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The 10 Rules of NC Engagement

1. Drop the games.

If you attempt to play games by messing with supply and demand, adding on Facebook, taking off Facebook, stirring for attention, using seduction and antagonism to get noticed, you will get burned. Badly. Get serious before the pain gets serious. NC requires genuine commitment to ending the drama and back and forth. Are you ready to stop participating in the pattern that is established between you?

2. End negotiations.

Part of the reason why some people struggle initially with NC, is that they still keep looking for opportunities to engage their ex and rehash the events. They almost ask if they can have space, instead of stating that they're taking enforced space, when they decide to tell their ex what they're going to do. The message sent is "I am open to negotiation. I need your permission/agreement." NC communicates that you are no longer negotiating with them to give you the relationship you wanted or to do the right thing, especially because if you have to negotiate and coerce in the first place, you shouldn't be involved with them anyway.

3. Take care of you.

It's pretty damn difficult to get through a painful experience, if you don't actually treat yourself with love, care, trust, and respect. Do not punish yourself; nurture you. Sleep, eat, drink water, address any health concerns, exercise, leave the house, go to work, learn new things, read, spend time with friends and family, meet new people, try new experiences, do old things you stopped doing, laugh at yourself in a good way, talk nicely to yourself and be patient.

4. Eliminate/minimise the opportunities for access.

You know their means of reaching you, where you're connected to them, and where you're likely to meet them. Defriend on Facebook or hide their updates, screen calls or change your number if necessary, ask mutual friends not to feed information to you or your ex, and basically address the routes to you before they try them, so that you feel in control of yourself at your end.

5. Address the elephant in the NC room.

Got a property to sell? Need to formalise a separation? Need to put together an agreement on visitations and how you'll parent your children with your boundaries respected? Need to work together? Don't bury your head in the sand because the likelihood is that if you delay dealing with these things, in a few days, weeks, or months, these will become your reasons to end NC and reconnect, or to ruminate yourself into blame and guilt.

6. Clear out physical clutter.

If your place is dominated by their presence, have a big tidy and clearout, rearrange furniture, box away mementos, and return their stuff whether they want it back or not.

7. Reflect before you attempt to break.

I said reflect though, not ruminate. Don't kneejerk out of NC just because the mood has struck you. Listen to your emotions, talk with yourself, ask yourself what you're really feeling, and be compassionate but firm. Remember why you've started NC. Be clearheaded about what you're trying to achieve - that in itself will dampen the urge to break it because you'll realise that it's not a productive use of your energy and would satisfy your ego immediately, but hurt it in the longer term.

8. Walk away when overwhelmed.

There are times when NC hits you and you just feel like you can't get a thought in place and you want to text, or phone, or whatever. At that point it's pretty damn difficult to reflect, so it's good to step away from the physical space of where you are. Take a walk, do some exercise, engage yourself in an activity - don't stew, trapped in the space. Sometimes it's as simple as getting out of bed where you're ruminating, making a cup of tea and breathing out.

9. Exhale often.

You'd be amazed how much you hold your breath or just don't breathe properly when you're stressed and in high thinking / agitation mode. And......breathe. Take a big deep breath and breathe out, especially when your mind is busy or when you're just about to do something you find difficult. Unlock yourself.

10. Park previous NC/breakup attempts.

Before I was successful at NC, I had many attempts. That in itself could have been enough to put me off, because why should I have thought that it was going to work? The previous attempts or any so-called 'mistakes' in your past don't matter. You're in a different time and space now. It's important not to project old experiences onto your present or future - you always know more than you did the last time. You're wiser now, even if you don't fully realise it yet. Treat this with the 'enthusiasm' (I know, I know), of a first attempt, or at the very least someone who believes in themselves.