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Have you said this after a breakup?

"How could they move on so quickly when I'm an emotional wreck over our breakup?" I hear this, or some version of it, from clients all the time. And I've said it myself in the past.

The thought of our beloved discarding us like trash and replacing us so easily feels terrible. We reflect on all we gave to them and to our relationship. We question if any of it meant anything to them, or if they truly cared about us at all. We get that painful, sinking feeling in our gut that perhaps none of it was what we thought it was. Or worse, that we have no personal value to them or anyone else.

And that's when we buckle. The emotional weight of it is just too much to bear, and our heart breaks open. We crumple into tears of hurt, shock, regret, pain, and at some point, anger. Anger at them and anger at ourselves for not seeing it sooner, for not taking better care of ourselves, for putting everything we had into it, only to feel we got nothing real in return.

I am here to say...don't take what they do personally. Don't fret if your ex "dates someone else" or "loves someone else" or "marries someone else." I know it's easy to take that personally, because it feels personal, but it's not. The fact that they move on, however quickly, is not about you. And the fact that they seem happy without you is also not about you.

The thing is, our ex's sense of happiness is about them, just as our sense of happiness is about us. Genuine happiness means our ex can be happy and we can be happy, with or without each other. We don't actually give each other happiness or get happiness from each other. The ideal relationship is one in which we are each spiritually mature enough to share the genuine happiness we already hold inside with each other. Then we enter into a state of uplifting fun, healing, and growth together.

It took me a great deal of spiritual work to realize that the real sense of happiness we seek is born on the inside, not something we access on the outside. Until we find our happiness inside—a genuine happiness that's not dependent on external circumstances or conditions to arise—we spend our energy grasping for what we want, pushing away from what we don't want, and suffering because everything changes ALL the time. In this life, things constantly evolve, grow, and change by nature, decision and death. Nothing stays the same for long. So if you cling to what makes you happy on the outside, you will suffer when it changes.

Plus, in the highest order of things, none of us can truly be happy until all of us are truly happy. So be happy for other people when they find their happiness, especially those people you say you love. If you genuinely love them, you want them to be happy, even if it's without you...

I remember how painful it was for me to hear those words years ago. I was maybe 25 and I literally broke down and sobbed. I'd been through a very painful breakup and was an emotional basket case filled with hurt and regrets. Within weeks, my ex dove into a new relationship with a friend of his, and within months they were engaged. He seemed very happy, and I was devastated.

The woman he got involved with was the catalyst that inspired me to end our relationship. I sensed a strong connection between them and wanted to give him the space he needed to be sure of "us" before we made any further commitments to each other, because we'd talked of marriage. I knew it was risky, yet I also needed to be sure that marriage was something we both truly wanted.

In my distress, I sought the help of a pastoral minister because it was free and I was a graduate student barely getting by. Her words cut me to the core: "If you love him, don't you want him to be happy, even if it's without you?"

The moment she spoke them, I felt both tremendous grief and tremendous opening. It was the oddest sensation I've ever experienced. The thought of releasing him was devastating, yet the thought of him being truly happy was liberating. The moment she said the words, I felt the truth they held. I loved him so deeply, that I really did want him to be happy, even if was without me.

As with all things, I believe it worked out best in the end for each of us. Source has a way of holding us to our highest calling, whether we see it at the time or not. In hindsight with a wider, longer view of things, it's easier to see how the threads being woven into the larger tapestry of life serve not only us, but others we cross paths with. Once we "get" that, our entire world view shifts, and the way we relate to life opens up in powerful new ways that bring us an even deeper happiness.

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