Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How to Get Over a Break Up

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 Amore no more.
Amore no more.
We all go through breakups. They can be rough, and they can be amicable; no matter what, no one really wants to go through them. Breakups are handled differently by different people. These steps may not be perfect for everyone, but they can help!

[edit] Steps

  1. Examine what happened and ask yourself why. You have to make it clear to yourself that this may not be entirely your fault - or not your fault at all. Really thinking about the reasons it ended can make it clearer to you that it takes two people to start a relationship, but one discordant person is enough to end it. It may also help you avoid missteps in the future if you can identify areas where you contributed to the demise of the relationship.
  2. Accept your pain. Have your good long cries if you feel like it. It's okay to be hurt, feel alone, and feel like you have messed up. Accepting responsibility for your mistakes or shortcomings is healthy, but you must also accept that you are a good person, and this is not all one-sided. Of course, a stage of denial is completely natural, but acceptance is the key to being able to begin to move on.
  3. Keep your distance. Even if you and your ex have decided to stay friends, take a complete break from each other immediately after the breakup. That means no seeing each other, no phone calls, no e-mails, no Instant Messaging, and most importantly, no sex - not necessarily as a permanent measure (except where sex is concerned), but until you feel that you can converse with him/her like a normal person, without an ulterior motive (and yes, wanting to get back together counts as an ulterior motive).
  4. Think through everything in your head. Go ahead and mull it over, as many times as necessary, within reason. Consider all the reasons you two broke up. There had to have been a reason for it all to end, right? If there was a reason, but it wasn't a "good one," then understand that you enjoyed one another for a while, but if that was enough to be a determining factor in continuing with the relationship, then clearly, there was something else wrong.
  5. Deal with the hate phase. This is where you want to just scream because you are so angry, even furious. The amount of anger you feel all depends on how bad the split was, how it occurred (was there infidelity? That makes it worse), and how long it took to make the break. There may be feelings of resentment at your ex for wasting your time. You may realize the breakup was inevitable (hindsight will reveal clues you failed to notice at the time). You may even feel like you hate yourself, but let go of that feeling fast! It's a waste of time to be hating and ripping yourself apart over something you no longer have the power to change.
  6. Talk to your friends. They are always a source of advice and help. If you are close with any family members, they may be a good source of advice/guidance. You want people around you that love you and who will help you see that you should love yourself too. Surrounding yourself with compassionate, loving friends and family will help you see yourself as a worthwhile, worthy person again, and you'll find it easier to get steady on your feet again with your loved ones around you in a comforting net.
  7. Write all your feelings down. Write in a journal or write poems. Most of all, be absolutely honest and don't edit yourself as you go. One of the best results of writing it all down is that sometimes you will be amazed by a sudden insight that comes to you as you are pouring out your thoughts onto paper. Patterns may become clearer, and as your grieving begins to lessen, you will find it so much easier to "get" valuable life lessons from the whole experience if you've been writing your way through it. No relationship is ever a failure if you manage to learn something about yourself from having gone through it all with your heart open to both joy and pain. Just because it didn't work out doesn't mean it wasn't a necessary part of your journey to becoming who you're meant to be. Allow at least the learning part to enrich your life.
  8. Clean up! A breakup can signify a new beginning. Therefore, cleaning your personal space will leave you feeling refreshed and prepared for the new things to come. A mess can be overwhelming and depressing, and will just add to your stress level. The added bonus is that keeping busy with tidying your space doesn't require a lot of brain power, but does require just enough focus to keep you from recycling pain. Occupying yourself with these tasks designed to make your life better and easier will also occupy your mind enough to help you through the residual pain.
  9. Keep fond memories. Sometimes there are things that remind us of another person. Say, you hear a song or see a picture that reminds you of your ex, you probably get all sad and worked up. Well, instead of feeling that way, turn the station and move on.
  10. Find happiness in other areas of your life. Whether that means spending time with your friends and family, taking up that class you've always wanted to take, or reading every book on the New York Times bestseller list, remind yourself that there's more to life than being in a relationship. Indulge in those things. As they say, the best revenge is living well.
  11. Stay active. It's scientifically confirmed that exercise improves your mood, and the distraction will help keep your mind off the situation. Go running outside, maybe with a friend, and think of releasing the anger or sadness with every step.
  12. Let go. See that there is no sense in still being heartbroken, regretful, and harboring hatred toward that person. Realize that although your relationship with that person was unique and special in a lot of ways, congratulate yourself for being brave enough to take a risk and fall in love, and encourage your heart that even though love didn't work out this time, there will be a next time.
  13. Take Time. Find a place where you feel comfortable, relaxed, and which is far away from your ex. Take a moment to listen, and to be alone or with someone you trust. Remind yourself that it is better to be on your own than to continue in a relationship that was not right for one or both of you.
  14. Think Positive. Now that you're not with your ex, you can date other people - go ahead, this is okay. You're free - only your actions and thoughts free you from what you cannot control. Change your behaviors; that will help change your thinking. Of course, don't forget about respecting other peoples' thoughts and feelings while feeling released and free, and always remember to be true to yourself.

[edit] Tips

  • Walk out of your heartache, knowing that you have done all that you can do, said all that you can say, and given as much as you could give. If you feel you did your part as best you could, but he or she didn't meet you halfway, then you'll be just fine.
  • Do not put yourself through more pain than you have to. Do not think about where he or she would be right now and if you should visit. Don't try to talk to him or her about the break up. Don't make yourself think negatively about yourself or your judgment, or anything else that will make you doubt your decisions or yourself.
  • Remember that your ex may be trying to get over you, as well. Be sensitive to that, and keep your distance. If you've decided to stop seeing one another - stop.
  • As trite as it may sound, this one bears repeating: find something constructive to do - something that will hold your attention and require you to focus and get interested. Once you've spent a few days (or weeks) indulging the grief, it's time to take a class or maybe join a book group. Find something that gets you out of the house and out of your circular thought process and involves your brain or your creative side. Sometimes you've forgotten who you were before you hooked up with the person you're so sad about now, and you need to wake yourself up a bit and remember that you used to have fun doing things you've forgotten about since then. You've got a brain, go use it for something besides re-running old memories!
  • Remember those old catch phrases: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger", "Everything happens for a reason", "There are other fish in the sea" and likewise. When you go through a break up or some other emotionally challenging time in your life, you're actually getting closer to finding true happiness because you are getting to know your true inner self. This may or may not include marriage or romantic relationships... and that is okay, no matter what you do in life.
  • As simple as this sounds, be clear to yourself that you are actually breaking up. Too often the thoughts of possibly being back together gradually eats at you and destroys your emotional well being. Accept the truth of your situation, and commit to it.
  • If your ex has left you for another person then ask yourself if you really want that person back? Will you ever trust them not to break your heart again? Sometimes you just want the person you thought your ex would be, not what s/he actually was.
  • Keep your dignity. Many times, it's our ego that causes the pain; we feel rejected and deceived, embarrassed. We doubt our self worth and adequacy. So what better way to survive this than to not give yourself any more reason to feel ashamed, but instead feel pride in yourself - volunteer, take a class, do things that remind you of your value as a person.
  • Remember that this pain just has to be survived. It takes a season of time to heal, like a broken arm. You won't die from it, though you may feel like you will for a time. Eventually, though, you will feel better, the pain will lessen, and you will be able to love again.
  • It's a good time to try something new. Try a new hobby, a style, a sport. It'll keep you going and moving on.
  • If you find yourself compulsively checking your ex's myspace, Facebook, or any other social networking profile, help yourself out and use the firefox extension, blocksite, which allows you to block the URL to their profile.
  • Go to a party to blow off some steam and maybe meet someone new, but be wary, some of the biggest regrets happen with rebounds and alcohol.
  • Go and talk to and hang out with older friends that have dealt with it before.
  • Do not let yourself be caught up with hatred for your ex. If it is best that you split up, do not upset yourself further. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be, and you will be friends in the future if that's meant to be. Hating is pointless and will prolong pain and stress for both of you.
  • Your partner has a right to choose to be or not to be with you. Respect their decision. If your partner digs at you again, do behave with dignity, because probably they are not worthy of your true love.

[edit] Warnings

  • Don't look for so many distractions from the pain, emptiness, or heartache that you fail to process the emotions adequately. You're supposed to grieve a lost relationship in which you'd invested yourself emotionally. Think about it - what kind of person could just say, "Whatever" and walk away as if nothing had happened? Ride it out - turning to destructive distractions like drugs, alcohol, casual sex, etc. will only make things worse, and can actually prolong the entire grieving process. If you try to hide from the pain, it just waits around the corner and jumps out at you as soon as the temporary relief of your "distraction" wears off. The best and only way to get to the other side of the sadness is to go straight through it with a clear head. Believe it or not, it's the fastest way as well. It won't be long until you do feel better.
  • If you were the one who got "dumped," avoid the temptation to chase after your ex, ask them questions about what went wrong, and try to "fix" everything. It will only strengthen your ex's resolve to push you away, and will make the breakup much harder and more painful than it needs to be.
  • If your ex has done things to hurt you (other than breaking up), don't drop to that level. It's pathetic and cruel.
  • Although you may be tempted to take revenge, or send notification through third parties about your great success in life without them - don't exert the energy. Allow things to run their course without your intervention - they have a way of working out just fine in the end.
  • Never contemplate suicide. You are ending a relationship - and even though it's hard to believe it, you are not ending life itself. Give yourself time to recover from the shock and sadness without entertaining thoughts of harming yourself. If you find you can't shake these thoughts after a few days, then you need to seek psychiatric help immediately.
  • Avoid checking up on any online social networking page (Bebo, MySpace, Facebook) to see what your ex is up to. If you think you'll be too tempted, just cut loose and quit the site. The alternative is checking one day and seeing your former squeeze with another girl/guy. There is such thing as being self-protective and avoiding unnecessary pain.

[edit] Things You'll Need

  • You can do it without the following items, but they are highly recommended for the most rewarding (yes, really!) experience possible:
    • A few shoulders to cry on. It really does help to talk about it, preferably to more than just one person (if only to give your best friend some relief).
    • A Teddy Bear (for hugs and to talk to at 4am when everyone else is asleep.) Dogs and cats will do too, although pets may not always give you quite that loving sympathetic gaze and undivided attention that bears are so good at.
    • Hot showers (As much as you may not even want to get out of bed, much less get in the shower - *sniffle* "who cares if I wash my hair now, anyway?" - you will feel better after a shower, or a nice long soak in the tub. Hot water relaxes tense muscles, soothes anxiety and refreshes puffy, tear-stained faces.
    • Paper and pens (a journal is perfect, paints and glue and other illustration tools, even better!)
    • Funny movies and absorbing novels can be a great temporary respite and laughter can really lighten your mood.
    • If you're one of the millions who try to fill that empty sad feeling through your mouth (which usually doesn't work because food isn't what you're missing), fill the fridge with celery sticks and other light snacks that you won't regret later if you just have to munch.
    • Do be sure to eat though! Heartbreak can often rob you of your appetite, but be sure not to to punish yourself and remember to think about you as you are the most important person now. Being ill from malnutrition won't help you be strong enough to move on.
    • Your sense of humor and your knowledge that "this too shall pass".
    • Lots of tissues.
    • Friends and family are supportive for some people, and if they are they will do anything and everything to help you heal and be happy again. Go with them, even if you don't feel like it - you won't regret it. If you have unsupportive people in your life, you need to seek support elsewhere.

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