Relationship Triage: Connecting the Dots

A simple exercise to help you find peace and healing after breakup or divorce

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After a long-term relationship, you gain a powerful piece of perspective that would have been impossible to attain while you were in the thick of it.  Steve Jobs famously said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”

The ability to start connecting the dots is one of the most powerful gifts you will have in your breakup or divorce.  Connecting the dots leads to greater self-awareness and decision making during your healing process. 

There’s this incredible gift we are able to tap into once the relationship has physically distanced.  I think we each need physical, emotional, and intellectual space for ourselves in order to truly tap into the perspective we’re able to find on the other side of a relationship’s end. 

In divorce, a jarring and traumatic moment can be the physical separation.  You moved into a new house, your ex stayed, or the other way around.  Whatever it is, when you physically separate from your spouse, the initial emotional focus tends to be on grief, sadness, pain, devastation, and loss.  These are important emotions to really feel.  Don’t push them away, you have to feel them. 

On the other side of these dark emotions, you will have the opportunity to tap into the gift of perspective, of connecting the dots, and beginning to grow out of your divorce.  If you’re feeling as though this perspective gain has not quite entered your mind or heart, purposefully look for it now that you’re on the other side of the breakup. 

Grab a notebook or open your laptop. Create three columns:

  • What I miss most …
  • What I miss least …
  • What I have now that I couldn’t have before the relationship ended …

Without editing or judging, set a timer for 25 minutes and free-write in each column.  Once you’re finished, save the list somewhere safe and leave it overnight, or for a couple days.  Then, deliberately come back to it.  Circle at least one item you listed in each column and set another timer for 25 minutes to journal about each item.  Again, no editing or judging your thoughts, this is all about you and no one else ever has to read this. 

If you’re struggling to fully process your emotions after a breakup, take some time to reflect, make lists, and start connecting the dots.  Gifts of healing are all around you, even in the midst of sadness and devastating loss.  It’s up to you to actively work through the emotions and gain the perspective that will keep you moving forward.

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