HOW TO GET OVER A BREAK-UP
and turning loss into transformation
February, the month of love. Relationships are a big part of our lives and finding love, or being happier in the relationships are usually in most people’s top 3 life goals.
Is it any wonder? We are relational beings and when relationships are going well we feel good, strong, capable, empowered, supported, wanted and desired. We have someone to tackle the world with, and we get to share both our dreams and hopes, as well as our challenges.
So what happens to us when our relationships break down and we find ourselves single again?
How do we get over that often devastating loss and not only recover but turn that loss into transformation?
Over the past 7 years of working people as a therapist, I’ve helped many clients with break-ups but this is a much more personal subject for me at the moment. Last year I split up with my finance, so I’m going to be sharing not only what I’ve learnt professionally, but also what I have – and currently am- learning. This is relationship specific but can be used with any major loss where you are in the grief process.
Here is a 10 step process to turn your break-up into transformation
Recover from your relationship break-up
- You aren’t going mad
Grief can make us feel like we are going mad. Just when you think you are getting better, it hits you again. The beginning stages are very hard; they are the times when you will need the most help and support.
Things we might feel in a grief process:
anxious, angry, empty, constantly think of our ex partner, pining and wanting to contact them, extreme pain “attacks” that comes in waves, feeling confused and not be able to do basic tasks, becoming forgetful and finding it difficult to concentrate on anything, not feeling able to cope, not be able to sleep and feeling exhausted all the time, a lack of confidence or not feeling attractive anymore.
You aren’t going mad. Whilst it may feel like you are never going to get through this, you will- you are. It’s just a stage and like all stages, it will pass.
- Give yourself time
I wanted to call this blog, “how to get over your break-up fast”, because in some of my desperate moments that was what I was googling!! I didn’t call it that because it wouldn’t be true and if you want to really rise from this a stronger version, you really need to give yourself time. I know- that wasn’t what you wanted to hear- because who wants to feel all those emotions? Whilst a lot of us have a “be strong and carry on” mentality, this is not the time. Of course we want to fill the void as quickly as we can with another relationship, or going wild or filling every last second of your diary because it’s a horrible stage (and who wants to feel that?!) However unresolved grief does not go away. It festers, it makes us bitter, it makes us insecure and jealous, it makes us mistrust and we carry all these things into our next relationship. If we want to come through this stage, not only healed but transformed and have an even better relationship next time, we must give ourselves time to heal, feel our feelings and process them.
- Make self-care your priority
If there is ever a time to make yourself a priority it is now. The better you look after yourself, the quicker you will recover.
- Take yourself out on dates.
- Get a new outfit.
- Get a haircut.
- Eat well.
- Get fit.
- Sleep a lot.
- Take time off.
- Stop doing things you don’t want to.
- Get a massage.
- Do the things that you enjoy (even if you don’t enjoy them whilst you are grieving)
- Feed your mind with inspiration and hang out with good people who love you.
- Moving through the pain
When we are in pain, we have two choices; to channel our pain into positive change, or we can use it to self-injure and become destructive (those drunken 3am phone calls that you thought we were a good idea!!!!). Repressing or ignoring your pain never works.We have to deal with it at some point. When we process our emotions, something amazing happens; we heal, we become stronger, we become more self-aware and then we move through it and get to the other side.
Here’s how you can work through your pain:
Fire ceremony: I have spent many a night throwing things in the fire in the last 5 months!! I find it so helpful. Write out both what you want to let go of and what you want to attract into your future life.
Writing a letter: This was one of the things I did whilst I was in Bali (in the middle of the night!) and I found it a really powerful experience. I literally woke up the next day in a different place. Write everything you want to say to that person, the good, the bad and the ugly. You don’t have to send it, but write it for you.
Talking: it sounds obvious but a lot of people keep their pain in because they don’t want to “burden” people. It’s ok to talk about how you feel, it’s how we make sense of difficult experiences. Getting a therapist at this stage, is really helpful, as it’s a space just for you.
Journaling: I’ve been doing morning pages (3 pages of writing when I wake up) and it’s been incredible. Journaling is about turning up for yourself, and listening to how you feel.
Physical movement: Yoga has been like medicine to me, I can feel emotions shifting when I’m doing it. Walking in nature is also a great one. But equally dancing, running, going to the gym, swimming, whatever it is will be really helpful in moving the emotion through the body.
- Get support: re-connection is what heals
None of us are immune to loss, no matter how successful we are. You don’t have to do this on your own. A loss of a relationship is a loss of connection, so the more connections we can have at this stage, the better. Phone your friends, get a therapist, find new groups, anything that gets your re-connecting.
- Learn what your inner love story is
We all develop a story about love, starting from our childhood that builds up over our life, strengthened by our life experience.
It’s really important to know what our inner love story is because we keep re-playing it; we find partners that will act the parts with us. This is great if our love story is positive but if our story is negative no matter who the partner, the ending will always the same.
This doesn’t mean you are to blame or that you are doing this on purpose. Most of these behaviours are unconscious and out of our awareness. The good news is that by knowing what your story is, it empowers you to decide to keep it, adjust it or completely re-write it.
Get a piece of paper and write out what your current story is about love, relationships and happiness. Here’s some questions to get you started…
- Men are…
- Women are…
- Love to me is…
- What I believe when I’m in a relationship is…
- Re-occurring patterns that turn up in my relationships are…
- What I learnt about relationships as a child is…
- I feel most loved and cared about when…
- I feel most disconnected from my partner when…
- What I end up tolerating in relationships that I don’t want to is…
- The types of people I end up being attracted to are…
- I feel the best about myself in relationships when…
- The impact my current love story is having on my life…
- What I want my love story to be instead is…
- Own and transform your 50%
It’s so tempting to blame solely the other person (so, so, tempting!!) But that’s not going to help you be a either a better person or find an incredible relationship in the future. When we go through a break-up it can batter our confidence or we can feel like we we’ve lost our power, particularly if it wasn’t your choice. Here is how we take it back. By owning our part, we get to make different choices going forward and increase our chances of a better relationship. Again this isn’t a blame game. It’s just awareness.
Knowing yourself, what would you like to stop doing, change or be better at going forward?
If you let go of what you think you should want, what do you now know that you want and need? (Your essentials)
- What are your warning signs in a relationship?
- What are your green signs to move forward?
- What did you learn about yourself in this relationship?
- What can you now do that you couldn’t go before the relationship?
- What needs to be different in the next relationship (both in the person you choose to be with and your own behavior)
- Is there anything you need to say or do in order to move on?
- Who am I now?
When we go through a break-up we loose part of our identity, as a couple and who we felt we were with that person. We loose an imagined future and possibly joint friends and their family. This leaves a void which feels pretty damn uncomfortable. I spent most of last year planning a wedding, buying a house and looking after a puppy. I then had Bali to focus but when I came back to the UK in January it really hit me – what now? Who am I now?
This stage is both equally terrible and wonderful. It’s a luxurious period where you can spend all your time, energy and money on yourself (unless you have children of course!), a chance to find out what you want, who you now are and say yes to things you wouldn’t normally. It’s also naturally, at times lonely, exhausting and hard work because you are consciously having to re-structure and re-build your life.
What is important to me?
What makes me happy?
What do I want my future life to look like?
- Channel your pain towards positive change
I’ve been in enough voids in my life to know that my greatest successes have come from my greatest losses. If we channel (channel not avoid!!) our pain into positive change, real transformation becomes possible. Pain makes us often brave because the pain is greater than the fear of change. Big upheaval has the ability to change our values, re-priortise what is important to us, and give us strength and determination that we didn’t know we had.
I’ve been filling my void with positive events and have been to everything from SEO and branding to Full Moon gong meditation! I’ve finally started on business goals I’ve been procrastinating on for two years, met new people, travelled up and down the country seeing my friends and bought my own engagement ring!!
What new things do you want to try?
What new groups, environments can you access?
What goals have you been putting off that you now have time for?
- A new chapter.
It’s so easy to get stuck in what we’ve lost but every loss is also a new beginning. Like Spring always comes -even after a long, hard winter – so you, will bloom again. This is your new chapter and you can begin writing it whenever you want. Good things await you, I promise. One day you will look back on this period and realise it helped you in the next stage of your life. Keep going…
THIS MONTH’S AFFIRMATION
“I let all my experiences strengthen me “