I love the book Eat, Pray, Love.
I think it’s a fantastic exploration of healing, travel, and heartbreak. It has inspired people to heal deeper, travel more, and live more fully.
But the movie version? Well the rom-com version of Eat, Pray, Love kind of makes it seem like healing can be tied up with a nice little bow. Like you can have a grand old time traveling the world while healing your heartbreak in perfect hair and makeup. Oh, and at the end, there will be a sexy, sexy Brazilian soulmate waiting for you.
Anyone who has embarked on a healing journey knows that it is hardly picture perfect. Throw travel into the mix and well, it can turn into a hot mess.
But people still want to know…
Can travel help me heal?
The answer is yes, but…
Yes, travel can help you heal, but probably not in the way you’re envisioning.
I’ve known a lot of people who felt like they were at an impasse in their lives. Maybe post breakup, just got fired from a job, or some other trauma. Their solution to their feelings of stagnation, fear, or heartbreak was to drop everything and travel. I’m not saying that travel isn’t the right decision in those situations, maybe it is. But travel is not going to be a balm for your wounds that helps you forget your troubles. Travel brings you face to face with the root of your trouble… yourself.
I talk to a lot of people who want to travel because they want to run away from their pain and their problems. Well, unfortunately, the Universe doesn’t let you run away from your problems.
Whatever you’ve been running from will show up again and again on the road.
That toxic boyfriend you left behind? You’ll meet him several more times, in very tempting packages. Your abandonment issues? You’ll see them every time you miss a flight or break away from a travel companion.
You can’t outrun your problems.
Guess why? Because you, my friend, are pretty much your only problem…
And the only solution. Even when life throws things at us that are outside of our control, it’s still up to us to heal the pain, shift our mindset, and manifest something different.
“Wherever you go, there you are.”
You can’t ever escape yourself. The only way to escape your patterns, your trauma, your relationships, is to face them, and to heal them. Travel wakes you up to this reality because no matter how far away you get from your old life, your problems keep showing up. That’s when the healing work really begins.
For me it took two years abroad before this reality set in. I couldn’t figure out why my problems kept showing up again and again despite my constant motion. I had always been a runner. From my problems, from my relationships, from myself. How many guys had run after me literally yelling, “You can’t keep running away from me!”
Once I realized that I was the problem and I was never really going to be able to outrun myself, I moved back to the US. The resources I needed for healing weren’t available to me where I was living, although nowadays the Internet has made almost any healing modality just a few clicks away.
Moving back was a really painful decision for me. It felt like a failure. I had to put my ego attachment to being a “traveler” aside in order to get myself the healing that I needed. I did hours and hours of hypnotherapy. I got certified as a theta healer and a spiritual life coach. I did acupuncture, reiki, yoga, and more. And the journey still isn’t over for me. I had to put the physical journey aside in order to take an internal one.
That being said, travel can be an incredibly powerful first step in your healing journey, even if it isn’t the ultimate solution.
Travel does give you the space to heal.
There are times when you might find that you want to heal, but the people around you are sabotaging that. It’s not that they don’t want you to heal, it’s that they are used to a version of you and they don’t want things to change. They might even lash out, “Who do you think you are?” “Wow, you’ve changed so much.” Especially the people who were able to take advantage of a weaker version of yourself. In that sense, travel takes you away from the routines, jobs, and people that have expectations of you, and don’t necessarily want you to do the healing work. Travel creates the space to heal, analyze your relationships, and become a new version of yourself.
What about past lives?
If you find yourself fixated on visiting one particular location, you might have experienced a powerful past life there. If you can’t shake the desire to go there, it’s a sign from your soul that you have some healing work to do around this particular past life. I would recommend working with a past life regression therapist to figure out what happened. Once you do that you may find that you still have an unbelievably strong desire to visit that location. At which point, I would recommend heeding the call. You might need to step into the physical energy of that spot to complete your healing.
Journal About It:
- Where do you want to visit? Why?
- What in your life do you want to leave behind?
- Do you ever have vivid dreams about a place you’ve never been?
- What part of your being is asking you to travel?
When working with matchmaking clients, I always take time to go over what they are looking for in a match.
Yes, I need to know what they are looking for in a partner, but I’m also looking for something deeper. What they describe to me helps me get a clearer sense of whether or not they are going to have success working with a matchmaker.
If they focus on character traits, how that person treats them, and how they want to feel with their partner, I consider that a sign that they are really in the place for a relationship.
On the other hand, if they focus on attributes alone, I often get the sense that what they’re looking for is an accessory, not a life partner.
I want you to take a minute to write down what it is you are looking for in a partner. Really give it some thought and make a list. Be honest. Do not read on until you have your list.
Ok, so now that you have your list, feel free to read the examples below. I made them up, but honestly they aren’t too far off from what I hear everyday.
“I’m looking for someone who I feel safe and comfortable around. I want someone who is growth oriented, supportive of my career, and looking for a real relationship. It’s important to me that he is financially stable. I’m Christian, so I would like someone who respects that and has similar values, but his actual faith doesn’t matter too much, but I will be putting up a Christmas tree! I’m passionate about travel, so it would be nice if they could share that with me, but at the end of the day, how I feel when I’m with them is more important.”
Client two says:
“I need someone who makes 150k a year, at least. I live a certain lifestyle and he needs to be able to keep up. I fly first class and it’s embarrassing for me if I’m upfront and my boyfriend is in coach. I’m really spiritual. I do yoga everyday and I’m a vegetarian. I need him to be on my same level from a spiritual and dietary perspective. I do NOT want to date someone who is religious in any way, I wouldn’t be able to respect him for being so brainwashed. He needs to be spiritual. I’m really into the art and culture scene. When there is a gallery opening, my friends expect me to be there. It would be hard for me to date a guy who prefers sports to art because I need him to come to events with me. And trust me, I am not going to a football game. He must be caucasian, college educated (grad school preferred), and work out every week. I travel a lot. It’s a passion of mine. If he hasn’t been on at least one international trip this year, that’s a dealbreaker. And the Bahamas don’t count.”
So take a moment to mull these two lists over. Which of these two people do you think is setting themselves up for success? Which is more likely to be in a relationship three months from now?
Now read over your list again. Compare them. Which client do you sound more like?
Client one focused on character traits she is looking for. Yes, she does have preferences, like Christianity and a passion for travel, but ultimately her focus is on how this person makes her feel. Does this person support her? Does he want the same things? While it would be great to meet all of her preferences, her ultimate goal is finding someone who is right for her IRL, not someone who is right for her on paper.
Client two is looking for attributes. She doesn’t mention how this person makes her feel, if he’s looking for the same things, what he brings to the relationship emotionally. She’s interested in external aspects and status. She also indicates that she is not willing to compromise in the relationship by sharing some of her partner’s interests. She is looking to 3-D print a perfect boyfriend, which indicates to me that she lacks the emotional maturity for a functional adult relationship.
Client one wants a partner. Client two wants an accessory. In Client one’s relationship, there is room for growth. Client two needs to control and control sucks all of the space out of a relationship (not to mention the sex). Where do you fall on this spectrum?
In today’s dating paradigm, it’s really easy to fixate on attributes, not character. In a dating app profile, all you see are attributes. You get obsessed with finding someone who looks exactly like what you think you want. You find yourself ruling out potentially great partners because they don’t fit your fantasy, but without learning their whole story.
Fantasizing is a solitary activity. If you want a fantasy partner, you can have one. They’ll live in your brain. You’ll spend Friday nights alone masturbating and wondering why your magical, perfect person hasn’t appeared. And by the way, your fantasy comes mostly from your thinking mind, ruling out what you really need deep down in your soul, but that’s another story.
Yes, I get it. Attraction is important. Sex is important. But attraction is dynamic and evolving. You can’t possibly decide if you are attracted to someone based on a picture, whether it’s on a dating app or in your head.
If you want a partner, then forget the fantasy. There are no perfect humans. You need to do two things. One, assess whether you are capable of being a good partner. And two, look over your list and make sure you are looking for a partner of character, not an accessory.
As a matchmaker, I have a lot of clients who come to me post-breakup. These clients are always difficult, because no matter what they do or how great the match I set them up with is, they just can’t get over their ex. Sometimes these breakups happened years ago and they still can’t manage to move on!
By helping these clients through their breakups, I have identified the top three reasons people just can’t seem to get over their exes, not matter how hard they try.
If you’re in the same boat, read on.
1. You’re Dating too Soon
I have an aquaintence I see from time to time. Every time we run into each other, she has a new boyfriend. They inevitably breakup within a few weeks or months, leaving her near crazy asking herself (and everyone else) “Why, does this keep happening?!?”
When you jump from guy to guy or relationship to relationship, I’m going to be honest, you start to look pathetic. People wonder why you’re so uncomfortable being alone. And that’s kind of a red flag for potential suitors.
Dating apps have normalized rapid fire dating in a way that makes the average person’s love life look like a game of musical chairs. This is not a healthy dynamic.
I firmly believe you should be single for at least six months post breakup before you start dating again.
I’ve witnessed a lot of friends change completely during a relationship. After the breakup, they have no idea who they are or what they are looking for. Rather than taking the time to get to know themselves, they jump into a relationship with the first guy who shows interest and absorb his personality and desires instead. You cannot be in a functional relationship unless you have a clear sense of your own identity and desires.
Breakups are emotionally difficult, and afterwards you need time alone to process your feelings. If you jump into another fling or relationship, you are really just burying down the pain of your breakup. But guess what? That pain doesn’t go anywhere. And with the next breakup, it will just continue to snowball, until it takes you down in an avalanche of repressed emotions.
You can see how not taking time off between relationships is not only setting yourself up for failure, it’s also setting yourself up for a mental breakdown!
2. You’ve Lost Your Passion
When you find yourself constantly missing your ex, you have to ask yourself, is it really the person you miss, or is it something else?
One of my clients could not for the life of him get over his ex. Everytime he started to move in a good direction, he would totally breakdown. He confessed that he missed his ex like crazy and since they had broken up he had felt dead inside. Alarm bells went off in my head.
Unsurprisingly, around the same time of the breakup he had moved into working in a different industry, an industry he was much less passionate about.
I suggested that maybe it wasn’t his ex he missed so much, maybe he was just lacking passion in his life. Maybe he missed the emotional, intellectual, and sexual passion of that relationship, but not actually the abusive person behind it.
It was like a lightbulb went off for him. I suggested that he focus on consciously replacing his relationship with new passions. He did! And I had the pleasure of watching him come back to live and move on.
Relationships take up a lot of space in our lives and the loss of one leaves a massive vacuum inside of us. It’s the reason why you so often say, “I just feel so empty,” after a breakup. In order to overcome the emptiness that can so often hold you back, you need to mindfully fill this space in your life. It’s all too easy to open up dating apps and to try to fill this space up with a new person. That won’t work!
You need to rediscover old passions and start new ones. Fill this space up with passion and not only with your breakup be easier, you will be a much more appealing candidate when you start dating again… nothing is sexier than passion!
3. You Haven’t Done the Work
I always ask my clients what work they’re doing to get ready for a relationship. I get a lot of blank stares in response. Sometimes people say, “Umm… Nothing. Am I supposed to be doing something?”
Not doing any personal exploration and development work between relationships, is the reason you are drifting mindlessly from relationship to relationship. It’s the reason you keep getting your heartbroken over and over.
It’s also the reason why you aren’t over your ex.
My matchmaking clients who come to me right after a breakup and are unwilling to work on themselves, have a 0% success rate. And they almost always confide in me that no matter how many dates they go on, they can’t get over their ex. This is especially true for clients who were in toxic relationships.
But the thing is, it’s not so much their ex that they can’t get over… it’s the wound underneath.
If you were in a toxic relationship, something led you to pick that partner. That thing was probably a wound. Probably a wound from childhood or early adolescence.
You can’t get over your ex, because they represent the wound. And wound wants to be healed. If you want to get over your ex, you have to direct your attention away from them and towards yourself. You have to examine your relationship patterns in order to find the wound underneath all of your failed relationships.
When you heal that wound, you will heal your feelings for your ex, and set the groundwork towards having a functional relationship in the future.