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Shaking the Foundations: Can I Survive Relationship Breakdown? #2

May 11th, 2015 · relationship breakdown

In my last post, we started to look at ways to both survive and to ultimately “come through” relationship breakdown that preserve personal authenticity, meaning and value.

relationship breakdown

Last time, we looked at some very immediate steps that a person might take to “keep the ship upright’ in the aftermath of relationship breakdown.  This time, we’ll look at some things that are a little more oriented to the longer term.

Don’t Get Lost in Technology

relationship breakdown

This is a point that’s particular to our time. In the aftermath of a relationship breakdown, it is very easy, in our time, to seek social connection through social media, like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this, if the social media can be a true connection to the type of in-depth encounter with others that people really need. The trouble is, that in our time, it’s very easy for the social media to become a shallow substitute for real interaction. There are very many people who are in a state something like addiction to social media, for whom the “buzz” of social media acts as a substitute for any kind of genuine encounter with the other.

People need others to see and appreciate them in their uniqueness. Oftentimes, social media can give the illusion of this type of contact with others, but with no connection of real substance. Social media can also prevent us from having a genuine deep and lasting relationship with ourselves.  By all means use them, but please also recognize the need for genuine and deep encounter with others!

Listen to Your Dreams

The unconscious mind responds to the emotional impact of relationship breakdown.   Depth psychotherapists know that often dreams will reflect the actual grieving process of losing a relationship.  Understanding the symbolism and emotional importance of dreams can be a source of real healing in the process of moving through the loss.  Dreams may also show us some of the things we need to face and embrace in the course of moving through the loss of relationship.  They may well point us toward things we need to realize about our inmost selves as we struggle to deal with loss.  They may also help us to realize the ways in which a relationship breakdown connects with experiences from earlier in our lives, which may help us to understand the process that we are going through in new ways.

As neuropsychologist Mark Solms and others have shown, the unconscious mind doesn’t use the kind of rationality that characterises the conscious mind.  It’s often capable of showing us the connections between things in our lives in a new way.  Sometimes the unconscious can show us the way through situations like loss and relationship breakdown in ways that are quite simply beyond the capacity of the conscious mind.  In C.G. Jung’s words:

relationship breakdown

Turning from the “Magical Other” to Ourselves

One of the essential things that comes forward to us from relationship breakdown is a single, overwhelmingly powerful but very difficult truth.  As James Hollis and others describe it, it is the deep seated, fallacious fantasy that:

…out there somewhere is some “Magical Other” who will rescue us.

Relationship breakdown takes us to the point where we realize that we cannot blame others for our lives, and that we can’t avoid facing the loneliness that is an inherent part of those lives.  Relationship breakdown can be a key point at which we realize that we have to genuinely explore our own lives, and start to really find out who we are, in our conscious and unconscious entirety.

Do Something to Move Towards the Self

Relationship breakdown may be accompanied by a summons from deep within us to move towards the Self.  We may well not recognize it as that.  It may be that a “door opens”, and we all of a sudden are captivated by a possibility that we weren’t aware was there, even a brief while ago.  We may be inexplicably drawn to something that attracts us for no reason that we’re aware of.  Can we have the courage to explore these “strange attractors”, as some depth psychotherapists call them?  They might just point us in the direction of wholeness and healing.

It may also be important to seek out the right kind of affirming therapy or counselling may be very important in this process.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst


PHOTOS IN POST & SLIDESHARE:  Attribution Share Alike  ©  torbakhopper ; Soliz Photography ; David Goehring 
© 2015 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Shaking the Foundations: Can I Survive Relationship Breakdown? #1

May 4th, 2015 · relationship breakdown

Relationship breakdown is greatly feared and brings many people into therapy.  Are there ways to survive, and to “come through” that preserve meaning and value in life?

relationship breakdown

In this post and my next one, I’ll be looking at concrete steps that a person can take to survive and ultimately move beyond relationship breakdown.

1. Accept & Acknowledge Relationship’s Ending

This sounds incredibly simple. Yet it may prove very difficult. It can be a struggle to come to terms with our denial of an ending. Often we may intellectually accept that a relationship with a lover a partner or a very close friend has come to an end, but the emotional and feeling level parts of the self may not be ready to accept this loss, as depth psychotherapists well know.

People can go for years in a state of denial. Yet, for life to flow, it’s essential to find the courage to fully acknowledge to ourselves that the relationship is over.

It may be essential to take formal explicit steps to live out the reality that the relationship is over. This may be where a ritual or other kind of symbolic act fits in.  It’s very important to allow the deepest self to experience the visceral, felt, emotional reality of relationship’s end.

Connected with this is the need to let things go.   It can be very important not to hang on to or to ruminate over the trappings or memories of the relationship.   In the aftermath of a relationship, if a lot of our energy is going into looking through old photo albums and remembering happier times in the relationship,  or alternately rehearsing situations from the relationship and thinking about what we would have / should have / could have done,   we are running the risk of living out  the archetypal reality embodied in the biblical story of Lot’s wife, who kept looking back,  and turned into a pillar of salt (read: bitterness).

2. Be Particularly Compassionate Towards Yourself

relationship breakdown

Right at the time of relationship breakdown, it will often be very important to be very kind to yourself.

Please be aware that you are going through something very hard, and very stressful in its demands on your physical self. If you can, please do kind things to your long-suffering body and your tender, inmost self.

Do not drive yourself like a harsh taskmaster. Do not let your inner criticism rip you up. Take time for yourself. Give yourself gifts, like a warm relaxing bath, listening to your favorite music, or walking in nature.

Treat yourself like you would your best friend, because, as depth therapy affirms, you are your best friend.

3. Deepen Your Connection with Your Real Identity

As James Hollis points out, this might be an important time, in a very compassionate way, to connect with who you really are.  Certainly  soulful people will be exploring and deepening their understanding of themselves for the their whole lives, as a work in progress.  Yet, it may be very important and very healing to connect with as much of our identity as we can at a time like this.

Here are some key questions that may help with getting in touch with your core identity:

It may help to speak to someone else about this; this is the kind of work that’s often aided by depth psychotherapy.

4. Seek Out Hope & Affirmation

relationship breakdown

At the time of relationship breakdown, who you choose to interact with makes a big difference.  It’s essential to connect with people who can offer you real support.  The people who can offer you genuine connection to life and hope.  It’s advantageous to put your effort into finding people who can affirm you and your life, rather than people who will simply offer pity, or tell you how awful it is.  Often, these are people who’ve been through some real and difficult things in their own lives.

It may also be important to seek out the right kind of affirming therapy or counselling.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst


PHOTOS IN POST & SLIDESHARE:  Attribution Share Alike  ©  woodleywonderworks ; Pink Sherbet Photography ; Nishanth Jois ; McKay Savage
© 2015 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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