One of the basic concepts in Buddhism is the four noble truths. Life is suffering. There is a cause to this suffering. There is an end to this suffering. The end comes through the eight-fold noble path. The ‘suffering’ comes from the process of attachment. Or, as said beautifully in the amazing film ‘Heat’ “Never get too attached to anything you can’t walk away from in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat coming around the corner.” We attach ourselves to habits, places, people, things, times and feelings. (Some people even attach themselves to not attaching themselves but that is a conversation for another day)
Sometimes, we get attached to things that are bad for us or things that cannot last. Relationships break up. Friendships break down. We have to leave places. The habits must be left behind. The feelings continuously reinforce bad behaviours. The times change. The things are not good for us.
How do you say goodbye to something you are attached to? How do you let go and move on? To me, the trick is to understand that closure is something that you do and not something that needs to be dictated by someone else or by some circumstance.
Saying goodbye to a thing, place or time involves understanding what feeling it gave you. It involves understanding that you don’t need it to feel that way. It means that you appreciate it for what it was and move forward with the good memories attached.
Saying goodbye to a person is trickier. I have almost always looked for closure in my relationships. The reality is you never really get it from the other person. Just because you want it does not mean they do or that they care. It is up to you to come to terms with what has happened, learn from the experience, find meaning in the relationship and especially, the break up and let the other person go with nothing but positive and good thoughts in your mind and heart.
The reason no contact is so important is because it gives you the chance to break that connection or addiction to the person. When it is broken, when back in touch, often both parties treat each other differently. There is no longer that intimacy, no longer that understanding. They are not the same and so, one of the saddest parts of a relationship ending is this emotional distance created between the two people.
Also, take friendships. Sometimes they run their course. Personally, I have always done whatever I could to keep friendships alive but the reality is that sometimes they just won’t work. Like two people who are incompatible in a relationship, maybe they are just not worth continuing. It has taken me almost my entire life to come to accept this and so it flies in the face of a lifetime of trying to make everything work out. I hate losing a friend. To stop this from happening in the past, I have apologised when I wasn’t in the wrong and, while I saw it as a strength, this lack of stubbornness was perceived as weakness by some. Indeed, strength or weakness, it actually was an example of me letting myself down. I helped create an unhealthy relationship or friendship.
With friendships, the first trick is to know when you need to let go of it. Talking is obviously the desired behaviour but sometimes that is not possible because one or both parties does not want to talk or cannot listen. They have already convinced themselves of something. We can all be guilty of this. So, when it inevitably breaks down, you need to learn from the experience, find meaning once again and, I believe, let the person go with nothing but love. You must know that you are doing so because it is better for you and for them and says nothing about you, them or your value as people.
Shit happens and sometimes people fall out. Maybe things can be mended and maybe they cannot but it is important to recognise that regardless, you are okay and they are okay. Regardless, everything will be okay. Regardless, you can still love them even if you don’t stay ‘friends’ with them. Knowing this can make things easier to deal with.
People come into your life for a reason. Some come in and out of your life. What is vital is that you always make sure that you are making the effort to give them what they need from you as a friend and you are getting what you need. When your standards are not met, letting them treat you that way only serves to prolong an unhealthy relationship between you both.
Like letting go of a habit, feeling, leaving a place or moving on from a particular time, embrace the beauty of what you are saying goodbye to or who you are saying goodbye to and accept that all things come to an end. The trick is to make the most of things, relationships and friendships that work for you and when it is time to move on, move on with good thoughts. Life is far too short for resentment, anger or hate. When we choose love, goodbyes are easier and we can look upon them with fondness for that beauty accepting that the world is in a constant state of flux. That way, we can start to manage the suffering.