When I was growing up, Mum told me "every person you have sex with, you leave a little bit of yourself behind."
Being a teenager at the time, I thought she was on crack (also, mothers, what do they know? Nothing. Obviously.)
I've had a decade or two to think about it since then (while gaining a clue or three), and I now think not only was she right, she didn't go far enough.
Yes, being physically intimate with someone creates energetic ties that never really go away.
Remember the first person you ever had sex with? Yeah, that.
It's not just our sexual interactions though. Any relationship has an energetic component. The more emotionally intense the interaction, the stronger that connection.
This is why our parents can drive us so bonkers. There's generally only one person we've spent nine months living inside of, and it's hard to top that in terms of physical closeness.
So where does a "relationship" start? Well, think about a small shop you go into regularly. You say hi to the proprietor, maybe comment on the weather. That's a relationship.
Smile at someone on the street? That's a relationship. Now, it's a tiny flickering of light compared to the thunder and lightning that embodies most intimate relationships, but it's a relationship all the same.
Of course, people we walk past on the street aren't typically the ones that cause us problems (unless you've ever been mugged).
No, the most problematic relationships are ex-relationships.
Ex partners. Friends that have left our lives. Old schoolmates. And so on.
Why are they a problem? Because they continue to take up psychic space. This translates to sucking time and attention from our lives. If there's one thing we should be jealously guarding it's those, uhh, two things. If there's two things we should be jealously guarding, it's our time, attention and energy. Three things! The three things we should be jealously guarding!
We're never getting this time back. We have limited attention and ever increasing demands on it.
Every thought or feeling we have about an ex-relationship is psychic drag.
So, how do we stop this?
But what about the subtler aspects? The fact that you keep thinking about an ex, or that whenever you hear about them it pisses you off or depresses you?
Here's what I've found works incredibly well for me:
- Imagine the person in front of you
- See that there is a white cord connecting your hearts. Energy flows down this between you.
- The more significant the relationship, the bigger the cord. A guy you smile at in the street may be only a hair's breadth; your parents, gigantic.
- When the relationship is super healthy, this cord will be glowing white. If you're throwing shit back and forth, there'll be black gunk choking the cord, or twisting it up.
Don't panic if this all sounds a bit airy fairy and whacked out, it's just a useful visual representation.
Remember how a map is only an abstracted representation of reality, not reality itself? Or in an extreme case, the London tube map which is nothing at all like reality; it just makes it a damn sight easier to get around London.
Same thing here.
The reason this person is still taking up psychic space is because you still have a strong connection to them, with lots of crap in that connection. Lots of thoughts, lots of feelings.
Once you can see (or feel) the cord there:
- Imagine a huge balloon (or a rose — ie, just a neutral object), well away from you, outside your house.
- Grab the cord from between you, and throw it into the balloon.
- Make sure the entire cord and any remaining black gunk in you (or them) is sucked up with it, into the balloon. This translates to all your thoughts and all your feelings about them.
- Once you feel clear and it's all in there, explode the balloon making sure it all disappears into tiny pieces (feel free to blow it up several times).
This is obviously a strongly visual approach. If you're not such a visual person (maybe you're more kinaesthetic), you might find a different method works better. Eg, feel all those feelings and thoughts as a giant ball of energy, and throw that into the balloon.
As always, trust your gut.
The specifics don't matter too much. It's about intent. It (like all of life) is just a choice.
Often I find I have to do this technique a few times to deeply clear things out. I do it, then wait an hour or two and check it all again, see how I feel about that person. If I feel there are remnants still hanging around, I do it again.
People are complicated. Relationships, complication squared.
It may take a few goes as you work down the layers if you have a lot of history with that person or the issues are complex. Each layer is deeper, but generally easier and quicker than the layer before.
This is ok. It's still a damn sight easier and faster than spending years thinking, worrying or feeling crappy about someone who's no longer in your life.
Now, here's another use for this technique that I discovered just the other day.
Apply it to people still in your life.
Well, because in any relationship things happen. Resentments, differences, difficulties build up.
Most of these are pretty trivial, but they still colour the quality of our interactions. It's still psychic drag.
By pooling all this junk together and throwing it out — in other words, by consciously choosing to let go of any of the crap that has built up — we free ourselves to have a pure, loving connection with that person.
I did this last week with someone who'd been causing me a lot of stress. I had (of course) been trying to control them, to change their behaviour.
They, being at least as obstinate as I am, were having none of it.
Eventually I realised what I'd been doing and used the above technique. I took all the crap between us (everything I could think of I just added to the pile "yep, that… and that… yep, and that…"), threw it into a balloon & blew the damn lot up. I immediately felt a ton lighter and happier. I did it a couple more times over the next hour or two.
Total time taken? Two, maybe three minutes.
What was I actually doing? I was choosing to let go of all nonloving thoughts towards this person. Deciding that being in a peaceful place and being loving was far more important than holding onto the angst.
This choice may have been helped by the fact that all I was really achieving was stressing myself out and being even more bothered when their behaviour didn't change. Ha ha. Oops!
Ultimately, carrying negative emotions around mostly just hurts ourselves.
Once I'd done this a couple of times, the only feelings I had left for them were loving. It was quite an amazing transition. I tried and failed to muster any opinion at all about their so called "crappy behaviour". If they acted like that again.. well.. uhh.. I couldn't even imagine it. Most weird.
Anyway, I felt great, so what did it matter any more?
Oh, except the next day they got in touch with me. They'd decided to stop that specific behaviour, "I realised it was just me being obstinate," they said, "and I don't want to hurt you, I want to support you."
Coincidence, right? *cough*