Thursday, November 6, 2008

How To Get Closure

There may be times in our lives when relationships - whether they are romances, friendships, or family ties - hit a bump in the road and seem to fade away, leaving us wondering what happened and why? If it's been a long time and it's clear to you that the relationship is over, but there was no final talk or last goodbye, you might be in need of some closure so that you can move on, and put that relationship behind you.

Steps



  1. Define your loose ends. What is it that lingers in you that prevents you from moving on? What residual emotions are still tying you to this person? Usually it's some form of anger or guilt - anger over what a person did to you, and you don't feel they were held accountable to it, or guilt over what you did (or didn't do) to (or for) someone else, and your resulting sense of regret.
  2. Forgive. The fastest way to free yourself from an enemy and all associated negativity is to forgive. Untie the bindings and loose yourself from that person's ugliness. Your hatred has tied you to the person responsible for your pain. Your forgiveness enables you to start walking away from him or her and the pain. When your enemy and his or her evil actions come to mind, send him or her a blessing. Hope the best for him or her. The first 15 - or 150 - times you try this, the "blessing" may feel contrived, empty, and even hypocritical but keep trying. Eventually, it will become a new habit and soon thereafter, the anger and pain that has burned in your heart will evaporate, like dew before the morning sun.
  3. Apologize. If you feel guilt or shame, if you are the one who needs forgiveness, then apologize. But it's not as simple as saying or thinking "I'm sorry." Grab a pen and paper and write a full-blown apology, keeping the following in mind:
    • There is no excuse. Do not try to think of or offer one. An apology with an excuse is not an apology. Take full responsibility for what you did.
    • Make it a point to avoid using the word "but". ("I am sorry, but..." means "I am not sorry.")
    • Do not say "I'm sorry you feel that way" or "I'm sorry if you were offended" --it makes it seem like you are blaming the other person for feeling a certain way, and is not a real apology.
    • Think about what caused you to make the offense. Find the underlying problem, describe it to the person (as an explanation, not an excuse), and tell them what you intend to do to rectify that problem so that you can avoid this mistake in the future.

  4. Have a symbolic ceremony. People still hold funerals for the deceased whose bodies were never found, and you can still have a formal way to say goodbye to relationships that were never resolved. Gather all of the things that remind you of this person and burn them, or donate them to charity. Give a eulogy to the relationship, and say it out loud.
  5. Write a story. Think back to when your relationship with this person began, and document it from beginning to end. This may be very painful, but it will give you a broader perspective. When you get to the final chapter, finish off on a positive note and write "The End". If you're writing in a notebook, close it forcefully, take a deep breath, and put it on a bookshelf. If you wrote on looseleaf papers, fold them, put them in an envelope, and seal it. You may choose to keep the story, or you may choose to shred it or burn it. The very act of documenting your relationship and closing the book, however, will help you find closure emotionally.
  6. Begin a new chapter. You'll never be able to erase your memory of this person, but you can use the experience to better yourself and to help others. If you wronged someone, resolve never to make the same mistake again, and take it a step further: help others avoid making the same mistake you did. If you were a victim, reach out to other victims, and teach others how to avoid the wrongdoing that you faced. Make the end of your relationship with that person a turning point in your life. Start moving in a new direction.

Tips

  • Give yourself time to heal. It won't happen overnight.

Whenever you think of the person, visualize him or her in front of you, then imagine yourself blowing him or her away. Whether they fly away like a dry leaf or scatter like dust in the wind, let them go. Do this every time you find yourself dwelling on the past.

Warnings


  • Avoid distractions or any kind of escapism. Don't submerge yourself in substance abuse, television, or a new relationship. It will only delay your feeling of closure.
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