I composed "The Four Key Questions" as a tool to work through change, which you can also apply to choosing if a breakup is the right outcome for your relationship.
1) HOW DO I FEEL? This seemingly simple question is very difficult, as it requires me to acknowledge feelings that are scary or may not feel good to address. This is my opportunity to be 100% honest with myself. Write it down. Cry it out. Throw it up. I choose not to bullshit me anymore!
2) HOW DO I WANT TO FEEL? Again, let the truth flow and be concise. This is the description of the way I want to feel and experience my authentic life when I do shift.
3) WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR CHANGING THE WAY I FEEL? This is the critical "take ownership" component of change where blame usually surfaces and I must not pass responsibility for the behavioral shift onto others. I am taking full ownership of my life and feelings now, and I am accepting full responsibility for making new choices to create the ideal life and relationship(s) I want.
4) WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? Call to action. I am now choosing to create the life and world I want to live in. I understand and agree that it begins with me. I am going to start now!
If your choice to take action means un-partnering and creating a successful separation, to make it work, it requires both people agreeing to a set of loving, respectful guidelines. I've outlined key behaviors below:
- Practice loving first, above all else. The root of anger in an intimate relationship is emotional hurt. The root of this hurt is love - lost or neglected. Focus on the root love feeling together and act from this place. Love, love, love first!
- Set mutual intentions on wanting the best possible outcome for my partner, and again, act with love first. I want what's best for them, even if it's not what I choose for myself. Make their joy my joy. This is compersion. This brings inner peace and promotes trust.
- Focus on what I can do to support my partner who is also hurting, and remove the focus from what I believe they should do, or what they did do "to me". Forgive.
- Be completely honest and sincere about my feelings. Ask for the same from your partner and listen quietly without interruption or reaction. Breath deep. Listen and learn. If it stings, it's likely something true that hurts to acknowledge. Agree to the poor behaviors you have committed and sincerely apologize for them without excuse.
- An elegantly simple rule taken from nonviolent confrontation is to never start a sentence with "You..." Instead offer statements of " I feel...". Share and be curious vs making statements that create defensiveness and cause separation. We are in this difficult process together, not apart.
- Place mutual emphasis on supporting each other as friends instead of lovers, and let go of holding each other responsible for how I feel, how I behave, or how I react. Simply, I am fully responsible for my behavior and you are fully responsible for your behavior. We are capable adults who want to feel good again.
- Always speak and act in a manner that I am proud of and uphold my integrity in my own eyes, and in the eyes of my partner. We were together for a reason and the great lessons we have shared are not to be wasted or cast away in the end with poor behavior that destroys my self respect, or the respect of my lover. Monitor my words and body language. Tone is critical. Think+love before I speak.
- Finally, give it time and be patient with myself and my partner. Make choices to create healthy space and avoid new relationships or behaviors that cause the other person pain. Agree to a timeframe to release each other freely into the word as individuals. Understand that we must each move forward in the way we choose for ourselves. Be authentically supportive of each other when we do.
And remember that the Universe will always get behind loving intentions. We can do this!