Breaking Up Mindfully
Breaking up Mindfully is an outgrowth of The Relationship Model of Addiction (TRMA™). TRMA™ introduces a new paradigm for understanding addiction and recovery that shines a light on the emotional, psychological, and relationship aspects of addiction and recovery.
TRMA™ defines addiction, not as a disease, but as a relationship with a means of relieving pain from unmet emotional needs. Means include mind and mood altering substances, activities (sex, porn, gambling) and/or people, i.e. love addiction and codependency. Relationship implies a relationship, just like any other relationship; in which there is emotional involvement, investment, dependency or attachment. A means of relief establishes the function the relationship serves– to relieve pain or somehow feel better. Unmet emotional needs result in emotional pain. We understand that where there is pain, there is always the need to relieve that pain. The greater the pain, the greater the need for relief will be. The need for relief is the underlying driving force of all addictions.
TRMA™ views recovery as a three-stage transitional journey -- out of unhealthy relationships and into healthy, emotionally nourishing ones.
The Three Stages are:
Stage I -- Breaking-up
Stage II -- Developing the Relationship with Self
Stage III -- Creating Emotionally Nourishing Relationships with Others (relationship training).
The stages are sequential. As is the case with any unhealthy relationship, you must “break up” to have a shred of hope of ever turning your life around and one day finding yourself in a healthier, more nourishing and fulfilling relationship.
Breaking-up opens the space for a new relationship – with one’s Self -- to take hold, filling the space vacated by the relationship with the means of relied. Stage II is about is about the newly developing relationship with Self that becomes your primary relationship.
Empowerment comes from having established an active and ongoing relationship with Self. You are highly motivated and eager to learn the basics and ready to step into the sacred space of co-creation. A relationship with Self is a pre-requisite for entering into Stage III primed to make new connections or form new relationships.
The word, Mindfully, hits upon the theme of self-awareness and conscious inner experience; and that you go through the process of breaking-up consciously, intentionally and actively. The underlying premise is that being consciously connected is inherently empowering; inspires action and communication, ignites creativity and increases connectivity.
Breaking up Mindfully takes you through a five-step process of breaking up an unhealthy relationship. In order to get through the process, you must be ready and motivated from the beginning. The fifth and last step is finally kissing the means of relief, “good-bye.”
Step I: Recognition
Recognition is about:
Looking at the relationship more objectively and seeing the relationship seeing it for what it is – an unhealthy, dependency or need-based relationship - and the multitude of ways it is unhealthy.
Appreciating the role this served - to provide much-needed or escape from emotional pain.
Becoming more conscious of and in touch with the powerless you felt in this relationship, how out of control and consumed you were; unable to stop the bleeding, unable to break-up; and out of touch with what mattered most to you.
Getting in touch with your pain and consciously experience the transformative relief that occurs when you do. Allowing and making space for pain brings out your humanity, humility and vulnerability, and ultimately compassion and self-acceptance.
Identifying manifestations of perceptual distortion (denial,
deluding and deceiving yourself and secrecy) that were operating unconsciously, unaware that anything was awry. For example, a common way you can delude yourself about the relationship is uphold some kind of rationale or illusion that justifies or legitimizes the relationship.
When your blinders come off, the relationship stands exposed, and when you see, perhaps for the first time the stark reality of this relationship, the lengths you went to preserve its existence, chances are that you will naturally become more motivated to take the plunge.
Learning how to differentiate between relationships that provide nourishment and those that don’t provide any nourishment; particularly your addiction.
The process of recognition can often lead a clearer realization about what you no longer want in your life, which opens the space to begin exploring what you do want.
Step II: Connecting Your Pain with a Relationship that Provides Relief
TRMA™ was founded on the principle that there are two basic human needs: the need for love (the sum total of our innate emotional needs) and the need to relieve pain. When our need for love gets met, we grow and thrive. When our need for love is not met, we experience pain, and, relative to the level of that pain, the stronger our need for relief will be. As Kick Jagger said, You can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time, you might just find, you get what you need. How true! One way or another, we will find relief.
In order to connect your dependent, need-based relationship with a means of relief to the pain it is relieving, you must go back to what was going on emotionally, as well as at home – in family of origin relationships at the time you had begun developing that relationship. What was your discovery experience (of a mind and mood altering effect) like when you got hooked? Describe.
By going back to the beginning, not only do you realize you were in (emotional) pain at the time you ‘hooked up’, that you were in pain all along, and still are in pain. When you become conscious of the pain and acknowledge its presence, you can better understand how this relationship came to be in the first place.
Shining a light on what had been lying in darkness can be revelatory. When you actually register the connection between your pain and the relationship that served to relieve it, you understand in a way you never did before, why you got involved in the relationship and why you’ve been hanging onto it for dear life. You begin to understand the process of objectification that had occurred; that you were relating to and involved with a means of relief. It wasn’t your need for love that was driving the relationship as much as your need for relief of (emotional) pain.
Pain has the most power when it is buried in your unconscious. Making pain conscious has a diffusing effect. When your blinders come off, you can for the first time acknowledge the presence of pain, without having to expend more energy to keep it out of your consciousness. Confronting your pain, coming to terms and allowing it to be there is ultimately empowering. Pain shrinks when it is allowed to be there, when other aspects of life come into focus; no longer center-stage, it gradually fades into the background.
You will also begin to see yourself differently, appreciate all that you’ve been through in life and feel more gratitude. You will get to see the contrast between the past and your emerging Self in present time. “That was then. That was me then.” “This is now. This is me now.”
The implication is that as the level of pain lessons, you become more conscious of your need for love and connection. When you do, you will seek relationships in which your emotional needs get met.
Step III: Good-bye
Good-bye is about being proactive and the self-empowerment that occurs when you do act or communicate. “Goodbye” is the verbal affirmation that you are officially “breaking up.” It’s a curtain call, your bid adieu. When you are at the point of considering breaking up or have decided to move in that direction, a shift occurs - from hanging on, to wanting out or loosening your grip on the relationship.
Saying, “goodbye,” creates some space and separation that allows you to see, and discover your Self, when you were unconscious and out of touch with your Self. Until you reached the point of readiness to move towards breaking up, there was no room for another primary relationship to develop. Once you break-up one primary relationship, any one of the secondary relationships (with one’s Self or others) can move into the primary position.
The word “goodbye” implies action or communication, (e.g. pulling back emotionally, disengaging, divesting, re-directing, or saying something like, “We’re done. I’m out.” You’ve made a decision to leave the relationship and proceed to act.
Consider a journal type exercise to accelerate the break up mindfully process. Write a Goodbye Letter to the substance, activity or person you were involved with, and include your rationale, the challenges you’re facing, and how you are adjusting to your new found freedom, and standing on your own two feet without that crutch. That you are saying “goodbye” to what you no longer want, while spelling out what you are ultimately after.
Step IV: Withdrawal
In any addictive, dependent, or need-based relationship, it’s not possible to pull back, disengage or take any action toward breaking up without an emotional fallout. There are no free rides. You’re not going to “break up” a relationship of this magnitude without at least a modicum of pain, known as emotional withdrawal. The more and longer you were emotionally involved, the greater the withdrawal pain there is going to be.
The process of weaning yourself out of an addiction is often devastatingly difficult. There is going to be a huge void that must be crossed. At some point it will hit you that you are all alone in the face of an overwhelming reality and torrents of emotion, with nothing to fall back on. Your desperate calls for an infusion of guidance and courage from above will go unanswered.
Conscious aloneness is always an adjustment, but it’s more difficult when breaking up, when you are the only one left to fall back on. Doubts about your ability to live and cope on your own two feet often come bubbling up. Sometimes the only thing that keeps you going is blind faith and trust in the process, and that you’ll land on your feet. Perhaps a spiritual confidence, patience and trust in the process eventually does pay off, when you make the hugest discovery of your life - your Self, and there is no turning back.
Step V: Discovery
“Breaking up” marks the end of an unhealthy, dependency or need-based relationship and the beginning of a new relationship - with your Self. As you step into Stage II, you make the discovery - of your Self - which is when you discover the treasure trove of rich and abundant resources that were lying dormant and inaccessible up to that point. Not to worry, you and your Self will get acquainted!
As you continue developing the relationship with your Self, you will awaken to your need for love and connection; at which time becomes your number one goal in life, your purpose, your ‘dharma’ – to make deep, meaningful connections; and no longer will you be driven by the need for relief.
Breaking up Mindfully is intended to serve as a road map for your recovery journey out of unhealthy relationships and into healthy ones.
First, you must “break up.” Then start a new relationship with your Self – your new best friend, home, higher, wiser Self, which marks a monumental turning point in terms of how you live your life and relate to others. And then, after you are operating on all cylinders, empowered and ignited, you’ll be in Stage III – Creating Nourishing Relationships. The relationship with your Self is the springboard for the relationships you create with others.
Remember to keep a therapy journal to document your travels.