I’m almost sure no one has reached this point in life without having ended by choice or circumstances meaningful relationships – be they with someone who’s still alive but changed, someone who’s rejected you or you them, or someone who has died.
Although Cathy Davidson’s book, Now You See It, How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work and Learn, is about largely about understanding and adapting in the digital age, I found much of her thinking applicable to surviving the loss of an important relationship. She says repeatedly in different contexts that to adapt to change we must learn, unlearn, relearn. Distractions from the norm, from those things to which we’re inured, she says, help us see opportunities to relearn once we’ve agreed with ourselves to unlearn the familiar.
In his book, The Way of Transitions, William Bridges, gives similar advice:
Take a step forward.
Ask yourself: What do I need to know? What’s useful for me right now?
Who do I have for support?
When things change, trying to stay in one place, doing the same things usually doesn’t work.
The ability to learn is an asset, a resource. Unlearning is a skill.
We need both for relearning and adapting to changes where routines, habits, hopes and dreams have been lost with the ending of the relationship, which often includes the ending of other “con-joined” relationships.
What is something you want learn or practice unlearning when it comes to the difficult passage of the ending of a relationship?