Breakups are painful — there's no way around that. But there's one sure-fire way to make your breakup even more difficult, and that's trying not to have one when you are. Sound counter-intuitive? Many people deal with a heartbreak by pretending it doesn't exist. That only serves to sweep feelings under the rug, and doesn't allow us to heal.
When you're going through a divorce — or the ending of any relationship — you're going to experience grief. Grief is extremely painful, so most of us try to avoid it at all costs. (This is also why most of us are neurotic)! Unfortunately, grief doesn't go away if you hide under the covers, or behind three bottles of Pinot Noir. The good news is that most of the mental anguish you're going through isn't really grieving... it's just beating yourself up.
So stop beating yourself up!
If you're telling yourself things like, "No one will ever love me," "This is what I deserve," "All the men I pick are hopeless," or "I'm going to die alone with my iPad," then you're engaged in what's known as "unnecessary suffering." This is not grief. Unnecessary suffering is detrimental to your recovery, while grief can help it.
Grief feels like a good, hard cry for what you've lost. You've lost the person who slept next to you, and the dreams you had for your future together. Give yourself about 30 minutes a day to cry your heart out, throw things and be a complete wreck. This is healthy, and will help release pent-up frustrations and anger. Then relax and remember the following: all those awful oh-my-god-it's-the-end-of-the-world thoughts are just a story you're telling yourself. You can stop telling yourself that story.
Now, tell yourself a better story.
You don't really know that no one will ever love you again. You've been loved before, and chances are pretty good it will happen again. You can't possibly know that you'll never pick a better partner, and in fact, if you play your cards right, (i.e. give yourself time to grieve this breakup) you'll be in a position to pick someone more suited to you and your needs. You'll know yourself better after this experience and will be more equipped to choose a partner who will complement and support you.
Besides, you wouldn't tell you girlfriends that they'll never find love, or that they're a lost cause. Don't tell yourself that, either.
So what now?
Here's my coaching for the 30-day period following a breakup:
1. When you feel your thoughts spinning out of control, distract yourself with TV, a book, a movie or a project.
2. Spend as much time in relaxation as you can: take baths, go for a swim, get a massage, take a walk in nature.
3. Exercise your creativity: dust off your crafting, sewing, model-building, macrame tools and get to making something — anything.
4. Get ready to feel your dark feelings start to lift.
5. Remember that this experience, while painful, can bring you closer to your own sweet self.
And here's a final thought that helped me when I was going through a divorce: No one can take away the good times. Those memories are still with me, even today, as much as they'd be if we were still together.
In sum, even when we are falling in love, it isn't just the other person or the promise of love that makes us feel precious, pretty, and sexy; it is our thoughts about ourselves. We can choose to continue to believe those thoughts, even after the relationship ends. In my case, I know that the more I adore myself, the more I allow myself to be adored. You don't actually need a relationship to make you feel adorable.
You can choose to love yourself today. I hope you do, because I'll bet there are quite a few people out there who think you're pretty darn cute, too.
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