If you're going through a breakup, you might not want to hear anything other than "life is a pit of despair and nothing has meaning." But wallowing too long in those thoughts will only serve to prolong your misery. What you need to do when you're going through a breakup isn't to ignore the misery. It's just that you can't live in it. Life is about balance. And if you learn to balance the sadness with the good parts of life, eventually the sadness will fade, even if you don't think you could ever be happy again.
It's hard, but it's also kind of easier than you would think. When people came to see me during my days as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Responsible Sexuality Educator, they had often just lost everything they'd ever known to Domestic Violence. They were literally starting their lives over fro scratch while also trying to heal some pretty big wounds. But they were able to also eventually able to find joy and hope by simply putting one foot in front of the other. If you learn to do the same, you'll eventually get to a place where you don't feel haunted by lost love, and you look forward to your life again. Here are some tips to get you there.
1. Learn To Sit With The Negative Feelings
Your feelings won't go away until you deal with them. And if you never deal with them, but you think you've outsmarted them because they're gone, you'll find they come back to haunt you later. This technique, taught in group therapy sessions, helps you feel, process, and eventually let go of all those jumbled, toxic feels. Basically, when you feel negative or sad emotions come up, you sit quietly with them. You feel them. You acknowledge them. You listen to what they're trying to tell you. Then you acknowledge that you don't want to feel them anymore. Then try to go on with your day. This process can take you five minutes, or five hours, but the key is not to overthink too much, not to make the emotions stronger by piling on negative thoughts, and not to judge them either. Just accept, feel, and move on.
2. Find An Emotional Outlet
When your emotions hit you like a truck, and sitting with them is not helping you move past it, you need to direct that emotional energy out of you in another way. Some people find it helpful to journal and write out all their feelings. Some people talk to a friend or a therapist. Some meditate. They key is to find something that you can use to channel those emotions instead of being tortured by them.
3. Find A Physical Outlet
Sometimes you just have to run it out of you. Exercise releases feel-good hormones. Plus, it can make you too tired to wallow in your troubles. If you're not a fan of traditional exercise, find something like dancing, swimming, or skateboarding to get your blood flowing and your mind occupied.
4. Find A Creative Outlet
Speaking of keeping your mind occupied, do you have a creative outlet? Some of the world's greatest songs, poems, paintings, and movies have come from tragedy. There's a reason behind that, though. Engaging in a creative activity trips your mind into what's called a flow state. It's where you're so engaged in something that you're only focused on it, and nothing else. You lose track of time. You forget your worries. You experience the joy and satisfaction of creating something. It can help you get through rough patches.
5. Impose A Three-Day Waiting Period
When you're in the midst of some feels (especially when the sadness transforms into anger) your instinct might be to text, email, or otherwise reach out to your ex and spill your guts. This is almost always a bad idea. It will hit your ex out of the blue, and probably only serve to make you look desperate and sad. Better to use one of the methods above to exorcise those emotional demons. But if you still feel like what you need to say needs to be said after three days, revisit it then. Impulsive contact almost always just leads to more hurt feelings and more drama.
6. Pad Your Schedule
Keeping busy is a way to avoid your emotions, which isn't healthy. But being busy also keeps you from wallowing in your emotions. The act of getting up, going to work or school, socializing, and living your life helps you move forward, even it it just seems like you're going through the motions. Keep balance between your downtime and your busy time so you're not dedicating your days to being sad about your breakup.
7. Get Some Help
I used to meet with countless people who just couldn't move past their breakups, and they felt pathetic and broken. Other people seem to be able to break up and move on, so they wanted to know why they just couldn't be normal and move past it. But having a hard time with a breakup is normal. It's a form of emotional trauma. And seeking help of a therapist, counselor, support group, or relationships expert can give you a more personalized, individual set of tools to help you feel better. A lot of people need this kind of support, so there's no shame.
8. Share The Blame
It's easy to look at a breakup and think it must be your fault. You weren't good enough, attractive enough, fun enough, and so on. But this isn't fair, or true. You need to look at your breakup as objectively as you can. Usually that means sharing the blame equally, or acknowledging that it was nobody's fault. It almost never means beating yourself up over something you can't change. When you start to get into self-blaming patterns, stop yourself, and begin to speak positively about yourself.
9. Take Some Time
It's hard to imagine sometimes, but often the best thing you can do during a breakup is to completely distance yourself from your ex. No calls, no casual hang-outs, no trying to be friends. This doesn't mean you can't be friends in the future, or that you can't ever have contact again, but it does mean that while you heal, you remove them from your life. Many people I worked with couldn't start the real healing process until they admitted to themselves that they couldn't be around their exes. It stirred up too many confusing emotions. If your ex is still in your life, try to take some space and see if it helps.
No matter what you do, just remember, you're not alone. The wold is filled with people who have been through what you're going through. Never be afraid to ask for help.
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