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April 3, 2014

I recently ended a relationship with someone I felt had the potential to be a life-long partner.

While the breakup was painful, I feel more peaceful and accepting of it than I ever have been in the past. Here are the some of the truths that I’ve found most helpful when going through a breakup:

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1. Be kind to yourself.

Why when we break up with someone, do we tell ourselves, “Well, there’s another failed relationship?” Beating ourselves up when we are already down is a notion all too familiar to many of us and often we tend to beat ourselves up not just about the end of the relationship but about all of our “failures,” which leads us into a downward spiral of negativity.

However, this, more than any other time, is the time to be kind to ourselves.

2. No relationship is ever a failure.

While that person may not have ultimately possessed the qualities we want or need from someone, or perhaps we didn’t possess those qualities for them, if we’re doing things correctly, we allow the experience to become an opportunity for introspection and to learn exactly what we do want or need from a partner.

This list may change as we grow and so every relationship gives us the chance to reflect on this.

3. It allows for emotional healing so that we can show up ready and healed for our next relationship.

Breakups allow us to reflect on what behaviors trigger us to show the worst of ourselves, to behave in ways perhaps we aren't proud of and better understand why we do this.

Many of us are not intellectually aware of these triggers and the root cause of why they occur, we only know that when so and so does this, we explode/leave/become angry, etc. If we can simply observe without condemnation the instances in which this may have occurred, we can learn a better way so that with our next partner we are able to show up for them healed and in a way that we would like them to show up for us.

4. It allows us to acknowledge our courage.

Breakups are a choice we make to walk away from something that wasn’t serving us instead of sticking it out and hoping that someday it will. We're given the choice to be courageous and with that courage, strength follows.

5. It’s an opportunity for enlightenment.

There's a lesson in every relationship and every relationship allows us to grow if we're open to it.

Marianne Williamson has said that, “relationships are assignments that are part of a vast plan for our enlightenment.” Allow that enlightenment to begin to take hold. Growth requires periods of hurt, loss and despair.

Breakups afford us the chance to learn how to self-nurture and soothe ourselves, because while it’s certainly possible to numb the pain with any multitude of substances, ultimately you have to feel the pain and let it move through you with the understanding that it won’t last forever and this will not be the last person you will ever love.

6. It’s an opportunity to learn how to self-soothe.

When we end a relationship, it's a chance to practice self-compassion, something most of us are not very good at, and the chance to be kind and forgiving with ourselves, something foreign to many of us.

We can now reflect on the moments where we could have chosen differently and process them, without judgment but rather with introspection so that we forgive ourselves and learn how to choose differently in the future.

7. It allows us to assess and accept our needs.

Breakups and the introspection that follows allows us to accept within ourselves that there are just some things we will never be ok with.

There are simply some things we are unwilling to compromise on and instead of believing that these are the things that are “wrong” about us, we can accept them with the understanding that they are neither good or bad, but are simply our needs.

Breaking up is absolutely hard to do. It’s often painful and messy and moving out of something that has become comfortable and familiar is very often frightening. But it doesn’t have to be as hard as you may think. Moving away from something that is not working but comfortable is the journey of personal growth.

It is a releasing of those harmful emotional patterns that cause us pain and can ultimately lead to peace, but we have to be willing to allow it to. You have the strength to do so, you only have to believe it.

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Colleen Amann, N.D.
Colleen Amann, N.D.

Colleen Amann, N.D., is a board certified naturopathic physician practicing primary care in Portland, OR. While her passion is integrated aesthetic and anti-aging medicine, she works with patients of all ages to treat a wide variety of ailments including chronic pain, hormonal imbalances, allergies, digestive disorders and cardiopulmonary disorders.

Colleen believes that true healing comes from addressing a person’s entire well-being: physical, mental and spiritual.She is committed to helping her patients achieve true wellness by combining cutting-edge conventional medical technology with the time-tested traditions of naturopathic medicine. For more information visit her Facebook, or