Why do we love those who don’t love us back? It certainly does not seem to be a choice we make consciously. If the logical part of our brains were truly in charge, as we may like to believe, we would not love those who have clearly expressed their non-mutual feelings. That is because it is not our rational brain that is in the driver’s seat most of the time. It is the unconscious mind, or the “feeling brain”, as it is referred to by Daniel Kahneman, that is the star of the show.
We like to believe that we humans are logical decision makers. However, there is much evidence to the contrary. Author, professor and neurologist, Antonio Damasio recounts a famous story of his patient, Elliot, who suffered a brain injury to his frontal lobe, which processes emotions. Though Elliot seemed intelligent to the unassuming observer, he became entirely incapable of making decisions even as mundane as what to eat for lunch. Without his ability to process emotional content, Elliot could not make decisions, hold a job, or even hold onto his marriage.
However, there is no case study more telling than the experience of love that demonstrates the power of emotions and subconscious energies. For better or worse, we cannot choose who to love by means of intellect. Therefore, loving someone who doesn’t love you back seems particularly cruel, as it feels like we cannot do much about it.
Unrequited love often comes after the existence of a seemingly mutual loving relationship. If there was never any relationship to begin with, then you’re most likely a schoolgirl with a crush on Harry Styles. We tend to romanticize the past (or in the schoolgirl’s case, the future) and we become attached to the idealized version of our partner that we construe in our heads. This depiction is generally inaccurate and omits the ex-lovers flaws. Still, it is common to play out this fantasy relationship in the mind over and over.
Oftentimes when couples break up, one partner claims that it feels like “this came out of nowhere”. Although to friends and family, it’s not always such a shock. Perhaps the writing was on the wall ages ago. Still, there remains a sliver of hope that the other person is being coy, that no doesn’t mean no, rather it means you haven’t won them over quite yet. Hollywood has unfortunately led us astray. No does mean no.
The most difficult part about moving on is often the lack of closure. Closure can be a great gift if obtained freely but it is not always easy to acquire. If your ex says, I don’t love you anymore, this is strangely not sufficient closure. If they do not respect you enough to speak to you at all, well that is a clear sign that they never respected the relationship enough to give you the time of day now. Delete his or her number and do not look back.
To find closure, you must realize that your boundaries for a relationship include someone who loves and respects you. If your ex no longer does either of those, then that is closure. Why would you ever be with someone who doesn’t love and respect you? Again, the answer is because the heart is still attached and the heart or feeling brain runs the show.
In order to get over unrequited love it is not a matter of willpower. You cannot use your analytical mind to wish away the coinciding love and hate. This is a task that is only accomplished through emotional and or subconscious processing.
One way to utilize the power of the subconscious mind is through visualization techniques: First deepen and extend the breath with long exhales through the diaphragm. Close your eyes and count twenty-one full, deep, belly breaths. When you are in a more relaxed state imagine a cord or rope that connects your heart to theirs. Send them love on the exhales and receive their love on the inhales. Once you do this to a proper extent, you need to cut the rope. Cut the tie that joins you two at the feeling level and watch the rope wither away.
This visualization is just one way to help the subconscious mind play a necessary and active role in letting go of the past. Repeat this exercise as many times as necessary – for some once is enough, for others, much more repetition is needed. This will assist your subconscious mind in finding the closure your analytical mind so desperately yearns for. There will probably be resistance to cutting the rope. It may take time before you can do it fully and that’s okay. Eventually you will and you’ll be better off because of it.
There is beauty and truth on the road of adversity. In honest reflection, we may have known this was not forever but love is blinding like that. Love is chaotic and cannot be ascertained through study or logic, rather it must be lived fully. It follows that the only way to ascend lost love would not be through reason but by utilizing the unconscious emotions which made it first appear. It is now time to cut the rope.