Dealing with the aftermath of a break-up: Steps to mending a broken heart…

The phrase break up is exactly what it implies: the breaking apart of two things, and in the case of this article, two people. But, if you’ve been around and on this planet for several years, then you probably already know what break up means!

Whether your first grade crush checked “no” when you asked them to be your girlfriend or your partner of 10 years has just told you that they are leaving you, break-ups (unfortunately) are very real experiences that can become a part of our lives whether we want them to happen or not. Why is this? Because we are unable to control other people and people are often unpredictable. Of course my hope is that every person finds his or her ever-lasting match, but sadly, sometimes we must encounter disappointments along the way.

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“How can I be reasonable? To me our love was everything and you were my whole life. It is not very pleasant to realize that to you it was only an episode.”

― W. Somerset Maugham

When a relationship ends, the process of recovery and healing can be one of the most difficult experiences to encounter. I’ve heard individuals both professionally and personally referring to the aftermath of breaking up with someone as “feeling like my heart exploded” “feeling sick all over” and ultimately experiencing a deep feeling of loss, or grief.

After all, when a relationship ends, you are ultimately experiencing a loss of sorts. As I have written about many a time before in my blogs, humans are patterned creatures. When a relationship dissolves, we must reset our routines and patterns to not include a person that may have been a part of our lives for months and even years. And when the individual who is no longer a part of your life is truly out of the picture, there can be almost an uncanny feeling of absenteeism, a feeling that something is missing in your life. I liken it to having your right pinky finger being missing, you may be able to function just fine without it, but there’s a strange feeling of knowing that a piece of you is missing.

“i felt her absence. it was like waking up one day with no teeth in your mouth. you wouldn’t need to run to the mirror to know they were gone”
― James Dashner

The process of recovery from a break up takes a different amount of time from person to person. There is no clear-cut formula to when you feel better and often the process is not linear. There may be days where you feel confident and sassy, and others where you don’t want to leave the house and will happily park yourself on the couch for a Netflix binge session of The Office.

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Many people ask me, how do I get through this?

1.      Stay busy reconnecting with yourself.

We are most vulnerable after a relationship ends. Depending on the specifics of your break up, your self-worth and self-confidence can become a little damaged after an end to a relationship and as a result, you feel very fragile. During this vulnerable time, the key to your success is going to be getting to know yourself again. Reconnecting with hobbies and people that empower you. Staying busy engaging in HEALTHY activities.

Always wanted to try stand up paddle board yoga? Now is your time to do it. You see, every time we engage in sometime new, there are little chemical changes that happen in the brain. Typically, a release of dopamine, our “get happy” chemicals are released and on an emotional level, you feel empowered and a sense of confidence or “I did it!” occurs. Very healing for vulnerability and improving self-confidence.

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Speaking to the sense of loss that is often felt after a dissolution of a relationship, a common experience is anhedonia, which is a symptom of depression. Anhedonia is the experience of not feeling interested or deriving a sense of pleasure from activities that once brought you such.

Of course, it is realistic to allow yourself to have “down days” and maybe even a little two-hour pity party every now and again, but ultimately, it is up to you to bring yourself out of those feelings of despair. Remembering that you are in control of yourself and your thoughts is very powerful.

So you signed up for an art class when you were feeling good? Yet today is the day of the class and you feel totally down and depressed? This is the time to push through and engage in something that will bring you out of your current negative state of mind…if you don’t control your mind and your thoughts, then they will control you. Force yourself to get moving, take a shower, and attend that class. You may end up engaging in a creative outlet that inspires you to keep pressing on, giving you purpose throughout this time of discomfort after a break up.

2.      Take a break from dating.

I encourage individuals after a break up to take a time out. To take time to reconnect with themselves and wait a period of time before getting back out there. As stated previously, after a relationship, humans tend to be very vulnerable and this is when we are most often accepting of another relationship that is less than what we deserve—all so that we can avoid feeling lonely.

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The phrase “the best way to get over someone is by getting under someone else” is false! All that you are doing is pacifying yourself, giving yourself a temporary reprieve from the heartache you feel by becoming involved with someone new and opening up your vulnerable self before that sense of confidence and self-worth has been truly reestablished.

While human beings are biologically social creatures, you must be able to stand alone and be happy with yourself before becoming involved with another person. Being independent is probably one of the most empowering experiences you can have. To know that you don’t need anyone else is a testament to your ability to be self-sufficient and okay just “being”. Try it… Remembering that you must learn to look inwards and to your Higher Power for validation instead of relying on other people to give you your sense of self-worth.

“If you truly want to be respected by people you love, you must prove to them that you can survive without them.”
― Michael Bassey Johnson

3.      Keep your lifestyle healthy.

In order to function at our best capacity, we must eat healthy, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Refraining from using alcohol is also a necessity when you are already down.

Alcohol is a depressant and what most people do not realize is that when you drink, you are literally depressing your central nervous system! It’s no wonder people become emotional when they are drinking and even feel down the day after, you have just consumed a depressant.

So watch what you are putting in your mouth after a break up. If you’re feeling depressed, alcohol will only compound that feeling. Not too mention that inhibitions become lowered and you are more likely to engage in behaviors that you wouldn’t otherwise engage in if you were sober. i.e. texting/calling your ex to lament your relationship and ask that they come back, sleeping with someone that you wouldn’t otherwise want to sleep with, lashing out at a friend because you already feel sad and drinking just allows those mean comments to come out more easily— these are just a few of the many things that can happen when you’re under the influence.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to live a healthy life, eating healthy foods that will help nourish your mind and get plenty of rest to allow your brain to heal from the trauma of a break up.

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Bringing it all together…

With all of this information, I encourage you to find what works for you in your life after a relationship ends. Whether you were married and you’re at the divorce stage, or you dated someone for a year and thought they’d be the one, only to find out that they weren’t who you thought they were, take comfort in knowing that the pain you feel will eventually subside.

Be gentle with yourself during this time. Recognize your strengths and the pieces of you that you could improve upon but watch out for those negative, self-deprecating thoughts! Seek out a therapist to help you through this time and to gain better perspective of who you are and what you have to offer the world.

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Although the length of recovery time differs from person to person, marked by periods of highs and lows, you will be able to recognize when you truly get your happy back. Practicing reconnecting with yourself, taking a break to stand on your own two feet and be independent, and living a very healthy lifestyle will all aid in your recovery process.

Always remember that no matter what, you are worthy of finding a partner in life that is your other half. A partner who treats you the way that you deserve and encourages you to be the best version of yourself. You are a unique being with plenty of characteristics and positive traits to offer the world.

Focus on the relationship you have with yourself, and the rest will follow.

Wishing you healthy relationships with others and most importantly yourself, today and everyday,

Rachel Ann

Is jealously the root of all evil? The how and why of the green eyed monster, and tips to work through it

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-ey’d monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.”
William Shakespeare, Othello

Have you ever met a person that just oozed unhappiness?

Maybe you have never heard said person say a kind thing, maybe they scrunch their face up into a pensive mess when you talk about something positive in your life. Maybe you always feel uncomfortable around them because you can feel the happy energy in the room being sucked out when they are present.

Chances are, this unhappy person has feelings of inadequacy that ultimately are related to the green-eyed monster, jealousy. Jealousy occurs when a person believes themselves to be inferior to others whether on a conscious or subconscious level.

A jealous person becomes threatened when someone else is doing well, or has a positive life occurrence. Jealousy can also occur when a person feels threatened by another’s appearance—the person believes the other person to be more handsome or beautiful than them, thus the “claws” come out. I’m sure that we have all experienced it firsthand from someone else, or maybe you recognize jealous tendencies within yourself from time to time.

“Beware of those who criticize you when you deserve some praise for an achievement, for it is they who secretly desire to be worshiped.”
Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

When a person is unable to feel happy for someone else that is doing well in life, I believe this to be a blatant inferiority issue. I have worked (in and out of the therapy session!) with enough people who have very low self-esteem to realize that when a person is insecure, they are at such a fragile place that anyone else’s successes may just put them over the edge, and cause them to lash out disproportionately to what the situation may call for. Inadvertently causing distress and feelings that they are incompetent or ‘a loser’.

Typically, when someone is jealous, this emotion gets the better of them and they lash out, projecting those feelings of uncertainty and self-dislike on those around them.

If you identify that you are in a situation where you are experiencing unhappiness and jealousy towards others—the time has come to perform some heavy introspection.

I’m a major list person. I believe that writing something down, reading it, and visually seeing the issues in front of you is healing and can logically help you organize your thoughts. Make a list of the inadequacies you believe that you have as well as the things that you most often feel jealous of.

The list can be as general or specific that you want it to be. Just by making the list, you are defining the insecurities within yourself. Through definition comes clarity. In order to understand why we behave the way that we do, we have to understand the root cause.

Awhile back, I met a woman who was nice enough. She was one of those people who appeared friendly on the onset of meeting her yet the more you got to know her, you realized that there was a definite “putting on the best behavior act” occurring. There was a shiftiness about her, and I realized that in order to protect myself, I would have to remain guarded—keep her at arm’s length as the saying goes. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I’m upbeat and positive. I’ve always had a positive disposition, it’s both learned and who I am.

With this woman, however, I could literally tell that just by being myself, I was not liked by her. That’s fine, I can accept when someone is not a fan. And this lady was not someone who I necessarily wanted to embrace as a friend. I did my best to steer clear unless interactions had to happen. Her disdain was apparent each time we interacted until finally I received her unsolicited feedback that solidified my suspicion that she felt threatened. “You just have it all together don’t you. Your perfect life” she managed to choke out in anger. I looked at her puzzled. “Where did that come from?” I wondered. At that moment, her phone rang and I quietly left her office. The green-eyed monster that is jealousy and contempt was so strong it left me a bit rattled on the inside.

The strange thing about jealousy is that it will rear its ugly head at different times and with different people. You could be having a benign, neutral conversation with someone  and out comes a comment like the one above.

When a person is so unhappy with themselves, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, this unhappy energy literally radiates from them. When you’re on the receiving end of an outburst, it can actually cause a visceral reaction—usually the pit of my stomach gets a bit knotted after having an interaction like that. If you have a case of jealousy, then I urge you to work on it. Not just for others that are around you, but for your own mental and physical health.

Research has shown time after time, that poor mental health will inevitably end up manifesting itself in physical ways, especially when left unattended. High blood pressure, intestinal issues, poor sleep, and even heart arrhythmia to name a few. The sooner that you work through some of these negative emotions you’re experiencing, the better for you both physically and mentally.

Make your list of the things that you most often feel threatened by and then begin to work through them, focusing on developing a strong sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

Bringing the point to life: maybe you want to lose 25 pounds and your fit coworker causes you to grit your teeth every time she is near. Why not work on yourself instead of radiating all of that anger and resentment?

Or maybe your friend is an excellent public speaker and everyone seems fascinated by her when she speaks. Instead of harping on the fact that she gets all of the positive attention, read up on developing public speaking skills and get to work!

“Maybe that was the root of my dislike for her: she had what I wanted, which earned her my jealousy, and since I was ashamed of myself for wanting it, my scorn, as well.”
Nenia Campbell, Bleeds My Desire

Jealousy is a toxic, life-sucking emotion. Negative outcomes occur when you exhibit jealousy. Jealousy is fairly transparent and can be recognized by others, only furthering feelings of insecurity in the one that already feels afflicted. If you are experiencing feelings of inadequacy, examine where those inadequacies are coming from and make positive changes in life.

We are only able to be in control of ourselves. So much of life can be missed out on if we get too caught up in our negative emotions and insecurities. Work towards growing, developing a healthy self-esteem, and being the best version of yourself that you can be.

 

I leave you with this quote that sums everything up nicely:

“If you can channel the best part of you that is bigger than yourself, where it’s not about your ego and not about getting ahead, then you can have fun and you aren’t jealous of others. You see other people’s talent as another branch of your own. You can keep it rooted in joy. Life is long and there are plenty of opportunities to make mistakes. The point of it all is to learn.”
Ethan Hawke

 

Exploit your insecurities and use them to learn more about yourself. Be empowered to make decisions that benefit you and leave you treating others with kindness…

 

Wishing you a healthy life full of introspection and advancement today and every day,

Rachel Ann

 

For more information on jealousy, please take a look at two great articles:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/jealousy

https://psychcentral.com/lib/envy-jealousy-and-shame/