Whatever your past has been, you have a spotless future. This is not an empty promise to yourself but a truth you can live. Weeks, months or years after a break up, you may think you are over your ex and yet the shards the relationship may be pricking you in ways you don’t even know.
Psychologists have proven how knowing your past is the key to understand the personality you are today. Reason enough then to stop regretting your past because it made you who you are. Clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Seema Hingorrany says that although the baggage of unresolved conflict changes you, you don’t know it. “You will unleash this in every domain of your life without realising why you behave that way.”
Hingorrany shares the instance of a 27-year-old woman who thought she had gotten over the abrupt breaking off of her three-year-long relationship. “Six months after it ended, she experienced memory lapses and concentration issues. She was under-performing, snapping at her colleagues and had problems dealing with authorities,” says Hingorrany.
“When I would bring up her relationship, she would brush it away saying that her fiancé wasn’t worth it anyway. But one day, she broke down and came clean. She still missed him a little and needed closure.
Being in denial or not talking about the break up only worsened it. Though she exhibited all symptoms, she couldn’t connect them to the negative emotions she had tucked away in some compartment of her mind. It’s when you face your follies that you can correct your behavioural pattern and emerge wiser.”
Spot the signs
In masked depression, you smile on the outside while crumbling within. It’s critical that you look out for changes in your behaviour, either by sustained introspection or by trusting close friends and family.
“Negative emotions associated with a separation don’t go away, but convert into hidden symptoms of low self-esteem, low self-confidence and even translate into aggressive or impulsive behaviour. Recognising and accepting them is how you break this vicious cycle,” she says.
Your history with your old partner shouldn’t interfere with the chemistry with the new one. Psychotherapist Varkha Chulani says you can’t handle subsequent relationships as long as residual anger keeps rearing its head. “You may be anxious, over-possessive and suspicious because you had trust issues or were cheated on. People often mistakenly assume that every relationship in the future will end up this way.”
Point of clarity
One fine day, you must realise you have to reach a point of wanting to get over your ex. Making this decision will be tough, especially to kill the residual belief that you may eventually get back together. It’s best though to cleanse your mind of the past, so as to focus on the future. When you go through this patch, it’s essential to realise that your happiness comes from within and you don’t need your ex for it.
As one’s irrational beliefs run on an auto-pilot mode, they usually drags down self-worth. Hingorrany says, “With time, self-loathing manifests itself in unhealthy ways. However clichéd it may sound, the grieving process such as crying or baring your heart out are vital in letting go of negative emotions. Even penning down feelings is a great way to give them a healthy outlet.”
Many people never deal with their trauma because they don’t have closure. “So if that’s what’s ailing you,” she says, “then demanding the ex for the same is important. Many people feel relieved once they do that, even if it’s that one talk. And it’s never too late to have it.”
Even if your ex’s fleeting presence in your life bothers you, get rid of all points of contact — delete photos, mails, messages and all that sweet memorabilia. Hingorrany says that if you track your ex on social networking platforms, then it’s a sign of insecurity. Surrounding yourself with gregarious, positive-minded people will help a great deal in keeping you from scanning those ex-files.
• Hidden relationship baggage can manifest in every domain of your life