In our culture, we view any breakup (whether romantic or platonic) as a failure. As the worst possible thing to happen, and the ultimate loss. As evidence of our, or our partner, being a crappy individual. We often feel sure that someone must be to blame. What went wrong? We feel a need to pinpoint where and with whom the screw-up lies, to figure out how and why it went bad.
The problem with these mindsets though, is this: we are applying a broad and sweeping blanket statement assumption in our viewing all endings as a tragedy, as the ultimate failure. As something unnatural and to be avoided at all costs. As the worst possible outcome, and as something to be feared and potentially later regretted.
We are wrong about this. Endings, like beginnings and middles, are a natural, healthy, and unavoidable part of living. At least a life entailing growth.
Beginnings, middles, and endings, all of this is a natural, normal, and positive part of life. As well as, an entirely necessary aspect of human experience. None of it can be avoided if one is living an honest, authentic life that entails evolving, growth, and a sense of becoming.
Hence, this inaccurate mindset of endings being abominations is exactly why many of us stay in situations, relationships, jobs, etc, long past their expiration dates. This leads to an emotional stunting, to a less enriched life, to an experience of living which becomes stifling, routine, and uninspired.
Endings are a natural, productive, and valuable aspect of human life. They are a necessary stage along the pathway to further flourishing. Endings help us to push through something that ceased working or was no longer the right match, to make room for the new and something which will be a far better fit.
When we avoid pulling the trigger on an ending that we know is no longer working, causes problems in our life, or is a mismatch, we remain stuck. Stunted and spinning our wheels. Essentially, frozen in place.
Endings, while often times anxiety provoking and deeply painful, are necessary closings in order to move on to the next chapter of our lives.
So, what if, instead of thinking of a break up as the ultimate failure and a terrible thing, we re-framed our thinking about this unavoidable and even favorable life scenario? Not necessarily favorable in the moment, as breakups and endings often bring with them pain, loss, and anxiety of the unknown waiting on the other side of said ending. But they are absolutely favorable in the long-run and over the big picture. Endings clear out the dust that has long been accumulating, where it desperately needs a dusting, a window opened and a gusting of fresh air to blow through.
A break up is a chapter closing. A painful, often times very sad, though crucial one. One that, if we allow it to, will pave the way and lead to things that are better for us.
And this refers to all manner of endings, from relational endings, to leaving a job, to moving to a new place, to pursuit of a particular passion. There is a time for beginnings, growth, and yes, conclusions and endings. A time for letting go and moving on. For wrapping up this particular phase and graduating to the next one.
There is a time in life, in fact there will be and are many, for endings. There are going to be innumerable moments throughout each of our lives that invite and entail necessary conclusions.
If we avoid these endings, ducking out of their way, sweeping them under the rug, and living in denial and fear, we cannot possibly make way for the new that so needs to come in.
Endings are crucial, as they make way for further growth. They make space for things that will be better matches for us going forward. Avoiding necessary endings keeps us stuck. It halts our possibilities in life, keeps us in situations and relationships that are no longer to our best advantage and growth potential.
Acknowledging, facing, and acting in accordance with necessary endings leads us to our greatest joy and growth inducing relationships, jobs, and life situations.
We need endings. Breaking up and/or walking away from something is, at the times when needed, an important, normal, and even positive incidence of a chapter ending.
Breakup’s are necessary throughout our lives, whether breaking up with a romantic love, a friend, even a family member, whether leaving a job or other life situation that is no longer adding to our life or personal growth, in order to continue the upward path of flourishing and becoming who we are meant to grow into.
As a conclusion and side note, I highly recommend the book Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud. While much of it is geared towards business, there is also much within that applies to all of life. Relationships, jobs, life phases, etc. This books helps you identify when an ending might be necessary or not. Even further, it helps identify, can you reasonably have hope within a particular relationship or situation? Is there legitimate possibility for change? If yes, how might you prompt it? And if no, how to determine if an ending might be needed.