You thought you had finally found the one. They were kind, compassionate, intelligent, beautiful in your eyes and totally in love with you! You introduced them to family and friends and everyone said that you made such a perfect pair. But now…they no longer feel that way about you and are moving on. You are in shock, alternating between anger and hurt, you can’t believe they could be so cruel or that you could be so gullible. What do you do now? How will anyone understand? And above all, how do you go on and ever trust again?
What's Faith Got to Do with it?
This is when your faith can serve you. More than a collection of interesting stories, it is a prescription for a successful life - in good times and bad. Your sense of self has been rocked by this loss and you need a map to find your way back home. Long before you were “theirs”, you were and are His. Your “sense of self”, from a neurobiological standpoint, begins and ends by your self-definition as a child of God. This is also true for the one who left you. Many years ago, you were both innocent children. Know that to dig for a deeper understanding you need to have “the faith of a child” as your subconscious mind and theirs has the presence of a five-year old and always will. It is within your subconscious mind that the dance of your love played.
What happened to the love you two initially shared? Your brain is wired to see everything and everyone in relationship, even your relationship to yourself. This, your sense of self, is best defined by something outside of this world. Defining yourself by how much your make, how talented you are or any of your strengths over doesn’t work for you or your relationships. There will never be enough of anything to satisfy you long term. This is called the “hedonic treadmill”. Additionally, if this is all you present to others, they will be attracted to what you offer, not who you are. What happened to the love you both experience can best be understood by looking at the complexity of the intimate relationship.
Neurobiology Can Help You Cope with a Breakup
The Buddha may have been one of the very first neurobiologists. Without CT scans or fMRIs, he was able to watch the comings and goings of his thoughts, feelings and actions. He noted that you mind can interpret real life issues as either pain or suffering. He declared that only pain truly exists. He saw suffering as an indication of “attaching” to something of this world that prevents you from experiencing your life clearly. As a person of faith, you perceive things clearly when you seeing yourself and others as a precious children of God. The love you shared may have pushed your awareness of your relationship with God aside for a time, something that the Buddha would refer to as attachment. Relying on another to define who you doesn’t work. While your pain you feel is real, the suffering you may now experience is a call for you to once again reach for Him.
So, what of the pain? It’s normal and natural and is a part of what God uses to guide your strengths and draw you closer to Him. As in all types of pain, it is an indication that something is wrong. The brain doesn’t have its own pain receptors but instead self-monitors for problems using the feelings of suffering and/or pain. Suffering, as the Buddha and neurobiology suggest, exists when you lose touch with your connection to reality. In this case, you may have come to define yourself existentially through your relationship with this other person. On the other hand, neurobiologically, pain is healthy and grounded in your relationship to your body and your relationships.
This was a painful change. A significant relationship was altered in a way that no longer provides you the comfort and joy you both expected. The relationship required significant resources that were shared in the hope of a life-long commitment as intimate partners. It is now transformed into yet another relationship that will… one day… lead you to, “the one”. Until then you must reach out to God for wisdom regarding your strengths and the way you choose and run your intimate relationship.
Practical Applications of Faith After a Breakup
Let’s look at a few practical applications of your faith.
- Build your personal resilience through spiritually guided reading, prayer and meditation. Often, returning to the practices you have used in the past to remember who you are prove most effective. It is not unusual to initially be mad at God, that’s OK, he has big shoulders and if you have heard the poem “Footprints in the sand” it means that He is carrying you now.
- Surround yourself with longer term relationships with people who know and love you for who you are. Simply being in their presence strengthens your resilience and your resolve to get through this. This may sound like magic but it is simply what your “mirror neurons” do for you every day of your life.
- Your thoughts will go back and forth between suffering (either you or the other are inherently awful) and pain (there is something in that relationship that hurts and that I still don’t understand). Decide who you can talk to about this relationship that won’t demonize either one of you.
- The intimate relationship is the most complex relationship you will ever form. It is to be a lifelong relationship with someone you are not related to and who was not raised in the same ways you were. You are to love each other no matter what and in every situation that life brings. The bottom line; you must choose well and run the relationship well.
- Both choosing your life partner and running such a relationship requires a firm neurobiological sense of self connecting your conscious and subconscious mind. This is verbally grounded in a preferably shared faith that has been tested in previous relationships. Your neurobiological strengths call to be used and expanded through wise use in your relationships. For each of your brain cells it is either “grow or die”.
- With the help of time, distance and trusted friends, look clearly at what seemed to have worked and not worked in the relationship. It’s not so much about who was right or wrong, it’s about what does and does not work for you. There are strengths that you are attracted to - did the person seem to have the wisdom to handle their strengths e.g. If they were beautiful in a worldly sense, had they learned to handle their beauty in all of their earthly relationships? The same questions must be reviewed in reverse. What strengths of yours were they attracted to? If you are very empathic have you learned to go beyond being helpful and taken the responsibility of being clear about your own needs? Did either of you have the necessary communication skills and experience to run such an intense all-encompassing relationship? What expectations did you each carry from your families? What were each of your experiences with previous relationships? How does what happened in this last relationships make sense? How might you have avoided this relationship or at least predicted this outcome earlier?
- In the end, it is not the fear of trusting another that will hold you back. It is the fear that you may not have taken the necessary time and effort to gain the wisdom necessary to choose and run your next relationship better.
Center in your faith, learn the way God has made you and then enjoy the wisdom that provides the peace that surpasses all understanding.
To learn more practical applications for faith in your life to improve your relationships with friends, families and other acquaintances, sign up for the Grow in Oneness course and be sure to subscribe to the Oneness Approach podcast.