Unpack your stuff! (Handling Relationship Baggage)
I despise (because I don't like to use the term hate) to see people dive into a relationship, but fail to empty their luggage from the previous relationship.
It's just like going on a vacation with the same luggage you took on a previous trip. You wouldn't go on a trip to Colorado with the luggage you just came back from Los Angeles with, without unpacking it right?
So WHY would you think going into a relationship without properly unpacking from the previous relationship would be a good idea?
It is imperative that we take the time to properly unpack after a breakup, so that we can go into a new relationship with new mindset, new motivation, no fears and no expectations.
If you haven't had a chance to read my post Break-up Management 101, do yourself a favor, take a pause, read it, and then return to this post.
Well that's because these two posts will go hand in hand.
Now first thing to note is if you managed to use the tools/information provided in Break-up Management 101, then you probably won't need to unpack. If you've successfully managed your break-up, when you are ready to embark on a new relationship, you will be properly detached from the old one.
But for many of us, whether we read that post or not, we still have a hard time "unpacking" before entering a new relationship, so:
HERE ARE 5 STEPS YOU NEED TO KNOW, IN ORDER TO SUCCESSFULLY UNPACK FROM YOUR PREVIOUS RELATIONSHIP!
ONE: PREP FOR UNPACKING
You know how when you come from vacation you typically look at your suitcase for about a day or so before you attempt to unpack? Those 2-3 days are you preparation for the task. Same applies when you get out of a relationship.
In hindsight, your prep may take a week, a month or for some even a year, but when you're ready to unpack, you're ready to deal with all of the dirty laundry, storage of any purchases and put away of all unused items, etc...
When you get out of a relationship it's important to give yourself time to accept what is, process the loss and/or change.
TWO: UNZIP AND REMINISCE
Ever notice that when you're unpacking you may smile and/or go deep in thought about all the memories from the trip?
If so, that's what step two is all about. Allowing yourself time to reflect on the good and bad. It's your reflection and growth phase. Because, when you allow yourself to reflect on the good and the bad, you can think about all the lessons you've learned, all the things you loved about your ex that you'd want in a new one, and all the things you despise, that you'd never seek in the next partner. You give yourself a chance to put in perspective why you are single, to explore your faults as well as your partner, make the decision to change to be better and accept what is!
THREE: DO THE LAUNDRY Can't put away dirty clothes with clean clothes right? So why would you want to go into a new relationship thinking about someone old?
Step three encourages you to "do the laundry", free yourself from all the old memories, any negative motives and bad vibes.
Forgive your partner for any hurt they may have caused you. And forgive yourself for anything you identified that you did wrong.
Again, FORGIVE YOURSELF!
Because if you don't, you will just go into the new relationship bitter and insecure. And we all know that relationship may not last very long...
FOUR: PUT AWAY THE UNUSED ITEMS
A lot of times when we are unpacking, we don't realized how much we didn't use while on the vacation. So there are always things we didn't explore or allow ourselves to experience in a relationship. Those are the things we need to identify, and either recognize that the tool may have been worthless or something that we may regret we didn't use.
What are some of those things?
Well for those who need an example, say you went on a sightseeing trip, packed a camera, but forgot the camera in your suitcase everyday, or refused to use the camera because it was too heavy to carry.
We do things like this all the time in relationships. We know that we are capable of being patient and that our partner could benefit from seeing that side of us, but we are never patient because in the moments we need to be, we chose to be selfish! When in hindsight, if we would have been patient, we may still be in a relationship.
So we need to identify the things we didn't use and/or refused to use in relationships, that may have been essential to making that relationship last. But once you identify those things, don't beat yourself up, just accept that fault and agree to use them in the next relationship.
FIVE: ZIP AND PUT AWAY THE EMPTY SUITCASE
By the time you get to step five, you should have come to terms with the end of the relationship and be properly prepared to put away that empty suitcase, in preparation for the next trip (or new relationship).
You should be eager to zip it up, stress free and eagerly anticipate the next time you get to use it, with no regret, fear or anxiety.
So knowing these steps, do you feel like you have properly unpacked from your relationships in the past? If not, why do you think that is? And what kept you from moving on?