Even if your heart tries to pull its broken self together to tell you it’s for the best, and your head – foggy and sad – tells you the pain will pass, the agony of a breakup can be relentless. When you’re recovering from a breakup, it’s important not to hurry things along – it’s your time to reset, recharge and draw wisdom from the experience – but what if your healing could be strong and complete … and quicker? Science may have just found the way.
New research has found that broken-hearted ones who reflected more on their relationships over a nine week period had a stronger overall recovery from their breakup.
An important part of the healing is a process called ‘self-concept reorganisation’, which involves rebuilding and strengthening the sense of who you are, independent of the relationship.
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Relationships have a profound impact on the beliefs we have about ourselves, whether we realise it or not. During the course of a relationship, it’s very normal to ‘intertwine’ with a partner. Goals and directions change, as well as wants and needs for now and the future.
This isn’t because you lose yourself, though certainly that can happen, but because intimacy involves opening up to another person – opening up to their love, wants, needs, feelings, opinions, love, goals, dreams. When that happens, you can’t help but be influenced and eventually move in the same direction. Sometimes that involves adjusting your own sails. It’s all a healthy part of being with someone fully, and part of the unpredictable magic of relationships.
A breakup means the undoing of this merging, which is painful to go through. However strong and independent a person may be, the fracturing of a relationship can also mean the fracturing of the self-concept. One of the most painful parts of a breakup is that it up-ends things as you’ve come to know them. The familiar is gone, plans are changed and the future all of a sudden has too many blank spaces where happy things used to be.
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Part of the healing is re-establishing who you are without your partner. Anything that can repair and re-strengthen the self-concept, will accelerate healing.
So, to get you back to strong, based on science …
Talk. Go on. Go for it.
There are a couple of ways that talking about a breakup might help to facilitate healing. The first is that talking about the relationship will help to bring a different perspective to things. It’s not called a ‘breakup’ because it’s working well. Being in love or being in like-a-lot can blur things, hide things and dress things up, sometimes at the cost of clarity. There will be a level of insight that will throw itself at your feet when you talk about the relationship from a more distant perspective.
Find your story.
Talking helps to construct a story of the relationship that gives meaning to the experience – including the experience of the relationship, the breakup, and perhaps most importantly for healing, the recovery. Let me explain …
If you tell the story of your breakup as one of rejection and a lost happy ever after, recovery will be slow, kind of like ‘walking through quicksand’ type of slow. It’s really easy to get stuck in this narrative when the thoughts are locked in your head and want to be with you at 2am. On the other hand, talking to people in your tribe will help you find a way to understand your story from a position of strength. This might involve finding the lessons, the learning and reframing the experience as, say, an ending, rather than a rejection.
An emotional release – journalling.
Having an emotional release is an important part of healing. Journalling is one way to do this as it allows you to capture and give definition to the thoughts and feelings that are swirling around inside. Journalling doesn’t have to be done every day to have an effect. Even a few times a week will help the healing.
Write – as though you’re talking to a stranger.
Writing repeatedly about the process of the breakup as though speaking with a stranger about it, is another way to move towards healing. As well as being an emotional release, it also encourages a fresh perspective and new insights.
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Reclaim yourself – what’s been neglected?
Reclaiming a strong self-concept – establishing who you are outside of the relationship – is critical and will be enormously supportive of a recovery. Think about the parts of yourself that might have been pushed aside during the relationship. When you’ve found these, find ways to build them and nurture them.
And expand them.
Find new ways to expand your self concept. When you feel ready, (or maybe a little before then) take up new interests, establish new goals or re-establish your direction. Given that your need to connect has been messed with, anything that will give you the opportunity to connect with others who will also see you as your own, unique person will really help the healing process.
A breakup is an ending, not a rejection. It might not feel like that initially, but it’s an important thing to remember. When your heart has been broken, it can take a while to find your way back to whole but you will get there. Healing from a broken heart is as much a physical process as it is an emotional one. It’s very similar to recovering from an addiction, which is why it feels so hard and so damn painful.
Above all else, remember that there were things about you that were beautiful, strong, vibrant and extraordinary before the relationship. Nothing has changed.
My ex and I dated for 5 months. Everything seemed great. We both had similar values, a lot of similar interests that we would do together and things felt good. We both put in effort to the relationship. Then 5 months in, he wasn’t doing well mentally, brought up randomly how he struggles to communicate and express himself . I went to him and tried to sit and resonate with him. Told him I was there for him and wanted him to be able to talk to me, didn’t expect him to share everything but that at the end of the day I won’t know what’s going on until he speaks his truth. Asked him directly if there was anything he wanted to talk about and he proceeded to say no. He then went into a vague conversation about marriage and how he wants it but doesn’t know what it looks like. It was an odd conversation but I stayed unreactive and afterwards he seemed grateful that we talked and was open to talking more about it if needed. He had another day a few days later where things seemed off and when I asked if he was ok, he said he was. Week later he says he needs to think more on the conversation and couldn’t explain what he meant by that. He texted me the next day when I left and had this really vague break up message where he just said he needed to figure things out and still wanted us to be friends. I tried to ask what happened and he again couldn’t speak on it. I proceeded to tell him I couldn’t be friends cause I wanted the relationship and left. From there he’s been posting inappropriate things on social media. “Subtweeting“ how he tossed out a 10. And posting desperate things about wanting a muscle mommy. He got upset when I tried to inquire two weeks after our breakup about what had happened with our relationship because he felt pressured. Even though it was a conversation over text and he still couldn’t answer the question until two days later after I had asked. It’s been a rollercoaster watching him do everything from a distance. He’s also brought some of our friends into the situation in which they too had to call him out.
I recently broke up with my boyfriend a week ago, and the wound is still so fresh. I find myself going back to our old messages, crying why everything changed. Since June he all of a sudden just stopped trying, he didn’t want affection or nothing and I started questioning if it was me. He said it was not. Later July, we met up and talked about whether we should break up or not. I said we should but he went on and asked again if this is what I wanted. I said no and he said he didn’t either so we didn’t break up. He began to distance himself a lot and I found myself cancelling plans because I felt so depressed at how things were changing or going downhill so fast. I soon realized he was talking to other girls about our relationship and how he was feeling. Whenever I asked and told him I was there for him and he could always talk to me, he would talk to them instead. He hid hanging out with a girl that he invited over to his place to play videogames and when I found out and confronted him about it, he was angry that I went through his phone rather than explaining to me what that was. It took me almost a month to get him to explain, he said they were friends nothing was going on, but it did not seem that way. I asked if maybe he could stop talking to her until I could heal from that and I found out he was still asking about her day. I was completely crushed and later on I learn that he was actually hiding things from me. It is so hard when you put so much trust in someone later for them to crush it to pieces and act like they didn’t. I am so tired and I want to be able to move on but right now it is so hard. Can anyone please give me advice on how I can do this?
Hii, Now I am also in similar situations. But this is my second time. During first breakup, I got depressed for 1 month, I deleted and kept away all belongings which can remind me of her. Then I focused to my career, changed my job as we both were from same organization. I got new fresh friends (both boys and girls). I enjoyed my new task and with new friends. It was so smooth in forgetting her. But in your case this may not be the option but try to find similar ideas, you tell your breakup story to those who are close to you.
For this time, I also do not know what to do though she is not from same organization. It’s difficult for me to forget even I don’t prefer tell any known person. I look for some unknown person to tell my story. Can we make it by saying to each other…….
We have been broke up since 1st week of January . It is now March and the pain still is there . I miss him but he was not a good honest person . He used me for money and a place to stay . He is a user of women . I loved him so much . I don’t know what to do with myself we did so many things together .
Went through the exact same thing. So many thoughts went through my head, 1st I was mad at myself for not seeing the red flags, my ego was bruised, I felt stupid and used,kept asking myself why didn’t I see it. He refuses to take my calls cause he doest want to go into what happened. So I’m taking it a day at a time and taking time to heal. I’m putting me 1st now.