perception of love.
Just like we widen the aperture of our camera to let in more light, we have to open our hearts to let in more love. Although we think that romantic love is the only existing or true love, it’s not true. We can experience the same intensity of love through many other things and people.
Doing something that makes our hearts skip a beat is love. Talking to a stranger or helping someone in need is love. Getting someone a gift is love. Spending time with our pets is love. Traveling is love. Being in nature is love. There are a ton of other things we can do to bring ourselves the comfort and validation we need, but we focus so much on the person who has left that we forget about everything else.
Love is universal, and choosing to experience it differently has truly helped me heal—many times. Widen your “aperture.” Let in more “light.” At the end of the day, there’s nothing more spiritual than choosing to move forward instead of going backward.
By clinging to one person—one kind of love—we are going against the flow of life. If we want to regain emotional balance, we have to go with life—not against it.
The essence of love is openness. Consequently, if you feel stuck and unable to overcome your suffering, do something—anything—other than ruminating. I promise it will bring you the same amount of satisfaction and happiness.