After walking away from a loving relationship, many people are left with lingering thoughts about their ex. When the relationship is over, communication has ceased, and time has slowly gone by, the ex still seems to hold a special place in one's heart.
But could this be a good thing?
Reluctance to let go of your feelings for an ex can actually help you hold on to your capacity to love and feel loved.
Wisdom suggests that we must completely rid ourselves of thoughts and feelings about former lovers. When we struggle to let go of these thoughts and feelings, we feel ashamed, confused and grief-stricken. We assume our leftover feelings will stall the progression of our love lives, and we obsess over feeling unwanted. When we stockpile all of this shame, confusion and grief, we become isolated and desperate to "move on." We do everything in our power to stuff down and distract ourselves from our feelings.
Some people may take leftover feelings of love as an indication to reconcile, which isn't always a bad idea. But more often than not, the feelings and memories associated with the internal image of the ex are entirely different from the feelings and memories associated with their external presence. While we may experience feelings of anger and pain in the actual presence of an ex, the loving feelings we retain in our internal world can help us access compassion for that same person.
Finding and experiencing our loving self through our internal world can serve as a powerful source of inspiration and comfort during times of struggle.
We can access this internal image by remembering the loving feelings we felt for our exes and being grateful for the role they played in our lives and what they taught us about ourselves. For example, if your ex frequently supported you through difficult tasks, remember that feeling of support the first time you go through a difficult task without them. Pick up where they left off, offer that same loving support to yourself, and then have a moment of gratitude for your ex and all the times he or she supported you in your time of need. When you approach the feelings and memories associated with your ex from a place of gratitude and compassion rather than anger and pain, you are able to move through the healing process with grace and self-compassion.
There is nothing wrong with you for continuing to feel love towards your ex. When you learn to be grateful for your capacity to love deeply, you remain connected to the loving part of yourself that was awakened in your past relationships.
Instead of focusing on what we didn't like about our former lovers, what if we decided to focus on what we liked about how we loved them? What if we decided to focus on love and gratitude rather than heartbreak and disappointment?
Creating a memory bank of loving images from our past relationships leads to a richer, more loving internal world. We are revealed to ourselves through our relationships. We learn and experience the very essence of what it means to love and be loved.
Perhaps all relationships are important in allowing us to experience ourselves as vulnerable and loving. Perhaps maintaining these feelings and experiences can carry us into our future relationships with an open heart.