You’re Hurt, So First You Have to Heal
The hurt you feel after a relationship breakup is as physical as it is mental. You may feel that you have a tight band around your chest, preventing you from taking a deep breath or going on with the daily tasks of living.
Mentally, you may be crushed and only able to think about him – what’s he doing now, is he with someone else or is he thinking of you.
This time in your life – when all you want to do is go to bed and sleep until the hurt subsides – is the exact time that you should be up and doing something for yourself, something that helps you to survive mentally and physically.
To get through this god-awful change in your life you have to take care of yourself first.
I know, that’s not what you wanted to hear, but it’s the truth and I promised to get you through this, so listen up.
You’re confused right now and think your life is hopeless, so go now to the place where you can make changes – yourself.
Taking care of yourself in ways that pamper, protect and raise you to a happier place is your motivation now.
There will be plenty of time to reflect later on the lost relationship, what caused it to fail, and how you can get your ex back – or live without him. Right now, the focus is on you, baby.
Pumping up Your Physical Appearance
Find a recent photo of yourself during a happier, more relaxed time, then bring it to a full-length mirror and take a long, hard look at yourself in comparison with the photo. You may be smiling and happy in the photo, but the face that stares back at you now is probably drawn and weary – eyes red from crying – and the glow that so clearly shows in the photo is nowhere to be seen.
If you’re going to fully heal from this devastating loss, you’ll have to put that glow back and find a reason to smile again. While you’re looking in the mirror, ask yourself if, during the relationship, you’ve let your physical appearance slack a bit.
Maybe you’ve gained some weight or neglected your hair and wardrobe. It’s definitely time to give yourself a physical makeover.
The word “exercise” is a highly distasteful word to me. I’d rather be napping or reading a good book. But it’s got to play a part in your overall well-being and complete makeover (just as it has in mine) if you’re ever going to get over this depressing time in your life.
What worked for me when it comes to exercise is to find something you really like to do – and then do it!
Perhaps you’ve quit doing something you enjoyed because you were too busy with the “relationship” part of your life to make time for it. Revisit those fun things you used to do that gave you energy and lifted your spirits.
For me, the exercise that got me off of the sofa and moving again was dancing. I love to dance, but have little opportunity to enjoy it. I don’t have a background in dance, but I love moving to the rhythms of music.
And besides, it makes me feel good about myself. Whether you dance to the “oldies,” take a Zumba class at your local athletic club, ballet, tap or jazz at a local dance studio or simply purchase some dance DVDs and dance around your living room – dancing is a great exercise and will lift your mood in a number of ways.
You may enjoy swimming, biking, surfing, hiking or jogging. Even if you just walk your dog around the block a couple of times a day – anything that gets you out and moving is a good thing, both for your body and your mind. After a few days of exercising your body in a way that you enjoy, the stress will begin to melt away and you’ll feel a sense of purpose and pride.
Now – with the glow from exercise mirrored in your face and body, it’s time to pamper yourself a bit. Long, scented, warm baths do it for me.
Settling down to relax in the bath with a good book or magazine and a glass of wine (or tea) is a powerful anecdote for restoring calm to your mind and body. Take at least ten minutes a day to devote to a method of relaxation that you enjoy.
The worst thing that you can do to relieve the physical hurt you feel is to drown your sorrows in booze or pills. It may be temporary relief of the actual pain you feel, but it could also be the beginning of a long and arduous path of destruction. This pain you’re experiencing will subside and finally, disappear completely.
Don’t deal with the situation by compounding your troubles.
And don’t spend your time on ridiculous actions, or reactions. Constant text messages to your ex, phone calls, e-mail messages, and even worse –stalking – are only prolonging the pain and agony of the breakup.
You’re not making any points with your ex either. You may also find yourself in a heap of trouble if your ex decides to turn you in to the police for your “stalking” behavior.
There was a woman recently who broke up with her man after a relationship of four years. She was bitter and wanted revenge. She figured the way to hurt him most was to put a heavy planter outside his garage so that when he backed out in his brand-new BMW convertible, he’d run over it.
She actually wanted her friends to help her move the planter. After they convinced her of the possibility of a hefty fine and/or jail time soon after the plot was carried out, she decided it wasn’t really worth it.
That little story illustrates the fact that you’ll get over feelings of revenge, hatred, anger and frustration by leaning on your family and friends at this time. They can provide the essential emotional support that you need during this time of healing.
Physical exertion can also provide that relief. I know you don’t feel like moving off the couch – but try it a couple of times and see how you feel afterward. All those scientific studies can’t be entirely wrong.
Physical contact with others (old friends can hug you) and shaking your routine so that you don’t always do things at the same time or day that you and your ex did can help you make a speedy recovery.
You may have neglected friends and family while concentrating on your relationship issues, and it’s now time to reconnect. When you’re together with friends and family, don’t spend all your time talking about the demise of the relationship – it’s a waste of time and energy – and you won’t feel good afterward.
Your heart is extremely fragile and will let you know when it’s been broken. It can manifest itself in the form of a crushing pain, tears flowing uncontrollably or lack of energy.
It’s not unusual for your immune system to take a jolt and crash from all the drama, leaving you susceptible to illnesses and even accidents.
Get your mind off the breakup and on to happy thoughts however you have to do it. Reading a book that totally absorbs you, listening or dancing to some upbeat music, walking, pouring yourself into your work – anything that takes your mind off the breakup will help to keep your spirits up and your body in a condition that keeps you free from illnesses.
The “Mind” Part of Getting Over It
A positive mindset is essential for your well-being when recovering from the loss of a relationship. It won’t come easy, but training your mind is kind of like training a new puppy - you’ll experience all sorts of destruction and frustration before it’s properly trained.
Controlling your emotions is more difficult than finding the willpower to make your body move, but once you get the knack it comes automatically. After you’ve cried, ranted and raved, eaten a quart of ice cream all by yourself and torn up pictures of the two of you, you’ll be better able to assess the situation calmly and begin to recover.
If you’re the one who caused the breakup, it’s time to think about the reasons why. Was infidelity or lying involved? If so, you’ve got to ask yourself how important trust and honesty is when you’re in a relationship.
The deep recesses of your mind may tell you that it’s one of the most important traits and that you demand it in any relationship you’re in – but another voice tells you to forgive and forget. You are in control of which decision will guide your actions.
It may help to write down the decisions you make about what went wrong in the relationship and how to prevent it from happening again – whether you get back with your ex or not.
Don’t assume that what you’ve done or didn’t do is the entire reason for the breakup. You may not have done everything you could to keep the relationship intact, but being honest with yourself will go a long way to mending your shattered mind and heart.
If your ex was the party who broke up the relationship, you may spend hours poring over what you might have done to cause it or look at the past through rose-colored glasses, remembering only the good times and thinking that maybe the bad times weren’t so awful after all.
Don’t play this mind game of “what ifs.” The more you can distract your mind from those kinds of thoughts, the sooner you’ll recover. Moving forward means that your mind has to think forward thoughts – and there are ways that you can ensure this happens:
· Clear your space – clear your mind. When my mom had all she could take of our messiness, she’d say that she was going to give the house “an enema.” That meant throwing out, organizing and cleaning from top to bottom, inside and out.
When your mind is cluttered with destructive thoughts, nothing works better than cleaning and organizing your space to signal your mind that there’s a new beginning on the horizon. And besides, you don’t have to think much when you’re cleaning house.
· Make a pact with yourself. You may feel anger, rage, hurt and so many other emotions rampaging through your mind and body, and you don’t know how to channel them except by screaming and crying. No matter what caused the split or why, it’s important that you find positive outlets to occupy your mind and your energies.
Enter into a pact with yourself to devote some time each day to nothing but positive activities and thoughts. This is called training your mind to do what it’s told to do. Mind control is all-important now, while you’re getting over the hurt, to keep it from concentrating on the negative areas of your life.
· Don’t see, call or email your ex until the hurt/anger/confusion subsides. Your breakup may have been amicable, but that doesn’t mean it hurts any less to let go of a love relationship. Later, I’ll address when and how to contact your ex again, but wait until you’re ready for that moment – and you’re certainly not ready yet.
The more you practice what I’m going to set in place for you, the sooner you’ll be able to let go of a toxic relationship. Seeing your ex or having any contact whatsoever will only cause you to hold on to the pain and spend more of your life getting over it – when you should be well on your way to complete recovery and a new life.
If it’s impossible to ignore him altogether (for example, if you have children together or lived together for a while), keep the meetings or calls succinct and shore yourself up beforehand to keep the conversation civil. That’s called class!
· Immediately involve yourself in other activities. Choose something opposite from what you and your ex enjoyed doing together. If you frequented a certain restaurant, park or exercise club, go somewhere else or at a different time – and take different routes – anything to get your mind off yourself and your pain.
Keeping active in both mind and body will help you find eventual happiness with your life and how you live it. Spending time with family and friends is a great way to reinvent yourself and build happy memories as you discard the old, painful ones.
· Don’t indulge in fantasies about the past. You may once have had a great relationship with your ex, but in the end, the prince turns back into a frog and Cinderella returns to her chores. Don’t make the old relationship into a “happily- ever-after” fairy tale. Be honest with yourself and see it for what it really was.
It’s okay to remember the good times, but don’t glamorize it into something it wasn’t. The relationship had problems – that’s why you’re apart now. Quit obsessing over what was and concentrate on what is now.
Controlling your mind is an exercise that will pay off in every aspect of your life. During the first stages of a breakup is an excellent time to turn a negative into a positive by gaining control of your thoughts and actions. If you can harness that power, you’ll be way ahead of the game and on your way to complete recovery from the breakup.
Journaling is one of the ways to channel your thoughts, and looking at them later shows you that time does heal and see how far you’ve come. You’ll gain insight and knowledge into what’s working for you and what isn’t and will possibly be able to see the breakup as a positive learning experience in the journey of your life.
Out With the Old – In with the New
Go through your home and/or office and remove objects, photos or anything that’s a reminder of you and your ex in happier times. Be ruthless –take a good look at everything and banish what makes you sad or wistful. Toss them out or put them in a container that you can pull out when you’re ready to face them, but get them out of sight.
Giving yourself time and space to recover from the fallout of a breakup will help you feel more comfortable about the situation and realize that you can let go and you can make a new life for yourself – with or without your ex.
You fell in love and it worked for a while, but obviously there were problems that caused the split and you can help yourself a great deal by analyzing what the problems were (without obsessing about it) and what you can change about yourself so that it doesn’t happen again.
When you think about giving up, going back to bed, eating a quart of ice cream or skipping that exercise class -- or when thoughts of revenge enter your mind, remember -- the best revenge is living well!