4 Reasons Why Forgiving Your Ex Is Key To Moving On

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4 Reasons Why Forgiving Your Ex After A Breakup Is Key To Moving On

If you're holding a grudge, you're only hurting yourself.

You know what would help people more than anything else after a breakup, but that they’re least likely to do?

Learning how to forgive.

In fact, it's the single most powerful transformative tool you can use when moving on and getting over an ex.

Forgiveness is a really tricky subject for people. There’s something in the concept that smacks of letting someone else get away with something. And, when you’ve just had your heart shattered into a million pieces, withholding forgiveness gives you some sick pleasure, like you're holding witness and protecting ourselves from getting hurt again.

By withholding forgiveness, the stubborn, small part of us gets to say "no" and put up a flimsy, not real, but still substantial bid for control.

RELATED: If You Don't Forgive Your Ex, You'll Never Be Able To Fully Move On

Tons of the things we do in relationships have to do with warding off even the vague hint of losing control. Withholding forgiveness is one way our ego attempts to assert control over a situation it has zero control over.

But, withholding forgiveness to gain control is like bringing a paper shield to a gunfight. It’s ineffective, messy, and likely to result in grave injury to no one except yourself. And how to get over someone so you can move on lies in forgiveness. 

Here are 4 reasons why forgiving your ex after a breakup is key to moving on.

1. Holding onto any negative emotion only hurts you

Right now, the person you’re angry/hurt/annoyed with is out there in the world somewhere having an awesome time, probably while skipping around, maybe eating ice cream. (Okay, maybe not actual, bonafide skipping, but you get the idea.)

Your ex is still able to smile while you’re gritting your teeth, hurting yourself, and chewing on that grudge. You are not doing yourself any good in the health or sanity department by carrying that torch of resentment around like you’re the deranged light bearer for a new generation. You must let it go.

Hit a heavy bag at the gym several hundred times and move yourself squarely into the present moment. Then do your best to leave the past in the past and stay here. It’s nicer.

While you’re at it, stop complaining about your ex to everyone who will listen. There a psychological phenomenon called spontaneous trait transference. This is when people are "perceived as possessing the very traits they describe in others". In a nutshell, this means that every time you tell anyone who will listen about your crazy ex, the net effect is that everyone you tell thinks you’re crazy too. That ick rubs off!

Whether your ex really, really did you wrong or not, you don’t want it to stick to you, right? Not a good look. So while you’re opening your present, lay off the trash talk.

2. You don't have to include the person who broke your heart in your life

People mistake kindergarten playground forgiveness with adult forgiveness a lot of the time. When you’re a kid, the adults make someone say they’re sorry and then you’ll have to keep going to recess together for the next six months to a year, if not for the rest of the time you’re at school.

When you’re a kid, you can do whatever you want with your true feelings about the other kid, but you’re going to have to see them all the time, so you’d better figure out how to coexist somehow. Skipping town and reinventing yourself just isn’t a huge option at age 7. The path of least resistance is to try to forget it and move on — even though what happened may have been truly hurtful.

As an adult, you have the luxury of choice. You don’t have to hug and make up. You can change jobs, leave people behind, the works. You aren’t stuck there making nice. Forgiveness is an intellectual exercise for you. Remember this and use it to your advantage.

RELATED: I Wrote This Open Letter To All Of My Exes (So You Don't Have To)

3. Withholding forgiveness is usually a smokescreen used to keep punishing yourself

Another psychological phenomena to understand is called transference. Transference is unconsciously redirecting your feelings from one person to another. This can imply a lot of different things, but in the case of our failed relationships, we might decide that the other person was totally at fault or completely blameless for what happened.

We might direct all of our hurt and anger onto them when we’re really sad and hurt that we messed up…again.

We might decide that we were the sole reason for the end of the relationship and try to take ourselves down with a lot of unnecessary self-blame and self-pity. Or we may decide the other person was a vicious hose beast-from-Hell but realize on some level that we picked them.

Since we don’t want to go through that again, we blame ourselves for not seeing the signs they were a terrible person. Either way, all that vitriol comes right back and lands on us.

When we refuse to forgive someone else, there’s an element of refusing to examine our real part at the end of a relationship. We’re hardest on ourselves but it’s the hardest emotional work to do. So it’s easiest to toss all that toxic blame onto our ex, refuse to soften toward them and "move on with our life".

Then, unless we’re willing to look at our stuff and quit the blame game, we don’t get it when history repeats itself with our next partner. Without forgiveness, all those things are still buried from the last 16 times we tried this relationship thing.

4. You’re telling the universe to keep bringing more of what hurt you

You don’t have to feel superstitious that you’ll keep getting hurt in the same way over and over if you dare to release the pain of the past. In fact, the opposite is most often true. Forgiving everyone involved clears off the slate.

If you think that by withholding forgiveness, you’re magically preventing yourself from getting hurt again, you’re wrong. That’s because a basic law of the universe is that you get what you focus on.

By not letting it go, you’re holding whatever it is in your vibration and not allowing the magic forces of time and perspective to heal you and give you something awesome in the future. You’re essentially begging for more of what sucked about your ex.

Holding on hurts your future and prevents you from getting over someone. If you’re angry and hurting right now, I get it. I really do. But if you choose to forgive, you’re choosing yourself.

RELATED: 3 Necessary Steps To Forgive Your Ex So You Can Finally Move On

Elizabeth Stone is an author, relationship coach, and founder of Attract The One. Is your man losing interest in you? Does your relationship feel stale and disconnected? Get to the bottom of it with your free copy of Why Men Lose Interest and free daily email series.

This article was originally published at Digital Romance Inc. Reprinted with permission from the author.