Updated: Jun 23
Some break ups we find easy to come to terms with, all it takes is cocktails with the girls, a little retail therapy and we are back on our way to a hopeful future. Others blind side us. I believe at some time almost everyone goes through a break up that knocks them to the ground, this article is written about that type of break up.
If you are going through agony over an ending and want to recover quickly, I assure you it can be done. There is a lot of bad advice out there which often prolongs a persons suffering rather than shortening it. I will admit the following steps are not sugar coated, but if you are serious about ending your misery and you absorb them carefully you will see that it is possible to speed up the process and get back on your feet without relapsing later. So firstly: why are some break ups so painful?
Essentially during a relationship our energy merges with another persons, whether the relationship was short and intense or long and comfortable, it has become merged with our "memory", with our experience. breaking up is literally like "ripping away a part of ourselves" it is a shock to the system. The key is to use this process as an opportunity for deep transformation. This won't be easy, but with time you will emerge stronger and wiser about love... Step 1: Follow the three day rule This rule means that for up to three days after the break up, you are allowed to cry, sit in your pj's watching bad TV and eating chocolate, even just staying in bed if that's all you can bring yourself to do. After three days it's time to start getting your life back by implementing the following...
Step 2: Start ditching hope
I know this is hard to hear but through coaching I have identified that those who hang on in hope of a reconciliation, suffer more and for longer than those willing to accept the break up. I have encountered clients who have hung on for years, simply because something led them to believe their ex would one day return, or because she simply couldn't let go of the fantastic future she had created around him in her head. It sometimes doesn't occur to these women that reality is not reflecting this idea back to them and they sink further in to misery. I always feel for these women because it is clear how deep their pain runs. Maybe you are not quite at this level of despair, but if you are still fantasising about working things out, rather than focusing on making peace with "what is" at this moment, you will find healing to be slow. This sense of acceptance alone is essential to true healing. Step 3: Allow your suffering to be a teacher
Sometimes it seems like we are forever trying to bury our pain and rush to the next joyful moment. Pain is an inconvenience, even an embarrassment, we want to project success and a failed relationship can mirror a lot of insecurity back to us, cause us to question our value, or even if we are truly loveable. Break ups have a tendency to destroy layers of us which feels very intense and the pain spans into other parts of our lives, but with it comes an opportunity to rebuild and become the very best version of ourselves. In a way it's a sort of emotional cleanse. These moments of suffering and despair often hold within them the true jewels, the rare gifts of our lives. When we handle our suffering correctly, we level up, our character is strengthened, our direction is clarified, we get a chance to reinvent and re-evaluate anything and everything if we choose. Viktor Frankl said in his book " A man's search for meaning" that we have to become worthy of our suffering. I still believe this to be one of the wisest and most profound things I have ever read. I also love this excerpt from Elizabeth Gilberts book, Eat, Pray, Love... “A friend took me to the most amazing place the other day. It’s called the Auguste-um. Octavian Augustus built it to house his remains. When the barbarians came they trashed it a long with everything else. The great Augustus, Rome’s first true great emperor. How could he have imagined that Rome, the whole world as far as he was concerned, would be in ruins. It’s one of the quietest, loneliest places in Rome. The city has grown up around it over the centuries. It feels like a precious wound, a heartbreak you won’t let go of because it hurts too good. We all want things to stay the same. Settle for living in misery because we’re afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins. Then I looked at around to this place, at the chaos it has endured – the way it has been adapted, burned, pillaged and found a way to build itself back up again. And I was reassured, maybe my life hasn’t been so chaotic, it’s just the world that is, and the real trap is getting attached to any of it. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.” Step 4: Systematically detach.
Most people find this step difficult, but it will unequivocally and dramatically speed up the healing process. This is the metaphorical ripping off of the band aid, it may feel ruthless initially, this is why many of my clients are resistant to it, but most report it makes the overall transition much more bearable. We all create emotional anchors when we bond to someone, we also get used to someone being a part of our daily lives and routines. Often finding ourselves suddenly without the love and support we became accustomed to is frightening, we will do anything to hold on, but breaking those connections is crucial to moving on and detachment must happen on a few levels.
*Cut contact, give it 30-60 days if possible. If you must speak to him due to sharing children or the same work space for example, keep communication brief and focused on the task at hand.
*Remove all painful reminders of the relationship from your space, return anything that belongs to him as soon as possible, preferably by post or messenger and not in person. If you cannot bear to throw a keep sake away, then store it out of sight. This includes photographs, gifts, or anything that causes you a heated reaction. *Of course continuing to be sexually involved with your ex or even spending time with them socially is a no-no at this stage. You cannot emotionally break away while you are still in their physical presence. You need to take time out for now.
*Remove him from your social media, store his contact information in a secure place and remove it from your phone, back up digital photos and remove them from your devices (do not destroy anything in the heat of the moment, you may regret it later.)
*Don't try to keep track of his life, for the time being your focus needs to be on you. Don't try to find out if he is dating or ask mutual friends about him, I know the curiosity will be strong but it keeps you hanging on. Women have even told me they have watched an ex's online activity obsessively, some have even driven past his house looking for clues, this sort of behaviour is a slippery slope into serious anxiety and insanity. *Use distraction, although this step alone is not enough to move on, it is important to mention. Whenever you find yourself fixating, questioning, obsessing or even thinking of reaching out to speak to him, create a distraction. Go for a brisk walk, take a bath or watch a movie, call a friend and talk about girlie stuff, nails and hair, or whatever interests you, share your hopes and dreams for the future. Be strict with yourself, even fantasising about your ex sexually anchors you to him, for now find a celebrity or some other hottie to day dream about. Gradual detachment gives you a chance to breathe, reboot and re-center your energy, it gives you time to calm your emotions, to rebuild some confidence and get enough distance to see things more clearly overall. This can seem a bit drastic but remember it doesn't have to be permanent and it will cause almost immediate empowerment if the pain of the break up is immense.
Step 5: Stop looking to the other person to comfort you or give you closure
Your senses of touch, hearing and sight, your emotions, your anchors, memories and smells, every part of your relationship was lived through your perception, even two people in the same relationship will not experience exactly the same thing as each other. Your break up now needs to be viewed the same way. Your ex is going through their own healing process, they too need time and space to recover and they need to do so in their own way, so don't be angry if their way of coping is different or even "unhealthy" compared to yours. Let him be, everyone expresses pain differently. Find new things to please your senses, and to replace the sensations you have lost, choose small things that bring you happiness and begin to integrate them in to your life, try new foods, sample different music, change up your lifestyle in some way...if you and your ex used to go to bed talking, instead use this time for inspirational reading, relaxation music or meditation, bring your own serenity. Realise that only you can create closure, it is unfair to expect someone to do this for you, it is impossible for something or someone external to you, to bring you deep inner peace. Usually "needing closure" either by meeting or talking on the phone is an attempt to hold on. If there are things you need to say write them down in an email or a letter and decide later if you still wish to send it. Remember that a relationship is a very personal thing, experienced differently by everyone.
Step 6: Vent
Releasing your emotions is vital at this time, set aside time to cry or get angry, allow friends and loved ones to support you, don't bottle anything up, but find healthy outlets. If you are angry and frustrated beat pillows, or exercise and get some endorphins flowing. Writing a journal during this time can be a fantastic release. You don't need to be afraid of your feelings, allow them to be there, remember that each time you purge these undesirable emotions, you become stronger and a few steps closer to being healed. Some women say they feel they are boring their friends and family with details of the break up, this is another time that talking to a life coach can be a fantastic outlet. Avoid toxic behaviours at all costs, such as drinking excessively, using drugs, or indulging in meaningless sexual acts, these behaviours may blur your pain in the moment, but will ultimately prolong it. Step 7 Reconnect with your own identity
Get excited about your life, make plans just for you, dust off some old dreams, old hobbies, or create new ones, re-discover whichever parts of you might have got lost in the relationship. Make this vision anything you want as long as it is something that excites you. Finding a project like re-decorating your home, or reorganising your wardrobe can be a rewarding sense of achievement that also allows you a little solitude, you could start planning the trip of a life time or make improvements in your work life. Keep as busy as you can and try to accept invitations from friends, enjoying yourself socially is one of the best ways to reassure yourself that life does go on.
Step 8: Don't date before you're ready
I'm tired of coaches guilt-tripping women in to dating before they are ready, like it is some magic pill that will help you miraculously forget your ex. The problem is it doesn't work, in fact it will probably make you miss your ex more, as you compare the new man to him and try to force yourself in to a situation you are not ready for, and you may find your emotional pain increases in intensity. Saying that it is also important not to seriously drag out moving on. If the break up was particularly bad, take a good month or two out for yourself then begin dating casually. In the mean time spend extra time with your friends and resist the temptation to hide away. Get to know new people and have fun but don't rush into anything instead take comfort in small happy moments, they might be fleeting at first but they will increase over time, embrace the moments where you laugh or feel playful, yoga and meditation will help you to start feeling more joy quickly. There is a tremendous sense of dignity and pride that comes from handling a break up in a healthy way, it enables you to move on freely knowing that you took the high road, even in the most challenging of situations. In doing so you get to transform your pain in to emotional freedom. Step 9: Don't believe everything you think
Your mind might be crazy analysing the relationship and the break up. You might find yourself obsessively dissecting the situation, or questioning the validity of attacks on your character he made during the break up. People often say things they don't mean or that are exaggerated during intense moments. Try and let it go, alternatively if you find yourself glossing over the problems and replaying the happy moments over and over you stop idealising! Remember the break up happened for a reason and your ex wasn't perfect. Instead of looking backwards try to focus on the now. Step 10: Don't let your life slip
You must not start calling in sick from work for days on end, as I always say to my ladies "Take care of basics first". I know I sound like Mama preaching but your basic needs are important, it's so difficult to feel positive when you are sleep deprived, emotionally stressed and are not eating properly, if you can't manage food for the first few days, put yourself on a smoothie diet rich in nutrients, and take vitamins. Put your rest and relaxation as a top priority, take care of yourself lovely, this is key. No man is worth letting your life fall apart, let alone your health. Summon up all of your strength and face it til you make it. The future can still be amazing even if you don't believe it right now, at times it feels like we will never get out of the fog but we do, if your mourning period persists and you do see your general mood worsening rather than improving please consider professional or holistic treatment for depression, try to recognise when break up pain has become something deeper and reach out for the help you need. Some things fall apart so better things can fall together. Hang in there, you are stronger than you know. If you are struggling to get through a bad break up feel free to reach out and book a session
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