Whenever a relationship ends, no matter what side of it you are in, it is common that there are questions left unanswered, questions never asked, or questions that continue to linger even after conversations with you and your ex have ceased. As human beings, we like certainty and can feel anxious and upset when we aren’t sure what’s going to happen or what someone else is thinking- hence why we are always seeking closure when any relationship has ended. Although it is perfectly normal to want answers, there are certain questions that often leave us feeling more upset, lead us to criticize ourselves, and keep us stuck in unhelpful thinking styles. Below are some questions to avoid asking yourself following your breakup:
1. ‘What could I have done differently?’
It is not uncommon to look back on a relationship and think of all the ways that you could have showed up differently. Although it’s true that it can be helpful to reflect on your words and actions in a past relationship, if you are feeling stuck in wondering what could be different and wanting to do it over, these thoughts can become very unhelpful and lead you to feeling like the end of the relationship was 100% your responsibility. This question can keep you stuck in the past and hinder you from thinking about what you are looking for and seeking in your next relationship. Often it is the case that even if we had done or said some things differently, things would have still ended up the same in the end. Focusing on the past hinders the process of being present and moving forward. Stay focused on how you want to show up for yourself and someone else both now and in the future.
‘2. What is going on in my exes head?’ or ‘What are they thinking about me?’
We don’t know what is going on in someone else’s head. Unless we ask directly and trust their answer, everything else is an assumption. Social media allows us to feel like we know what they are doing, how they are feeling and what they are thinking- but we do not know for sure! This question keeps us in a circle of assuming and filling in the blanks- and when we are hurting, we often do not fill in the blanks in a positive way. When this question or thought comes up, try reminding yourself that it is normal to wonder what they are thinking, but that there is no way for us to know for sure. Stay focused on your own thoughts and feelings because that it what you have control over.
3. ‘What’s wrong with me?’
This question can be so common if you are the person who was broken up with. The truth is that nothing is wrong with you. A relationship not working does not mean anything about who you are as a person, and this internalization can be a slippery slope that leads to wounded self-esteem and feelings of sadness. It is okay to feel upset and to let those feelings in after a breakup, but be careful of the trap of internalizing the end of a relationship to mean something about you. Instead of ‘what’s wrong with me’, thoughts such as ‘The end of this relationship is bringing up a lot of sadness and defeat’ is more helpful and allows you to acknowledge whatever feelings are coming up for you.