Can We Still Be Friends After The Breakup?

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Wild FlowersKatelynn shared during the introduction to one of my classes that she had been struggling to cope emotionally after a recent breakup. I asked her if she could tell us what brought about the dissolution of the relationship. She told us that significant differences in their needs and values were generating a lot of conflict. Her former partner left on short notice when he was offered a job in California. I asked Katelynn if she was making any effort to keep in touch with him. Katelynn told me that she found it too painful to keep in touch and so she stopped returning his calls.

I had Katelynn close her eyes, begin to breathe softly and deeply and bring her former partner to the forefront of her awareness and then tell us how she was feeling. Katelynn said that she was feeling mildly depressed, isolated and numb. Katelynn later shared that she was missing her former partner and that she was experiencing a profound sense of emptiness combined with feelings of sadness and anger. She said that the whole experience left her wondering what she had done wrong.

Katelynn told me that the pain and pressure that she was experiencing within her body let up as she continued to work with the practice of breathing into the feelings and sensations. After some time she began to experience a greater sense of peace, calmness and ease.

The wound that never fully heals

The loss of a love can be especially devastating. The painful emotions that arise while we’re in the midst of a breakup can leave us feeling overwhelmed. The intensity of the feelings gradually diminish over time, but that doesn’t mean we have thoroughly processed our losses.

The vast majority of us have never learned to work constructively with our feelings. And many of us never fully process these losses. Much of the grief, hurt, sadness and disappointment remains trapped within our bodies. The painful feelings that arise in response to the losses that we experience over the course of our lives form layers of armor as they accumulate within our bodies. In many instances we end up building walls around ourselves. Someone who is well matched for us may come along at some point, but our fears and suspicions create barriers that prevent us from trusting or letting anyone in. The deadening resulting from our leftover emotional baggage also prevents us from being as fully present.

It’s Complicated

Breakups can be especially complicated. We develop a strong attachment for the person that had been a part of our life and there are qualities about them that we truly love. We often experience a painful sense of longing after the breakup for what is no longer. There are also circumstances that get in the way and aspects of us and our partners that that made one of or both of us feel that the relationship was unworkable.

Letting go can be that much more difficult for those of us who haven’t learned to process our feelings. The parts of us that are not processing emotionally cannot let go because they are still living in the past. We do tremendous damage by tearing ourselves apart in the process of separating from our partners.

Deliberately hurtful or just being true to themselves

We all say or do things at times that are hurtful to others. Partners that are especially abusive can leave us with deep emotional wounds. It’s important for us to know abuse when it’s happening and to sever all ties with those who have an inclination to inflict verbal, emotional or physical harm upon us. We also need to distance, if not sever ties with former partners that are toxic. That can be hard to do in some instances, especially if there are children involved.

We sometimes feel hurt when our partner’s feelings and needs do not reciprocate our own. But that doesn’t mean they are intentionally doing anything to hurt us. They may just be being true to themselves by doing whatever it is that they need to be doing at this point in their lives. In some instances they may be misguided, confused and making all kinds of mistakes. And yet we need to be able to let go and allow them to live the lives of their own choosing even if that doesn’t involve us to the extent we want it to.

The only constant is change

Every now and then someone comes into our lives with whom we share a special bond. We may only know these individuals for a short time or they may remain an active part of our lives for many years to come. Our feelings and needs change over time and so do those of our partners. Differences in values, needs and expectations can create incompatibility. Sometimes the people that we have invested in can no longer live up to the promises they have made or meet our expectations. But that change doesn’t necessarily mean that these individuals are no longer an important part of our lives or that we have to completely sever the bond. Doing so can be very damaging to everyone involved.

Change is the only constant. Everyone and everything we know and love is in a continual state of transition. We often experience feelings of hurt, loss, sadness, disappointment and anger when we, our partners and our relationships change. Breathing softly and deeply while fully immersing our awareness in the midst of these feelings helps us to reconcile conflicting feelings and expectations so that we can allow the people in our lives to be who they need to be and our relationships to evolve. Maintaining our connections to the people that have played an important part of our lives as we and they change is an important part of our healing and personal growth.

The feelings that arise when a relationship with someone that we once shared a romantic connection begins to go through a transition can be very uncomfortable. We may feel hurt and angry, but at some level we still love this person. And if they ever experienced feelings of love for us then they probably still do. We’re still relating to this person with whom we share a connection and yet the relationship is not what it used to be. It can be an awkward adjustment when we’re still interacting with the same person and yet we’re no longer physically intimate. We often feel anxious that our former partners will start seeing someone else and it often hurts when they do. It takes some time to adapt to new sets of boundaries, ways of relating to one another and the continuing changes that take place.

Attachment and Loss

Liz was six to eight weeks out of the relationship when she first came to my class. The remainder of this chapter is taken from a series of conversations we’ve had over the past few months.

Liz: At the time came to your class I was in this crazy place where my whole life was changing. Everything that I was most terrified of was happening. I thought I was searching for a partner and going into romantic relationships in a mature way. I was looking for support so I didn’t have to go through life alone. Having to do it all for myself was terrifying because for much of my life I felt that I couldn’t always rely upon or trust my parents.

Don and I met when I reached out to him on Ok Cupid. I noticed on his profile that he had also traveled to India. We chatted a bit, talking about our experiences in India. Don told me that he had just moved to New Hampshire and that he was teaching himself to cross country ski. We agreed to meet to go cross country skiing for our first date. I started spending a lot of time at Don’s condo and after six to eight months he bought a house and I moved in, believing that this was a serious relationship.

I invested so fully and quickly in Don and our relationship once I sensed that he was really interested. We got together four years ago and I never adjusted that image. I was in it for the long haul no matter what. I really stuck with it all the way through despite the fact that a lot of changes were occurring during our final year together. On some level I knew intuitively what was about to happen and that scared the shit out of me.

Don started pulling away from me in September and then we broke up in May. He became more invested in other things, but I didn’t adjust my level of commitment to the relationship or my dependence on him. So when Don broke off the relationship in May, it felt like my entire support system was gone.

I couldn’t extract my grief from the terror I felt over what was going to happen to me. I was angry with Don. I was having so much difficulty concentrating and my energy was really diffuse. I was desperate to have something move at the point when I came to see you.

I finally got all of my stuff out of Don’s place and moved to an apartment. Don was focused on selling his house. Finding new homes for the dogs was really traumatic for both of us. I felt the trauma of it too because one of the dogs was mine, but I had no control in the situation because at the time I didn’t have enough money to take them. There wasn’t much communication between us during that time. I don’t think we spoke for three to four weeks. I was feeling this big empty hole and felt like I was operating as half a person.

Tour de France

I was doing a lot of biking, working with a physical therapist to address some of the structural issues pertaining to my body over the summer and then I started working with you. I had three weeks of vacation time at the end of summer before starting my new job. I wasn’t sure how to fill that time so I was asking all of my friends and trying to come up with ideas. I was thinking of going camping in Maine or taking a road trip to another city, but no one was biting.

Don was leaving in August to go and travel for the next two years. He had been planning to tour Europe by bike for three months and he said to me “Why don’t you just meet me over there. We’ll do the bike trip and you can spend your three weeks touring with me.”

I wasn’t sure if spending my three weeks on a bike tour with my ex-boyfriend was a good idea, but I remember talking with you about it. Everyone else thought that was crazy. And they were asking me “Why would you go on this international bike trip with an ex-boyfriend that had recently broken up with you?” You had said that it would probably help me to work through the loss. I had a feeling that everything was going to be okay and it felt like it was a trip that I wanted to do, so I went ahead and did it.

I did have a contingency plan. I made a concerted effort to plan things so that if it was really horrible and felt awful that I had all the equipment with me to keep doing the bike trip by myself. I would have done the exact same trip on my own, about a day’s worth of biking behind him, because he’s a much faster rider than me.

Lovers to friends

The trip was awkward at first. There was a learning curve on what it was going to be like because we were so freshly broken up. We had all kinds of logistical details to deal with from the time we started the trip. Don was really trying to not be such an asshole in the ways that he traditionally was. We had to get the bikes on the train one evening to get to the ocean. I was trying to find something I could eat on the train that wouldn’t aggravate my food allergies. I got back close to the time the train was leaving and I could see that Don was clearly frustrated and then he snapped at me.

I went right back into my old pattern of feeling awful but not saying anything about it. I was thinking “This sucks and it’s not any fun.” But then he apologized saying “I’m sorry. That whole situation was dumb. I shouldn’t have been mad at you.” I could see that he was clearly making an effort.

Then something else happened within a couple of days. I was feeling weepy, sad and lonely. We were staying in this international hostel. All I wanted was to have my pain be seen and acknowledged and maybe have a hug. We were in this room with bunks and I was curled up on a bed crying. Don washed up and then went downstairs to work on his travel blog. I stopped crying after a while, cleaned myself up and went down to work on the blog with him. While we were sitting there alone in this lounge I let him know that I was having a hard time and that I felt bothered by the fact that he acted like I wasn’t even in the room and then left. I didn’t like it that he was ignoring me and that it was making things worse. I told him that I was feeling alone, unseen and that he didn’t care if I was upset.

Don then acknowledged what I was feeling saying “I’m sorry that I just walked out on you. You must have felt so awful when I just walked around you like you weren’t there and then left. I was just trying to give you some space because I didn’t know what to do. I thought that I was doing what I would have wanted, which would have been to be left alone. But that’s not what you wanted at the time and it actually made you feel worse.”

Don then asked me “Well, if it happens again, what should I do?” I responded by saying “Why don’t you give me a hug?” Don said that he wasn’t sure if that would be okay. I felt comforted by the fact that Don actually listened and then relayed back not only what I said, but insight based on it. He was clearly paying attention and putting two and two together. I felt during that conversation that he really understood me very well. He gave me a hug and I felt seen and acknowledged. For once he totally got it.

There were a number of days when I had bad moments. One day I was crying and biking for a full hour. I probably biked ten miles crying. I had my sunglasses on so people couldn’t tell I was crying. I said to myself “I’m going to keep going.” And so we did.

Processing

On a trip like that you really do have to depend on each other. We had to work as a team. In some ways our dynamic was very similar. We were still the same people, but in other ways it had changed. One of the really nice things that happened is that I was able to separate all the pain I had of being alone and losing the support and being afraid of the future and being angry at him for breaking a promise and not supporting me. There was a separate grief, which was really important for me to get to. The trip gave me the opportunity to gain access to that grief. It made me clearer on the fact that I do love this person and I don’t want to not talk to him. I don’t want him to be gone. I don’t want someone else to be having these conversations with him.

It took me several months for me to realize those were separate sets of feelings. On the one hand I’m feeling “Shit! What am I going to do? How dare you break your promise?” On the other I’m thinking “I really did love you and I wasn’t just using you for your support.”

I’m happy that we were able to spend the time together and that we’re still in touch. Don is off touring Europe now so we communicate via G-chat and talk on the phone occasionally. I don’t know when he will be in the Northeast again.

Moving On

A huge percentage of my free time was devoted to Don and the life we shared together. After living together in Don’s house for a year I moved down to Boston to go to law school and he stayed in New Hampshire. For three years we talked on the phone every night. And then on the weekends I would either travel back up to New Hampshire to see Don or he would come down to Boston to see me.

Before I would go into the weekend thinking to myself “I’ll see Don then we’ll decide what we’re going to do together.” That’s all gone now. What I find really disturbing is the feeling of having to get used to doing everything on my own. It’s like “What am I going to do? I have to go find my own friends and make my own plans.”

I feel like I’m becoming more emotionally independent. I’m getting used to the fact that he’s not there and I’m finding that there are other people I can talk to when something happens. And I can also process things on my own without having to talk to anyone at all. That’s giving me some space to move forward. I feel like I’m doing a relatively good job evaluating my life, what’s real, what kind of things I want to invest in now that I have this new single life. I’m figuring out what I want in my job and I’ve been getting involved in this meditation center. It would have been really hard to do that if I was still feeling as shitty as I was.

Ben: I knew there was some risk involved when I encouraged you to go on the road trip with Don. I didn’t exactly know how the road trip was going to turn out, but I had a strong intuitive sense that you needed to go and spend the time with him in order to do the processing needed to heal from the breakup.

Liz: Many of my friends were telling me to not talk to Don for a year saying that it would make me feel better. I felt the absolute worst during the three weeks that we were not talking at all.

Ben: I see other people that follow suggestions such as those given by your friends and not talk to their former partners for a year, if ever again. It has much to do with their lack of emotional-cognitive sophistication. They end up shutting down portions of their body – mind consciousness.

Completely severing such a bond can be very destructive to everyone involved. Abruptly severing ties is very jarring to our body – mind. Cutting off makes it much harder for us to process the hurt, fear, sense of loss, confusion, anger and other feelings that are a normal response to the changes taking place in our relationship. These emotions are more likely to remain trapped within our bodies. We end up hurting ourselves in ways that negatively impact our ability to form healthy attachments with potential companions that we encounter along the way.

We may need periods of time after a breakup where we agree not to see each other, talk on the phone, text or email to help facilitate the transition. This time apart can help us to adjust to the transition taking place by enabling the various parts of us to reconcile or come to terms with the fact that we are now in a different kind of relationship.

Liz: It’s been a year since my housemate broke up with his girlfriend. Now he’s constantly dating several women at a time, but he isn’t actually connecting with any of them. He’s only using them to hook up and doesn’t take it any further. He doesn’t appear to be at all conscious of what he’s doing.

Ben: Much of the population is so disconnected from their pain. They never really process emotionally and heal the wounds they suffer in a breakup. They end up doing a lot more damage to themselves and others by acting out. They sort of, but not really connect with others. Sadly, many people continue to operate indefinitely at that level of unconsciousness in their romantic involvements.

I’m seeing lots of change in you over the past few months. I could feel how you were in a very raw and vulnerable space when you first came to my class and that concerned me. You were contracting or closing in around the hurt of the breakup. The healing sessions that we did enabled you to do the deep emotional processing needed to facilitate the healing of the emotional wounds going back to your relationship with you parents and those pertaining to the breakup of your relationship with Don.

You’ve become more resilient and that’s enabled you to make the transition much more gracefully. The sessions helped you to process much of the grief while putting you in a more receptive space that made it possible for you to learn and grow from the experience you had with Don. There’s considerably more work to do, but you’ve made a lot of progress.

Liz: I think that’s true. And the work that we have done has also affected me in some ways I didn’t anticipate. I’ve made some progress in my relationship with my parents. My anger and expectations towards them had limited my ability to have a better relationship. I was able to let go of some of the expectations I had of my parents and that made it easier for me to accept them for who they truly are.

One aspect of the real pain I felt with Don was not knowing why he left. I kept asking myself “Why? Why? Why?” I felt this huge need to understand the reason behind his decision to leave and understand that it wasn’t my fault.

Going on the road trip gave me the opportunity to reflect on everything that happened between Don and I over the past few years and that gave me a fresh perspective. Don had gone from kindergarten through grad school without a break and then straight into a job. He had been working for five years and always felt lot of pressure from his father. I could see how all the demands and responsibilities were weighing so heavily on him. The house and dogs that other people might have appreciated were very burdensome and he felt like he just couldn’t take it anymore. So he extracted himself from all of that in stages.

I could see the things Don was doing such as taking time off and getting rid of all these things that were burdening him was probably the right decision for him. It sucked for me to lose it all after four years of investing in him and yet he was not enjoying his life. I could see that it was very courageous of him to leave his job and live off savings for two years. Seeing Don so unburdened and joyful and realizing that he hadn’t been happy made me realize that it wasn’t about me. I could see that Don had chosen the wrong lifestyle for himself and he was trying to make a correction that was really in line with his heart.

Ben: I doubt that you would have come to this realization you had if you had not done the healing sessions and gone on the road trip with Don. This whole experience turned out to be a crucial part of your healing after the breakup. By being open and present you have been able to do much of the healing and gain understandings that you probably wouldn’t have come to otherwise.

Liz: I’ve read a number of books by the author Cheryl Stayed. One of the things she says repeatedly in her writing that really got to me is “The fact that someone wants to leave is reason enough to leave.” The reason Don wanted to leave is because he felt like he had to and so he did. I felt some sadness. I wondered why he wanted to leave. I didn’t want him to leave, but he did.

So much has happened since we made that road trip in August. I started listening to a podcast one evening called Dear Sugar. A woman that called in that evening was struggling with a recent breakup. She said there was an amazing chemistry with the man she had been seeing for the past year, but he had now distanced himself from her saying that he was discovering that he really liked men and needed time apart to discover if he was bi or gay. He said that he really did care about her and that his ending of the relationship wasn’t about her. Relationship expert Dan Savage who happened to be on the show that evening said “People don’t breakup with someone they truly want to be with. They give you some excuse to try to make you feel better so that you don’t hurt as much. But that excuse becomes the sword that you fall on. You end up getting more deeply hurt because you’re hoping that they will come back. You end up thinking “He’s going to discover that he really does love me.”

Listening to that podcast made me reflect on my own situation. The big reason Don gave me for breaking up is that he was going on this trip, that it would be really long distance and that it didn’t make any sense to continue the relationship. He then said that it wasn’t about me, but about the circumstances. The part of me that was holding on to the hope of Don returning was thinking “Maybe when this trip is over Don will return and we’ll get back together. He really does care about me. It’s not about me. It’s about the trip.” But that’s just not true. If Don really wanted to be together, he wouldn’t have broken up with me and would have maintained the relationship while he was traveling.

Don and I had a conversation over the phone not too long afterwards. I was trying to get him to admit things that he had done that made it easier for me to believe that our relationship was permanent and that he was serious about it even though he had already backed out. I admit that I had a part in not wanting that to be true, but I think he did things to lead me to believe that he was in it for the long haul.

I was really clear that I wanted to be married someday, but there were times when I felt insecure and I would ask Don if he was really committed to the relationship. He would respond by telling me “Well look at my actions. What are my actions telling you?” Don’s actions were telling me that he was a settle down sort of person. He had a job that he took very seriously, bought a house, a car and had two dogs. We also saw each other every weekend. And so I kind of took him at his word. But he never really intended it to last. In his view he feels that he was very clear that marriage was never on the table.

Don also said on many occasions that he didn’t believe in marriage as an institution. He felt that people go through so many changes and that it didn’t make sense to make a promise to stay together, to continue to care about one another and make the relationship work. He said that to him it only made sense for people that had been together for a really long time and then got married for practical reasons like taxes or health insurance.

In my mind I was thinking that Don and I would stay together for a long while and when it made sense we would get married. Don felt like he was saying that marriage was not on the table, so don’t look for it. I took what Don said as meaning that it was definitely a possibility while he felt like he was saying that it was not.

Don didn’t make it clear to me that he was not in it for the long haul even though he knew that at some level. In some ways, that deprived me from of the opportunity to leave earlier. Had I done so, I wouldn’t have had to experience that huge loss all at once. We were having this conversation and he wasn’t owning his part of what happened between us. He took no responsibility saying “I have nothing to apologize for. I did a really good job.” I realized that I was never going to get what I wanted out of him on this. I really let go of a lot in that conversation.

Ben: The person doing the breaking up doesn’t always know what they want. They feel uncomfortable and they’re afraid to be honest by coming right out and saying “I really don’t want to be in the relationship with you anymore.”

Liz: Don and I have talked a lot less since that conversation. I had been holding onto the hope that Don would get tired of traveling and that we would get back together. Holding onto that hope was holding me back. That conversation enabled me to let go of the hope. We’d been catching up once every ten days or so. The conversations felt more generic and the connection had faded a bit having lost some of its intimacy, but that wasn’t as terrifying as it had been before. Things have been moving in a very different direction since that conversation. I’ve been focusing more on my new job and getting more serious about my meditation practice.

Ben: Whether or not we can remain friends depends on our own needs and considerations as well as those of our former partner and the unique chemistry between each pairing of individuals. We may find it difficult to open to or trust a former partner because of the damage that’s been done. We sometimes outgrow former partners or we realize that we didn’t have much in common to begin with. Sometimes it is best to just let go and move on.

Just because the romantic relationship didn’t work doesn’t mean that there isn’t a potential for a meaningful friendship. Couples that were horrible as romantic partners sometimes make the best of friends. The romance can sometimes die out, and yet there’s still a deep love for one another. Some couples need to maintain a cordial if not friendly relationships for the sake of any children involved. And there are those who manage to work out their differences and get back together. It’s up to each of us to tune into our feelings, needs and intuition to determine the extent to which we open ourselves and allow our former partners to be a part of our lives.

Liz: Don visited Boston a week ago and we had lunch. It went fine. We caught up a little about my job and his travels. I felt myself holding myself back from him this time – in my mind I kept wondering “What are looking to get out of this?” I would listen to him talking about how he doesn’t miss the burden of having dogs or owning a home and feel my disappointment that we were just very clearly not on the same page. I didn’t talk to him about that feeling, though, because it’s not that kind of relationship anymore. At this point, in answer to the question of whether I think I can be friends with my ex, I would say this: we can be cordial, I’m curious to know what’s happening with this person who holds an important place in my life story so we’ll stay in touch, but we can’t be close and intimate friends now. My trust in him has been broken, I’m too disappointed, and I need to open up that intimate connection space so it will be available for someone else someday.

©Copyright 2015 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

Ben Oofana is a healer who began his training with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. Call (913) 927-4281 to learn more or to schedule an individual session.

A special thank you to Kathleen Lolley for granting me permission to use her painting “Wild Flowers.” Be sure to check out her work at http://www.lolleyland.com and her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LolleyArt

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Whining Only Brings You More of What You Don’t Want

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Whining
The hardships and misfortunes we encounter along the way can sometimes cause us to feel powerless to effect change in our lives. We sometimes feel compelled to talk about our problems because we want to be understood and know that someone is there for us. Sharing our feelings can in some instances help to alleviate our suffering. The problem here is that many of us don’t know when to stop. Some of us have a tendency to go on and on, but that never brings us to a place of resolution. If anything, it makes us feel more anxious.

Myra said at one point that it felt so natural for her to whine. I told her that It feels natural because it’s something she’s grown accustomed to as a result of having done so for most of her life. You’ve learned to cope over the years by resisting the painful feelings associated with what’s not working in your life. It can feel scary and overwhelming as these feelings make their way to the surface, but you will realize they’re not as bad as they seem once you allow yourself to fully experience them. You will get to a calmer and more resourceful space much sooner when you allow yourself to fully experience those feelings.

Myra then wanted to know how we fall into a pattern of whining. I explained to her that some of us grew up with parents or other family members who were habitual whiners. We have a tendency to internalize the energies, emotions and traits of our parents.

We may have suffered tremendously as a result of difficult life circumstances. Whining is often an attempt to cope with or alleviate our suffering and yet it is one of the worst things we can possibly do, because it adds to our misery by contributing to a growing sense of powerlessness. And that causes us feel helpless to change the realities of our daily lives. We whine so much about the people or circumstances affecting us and then it gradually becomes a habit.

We can easily fall into habitual patterns of whining if we’re not taking constructive steps to facilitate our healing. Whining generates lots of heavy toxic energies and emotions that get trapped within our bodies. Our true essence sometimes gets buried underneath the many layers of toxic thought and feeling. The toxicity can become so pervasive in some instances that it completely takes over us.

Caught up in the drama

We typically suspend disbelief any time we go to a movie in order to allow ourselves to become captivated by the story unfolding upon the screen. In a similar way we allow ourselves to become captivated by the stories unfolding upon the screen of our mind. The problem with getting caught up in the negative scenarios playing out in our minds is that they are often generated by parts of us that are very wounded. Buying into to these distorted representations of reality can easily send us into a downward spiral. It’s important for us to understand that the parts of our mind generating these negative scenarios are only a small portion of the self and not the totality of who we are.

Resisting our mind’s internal dialog

Many of us try to resist the negative internal dialog by either ignoring it or trying to make it go away. Whatever we resist will persist. The thoughts and images we spend so much time resisting and the subsequent feelings that arise in response to them will grow in magnitude.

We cannot completely silence the parts of our mind that like to chatter, but we do have some measure of control over how much attention we pay to them. We need to acknowledge the negative dialog while primarily keeping our attention focused on the underlying feelings behind those thoughts.

Disconnecting from our feelings and physical bodies

Thinking obsessively is a defense that prevents us from fully experiencing our true feelings. We go up into our heads and by doing so we disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies. Our internal dialog elicits more stressful feelings and that feeds the negative thought patterns. We then find ourselves caught up in a self-perpetuating negative feedback loop.

We cannot possibly process our feelings when we’re spinning around in circles in our heads. We may experience the surface most levels of our anger and frustration, and yet we’re disconnected from the deeper pain underneath that drives our negative internal dialog.

The feelings that we fail to process accumulate within our bodies and that builds the negative emotional charge around the issues that have created so much suffering in our lives. Reinforcing the patterns in this way only causes them to become more deeply entrenched. This negativity causes our body – mind to become very dense. Our presence will begin to feel heavy and toxic.

Pain and stress that accumulates within our bodies has a very desensitizing effect. People who tend to whine a lot don’t realize how they’re hurting themselves and others. They’re not just wasting people’s time. They’re literally sucking the life force out of their bodies.

How do we break the habit of whining?

We all suffer as a result of the hurts, disappointments and losses we experience over the course of our lives. Sometimes we need to open up and share what we’re feeling. The problem is that those of us who don’t know when to stop can easily fall into the trap of whining. It can take tremendous discipline to break ourselves out of the habit. We need to start by making an effort to become mindful by paying attention to our thought processes while we’re in the midst of whatever it is that we’re doing.

Negative thought patterns are driven by feelings held within the body. Deeply ingrained stories and patterns can be had to break. Some of us have to be very disciplined by making a consistent effort to refocus our attention on the feelings behind our mind’s internal dialog any time the negative thought patterns emerge. We need to take a step back from the drama whenever we catch ourselves whining by asking ourselves “What are the feelings driving these thoughts?” Is it anger, disappointment, fear, frustration or sadness?

We have to diminish the emotional intensity for the negative thought patterns to lose their power. The negative internal dialog loses its power as we process the charged emotions that drive our obsessive thinking. We need to teach ourselves to go straight into the underlying feelings whenever we catch ourselves whining.

Breathing softly and deeply while immersing our awareness within our feelings and bodily sensations gets us down into our bodies. It also awakens the innate healing intelligence residing within our body – mind. This healing intelligence makes it possible for us to diffuse and then digest the feelings of fear, anger, frustration, panic, desperation and other charged emotions generating the negative dialog so that we can come to terms with what is.

The digestive process I’m describing may take a while. There may be instances when we have to continue to breathe into the feelings for hours. And we will have to resume the practice at other times when as the same feeling resurface. The feelings will gradually lighten up as we continue to breathe into them. And the more we do so, the faster we will be able to work through the issues concerning us.

Running in Circles or Digesting

Myra then asked me “How can I tell whether I’m just running circles in my head or actually digesting the feeling. I then told Myra that we have a tendency to go over the same thoughts repeatedly when we’re stuck in our heads.

We will develop greater sensitivity as we make a consistent practice of going beyond the obsessive mental chatter by breathing softly and deeply while centering our awareness in the middle of our feelings and bodily sensations. That will make it possible for us to actually feel the distress that we’re generating within our bodies when we whine.

We may even say to ourselves “Okay, I’m going to feel absolutely horrible if I buy into that cognitive frame because it’s only going to generate lots of painful feelings. And those feelings will elicit more negative thoughts which in turn will generate more painful feelings.

The digestive process that takes place as we breathe into our feelings and bodily sensations feels completely different. Breathing with our awareness centered in our feelings and bodily sensations takes us to the underlying source of our distress. Our minds begins to quiet down so that we can say what needs to be said with fewer words.

The innate healing intelligence residing within facilitates a digestive process. Feelings that surface will initially intensify and then gradually soften and become more diffuse and go through a variety of other permutations. Conflicting thoughts and feelings sort themselves out more readily making it easier for us to bring issues to a place of resolution. The resulting assimilative process facilitates new learning and growth.

Coming to terms with what is

Whining and complaining are forms of resistance. We don’t want to accept who we are, where we are or the realities of our lives. We’re resisting the pain associated with our limitations. We resist the feelings of fear, hurt, anger, grief and loss that arise when our lives don’t seem to be working or when we don’t have the relationship we want.

True healing can only take place when we come to terms with what is. Teaching ourselves to become present by allowing ourselves to fully experience the feelings that arise in response to what’s taking place in our lives helps us to develop greater equanimity.

Some of the difficulties we’re faced with are going to evoke feelings, of sadness, frustration and disappointment. Breathing into these feelings will enable us to come to a place of greater acceptance for what is. With continued practice we will learn to do what is feasible and then we’ll also know when it’s time to let go. And no matter what happens in our outer world, we will experience a growing sense of connectedness to a greater source within.

Coming to terms with what is doesn’t mean that we’re going to just give up and roll over. It’s still important for us to be proactive by continually striving to create what it is that we want in our lives. Our resolve to do what needs to be done will grow stronger. We may not necessarily like the realities that we’re forced to contend with, but we will become more accepting in ways that will enables us to work constructively within the context that we find ourselves.

Transforming the whining habit

1. Make a concerted effort to be mindful of your thoughts and feelings as you go about your day.
2. Ask yourself “What are the feelings behind all that drama?” whenever you catch yourself whining or caught up in some drama.
3. Notice where these feelings are situated in your body.
4. Breathe softly and deeply while centering your awareness in the middle of these feelings and bodily sensations. Continue to follow the feelings and sensations as they go through their progression.
5. Ask your subconscious questions like “How can I (fill in the blank with whatever it is that you want to do or accomplish)? What steps can I be taking to make this happen? Completely let go of any attachment to getting an answer after asking the question. Your subconscious will give you little insights and flashes of inspirations along the way.
6. Be proactive by taking constructive steps on a daily basis to create whatever it is that you truly desire in life.

It can sometimes be very difficult to break out of longstanding negative patterns on our own. I have received sessions from a number of powerful healers along the way and have gone on many vision quests, a traditional Native American healing practice that involves going out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water. I can always feel a powerful presence working to heal the emotional wounds and free me of limiting patterns.

The presence working through me during the individual healing sessions will enable you to digest the backlog of negatively charged emotion held within the body and heal the deep emotional wounds. Habitual negative patterns will dissolve. New resources and capabilities will emerge. Your responses to the challenges of everyday life will become healthier and more adaptive.

©Copyright 2013 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

Ben Oofana is a healer who began his training with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. To learn more go to http://www.doiohm.com Call (913) 927-4281 to learn more or to schedule an individual session.

Healthy and Loving Relationships Begins With You

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Chagall-Lovers
People often show up in my classes while in the midst of a painful breakup or divorce or shortly thereafter. Some are struggling with patterns of abandonment and rejection, trapped in dysfunctional relationships that they can’t seem to find their way out of and in some instances strung out on partners that hurt and abuse them. Others have never been able to fully let go of a former partner when the relationship didn’t work out and move on in their life. Most of are hurting and in many instances they’re also carrying deep emotional wounds that go all the way back to childhood.

Yvette described feelings of separation, sadness, hurt, emptiness and anger directed at herself after going through a recent break up. Karen talked about her feelings of heaviness and fears of abandonment. She told us about how she had been abandoned by her mother as a child saying she feels that it has caused her to attract people into her life that are not willing to make a commitment. Henry is full of anxiety and regret. He wonders what he could have done differently and now says that he’s no longer willing to make the emotional investment required to be in a relationship. Yvette, Karen and Henry only showed up to class one time.

It really saddens me when I see these people show up a time or two and then disappear because I see how deeply wounded they are. Many have disconnected from their feelings and physical bodies to such an extent that they have little, if any, sense of how to work constructively with their own feelings. Most will never fully heal the emotional wounds because they lack the resources and understanding that would enable them to do so. What usually happens is that they continue to carry the hurts, losses and disappointments in their bodies. People who do not heal the deep emotional wounds will invariably continue to attract similar partners and reenact the same dramas or patterns of dysfunction that are causing them so much pain.

What’s preventing people from taking the steps necessary to facilitate healing?

There are so many things about our modern fast paced way of life that are taking us further and further away from ourselves. We have become so much busier now and are more distracted than ever before. Our attention span has shortened and that’s making it harder for us to focus our attention for any significant length of time. Our inability to maintain focus prevents us from doing the work that is necessary to facilitate healing and growth. Many of these changes have come about as a result of our spending way too much time on our computers and smartphones.

Searching for an intellectual solution

Our society places so much emphasis on intellectual development. We’re taught that there’s an intellectual solution for every problem. Many of us are expecting to find the answers to all of our problems in a book, lecture or through psychotherapy. Our intellectual mind comprises a very small portion of our total awareness. Intellectual understanding is an important aspect of healing, but intellect alone can never heal the pain of a breakup or help us to “digest” the highly charged emotions held within the body that cause us to attract the wrong kinds of partners or that keep us locked into patterns of abandonment and unrequited love.

The majority of class time is spent leading those in attendance through various practices that help them to become grounded in their feelings and physical bodies and facilitate healing of the deep emotional wounds. In some instances I will have an individual close their eyes and visualize a current or former partner directly in front of them and then inquire as to how they’re feeling. I will then have them begin to breathe softly and deeply while fully immersing their attention in the middle of any feelings or sensations that arise. At other times I’ll have a person go directly into the feelings of grief and loss. I teach other practices that enable people to open their heart in a way that increases their capacity to love and be loved.

Honesty (or lack thereof)

I’m teaching people how to go right to the underlying source of the issues to effect the change needed to facilitate healing. People who show up in my classes and those who work with me individually often acknowledge that I’m right on target. The problem here is that many are either unwilling or unable to sustain this level of presence. In many instances one’s resistance to being present stems from an unwillingness to be fully honest with themselves by going to those places where they are vulnerable, facing the issues and feeling unconditionally. But failure to show up fully present by addressing the relevant issues and experiencing our true feelings is akin to going through life blind.

Resistance

Many are hugely resistant to experiencing their true feelings or facing their issues. People often stop the healing process when the pain comes up and then they often try to suppress the feelings again. They fail to understand that they wouldn’t be holding so much pain inside had they not spent so much of their life avoiding the feelings and issues they haven’t wanted to deal with. It’s important for people to realize that there is no escape. Sadly many will continue to suffer as they live with all that pain and stress within their bodies and that will cause them to attract similar partners and reenact the same kinds of patterns.

Many of us want so desperately to find someone to love and be loved by and yet we’re abandoning ourselves whenever we shut down emotionally or avoid our feelings. We rather put it all behind us or forget so that we can move on and then go out and find someone whose just going to love us and make it all better. Life seldom ever works like that.

Those of us who disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies are not being fully present. We do not have a healthy intimate relationship with ourselves; therefore we are incapable of experiencing healthy intimacy with anyone else. In other words, no one else can truly love us until we learn to love ourselves.

Limited Processing capacity

People often say they’re in touch with their feelings, but the vast majority of us are only accessing the very surface most levels of our feelings. Everyone varies in their capacity to process emotions and work through issues. Those of us who possess a greater processing capacity can digest feelings of anger, grief, hurt, loss and sadness more quickly and easily. That makes us better equipped to handle the challenges of daily life. Those of us who have disconnected from our feelings and physical bodies have a very limited capacity to process our emotions.

A huge jolt to the system

A painful breakup or divorce is a huge jolt to the system that can devastate and in some instances blow us out of the water. Our defense structures break down and the backlog of painful emotion stored within comes flooding to the surface leaving us feeling totally overwhelmed.

Feelings that are not “digested” remain trapped in the body indefinitely. Our limited capacity to process the emotions that arise in response to what’s happening in our lives makes it very difficult for us to heal, let go and move on when things are not working. The highly charged emotions associated with past trauma, hurt and abandonment also causes many of us get locked into patterns of abandonment and unrequited love or we find ourselves continually attracting the wrong kinds of partners. We pine indefinitely when someone doesn’t reciprocate our feelings of love, stay trapped in toxic dysfunctional relationships and remain trapped in our grief when a relationship ends.

Some of us also have a tendency to obsess about our partners by constantly trying to figure out why they act as they do and why our relationships are not working the way we want them to. Spinning ourselves around in circles by thinking obsessively about our partners and why things are not working in our relationships generates more painful feelings. These feelings get trapped in our bodies and that reinforces our painful fixation in a way that makes it all the more difficult for us to let go.

What happens to all of the feelings that we fail to digest?

Jelena had never dealt with her feelings after the dissolution of her marriage. She drank for the first few months to numb the pain. Jelena described a profound sadness accompanied by a sense of heaviness when I had her check in. She felt sick to her stomach as she began to breathe into the feelings. After some time she could feel the sadness moving up from her abdomen to her throat.

Manfred worked on Wall Street as a broker and was so focused on making money that he ignored the many problems in his relationship. Manfred crashed after the breakup feeling as though he had lost all sense of direction in life. Manfred says he no longer knows who he is or what he wants. He feels as though he’s caught up in a tangled web of resentment towards his ex-girlfriend and anger at himself.

Many are so out of touch with their feelings and physical bodies. Their internal state of being looks and feels very dark and murky and is full of anger, hurt, fear, confusion, resentment and sadness. This whole bandwidth of the psyche has become so toxic or polluted. War, other forms of violence and the destruction of the planet are all manifestations of the destructive forces operating within resulting from our individual and collective failure to take the steps necessary to heal our woundedness.

Emotions sitting within the body for indefinite periods of time become very heavy, dense and stagnant. Undigested emotional content tends to break down or putrefy over time. This emotional residue has a very numbing or desensitizing effect. It can cause our bodies to become very tense or armored and accelerate the aging process by impairing the functions of the organs and systems. We may also develop a heavy and depressive quality. Our range of possibility diminishes and in some cases we find ourselves in a state of paralysis.

Many of us stuff ourselves with food, smoke or rely on pharmaceuticals or self-medicate with alcohol and other drugs to numb the pain. Pharmaceuticals and recreational drugs and the many other things we do to numb or distract ourselves may provide momentary relief from the pain but they never resolve the issues or take our suffering away. What usually happens is that the painful emotions fester within our bodies. These emotions feel much worse after having sat within us for so long if we ever do allow them to come out.

All of us have been hurt, if not deeply wounded, somewhere along the way. Many of us were abused as children. We’ve experienced all kinds of hurts, losses and disappointments in our adult relationships. The problem is that most of us were never taught how to work effectively with our feelings. And most of us have very limited access to the resources that would facilitate healing. That leaves many of us very disconnected, if not totally out of touch, with our internal state of being. The disconnect that takes place when we fail to process our feelings or shut down emotionally leaves us so far removed from the underlying source of our issues and that’s why many of us feel so powerless to effect change in our lives.

Most people never fully process the feelings of hurt and loss after going through a painful breakup or divorce. The intensity of the feelings will diminish in intensity over time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have truly healed. The leftover residue of our unprocessed grief, loss, hurt, anger, fear and desperation remains trapped within our bodies indefinitely. Those of us who fail to thoroughly digest the painful emotions can never fully heal and move on in our lives.

It’s the parts of our body-mind consciousness that enables us to feel that make it possible for us to bond or form healthy attachments to other human beings. The problem here is that most people are not process oriented. It’s our unwillingness or lack of desire to face the issues or experience our true feelings prevents us from learning or growing. The deep emotional wounds resulting from past hurts and traumatic experiences that we fail to address make it very difficult for us to form any kind of healthy attachment.

Hurt, fear, anger, resentment and other conflicted feelings held in the body create distortions in our consciousness that seriously limit our capacity to bond with another. Shutting down emotionally also diminishes our capacity for empathy and that makes it all the more difficult for us to understand the needs and considerations of others. People who are not working constructively with their feelings do not grow. Many of our relationships fail because one or both partners possess the emotional maturity of a hurt, angry, fearful and confused child.

Many of us are placing way too much emphasis on externals such as physical appearance, wearing the right clothes, saying the right things, acting a certain way, the kind of car we drive and house we live in and how much money we make. Taking care of one’s appearance and having financial security are important, but it has no direct correlation with our ability to form healthy attachments. It’s just not possible to have a truly healthy relationship when our body-mind is full of sadness, hurt, disappointment, anger and other toxic emotional baggage. Our relationships only become healthier and more loving when we take the steps that will enable us to heal and evolve.

Taking a different approach

Many of those who show up for class a time or two and disappear mistakenly assume they have learned all they need to know and yet they’ve barely scratched the surface. It can take weeks, months and sometimes years to firmly grasp the practices I’m teaching and to fully process the feelings of a break up or divorce and other emotional baggage accumulated over the course of their lives.

Errol was seething with anger and resentment towards his former wife when he first showed up in my class. But he gradually developed a cheerful disposition and became much more easy going over the next year and a half as he continued to work through the many difficult feelings and issues. It wasn’t long before Errol got together with another woman who turned out to be a much better match for him. Some who have chosen to work with me individually have been able to bounce back and move on in their lives after a painful breakup or divorce and get on in their lives after a few sessions.

Most of us have huge amounts of work to do, and yet the vast majority have a very limited grasp of the work that needs to be done to facilitate healing. Matters become even further complicated whenever we try to escape our suffering. Healing requires tremendous discipline and commitment and only a small percentage are willing to do what it takes to make that happen.

It’s fairly common for people rooted in the ancient traditional cultures such as those found in the different parts of Asia to be doing various form of intensive spiritual practices on a daily basis throughout the course of their lives. Consistent practice enables those who follow the ancient spiritual disciplines to continually develop their bodies and minds and to deepen their connection with the source. Daily practice enables one to develop greater physical, mental and emotional resilience.

The whole concept of daily practice to develop one’s body, mind and spirit is totally foreign to many in our modern western culture. The vast majority of people seem to have lost touch with themselves and are therefore lacking in body-mind consciousness. That’s not at all surprising considering that we have learned from an early age to disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies.

The dysfunctional patterns that cause us to form attachments to people who abuse and abandon us or that do not reciprocate our feelings of love have so many highly charged emotions attached to them. The residue of these charged emotions blind us in a way that prevents us from seeing what we’re getting ourselves into and recognizing our partners for who they truly are.

I struggled for years with patterns of abandonment and rejection. Somehow I had an instinctive sense that I needed to breathe into the painful feelings that were surfacing. Breathing into the feelings helped to diffuse the painful emotions that were creating so much suffering. I stopped doing the practice once the pain subsided and yet I was still stuck in many ways. It took me a long time to realize that I needed to be breathing into all of the feelings and sensations pertaining to what was stuck, stagnant or not working in my life.

My intuition eventually led me to breathe into the feelings of deadness that I experienced in my heart after an ex-girlfriend suddenly disappeared from my life. I began to experience a sense of warmth and connectedness flowing from within as I continued to process the many layers of deadened emotion held within my chest. I began to develop many other variations of this practice over time. I later incorporated various Chi Gong practices once I began to train with Shifu Li Tai Liang in the Internal Martial Arts. Having the opportunity to train with Shifu and others who have attained mastery in various ancient spiritual traditions has helped me to grasp the importance of intensive daily practice.

Grow or die

Betty Friedan, a leading figure in the women’s movement during the 1960’s once said “Growth is what human beings are made for. If we don’t grow, we die.” Healing and personal growth take place when we face the issues and work constructively to process what we feel in response to them a daily basis. Failure to do so leads to contraction and stagnation.

We often feel devastated when our relationships don’t work out the way we want them to, but we can become far more resilient and develop the capacity to use everything that happens as fuel for growth. When that happens we’re able to let go and walk away when we need to. We get over setbacks, hurts and disappointments much more easily. We become much more open and receptive so that something new and better can come into our lives. And we find ourselves attracted to healthier companions.

Certain aspects of the healing process can only be done on our own. We all need to be doing some form of intensive daily practice such as Chi Gong, Pranayama, Yoga and Tai Chi. We also need to be doing practices that will help us to digest what we feel in response to the many issues or concerns impacting our lives. The practices I teach are quite simple and yet they are some of the most powerful healing tools or resources anyone will ever gain access to because they awaken the innate healing intelligence that resides within our bodies and minds. We do that by breathing into the feelings or sensations that arise in response to what’s taking place in our lives.

Afraid to feel

Many of us are now afraid to experience our true feelings fearing that they would completely overwhelm us if we were to ever allow them to come out. That often stems from the fact that we hold so much pain inside. It’s important for us to understand that the volume of painful feelings held within will gradually diminish as we take the steps necessary to facilitate healing.

We can’t do it all on our own …Knowing when it’s time to seek intervention

Doing so many years of intensive daily practice has greatly heightened my sensory capacity. I can always see and feel the deep emotional wounds of those attending my classes as I sit at the front of the room. I feel how the painful emotions and other stresses held within people’s bodies constrict their consciousness. And I see how it causes them to reenact many of the same kinds of dramas and to cycle through the same sets of thoughts and feelings. Many of these individuals are suffering terribly and yet they’re not doing much of anything constructive to facilitate healing.

It’s hard for me to fathom being so deeply wounded and not taking action. I knew with all certainty that I had serious work to do when I saw the traumas of my childhood and adolescence playing out in my adult relationships. I was so determined to heal that I would try any approach that held promise. I usually did at least three to ten sessions of any modality I chose to explore to determine what, if any, progress I was making. And I kept working with the practices and modalities I found to be most effective.

I’ve worked with a number of exceptionally powerful healers whenever the opportunity presented itself. I have also gone through many vision quests, a traditional Native American practice that involves going alone into the mountains to fast for four days and nights without food or water. It’s this commitment to doing whatever it takes to heal that has enabled me to heal the kinds of wounds that most people continue to live with for the remainder of their lives.

Stepping up to the plate

In many instances the dysfunctional patterns that create so much suffering in our lives are so deeply entrenched that we require the assistance of a powerful healer to help us digest the highly charged emotions and “reformat” our system. The emotional wounds resulting from my own childhood trauma and subsequent reenactments were so deeply ingrained within by body and mind. I would have never completely healed had I not had the opportunity to work with a number of exceptionally powerful healers and go through the vision quest.

People like Yvette, Karen, Henry, Jelena and Manfred tend to become more heavy and stagnant as they fail to deal with their issues and digest their emotions. They often sink deeper into their dysfunction as the years go by. It’s important that you become fully honest by asking yourself “Is this the kind of life I want to be living?” If not, then what are you willing to do about it? It’s important for you to understand that nothing much is going to change until you take constructive action to facilitate the changes you desire. And there is no time better than the present.

The vast majority of people who have been deeply wounded will continue to suffer for the remainder of their lives. That has a lot to do with the fact that many of our conventional and alternative approaches to healing are very limited in their effectiveness. It may be necessary for you to go beyond your comfort zone by stepping into the realm of the unfamiliar in order to heal.

Native Americans learned to rely upon the forces of nature. Their traditional doctors were some of the most exceptionally powerful healers on the planet. Special gifts and powers of healing had been passed down from mentor to apprentice or were received during the vision quests. These gifts and powers facilitated healing that would not have otherwise been possible.

People experience much more profound healing changes when they combine the practices I’m teaching with the individual sessions. Consistent practice combined with the individual healing sessions will enable you to develop a much greater processing capacity and become more present to your feelings and physical body. This will give you more of the strength within that will better enable you to handle whatever comes along.

The presence working through me during the individual sessions cleans up the convoluted tangled mass of feelings by helping you to digest the grief, hurt, sadness, resentment, anger and fear and in the process they build a much stronger foundation from which to form healthy attachments. You will become more congruent as the conflicted parts of you come to a place of resolution. You will become more authentic and that will enable you to live from a place of honesty and integrity. You will also develop greater capacity for love, empathy and compassion.

The changes that take place as you heal your woundedness will enable you to cultivate inner beauty. That will make it easier for you to attract the love you truly need and desire. You will naturally find yourself attracting and attracted to healthier companions. Your capacity to love will deepen and you will form progressively healthier attachments as you continue to heal and grow.

©Copyright 2013 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

Ben Oofana is a healer who began his training with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. To learn more or to schedule a private session call (913) 927-4281