I get a lot of messages from young women asking for advice on a variety of subjects, but the topic of breakups remains at the top of the list. Modernity has enabled young women to date around and meet all kinds of men, but having more choices means there’s a higher possibility of getting your heart broken. The healing process that takes place after separation can be very difficult, especially if your ex was once a big part of your life. A relationship is a union of two unique personalities, coming together as one to create a feeling of wholeness. This is why a breakup can cause so much pain; it’s as if a part of you has been broken off. You then have to work through the stages of grief in order to feel whole again.
I should add that many of us weren’t taught to grieve properly. Many people immerse themselves in distractions or try to date new people immediately after a breakup. However, both of these things only delay the healing process. There are healthier ways to grieve, ways that can help ease the pain from an intense loss. They may not be the easiest steps to take, but they’re nonetheless effective and will help you move forward.
Embracing Your Pain
Stop ignoring your pain. You may feel the urge to drink and party away your feelings post breakup, but these things only provide temporary relief. Your first thought might be to distract yourself from the pain you’re experiencing since many of us were taught to “get over it.” Regardless, burying your pain only intensifies the hurt. By not facing your heartache, you create an open wound to linger within you until you forget about it.
But ignoring your anguish doesn’t mean it’s solved. It just means that you’ll unconsciously carry the pain inside you, with a high chance of it coming out through your thoughts, words, and actions. So in order to truly move on, you have to process how you feel. You have to be okay with feeling broken first. You need to sit with your feelings and allow yourself to cry. Welcome every sensation in your body, regardless of how painful it may be. Feel it all.
A relationship is a union of two unique personalities, coming together as one to create a feeling of wholeness.
If the emotions are intense and confusing at first, I recommend journaling or confiding in someone to help process how you’re feeling. Venting to a trusted friend or family member can help you release some of the pain in your body. Grief, when suppressed, is like a large wave of pent-up energy begging to be let out of the floodgates. Ignoring it will only keep it bottled up inside you until you explode. So I urge everyone to allow their emotions to flow, no matter how difficult it may be.
Self-Soothe and Be Your Best Friend
What’s done is done, and that’s okay. I know it can be hard to stop thinking about the “what-ifs” or the “what-could-have-beens.” It’s really easy to blame yourself or the other person for the way things turned out. Try not to do that. Instead, try your best to speak to yourself the way you would comfort your best friend. You must soothe yourself to the best of your ability. Remind yourself that it’s okay to feel this temporary anger and pain, but that pain doesn’t have to turn into hatred towards anyone or yourself.
Instead of focusing on what could have been different, acknowledge what was and is. Focus on what that past relationship taught you about yourself and others. How did it help you grow? What did you learn? What is something you would do differently? Realize that the most impactful relationships in your life are blessings in disguise, life lessons that pave the way to your future spouse. Playing the blame game (on yourself or the other person) will only prolong your healing. Forgiveness is not for the other person, it’s for you.
Embody the Qualities You Forgot About
The Essenes were a Jewish sect and school of philosophy that emerged in the 2nd century BC. They focused on asceticism, spirituality, purity, and more. They’re known for writing the Dead Sea Scrolls, but I remember them for their teachings on relationships. They left us with writings known as The Seven Essene Mirrors, texts that explain how our external relationships mirror our internal world. One of the seven lessons that stands out to me is The Third Essene Mirror. This mirror reflects the qualities we admire in someone else. They believed that the magnetic attraction we feel when we look into someone’s eyes can tell us of the traits we’ve lost throughout the course of our lives.
You must soothe yourself to the best of your ability.
Think of it this way: Many people “grow up” and lose the youthful qualities they once embodied when they were younger. Some of these qualities may include bravery, authenticity, confidence, and enthusiasm. In the end, we find ourselves gravitating toward people who have these traits that we subconsciously want to embody. Whether it's true or not, implementing this belief into your worldview can be extremely beneficial, as it teaches you to focus on yourself in order to feel whole on your own. Think about your ex (or crush) for a second and try to remember the qualities that drew you to him in the first place. Was it his bright and cheerful energy? Maybe it was his creativity and imagination. Was he confident and courageous? Answering these questions can help you figure out which qualities are important to you.
Now here’s the tough part: After you’ve sat with your feelings and have allowed yourself to grieve, challenge yourself to embody the qualities that you gravitate towards. If you admire how fit and healthy someone is, focus on your diet and become more active. If you’re enamored with someone's magnetic confidence, then learn to accept and love yourself. If you adore motivation, light a fire within yourself to start projects or explore hobbies. And trust me, I know how difficult this can be at first, so I actually encourage you to fake it. It’s okay to pretend. Walk straight with your head up high, smile at strangers, wear a cute outfit, and strut like you’re on the runway. Repeat it until it’s true. Studies show that something as simple as smiling can trick your brain into believing you’re happy. The point is, by embodying the characteristics that attracted you to someone in the first place, you’re shifting the focus from losing to gaining.
When it comes to breakups, the goal should never be to feel better immediately. The goal is to be patient with yourself, to feel the whirlwind of emotions, and to accept the outcome. Fighting your feelings only creates resistance and friction. It feels constricting and it keeps you from moving forward. In order to heal, you have to be kind to yourself. Be proud of the baby steps you take on your healing journey. Acknowledge that it’s a beautiful marathon of self-growth and not a race.
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