Break ups suck. And, they suck in more than one way. Not only do they turn a person's life upside down, they mess with every aspect of the person's life, and with it, drag the person into the pit of unbearable emotional pain.
The expectations you'd of the relationship, and the investment you'd placed on the relationship are squashed, and rendered useless, respectively. The aftermath of the break up affects you in diverse ways. What about the heartache? Will it ever go away? The hurtful emotions. How would you ever get past them? It appears as if your life would never return to its normality, or you won't experience the joy that you always relished in the relationship.
Break ups affect each person differently. And, how people react to a break up also differs among individuals. So, how can you get over the break up, and find your foot to move on? How can you piece together the tiny broken pieces of your heart that's been torn up into tens of pieces by the break up? The below is a short guide to steer you towards a healthy means of healing, recovering, and finding the strength to move on with your life.
a) Manage the Hurtful Emotions
Following a break up, you will experience an assortment of negative emotional responses such as shock, anger, fear, sadness, guilt, shame, and hatred. They're are normal, and necessary, emotions to guide you how to navigate through them, and get past the hurtful event that elicited their manifestation.
So as to benefit from the negative emotions, albeit how unpleasant it is to feel them, you've to learn how to manage them. Managing hurtful emotions involves expressing them, and then doing away with them.
It's not an enjoyable experience wallowing in negative emotions. Other than the emotions messing up with your life, and heightening the emotional pain, there's nothing good that can be said about them. As such, we've learned to suppress them so that we don't feel their unpleasantness. Another reason why we bottle up negative emotions is that we're afraid they'll overpower us. This is understandable as these emotions can wreck your life in diverse ways when you allow them to take root in your heart. Lastly, another reason we tend to suppress them is to avoid appearing weak in the eyes of other people, and even in ourselves. Our society esteems expressing negative emotions as a sign of weakness.
Are negative emotions wholly evil? Not in the least. Emotional psychologists label negative emotions as unpleasant emotions. The reasoning behind the label is that despite their unpleasantness, negative emotions serve an important role in our lives through the functions they play in every day life, or after undergoing a traumatic experience. In this respect, the following are tips on how you can manage the hurtful emotions you're experiencing so as to benefit from their manifestation, however unpleasant, and not to get pulled down by them into their abode.
Step I: Identify the hurtful emotions you're experiencing by singling out each one of them. You'll feel more than one negative emotions therefore pinpoint each emotion you're feeling.
Step II: Find what has elicited a particular emotional response. In this case, the source of the display of the emotions you're experiencing is the break up. Now, go another step ahead by sorting through your mind why you're feeling a particular emotion in response to the break up. For instance, you might be feeling angry because you think your ex wasn't justified to break up with you, or are angry because the abusive nature of your ex forced you to end the relationship.
Step III: Listen to the emotions. What is each of them asking you to do in response to what has elicited their manifestation? One of the roles of negative emotions in our lives is to motivate us to take an action in relation to a hurtful event that has occurred to us. Contrast the negative emotion you're experiencing to know what it is urging you to do. For example, anxiety, a form of fear, is a reaction to a perceived threat. Why are you anxious about the break up? What is it that's worrying you about it? Is it because you're afraid to be lonely? If that's the case, contrast the reason why you're feeling so by saying, "Even though I'm now alone, I won't be lonely because I have loved ones and/or friends who will give me company, and I've myself to offer myself the company (including a pet).
Step IV: Feel the emotions. It's not a pleasurable experience feeling negative emotions. Even so, if your heart is not presented with the fact of the break up, through experiencing the hurtful emotions brought about by the break up, it'll never heal from the break up, and you're recovery from the same will be inhibited. It has to know an unpleasant (hurtful) thing has occurred - end of the relationship - so that it can usher in the healing process since it's realized it's been wounded.
Step V: Release the emotions. You've felt the negative emotions, now it's time to let them go. Your heart has been made aware of a hurtful event that has occurred. It'll grieve the loss of the relationship, which is normal (healthy). Amid the heart mourning the loss of the relationship, the wound that had been festered by the break up will begin healing, and you'll be on your way to recovery. Remember, don't dwell for too long on the negative emotions. Giving them board in your mind for a lengthy period would be detrimental to your well-being, including your relationships with other people.
2. Grieve the Loss of the Relationship
You shouldn't be embarrassed, or think it's a sign of weakness when you grieve the loss of your relationship. You shouldn't act as if the break up didn't affect you in the least. You shouldn't pretend everything is okay when your loved ones and/or friends ask how you're fairing.
People who run away from grieving the loss of their relationship, do so because they don't want to feel the emotional pain ignited by the break up. They'll engage in unhealthy activities to relieve the pain. Some will rely on drugs and alcohol while others will jump immediately into another relationship. A few, sadly, choose a permanent means of ending the pain by committing suicide.
Unless your heart grieves the loss of the relationship, or how negatively (hurtful) you're affected by the relationship, it'll never heal. Without your heart having healed from the wound inflicted by the break up (or the relationship), your recovery from the break up will be jeopardized.
During this season of "deep sadness or mental pain," you'll undergo five stages in no particular order. You may linger in a stage for a lengthy period, and return back to a previous stage, or move to the next, or skip to another or previous stage, before you finally come into terms with the reality of the relationship - it's nonexistent. They are:
1st stage: Denial. You'll fight against any thought or voice that tells you the relationship has ceased to be. You'll convince yourself the break up hasn't occurred; you're still in the relationship with your ex. Denial is usually preceded by shock which is " a sudden or violent mental or emotional disturbance" to the unexpected turn of the relationship - the break up.
2nd stage: Anger. It's an emotional reaction in response to being wronged or hurt by your ex. The reasons for the anger may vary e.g. feeling your ex wasn't justified to end the relationship, or your ex resulted in you ending the relationship. You might also direct the anger to yourself which may arise from a sense of guilt, or having being naive in engaging in the relationship with them. You might even be angry at God. Why did He allow the relationship to cease to be? Also, you may direct your anger to your loved ones and/or friends.
Anger may mask other negative emotions because you've concentrated all your energy on it; ignoring the other ones. You may also focus your anger on your ex, to avoid feeling the other negative emotions, especially fear.
3rd stage: Bargaining. If only you hadn't behaved in a certain manner, or your ex didn't do something that repeatedly hurt you, the break up would never have happened. You think what could have been avoided, and what could have been done in its place. It's at this stage, you feel the need to contact your ex, and plead with them to give you another chance. You'll compromise with them, going as far as accepting their demands even though you don't agree with them. You may also turn to God, and beg Him to do something - a miracle - so that the failed relationship can be salvaged.
4th stage: Depression. How will you survive the rest of your life alone, without your ex by your side? How will the quality of your life be? You'll feel unmotivated to look forward to another day. You'll withdraw yourself from loved ones and friends to be alone. You'll feel disinterested in finding joy in the things you liked doing, that is, your hobbies or activities. It appears as if your world has come to an end. Some people will entertain thoughts of death. They can't envision living the rest of their lives without their ex.
5th stage: Acceptance. You might waver in this stage. By the time you've reached this stage, you're certain the relationship has ceased to exist. But, you may find yourself returning to the denial stage. You don't want to believe the relationship is over. When you finally admit to yourself pertaining to the reality of the relationship, you'll be on your way to recovering from the break up. During this stage, you may experience varied negative emotions that you'd blocked during the previous stages, or re-experience them.
3. Exercise No Contact
Following the break up, you should cease communication with your ex until you've recovered from the break up. Maintaining communication inhibits the healing process from commencing.
No contact cushions you against experiencing the intensification of hurtful feelings. Staying in contact with your ex, even if it's infrequently, will remind you about the failed relationship thereby intensifying the hurtful emotions you're feeling.
You might also suppress the emotions because the contact will create an illusion of being in relationship with your ex, or giving you a sense of false hope about the failed relationship.
Your reaching out to your ex, through contact, is a means of evading the emotional pain, and not wanting to feel the hurtful emotions you're experiencing. You'll misguide your heart on the reality of the situation by forcing it to accept the unreality of the break up. You'll deceive it into believing the relationship is still alive and kicking thereby creating in your mind an illusionary world consisting of you and your ex. Your heart though wounded accepts what has been forced on it thereby deepening its wound.
The purpose of not contacting your ex is to distance yourself from them emotionally and physically so that you can allow the healing process to begin its course.
Another reason is to give you the space and time to reflect on the failed relationship, both on the positive and negative side, from a third person point-of-view, without being influenced by the hurtful emotions. From assaying the failed relationship, and the break up, you'll conclude whether it's judicious to try to get back with your ex, or move on with your life.
It also assists you in gaining control of your life that had been lost in the relationship, or following the end of it. If the relationship affected your self-esteem, you'll regain or improve on it as a result of limiting or ceasing any form of contact with your ex.
Lastly, you wouldn't want to get back in your previous relationship, or a new one, without having learned valuable lessons from the previous break up(s). The lessons you glean from your previous break up(s) will assist you to make an informed decision when entering a new relationship, or going back to a former one. Additionally, you'll gain an insight on what works and doesn't work in a relationship, what to look out for in a potential partner, and which areas of your life you should improve, or work on.
4. Stop the Blame
Is blame ever justified? Even if your ex is the cause of the break up, are you justified in faulting them for the demise of the relationship? Are you certain you're not part of the blame?
If you're convinced, without a shadow of doubt, your ex is the source of the break up, blaming them for days on end won't benefit you at all than rendering you powerless in taking control of your life. This is because you'll be living in a victim-mentality state. The result of being in such a state is that it'll deepen the pain you're feeling, and intensify, or evoke, negative emotions. You'll not only become a victim who has lost power to reclaim their life back, but you'll also become a prisoner to the negative emotions you'll feel.
It might be, you're blaming your ex because you don't want to appear guilty one. You don't want to own up being the cause of the break up. "Blaming is used as a self-defense mechanism to protect ourselves from feelings of guilt, stress or anxiety," states The Nurture Project. "This," they say, "usually comes hand in hand with denial. The defense mechanism can even be on the level of the subconscious and we use it when we want to avoid a situation that is too challenging for us to handle."
You may also falsely accuse your ex for the break up because you don't want to admit your ex had control of the relationship - deciding where it'll head to, the breakup. You feel powerless. As a result, you want to exert control over the situation by blaming your ex.
Or, it might be you're blaming yourself for the break up. The guilt. The shame. They're some of the feelings that accuse you of having caused the death of the relationship. Maybe, you aren't the cause of the break up, but you blame yourself for being the cause. Even if you're the cause, stop beating yourself down after accepting you contributed to the collapse of the relationship. If you do so, you'll encourage negative emotions you're feeling, and elicit, possibly others, thereby becoming a slave to them. This will affect your emotional health, and other aspects of your life, thereby prolonging both the healing and recovery processes.
If you're laying blame on your ex for the downfall of the relationship, take the difficult step of forgiving your ex. If you're the cause, give yourself another chance. Be gentle on yourself, and take that painful step of asking your ex for forgiveness.
5. Forgive & Forget
This is perhaps the most difficult breakup recovery step to execute owing to two things: the hurt, and the myths surrounding forgiveness.
While it's difficult to forgive someone who has hurt you, it's more difficult to forgive yourself for having pained someone. You've probably heard the famous religious saying, "Love your neighbour as you love yourself." You can't hope to forgive your ex if you haven't taken the first step of forgiving yourself.
It's not easy to pardon yourself, particularly if your ex faulted you as the cause of the break up. The guilt and shame you're feeling will convince you that you're unworthy of forgiving yourself, or your ex forgiving you. You feel you should punish yourself by not forgiving yourself. You might not reach out to your ex to ask for forgiveness because you think you deserve not to be forgiven.
You might find it difficult to forgive your ex, especially considering how they treated you during the relationship, or their reason for breaking up with you. Come to think about it, how can you forgive someone who kept cheating on you, or someone who was abusive, or someone who broke up with you because they no longer find you appealing? It's a difficult concept to grasp.
As painful and difficult it is to forgive, you should resolve to take that step to release yourself from the grip of negative emotions. Not forgiving translates to harbouring some of the most destructive negative emotions e.g. bitterness, hatred, and revenge. Not only will the negative emotions affect your emotional, mental and physical health, they'll also affect your relationships with other people, and mess with every other aspect of your life, including your career.
Remember, forgiveness doesn't mean you overlook the wrong done to you by your ex. It doesn't imply you're happy with them hurting you - you've no problem with it. It doesn't signify you haven't been hurt. Forgiveness is accepting you've been hurt, and as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it involves releasing yourself "from the guilt or penalty of an offense." Forgiveness which is the act of forgiving is defined by the same dictionary as "to cease to have feelings of anger or bitterness toward" your ex. Now, you can see why it's important to take this painful-difficult step of forgiving yourself, and/or your ex.
Mayo Clinic notes that if you're unforgiving, you might "bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experiences, become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can't enjoy the present, become depressed or anxious, feel that you life lacks meaning or purpose, or you're at odds with your spiritual beings," and you might "lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others."
Psychologist Abigail Brenner, in her article, '5 Reasons Why It's Important to Forgive,' appearing on Psychology Today's website, states, "Forgiveness helps your health. Negative Emotions rob your energy and take a toll on your body, mind, and spirit. Anger, anxiety, depression, and undue stress generate a negative influence on your body. These can cause elevated blood pressure, heart rate, and the feeling of being out of control."
It's not necessary to let your ex know you've forgiven them. You can inform them of your decision to forgive them, or forgive them without letting them know you've done so.
Whether your ex forgives you or not, it's up to them. They've a choice to make: to hold onto the resentful and bitter thoughts, or release themselves from them by forgiving you.
Don't hold onto the hurt. Forget how your ex hurt you during the relationship, or breaking up with you. Forget you're the cause of the break up by asking for forgiveness, learn from what you did wrong and change aspects of you that deserve some improvements, and move on with your life.
Forgiveness means forgetting the past so that the past doesn't haunt you in the future, reigniting the negative emotions that you had done away with.
6. Stop the Negative Thoughts
It's easy to get lost in our thoughts as we ruminate on the failed relationship, the break up, our ex, and ourselves. Unless we're analyzing the failed relationship, and the break up, to glean important information to aid us to get past the break up, and to assist us in decision making pertaining to romantic relationships, we can find ourselves, sometimes, subconsciously, entertaining negative thoughts.
The thoughts you entertain in your mind can alter your beliefs, or your view of the romantic relationships, and the world as a whole. They can paint a false image in your mind about romantic relationships, the world, and about yourself.
According to Your Dictionary, "Negative thinking is a thought process where people tend to find the worst in everything, or reduce their expectations by considering the worst possible scenarios. This approach can allay disappointment in some situations; but, negative thinking tends to manifest into a pattern that can cause tremendous stress, worry, or sadness over time."
Negative thoughts can either intensify, and prolong, the hurtful emotions you're feeling, or evoke other negative emotions thereby lengthening the healing and recovery processes, and deepening the heartache. They can disrupt your daily routines or activities, distort your view of yourself, and relationships, and interfere with your relationships with other people.
Being conscious of the negative thoughts you're entertaining by countering them is the healthy means of fighting against such thoughts. Replace the negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Don't let them have their way. Stop them on their track. Question their legibility. It may be you've undergone several break ups. Does that mean you're never meant to be in a relationship, or you're never a fit for a romantic relationship? Which evidence do you have that you're supposed to stay single for the rest of your life.
You should base your thoughts on facts, and conclude whatever you're thinking from an unbiased viewpoint so that you can have a clear picture of the break up, where you're in relation to it, and your future pertaining to romantic relationships.
7. Damage the Video Tape
The yearning for your ex will set your mind into motion in creating a series of moving images centered on the good times you'd with your ex. The 'good' images will satisfy your heart thereby setting you in a fantasy world. Your days will be spent thinking about the good times you'd with your ex. Not only will you relive the good times you'd with them, but you'll also create new ones.
Your intention of holding onto the 'good' times is because you don't want to accept the relationship is over, or you don't want to let go of the happy feeling brought about by thinking about them.
While there's nothing wrong in reliving the good times you'd with your ex, doing so when you haven't healed and recovered from the break up, will deepen the pain you're feeling, and intensify the hurtful emotions you're experiencing. The wound that had been created in your heart will become more sore because it's reminded of something that's no longer within their arm's reach.
Relive the 'good' times you'd with your ex after you've gotten over the break up; not before.
7. Seek Emotional Support
We, humans, are social creatures even if some of us categorize ourselves as introverts. We can't survive on our own, the reason for the saying, 'No man is an island.' Accordingly, you shouldn't suffer alone. Reach out to a loved one, or a trusted friend. Confide in them how the break up has affected you - the degree of it - and how you're dealing with it. Let them know how difficulty you're finding in getting past the break up. Let them know how you feel about the break up, the failed relationship, your ex, and yourself.
If you find it difficult to get past the break up due to being overpowered by the negative emotions you're experiencing, seek professional help. When you can't seem to get over the anxiety, when you can't seem to come out of depression episode, when a few weeks after the break up you're still angry at your ex or yourself, when you're entertaining thoughts of suicide; seek the services of a mental health professional.
There are online groups that are dedicated to helping people get over a break up, or in dealing with negative emotions. Just do a simple online search, and you'll be provided with a list of tens of them. There are also online sites, including health institutions, that have published numerous articles on how to deal with negative emotions, how to recover from a break up, signs you should watch out which indicate you're suffering from a mental disorder e.g. anxiety disorder.
8. Get Your Life Back
Break ups have a tendency of disrupting an individual's structured life. They inhibit the person from experiencing joy in things they used to find pleasure in doing, or places they loved going to. Nothing in the world interests them anymore. Not even food. The individual may not want to see anyone, or go anywhere. Going to class or to the workplace requires the individual to mobilize enough energy to get out of their room, to the outside world.
It may appear you're helpless to change the effects of the break up. The future may seem bleak. In short, you've lost desire in anything, including your life. You shouldn't give up on yourself. The loss of the relationship isn't the end of your life, or your love life. It doesn't dictate your future life because your life is in your hands. You're the driver, and you're the one who has the choice to steer it where you want it to go.
It'll be difficult during the first few days or weeks to get your life back to its normal course. However, with determination to get over the break up, you'll succeed in getting past it. Aside from the points given above, taking that step of getting back to doing what you love - your hobbies or interests - you'll gain a fresh or renewed perspective of your life. The activities will help you appreciate your life, and give you a reason to look forward to each day.
Be it writing e.g. journaling, reading, watching movies, listening to music, swimming, drawing, sculpting, designing, playing games, your interests will aid in lessening the emotional pain, and the intensity of negative emotions. They'll help you not focus your life on the failed relationship, and what could or could not have been.
Don't let the break up deny you of your happiness, and your place on earth.
9. Be Grateful
It doesn't mean you should be glad you're hurt, you're broken up with, or you're the one who ended the relationship. Some people are grateful their relationship came to end. This is when you consider their relationship was characterized by abuse, frequent fights, lack of respect, indifference, and/or other negative factors that made it difficult for them to thrive in the relationship.
It feels like an insult when someone tells you to be grateful the relationship is over. Other than those whose relationship affected them in diverse negative ways, for the rest of us, it doesn't make sense. We enjoyed our time with our partners, looked forward to each day to spend time with them, or being with them. We hoped our relationship would last as long as one, or either of us, was alive. So, what's so good about being grateful about the break up?
Why should you be grateful when your partner dumped you for another chick or guy? What's there to be thankful for when your partner broke up with you because they no longer find you appealing? What's there to be glad about when you broke up with your ex because they're abusive, disrespectful, demeaning, or exhibited other untoward behaviour(s) or attitude(s)?
Gratitude, or being thankful, enables you to have a fresh perspective of your life. You may have lost someone special in your life - ex. You may have invested a lot in the relationship, or looked forward to the fulfilment of the dream you shared with your ex about your relationship. All the expectations you had about the relationship disappear into nothingness. Instead of ruminating on negative thoughts, be thankful for being in the relationship, for having learned valuable lessons from the relationship, for being still alive, for an opportunity to get into a new relationship with the person who was meant to be your long-life partner.
"In positive psychology," states Harvard Medical School, "gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships."
10. Don't Give Up
This last point is an encouragement not to give up on getting past your break up. Countless people have gotten over their break ups, and you too can get past it. You should be determined no matter what may, you'll see to it that you won't get stuck in the break up. Don't engage in unhealthy activities e.g. relying on drugs and alcohol to relieve the emotional pain, and to lessen the severity of the negative emotions. These unhealthy activities will only deepen, and prolong, your healing and recovery processes.
And, don't hurry to get over the break up. Every individual heals, and recovers, at their own time. The duration you take to get over your break up is different from another one. Some take a few days, others weeks, and yet others months. The length of recovery is determined by various factors such as: the length of the failed relationship, how much you'd invested in the relationship, your personality, how purposeful you're to get past the break up, the emotional support you receive, if both of you share a child(ren), the properties you share together with your ex, and the status of the relationship (whether it's healthy or unhealthy).
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Alianess Benny Njuguna
dashingscorpio from Chicago on May 12, 2021:
Every ending is a New beginning!
dashingscorpio from Chicago on May 12, 2021:
It also helps to keep things in perspective.
In order for (him/her) to have been "the one" they would have had to see (you) as being "the one". At the very least a "soulmate" is someone who actually wants to be with you! (And vice versa)
"Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary."
- Oscar Wilde
"Some people come in our life as blessings. Some come in your life as lessons."
- Mother Teresa
"A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn." - Helen Keller