Breaking Up – Why it Hurts and the Proof it Will Pass

Breaking up is really hard. Yes. It is.Good. Now that that’s cleared up, there’s some remarkable new research that explains why.

Romantic love is a specific form of addiction – there are similarities between romantic rejection and cocaine craving.

A study published in the Journal of Neurophysiology has found that a relationship breakup may feel so painful because it activates the part of the brain associated with motivation, reward and addiction cravings.

There’s nothing sharp in the observation that breakups can send behavior a bit off the wall.

Though there’s nothing wrong with:

  • back-to-back doona days in a room that you haven’t left in days and which is cluttered with tissues, old photos (that may or may not be torn/ crumbled/ aimed at the bin) and DVD box sets;
  • obsessive googling of your horoscope in the hope that it turns up something about a ‘special meeting with a loved one’, or ‘she will leave him for her dream career – patting cats for rich busy people’, then, because perfect closure is excellent, ‘you will become a rich busy person. With a cat. And a rather wonderful someone’;
  • actually reaching 100 in your list of 100 Things I Always Hated About Him (you loved him yesterday remember, but go for it – just don’t send it to his mum);
  • posting regular Facebook updates with too many caps and exclamation marks like ‘Best. Night. EVER!!!’ Or ‘AH-MAZ-ING!!!! No words ;)’ when you actually spent the night crying into your cereal with Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’ on repeat in that bedroom that is actually starting to smell like hate;

they generally fall just outside the lines of the everyday.


What They Did

The researchers recorded the brain activity of people who had recently been through a breakup, were still intensely in love with their ex, spent most of their waking hours thinking of them and desperately wanted the relationship back.

Participants were shown a photo of their former partner and then distracted from their romantic thoughts by completing a simple maths exercise. They then looked at a photo of a familiar ‘neutral’ person.

 

What They Found

Brain scans showed similarities between romantic rejection and cocaine craving. Looking at photos of their former partners stimulated key areas of the brain to a greater degree than looking at neutral photos. The key areas were:

  • a part of the mid-brain that controls motivation and reward;
  • an area associated with craving and addition, specifically the reward system also active in cocaine addiction;
  • the area associated with physical pain and distress.

And The Best Bit – The Proof It Will Pass

The study also found evidence that in relation to a breakup, ‘time heals.’

As time passed, brain imaging showed less activity in the area of the brain associated with attachment when the participants looked at photos of their former partners.


Breaking up feels awful and can feel like you’ve been sent on a lonely stint to crazy town. Let yourself drop your bundle for a bit (within reason – stalking and publicly bringing him/her down will never end well).

You’re going through a major upheaval and your brain and your body are going to take some time to adjust.

And they will adjust.

As awful as it feels, the pain won’t last forever. Now science has done a(nother) beautiful thing and given us the research that proves it.

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Anxiety will always tilt our focus to the risks, often at the expense of the very real rewards. It does this to keep us safe. We’re more likely to run into trouble if we miss the potential risks than if we miss the potential gains. 

This means that anxiety will swell just as much in reaction to a real life-threat, as it will to the things that might cause heartache (feels awful, but not life-threatening), but which will more likely come with great rewards. Wholehearted living means actively shifting our awareness to what we have to gain by taking a safe risk. 

Sometimes staying safe will be the exactly right thing to do, but sometimes we need to fight for that important or meaningful thing by hushing the noise of anxiety and moving bravely forward. 

When children or teens are on the edge of brave, but anxiety is pushing them back, ask, ‘But what would it be like if you could?’ ♥️

#parenting #parent #mindfulparenting #childanxiety #positiveparenting #heywarrior #heyawesome
Except I don’t do hungry me or tired me or intolerant me, as, you know … intolerably. Most of the time. Sometimes.
Growth doesn’t always announce itself in ways that feel safe or invited. Often, it can leave us exhausted and confused and with dirt in our pores from the fury of the battle. It is this way for all of us, our children too. 

The truth of it all is that we are all born with a profound and immense capacity to rise through challenges, changes and heartache. There is something else we are born with too, and it is the capacity to add softness, strength, and safety for each other when the movement towards growth feels too big. Not always by finding the answer, but by being it - just by being - safe, warm, vulnerable, real. As it turns out, sometimes, this is the richest source of growth for all of us.
When the world feel sunsettled, the ripple can reach the hearts, minds and spirits of kids and teens whether or not they are directly affected. As the important adult in the life of any child or teen, you have a profound capacity to give them what they need to steady their world again.

When their fears are really big, such as the death of a parent, being alone in the world, being separated from people they love, children might put this into something else. 

This can also happen because they can’t always articulate the fear. Emotional ‘experiences’ don’t lay in the brain as words, they lay down as images and sensory experiences. This is why smells and sounds can trigger anxiety, even if they aren’t connected to a scary experience. The ‘experiences’ also don’t need to be theirs. Hearing ‘about’ is enough.

The content of the fear might seem irrational but the feeling will be valid. Think of it as the feeling being the part that needs you. Their anxiety, sadness, anger (which happens to hold down other more vulnerable emotions) needs to be seen, held, contained and soothed, so they can feel safe again - and you have so much power to make that happen. 

‘I can see how worried you are. There are some big things happening in the world at the moment, but my darling, you are safe. I promise. You are so safe.’ 

If they have been through something big, the truth is that they have been through something frightening AND they are safe, ‘We’re going through some big things and it can be confusing and scary. We’ll get through this. It’s okay to feel scared or sad or angry. Whatever you feel is okay, and I’m here and I love you and we are safe. We can get through anything together.’
I love being a parent. I love it with every part of my being and more than I ever thought I could love anything. Honestly though, nothing has brought out my insecurities or vulnerabilities as much. This is so normal. Confusing, and normal. 

However many children we have, and whatever age they are, each child and each new stage will bring something new for us to learn. It will always be this way. Our children will each do life differently, and along the way we will need to adapt and bend ourselves around their path to light their way as best we can. But we won't do this perfectly, because we can't always know what mountains they'll need to climb, or what dragons they'll need to slay. We won't always know what they’ll need, and we won't always be able to give it. We don't need to. But we'll want to. Sometimes we’ll ache because of this and we’ll blame ourselves for not being ‘enough’. Sometimes we won't. This is the vulnerability that comes with parenting. 

We love them so much, and that never changes, but the way we feel about parenting might change a thousand times before breakfast. Parenting is tough. It's worth every second - every second - but it's tough. Great parents can feel everything, and sometimes it can turn from moment to moment - loving, furious, resentful, compassionate, gentle, tough, joyful, selfish, confused and wise - all of it. Great parents can feel all of it.

Because parenting is pure joy, but not always. We are strong, nurturing, selfless, loving, but not always. Parents aren't perfect. Love isn't perfect. And it was meant to be. We’re raising humans - real ones, with feelings, who don't need to be perfect, and wont  need others to be perfect. Humans who can be kind to others, and to themselves first. But they will learn this from us. Parenting is the role which needs us to be our most human, beautifully imperfect, flawed, vulnerable selves. Let's not judge ourselves for our shortcomings and the imperfections, and the necessary human-ness of us.❤️

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