Rules of Disengagement

Love, Heartbreak

When you have an urge to reach out, inquire, or spy ...

Believe me, I understand how strong the impulse to engage is, but you will be so proud of yourself when you resist it. Every single woman I spoke with reported how satisfied she felt when finally tak- ing control of this behavior. I know you can do this and I promise that you will feel relieved and powerful. Following these suggestions will help you break free. Quiz: Are You the One for Me?

When you have an urge to reach out, inquire, or spy:

  • Buy yourself some time. Make a bargain not to engage for at least thirty minutes. As previously described, obsessions are reduced or eliminated if you simply make an agreement with yourself to delay your urge.
  • Create an affirmation. I’m going to ask you to use this when- ever you feel like reaching out, whenever the obsession/addiction is at its fiercest. Suggestions: “I am a powerful lioness—I can control myself ’; “Stop the madness”; “This is the time to heal and be well.” Repeat this chant over and over.
  • Remind and refamiliarize yourself about your negative engagement dance. Chances are, no matter how you convince yourself otherwise, it will start up again the moment you reach out. And if you feel bad now, you’re going to feel much worse once this gets under way.
  • Check in with your emotions. What are you feeling right now? Are you feeling angry, lonely, anxious, sad? Process your feelings and turn your focus away from your ex and onto yourself. Use your bag of tricks to soothe yourself.
  • Move away from your emotions and into your intellect (try to switch from heart to head). Honestly ask yourself, “What exactly am I trying to accomplish by calling him now? How has it felt in the past when this hasn’t gone well? How will I feel if he doesn’t respond, or if he responds in a form that is dangerous to my well-being?”
  • Refocus your brain. Change activities. Go for a walk, organize a room in your home, do physical exercise, cook, clean, write in your journal, read something from one of your inspirational/spiritual books, play some music, or watch a DVD.
  • Call someone from your support system. Is there someone you can ask to serve as your “sponsor”? Someone who will agree that you can contact him or her whenever you feel like contacting your ex? Sign on a few sponsors and call them instead of calling him.



Excerpted from The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce Copyright @ 2011 by Rachel A. Sussman, LCSW. Reprinted by Permission of Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.