Unpack Your Relationship Baggage

Break the cycle of carrying around negative experiences with past lovers. Here's how to start clean with your next romantic bond.
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When Ruby found out her husband was having an affair, she was completely blindsided. "My husband was such an accomplished liar, that everyone, me included, thought we had a great marriage," says Ruby. Now divorced, Ruby has worked through much of that trauma, but she still has a hard time trusting men. "Now I'm suspicious of men in general," says Ruby, 54, from Madison, Wisconsin.

Lynn Harris, co-creator of Breakupgirl.net, says many of us cart around excess baggage from bad relationships, and if we don't deal with it, it can hinder our ability to develop healthy news ones. Fortunately, she has a solution. "You know that question that they ask you at the airport -- did you pack your own bags? Well, we all pack our own bags, but the good news is that you can unpack them," says Harris. This starts with reversing the relationship "hexes" your ex may have placed on you -- without your even being aware of it.

Four Ex Hexes You Can Break

Ex Hex 1: "I'm not attractive enough." Beth, 35, from Los Angeles, recalls the brutal fight she and her boyfriend John had after he cracked a joke to the beauty working at their local wine shop. "I was fuming, and as soon as we got to the car I suggested he go back and get her number. That's when John exploded."

John had had enough of Beth's round-the-clock jealousy. And he said that if she was going to be like this, he didn't think it was going to work. Fortunately, Beth realized that the real problem was her ex, Gordon, who made Beth feel like a bag lady with his constant appraisals of other women's beauty.

How can you bring your self-image back into the babe zone? Acting coach Elizabeth Browning, creator of the video Acting Techniques for Life (Joy Light Productions), has a remarkably simple answer: act beautiful. Browning explains that there is a strong connection between the body and the mind -- that's why you get a knot in your stomach when you hear your ex's favorite song, or when your shoulders tense when you see the neighbor he used to flirt with. "Our bodies carry around a lot of life experience, so if you want to change the way you feel, you need to get your whole self involved -- physically, mentally, and emotionally," says Browning. To do this, ask yourself how a character who was really beautiful would behave. Then start to walk, move, and even dance like that. Once you start acting like a beautiful woman, you'll realize that you are one.

Continued on page 2:  More Ex Hexes


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