Today I thought I might try and help you, by providing you with a little more insight in regards to heartbreak, and provide you with just a couple of tools to help you gain some control back over your emotions.
At some point in our lives, we will all experience some form of loss, and there is nothing that feels worse to us (at the time) than feeling heartbroken.
I remember feeling heartbroken myself. It affected me in so many ways, I just couldn’t function properly. My thoughts were constantly stuck on repeat, my appetite disappeared, I felt physically sick, and emotionally worn down. It was mentally and emotionally crippling, and I felt totally depleted in every imaginable way.
Now I understand more about loss and what heartbreak actually encompasses, I can understand more in depth, why it can have such a severe impact within our lives.
When you end up breaking up with a partner unexpectedly, it can feel like someone has just suddenly pulled the rug from under your feet – so quickly – that absolutely, nothing looks or even feels the same in your life anymore. Your whole model of life as you knew it, suddenly feels like it has been smashed into a million smithereens.
I think we can all have a tendency to feel this way after a break up. We may look into the future, and see that all our hopes and dreams have suddenly disappeared, just in the blink of an eye. And we may find ourselves looking back into the past, where we feel stuck, because we are constantly ruminating, day after day, hour after hour, asking ourselves what we could have done differently, which is both mentally and emotionally exhausting in and of itself.
Or maybe in the event that we discovered our partner has cheated on us – we may either find ourselves feeling totally abandoned and rejected, and telling ourselves all types of totally unhelpful stories about ourselves, such as we just aren’t good enough. Along with a whole other list of “not enough” stories about ourselves.
This is almost like a form of mental self-harm, and the more we tell ourselves these hurtful stories, the further we will find ourselves spiralling downwards. If this is you, please recognise that because something bad has happened to you, doesn’t mean that you are bad – and it doesn’t mean you are not enough.
Another thing we may find ourselves doing – is questioning the whole relationship itself (especially if we have the sudden realisation that the person we thought we were with, just wasn’t that person at all – and alongside thinking that, we also have the evidence to back our thoughts up). This may be something like discovering your partner has been leading a double life ever since you have met.
Or another form of loss, is discovering for the very first time, the real reason your relationship has been so toxic, is not because you are the ‘crazy one’ like your partner keeps on telling you, but it is because you have been a victim of Narcissistic abuse.
In the extremely unfortunate event that this has happened to you, you may not only feel the future you “thought” you had, has suddenly disappeared. But along with it, you may feel the certainty you “thought” you had about the past, disappeared too, because what you felt was real at the time, wasn’t real at all. This can feel like loss, on top of loss. The recognition that your reality, wasn’t your reality at all.
And if this has happened to you, I know this is a very traumatic event to experience (to say the least).
Heartbreak is a complex psychological injury and it impacts us in a multitude of ways. It has all the hallmarks of traditional loss and grief. We may suffer with Insomnia, and the sleep deprivation will make us feel physically and mentally exhausted. Our thoughts will feel like clothes in a washing machine stuck on full spin, constantly going around, and around in circles.
And we will find it extremely difficult to focus on anything other than our loss. It may even feel for some of you, almost like you have a limb missing, it will feel like you have a massive empty void inside , that absolutely nothing can fill.
Although unlike when we lose a person because they have died, our ex is still out there, and they are getting on with their life, and so we can feel stuck in the middle of an emotionally crippling roundabout, while the whole world just seems to carry on around us.
If your partner had died, no one would dream of telling you to just go out there, and find someone else – but if you have friends and family doing this to you, remember they truly mean well, but they are unable to recognise where you are stuck emotionally right now.
You are ‘stuck’ in a form of the grieving process, and because of this, you may feel you are physically, mentally and emotionally unable to move on. Don’t feel bad about this, even if your friends are telling you, you should be over your ex by now. They are not you, and grief affects people in different ways. And the only way out of grief, is through!
Also, alongside this understand that love is almost like an addiction. Our brains respond after a break up, in the same way that a drug addicts’ brain responds in withdrawal. We obsessively, keep thinking about the person we love. Because the person we love is the source of our pain, we tend to convince ourselves we need them, in order for us to feel better.
We may also find ourselves desperately searching for ways to reach out and contact them, and to be around them in some way, in order to make ourselves have our fix – to feel better – even if it’s just for a brief moment in time.
Getting over heartbreak is a bit like a game of tug of war – it is a constant battle. A part of you desperately wants to push forwards and feel normal again, whilst the other part of you pulls you back, because you feel you are unable to feel normal again without your ex.
When you are heartbroken the hardest thing of all to do, is to accept that it’s over – however the truth is, when your mind is feeding off hope, it is the hope itself that can be destructive.
Think of hope in the sense of ripping a plaster off, but ripping it off very, very slowly, to prolong the pain. Holding onto hope can literally feel this painful.
And if you are constantly thinking about how amazing your partner was, and keep going back to all the good memories you had, recognise you are stuck in a cycle of idealising them.
You are only viewing your ex through one filter. To balance this out make a list of their faults, and view it every single time you find yourself idealising them. Your mind will try and tell you they were perfect. But you must try and remind yourself they were not, and neither was the relationship.
To slowly get yourself out of thinking about your partner 24/7 begin by selecting a time, within each hour, to give yourself just a tiny 5 minutes break from the thoughts you have stuck on repeat (you can even set your alarm on your phone to make sure you do this).
For those 5 minutes you have to find something healthy, that either makes you feel really good, or something that both relaxes your mind and body. Some people put up beat music on and dance in their living room. Others may do a little bit of exercise (this helps you come out of your head and into your body). Some people may watch YouTube videos that cheer them up, or make them laugh.
Other people may do guided mindfulness in order to relax their body and mind. And others might do tasks they find relaxing, such as painting or colouring. Or counting backwards from 100 to block out your thoughts if nothing appears to be working.
Each day, or each week (depending on what you feel is best for you) try and increase the amount of time within the hour, you free yourself from the thoughts you have had stuck on repeat. If you are able to stick to this, eventually you will feel like you have gained more control over your life.
So just a quick recap
Don’t beat yourself up if you are struggling to cope with your beak-up. You are not alone. Many people go through the grieving process after a break up
Remind yourself that loss can present itself, very similar to an addiction (this is why it can feel hard to let go of any hope you may be holding onto).
Remind yourself of your ex’s bad points if you are stuck in a cycle of idealising them.
And set aside 5 minutes within each hour (to begin with) to put your foot on the break of your ruminating thoughts, and allow yourself to feel better.
I hope you find these recommendations useful, however if you are stuck, or find that your rumination is leading to significant distress or impairment in your life (e.g negatively affecting your ability to work as normal, or negatively impacting your relationships with family and friends).
Or if you find it a struggle just to get through the day, and you are constantly battling with depression please seek some form of professional help.
Get an appointment with your local GP – ask to be put on the waiting list for Counselling if possible. However, if you don’t want to wait, and you are able, seek Private Counselling. Or if that isn’t possible, reach out and call a helpline to talk to somebody. You need to recognise that while you may feel you want to shut the door tight on other people right now, and push them away. And yet, what you need to do right now (more than ever if you are feeling this low) is to actually reach out and connect with others.
If you are suffering from some sort of loss, I know how painful it can be, and I really hope you have found something (even if it’s just one thing) in this video helpful.