Recovering from a relationship breakdown
Surviving a relationship break down can be heart wrenching and turn your world upside down. Here are some tips for surviving a break-up that may make things a little easier.
- Be a friend to yourself.
As human beings we tend to be our own worse critique and are often much harsher toward ourself compared to others. This can be a particularly devastating trait of ours particularly when dealing with the grief of a break up. On top of the actual heart break, loneliness, confusion and sheer emotional pain, we often feel guilt, shame, regret, and at times self-loathing. Although easier said then done, it is imperative that we practice self-kindness in the days, months or even years (if needed) after a breakup/divorce. The simplest way to be kinder toward yourself is often to think of someone you are close with, and naturally have compassion and respect for. This may be a sibling, parent, child, co-worker, or friend – whomever comes to mind when you think of being compassionate. When you are being harsh with yourself, think of that person and then think of what it would be like if they were the ones being hard on themselves and then think about what they actually need and deserve to hear instead. It is probably going to be vastly different compared to the criticism you are laying on yourself. We are often very understanding, validating and almost maternal when comforting close friends and family – the task is to apply that to ourselves.
For more information and guidance on how to apply ‘self-compassion’, please refer to the work of Kristen Neff who has done vast work on this psychological concept/strategy.
Break-ups can be very physically and emotionally draining. Take the time when your grieving to look after yourself – possibly more then ever have before. Break-ups are essentially a grieving process as we are losing someone from our life who was ordinarily a huge part of it. Here are some ideas for self-care; get a massage, have a nice meal you enjoy, take time to do things you enjoy to relax and unwind, go on a walk, spend time in nature.
- Rebuild yourself
Often after a break-up people feel a sense of aimlessness, and even a sense that they’ve lost a part of themselves or don’t quite know who they are anymore without their partner. Take some time to think about the things that are most important to you, the people are most important to you, your interests, hobbies and personal/financial/career goals. Get back in touch with what these are again now that you have more time on your hands and more mental space for thinking about you. For example, were there specific hobbies you used to devote time to before getting into a relationship, or was there a friend/family member you used to see more often before?
After some time, our emotions will subside and our capacity to reflect and reason about the relationship and the break-up itself will improve and come to light. Take time to think about what you may have learned while in the relationship; what you learned about yourself, your partner, about how relationships work, about communication, about your values, about your goals, and what you value in a relationship and in a partner. There are always positive and negative elements to every person and to every relationship. Reflect on these elements and use the relationship as a learning curve and a guide for what you do/don’t want in a possible future relationship. Remember; adversity leads to growth.