Harnessing wisdom in difficult times is challenging.
We focus so much on the ordeal itself that we fail to see the bigger picture. Especially when it comes to breakups, looking at the bright side of things is almost impossible.
Buddhism has always helped me see things in a different light. Through the teachings of the Buddha (which we can reflect on for any situation), I’ve dealt with breakups more mindfully. The teachings soothed my pain and gave me hope when I felt particularly hopeless.
Keeping these Buddhist notions in mind may help us move on sooner than expected:
Pain is a part of life.
Buddhists acknowledge that suffering is a natural part of life. Expecting things to always be good sets us up for disappointment. However, recognizing that life is both good and bad, while staying aware that we can overcome the bad is freeing and hopeful. That said, breakups are natural—and, as the third Noble Truth of the Buddha’s teachings suggests, the cessation of pain is feasible. Oftentimes, we are the cause of our own difficulties, but we’re also the solution as well. Consequently, we can turn a breakup into the ultimate challenge for personal growth.
Mourn it, but don’t force it.
How do we react to a breakup? Do we force ourselves to feel better immediately? Do we ignore our negative emotions and try to force the good ones? Buddhist teachings acknowledge that we shouldn’t hide from or overlook the reality of our present moment. Brushing our emotions under the rug only causes them to manifest later in other situations. Letting our emotions be, without judging them, helps us move on faster. We can practice meditation to befriend our current present moment without judgment.
Holding on makes no sense.
Oftentimes, we hold on to a relationship even after things have already virtually ended. We get attached to our story and fail to let it go. The Buddha always suggested that by holding on to the past, we don’t solve anything—we only breed misery, mostly for ourselves. Holding on to anger, especially, hurts us. Letting go of the past is challenging, but we should accept that the past is only kept alive in our minds. The past is gone, and there’s nothing we can change about it. Practice letting go of any ideas that might be holding you back or keeping you trapped in the past. It’s your chance to learn to love without attachments, expectations, or physical presence.
Buddhism acknowledges the law of nature which is impermanence. Things always change. If we watch nature at work, we’d understand this more clearly. Taking this notion to heart stops us from giving ourselves (or the other person) a hard time for ending the relationship. The Buddhist approach to life is that causes and conditions are often stronger than us. It’s not us or our ex—it’s simply what would have happened sooner or later, based on the momentum of cause and effect. Know that old things must die, so new things can grow. Don’t focus on what has passed. Instead, aspire to what is yet to come. Embrace change, and perceive the illusory nature of all the things around you.
Compassion is imperative for Buddhists. According to the Buddha, we’re not separate beings. Duality is an illusion of our own creation. This is why it’s important to develop compassion for others, since we’re all one. As Pema Chödrön says, ”In order to have compassion for others, we have to have compassion for ourselves.” Be gentle with yourself as you process the breakup, then be gentle with your ex-partner. Send them metta, and let it be.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Instagram @walkthetalkshow
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Travis May
Social editor: Waylon Lewis