Recovering from a Breakup: Proven Ways to Heal (From Science)

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.

[bctt tweet=”What if your healing from a breakup could be stronger and quicker? Science may have found the secret …”]

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.

[irp posts=”1144″ name=”Dear Broken Hearted One … When You’re In The Thick of a Break-Up.”]


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 …

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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. 

  4. 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.

    [irp posts=”150″ name=”Your Body During a Breakup: The Science of a Broken Heart”]

  5. 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. 

  6. 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.



It is always difficult to accept that the person we loved has changed or was not meant for us. Yet, it is also healthy to accept that things are not working out already between two people. When there is that uncomfortable feeling that something is not right, then maybe something is wrong. If one or both have done everything they can to make things work and it still doesn’t work, then maybe it is time to consider moving on..maybe with a different relationship status as being just friends or just being civil towards each other. Love is not about control but setting people free.


My first mature relationship and it lasted for about a year and a half. Thought i was going to marry this man, but his mother loved to cause drama. He promised me he was not going to let her but in the end we broke up. he ignored me for about two months with a few phone calls here and there that was always interrupted with his family walking into the house. That was a year ago, I am still having issues though. Anytime i try dating and the person tries to get to know me on a personal level i shut down emotionally and go numb. I have know idea what is happening and it is scary. if anybody has experienced this can you please help me?


How to make the pain stop after a break up? Can’t eat or sleep, I feel depressed. How can I make myself feel better and sleep better?


Work out. Meditate. Everybody says that, but they do help. Journaling helps many people as well. Try to expand your social network– don’t isolate. ANd check back in & let us know how you’re doing. You’re not alone.


Keep yourself busy with friends, loved ones, pets, even a trip to your local humane society. Schedule coffee outings, trips to the theater, a movie out – anything that gets you out of familiar territory where you spent time with your ex. Most of all, talk with your support network. Sometimes, a friend or sibling will just be on the phone with you – not giving advice or speaking, but just being on the phone while you surf the internet or just sit and cry. The feelings will subside and you will again be okay – not today, tomorrow, or next week, but soon enough.

Heatbroken Jane

My boyfriend of 1 and a half years broke up with me in March this year. Since then, we were still on and off because he still seemed to regret breaking up and was still acting sweet.

For the past 2 months he suddenly ghosted me and i found out that he as bragging about how he is dating a model now and that we are completely over. I still had hope that we would get back together when we broke up because his reason was he felt scared of commitment and yet he kept seeking my presence but it really hurt when i found out about the model.

I am ok looking, I work on myself, I keep myself fit and all and looking back, I have always been supportive of everything he did and was super loyal and a great girlfriend. I do not understand why he left me for someone who seems superficial and apparently, an easy girl.

I did question him if there was anyone else in his life n he kept denying. He even told me he was the issue, not me.

This is not the first time I get heartbroken and I do not understand why I am so unlucky and unworthy of finding true love.

Why do men do this? And how can they live with themselves?


I recently ended my most important relationship I’ve had in my life. This person was my first real, adult relationship and we both had serious and open conversations about marriage, kids, etc. We fell in love fast and hard, but after one year of dating I was seeing and feeling something I couldn’t shake: the thought that we weren’t eachother’s person. Despite being so sure about my feelings and love, I realized that this was a relationship that wasn’t meant for a lifetime of marriage, love, and joy. It was a horrible realization and I broke down completely. After some serious & emotional conversations and a month of these thoughts consuming me, I ended things. Last night we had the “clarity” chat and it was even more difficult. She is hurting and going through the same feelings of loss and depression. She is such a wonderful person, but I know that I am living my truth and the pain we both are experiencing now will be worth finding the partner who is right for both of us. This has been a horrible time and I don’t know when it will change for the better, but I truly believe it will and that faith is what I will continue to lean on when the days, nights, weeks, and months become too much to bear.


This is so so close to my story. My first adult relationship and plans for the future. It all failed. Healing will be hard but it will be done and we will find ourselves and happiness.

laura l

Hi Joanna V
This is not exactly the same position as me but similar. My byfriend walked out on me after 8 years living together and knowing my sons since they were 12 they are nearly 21 now. I am in utter devestation feel I am drowning reach out to me


Amanda G

I was with my ex fiance for over 7 years. We dated for six (I am 32, he is 35); then got engaged in December of last year. Throughout our six years, we have gotten into massive arguments, and I would lash out because I truly felt he never listened to how I ever felt, or respected me or my feelings towards thing. I wasn’t perfect, but he made me out to be this monster, and would keep on poking me and poking me, saying horrible things during arguments that would make any calm person with a good head on their shoulders errupt. Every single time. Eventually he got used to the saying that “I must mental issues” (which is not the case, but would make me double guess myself into thinking well maybe i do). I have been faithful to him for seven years. Our last argument was the straw that broke the camels back and he called off our engagement and relationship. He said he can’t take my rages (which I just said f*ck off) because he woke me up at 430AM to just fight with me over nonsense and I felt betrayed and disrespected, as well as demoralized. So I lost my cool. I am sitting here now, four days after the break up, completely broken and upset. I am not sure what to do or where to turn. And the worst part, he blocked me so I can’t even get in touch with him. I am trying to make sense of it all but I am not sure where to turn or what to do.


It’s hard for me to write this, I’ve been with my fiance for 10 years, due to get married in 2 months. Celebrated our 10 year anniversary couple of weeks ago, unfortunately a few days ago. He cancelled everything, throwing our relationship and wedding out the door. He said he is going move abroad and sort his life out, get a job and work long hours to earn more. Hes not been happy for the 10 years we been together. I never got that impression, every photo shows him smiling, the times we went out together seem real, but hearing hes never been happy hurts. Hes changed from when I first met him, I’ve changed but my feelings never. He said he cant provide me the happiness I want, house kids and hes not ready for anything like that. Sometimes I think it’s my fault, why did we wait 3 years to get married, why didn’t we get married in Vegas when he said. Why did I not support him more. He suffers mental health, so I wish I was there for him more, already I cried non stop for 4 days and 4 nights, he is a huge part of my life. I want to support him through the hard time, but my heart will always belong to him. I dont see myself being with another guy at 28 years old. Am I just hoping one day he will come back to me, once hes sorted his life out? Maybe.
I think being with someone who has mental health and gambling addiction only made me love him more, despite, how hard life is already. I’m hurting from him, but always wishes for his happiness like the one he provided to me for 10 years.
He truly is the love if my life, sometimes, I think I want to end my life like that. No matter how much love and support my family are giving, nothing compares to him.


Hello I am so sorry to hear you are going through this grief and pain. I completely understand how you feel. I’ve been with my fiance for 10years and 11months, from 16-27 and he ended our relationship yesterday. Our wedding was cancelled in August with less than a year to go and the house we bought together..well he will buy my share out. I am in the most amount of mental and physical pain ever. I am most likely going to have to leave my job and start all again as I’ve had to move back to London where my parents live. Every thought, breath and movement feels like thick mourning and loss.
He was absolutely the love of my life and I’m completely hopeless that I will never have him back or love anyone as deeply as I loved this person.


I’ve been a relationship for 6 months,introduced the guy to my 13 and 11 year old boys.He has a 4 year old son and the baby mama has created so much drama for us its crazy,he says his on my side but he doesn’t behave that way especially when she fetches the child,he constantly remind me that she’s the mother of his child,a few hours ago i decided to end the relationship because he even started getting physical abusive with me,how do i tell my kids it’s over between us?please help


You know everything in life is temporary nothing lasts forever, i just recently came out of a 2year relationship as well the way he broke up with me was totally sad! i gave my everything into this relationship and im sure we all do that we put ourselves last for a guy we do anything for them and ive learnt that you just hurting yourself in the end letting go does less damage than holding on. to all my ladies going through a break up my advise to you would be block delete forget no matter how difficult it is especially if a guy doesnt appreciate you for who you are and the role you played within his life, one thing ive also noticed is that you meet them when they have nothing and you go through the struggle with them but once they start climbing the ladder with you and once they reach the top you no longer good enough. the pain you may be feeling today is preparing you for the strength you need tomorrow i truly believe whats meant to be will be. dont beat yourself about a person that doesnt care or love you its their loss on day someone will walk into your life and make you feel like a queen and you’ll look back and ask yourself did i really cry so much over this 1 person then you’ll realise nothing lasts forever time does heal so give time the opportunity to do its job. lastly never ever ever run after a person that disrespected you or just left you like that for whatever apparent reason and NO SECOND CHANCES if he did the first time he’ll do it again.


I just got dumped by my boyfriend of 6 years. There were so many external pressures – people creating drama. And not being sure about whether or not we wanted children. I don’t think he did it the right way either. He was mean about it, and just cut me out of his life. Its been a couple of days now, and I don’t know how Im going to get by. There are so many memories, moments I’m still grateful for…but he was so cold when he broke it off that im not sure i could trust him again if he ever came back – if he ever would come back. it is so horrible to give your entire heart to someone, and then have them exit from your life and then that’s it. they say 50% of couples reunite after break ups …if its meant to be, it will be. but im utterly, totally devastated.


For me, love is the totally fake word when you are showing it to someone else. I started my relationship after a long breakup. I said that i will not be able to forget you if you leave me. She said never. But she did after enjoy her time. Now she is saying i am not the person who can make her happy. She wanna be alone. But this is very surely false. She can’t stay or live single.

Cynthia H

Thanks for the article. My boyfriend of six months and I broke up recently and it’s been a very difficult time for me. We are both in our forties and 20 years ago were close friends all through college. He was a close confidant and someone I could feel safe and myself with. I even stood for him at his wedding to a mutual friend. I moved across the country and started a new life as he did, we communicated a bit. Last summer I reached to him to see how he was doing to find out he was divorced for two years and living a single life. He had recently gone through some devastating loss and was managing work and single dad.

He admitted to me that he had always had feelings for me but was too shy to try anything. Deep down I knew this to be true. He asked to visit me and I agreed. He came out for the weekend and we spent a wonderful time together and it quickly became a close long distance relationship. We were committed to seeing each other every few months and talked on the phone most nights and shared our daily routines. I felt very valued, safe and happy, we had the same trusting relationship all these years and shared a lot of joy together.

Although everything seemed amazing to me, I was having an issue with the fact that he couldn’t climax during sex and didn’t seemed too overly concerned over and he didn’t seem too interested in sexting or keeping things hot between visits. After some gentle prodding, I found out he was watching porn 4-5 times a week and able to climax from only that. I felt confused and less desirable because of that and asked him to research the affects porn has on the brain and for him to consider stopping. I was clear with my need to have my man get pleasure from sex together and for it to be a joint experience. He explained why he had done it and I understood.

He agreed and said he would try as our relationship was worth it. After the no porn, things were amazing, he was finally expressing some of his needs and really desiring me. I was proud of him and encouraging him every step of the way.

Flash forward, a month post porn ban and he began to have difficulty at work and financial pressure from his ex. He retreated for a weekend and then sent me a text explaining that he was finding all of this too difficult, the distance and our future together. He said he loved me so much and didn’t think he could give me what I needed and was so scared of failing me.

I was devastated and tried to pull him back to work within his limits and not too just give up something so lovely. I am very much an open and honest person about my feelings and give a lot of love to those I care about, I am a giver

We agreed to give it another try and he would get some help, it’s only been a week but I still feel the distance and was beginning to feel very insecure about the relationship. I thought I would be able to support him through this time but am feeling hurt and don’t want to keep giving to someone who is incapable of trying. I broke it off this morning and will likely never hear from him again.

I want to grieve, move on and heal but I still have so much hope for him to change and be the better man. I have a good support network including a lovely therapist so I know I will get through this and be stronger, I just would appreciate some perspective.

Alberta m

Thank for writing your experience I’m really you went through that’s a difficult experience with your partner who you gave 100% of your time love effort patience self sacrificing to im personly going through exactly same experience with my partner of 3 years you have given me strength up building healing the hurt pain of feeling I’m not a good enough women for him but reading of how your dealing healing excepting the reality

Joanna V

My boyfriend of seven years moved out of our house two weeks ago. He took everything he owned and vanished. I have not heard or spoke to him since. We both have a son each from a previous relationship and having been living together as a family for the past four years. I have not seen my stepson and he has not reached out to my son. My family and life are completely ripped apart. The pain that I am feeling is complete agony. I have no contact information for him at all. I have no idea where he is. I have not been eating, or sleeping. I feel like a zombie walking around in space. This is the hardest thing I have ever been through in my life not sure how I am going to make it.


my break up happened two days ago. i haven’t been eating or sleeping either and feel nauseous. you wrote this a month ago…do you feel any better now that some time has passed?


Did anybody fall in love with their best friend? and then get your heart crushed


Yes, although it was more complicated than that. He was never ready for a (serious) relationship with me. I now think he might not have had real feelings for me, but was just attracted to me. When I thought we were really getting together he told me he had no feelings for me. And now he’s with someone else.
He wants to stay friends. He’s having a lot of fun with his new gf now, while I’m in pain.
Don’t know what your experience was?

Surfah man

Hi , my daughter just broke up today, again with her boyfriend of a year. I was against a steady relationship while in school because I know that things can get complicated, at a time in life when u should be socializing with peers and keeping things light, but no. So my daughter has so much going for her, a loving family, she is an National Honor student, was the schools Senior Homecoming Queen. She’s working 2 part-time jobs while attending school and applying for Colleges. Her boy friend seems like a nice guy, but he comes from a hard background. His parents abandoned he and his brother whom are now being raised by their Grandparents. The boys are well behaved polite, respectful and have manners. But the boyfriend has control issues, and I know my daughter fears him or does not want to disappoint or make him wait. At times when I had to drop her off to meet him she would show signs of being nervous and stressed out about being late or making him wait. He doesn’t have a car so he either catches the bus or walks to his destinations. They get into arguments when she’s late or when she can’t meet or go out with him. Thankfully they have not engaged or have taken their relationship to that next physical level. I explained to her that we as parents would not be OK with their having sex. We feel that they are too young to get into that complicated and heavy a relationship. Now that this breakup is occurring again for the 3rd time, I told her that’s enough. Why put yourself through this again, you both have to realize that you are both not happy and agree to move on, because you both care about each other. So now she is in sorrow mood feeling bad but it was her first attempt at Love. When you put in effort into a relationship and things don’t go according to plan you may beat yourself up about it, but that’s Life and how we Learn about ourselves and grow. Wish me Luck as I try and do my Fatherly Best to help my Baby to Mend her ?

Harvetta W

I cant even imagine being with her it hurts so bad when didn’t have nothing I was there she I accurse of people this my assumption was right she always put other people before I’m truly in love with her and if feels though I don’t want no one else I’m in so much pain lord please help me I’m distress yes I’m gay


I had a breakup recently and I tried getting out of it. But I am not able to forget him. Now I will definitely refer these points. Thank you so much for sharing these post.


I just got dumped few days ago

He told me his tired of my insecurities
Today I saw him by the airport he walked passed me as if I’m a stranger

I’m hurt I cried but I told myself I need to pull myself delete him off my life and move on no matter how painful it is I don’t have a choice


I can’t cope with the pain of my break up. Can’t eat or sleep, I feel depressed. Can’t sleep without the sleeping pills or wine. And to make things worse I think I’m getting addicted to them. How can I make myself feel better and sleep better?


You need to do some self-care; gym, dancing class, massage, buy new clothes, new haircut, new cute assesories, new shoes, buy a piece of jewelry that resembles your straight and self worth. Also, meditate, hike, church and surround yourself of positive people. Built a support group…. time will heals just put the effort. You need to start feeling strong and beautiful again. Take something natural to sleep like melatonin after a nice warm shower.

Jenny B

24 years…and I still cry over the loss. Maybe it’s more about the pain of shocking rejection from the most important person in the world to the time. I feel guilt for allowing myself to be held captive by this man who had our home and life ready! There was no closure, explanation or ability to apologize.


I hope you are better now and stronger than ever I’m going through this now and I hope and pray I will get through this for my sake and kids

Sierra Z

I recently got dumped out of no where a few days ago. We had a perfect relationship and barely any problems or arguments. He was so good to me and my family, friends and I would have never saw this coming. The reason he said we should break up, was because he didn’t feel ready for a relationship. Like I said this happened out of no where. Im so hurt and confused on why he would completely shut me out and become so cold to me. He acts like as if he doesn’t even know me and didn’t just spend many months saying how much he loves me and how im such a great girl. It feels like he wont come back, and what hurts the most is that i still love him so much and he acts as if im just a stranger.


The same story happen to me and what I believe is guys fall out of love easily, we have to be strong and wait for the right guy to come along. We can do this ? unfortunately when you show a guy you care for them and you love them, they get scared and run away. Irony of life ??‍♀️


Oooh my gosh sooo true! Every damn time I dont want a guy, they leech on and be so wonderful to win me over. I finally say yaay okay lets do this. Nope. Mine just left me at my friends wedding last weekend, after 2 years.


That happened to me too. But I felt at ease bc the love of your life will not do that. That simply opened the apportunity for the your other half to come to your life. Even painful experience are blessings in disguised. Be strong time will heal. 3-6 months and you will be back to normal.


Nonsense. Men experience relationships exactly the same as women; and, it turns a wide gamut depending on the person and the circumstance. I guarantee anyone who thinks with bitter stereotypes that they are hurting themselves, slowing/stopping healing, and not taking responsibility for their part in the breakup. The sooner and faster blaming stops the better.

Maya A

It happened to me the same exact way. After he said he could not live without me. Then the coldness as if I was a stranger.


I recently got dumped. Our relationship was so complicated. I blame myself for putting myself in that situation in the first place. I moved to different country for work, a few weeks later I met this guy (a gentleman). We then very quickly started dating and were head over heels for each other. Then he tells me he is separated with a kid and he works very hard just so the child can have a better life. He is separated but does not want to divorce his wife because he feels it would be betraying his principles. He told me if I still want to continue the relationship, I shouldn’t expect marriage out of it because that is the one thing he cannot give me. I was so stupid and I agreed and told him we could live in the moment. Then, things got really serious between us and he told me he loved me and honestly I love him too. However, I’m confused because I’m not supposed to expect anything out of it,he even told me I could go on dates with other guys but if I see potential in the guy I should tell him so we could just stay friends. This crazy agreement went by for about 5 months until he just abruptly ended the relationship because it’s what best for me. He confused the hell out me, i fell deeply in love with this guy and now I can’t even concentrate at work. How can you tell me that you’re in love with me and then just dump me over text. I’m in so much pain at the moment and I can’t even talk to anyone about it.


Sorry Lucy, I hope you’ll move on from this. It tough to lose someone you love, the pain is unbearable, am also feeling that pain, I don’t even know how to deal with this breakup as it really frustrating me.


exactly similar cases for me as well, i was with my girl for almost 4 years, i met her through her sister and her sister was my best friend girlfriend. we were get to know each other for over 1 year and finally when she was at abroad i called her and fly as i could think i could be with her forever, so i flied to the abroad and finally i proposed her, she was studying at abroad at the time, we had kinda long distance relationship for 1 year, and finally she changed to my home town.and we get back to normal as, as people comes and go through our life and try to ruin everything, btw our strings kept together, as i had to work out of town we were again long distance relationshp, btw i can barely see her every month for 2 days. time passes and thing started getting crazy, there was 1 guy 10 years older then her, he was a rich guy and he had a huge crush on her, he started taking her dinner and get her expensive stuffs which i couldnt get her, things get worse and worse, mean time i even dont know whats going on. one time i get to her i found smthng weired. and she started saying to me he was abusing her, and shee gets depressed. so she went to a psychiatrist and started counselling. through the times i try to help her as much as i can i gave all of my best effort. finally she was recoverd. and she had a guy as a best friend after some months, they started to hangout and get together when im not in home she always says that im not financially settled, and show wont be able to have a good life with me. i tried my best to make the life she wants and show her all the happiness. after some days her birthday came. we celeberate her birthday with her family. and next day i had to leave to work again and before i left one of her sister called me and says that her best friend is going to give her surprise when i left. i was suspecting somting wrong past months. so i decide to see whts goin on .so waited and unfortunately i found she was sleeping with her best friend. i caught them together and still she denied when i saw all on my eyes. it was a time my life was like set on a fire. btw also i realized that she is not worth having in my life, btw my question is always, why SHE WASTED 4 years with me, so i decide to end up with her and i end up. after all i blockedher on social media and all, and she started calling my friends and family and started making rumors. btw still i didnt cared because i loved her, i loved a wrong women. btw everything happnd for a reason. after 4 weeks laterly i found out they werre engaged. and i smile my self and says to my heart ‘ i m happy for her, and its my time to moved on get a better life i deserve better’ im trying to be strong and have self confidence, btw this is the hardest times. i had to deal with it till the tright times comes, in this world everything is temporary. time wil heal./


Ohoo dearly this is so painful…get yourself a better life and try to focuse more on what’s best for u heal and make a good memories for you and only you…surround yourself with possitive people so that they can build and guide you…i wish u well…take care! X


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We teach our kids to respect adults and other children, and they should – respect is an important part of growing up to be a pretty great human. There’s something else though that’s even more important – teaching them to respect themselves first. 

We can’t stop difficult people coming into their lives. They might be teachers, coaches, peers, and eventually, colleagues, or perhaps people connected to the people who love them. What we can do though is give our kids independence of mind and permission to recognise that person and their behaviour as unacceptable to them. We can teach our kids that being kind and respectful doesn’t necessarily mean accepting someone’s behaviour, beliefs or influence. 

The kindness and respect we teach our children to show to others should never be used against them by those broken others who might do harm. We have to recognise as adults that the words and attitudes directed to our children can be just as damaging as anything physical. 

If the behaviour is from an adult, it’s up to us to guard our child’s safe space in the world even harder. That might be by withdrawing support for the adult, using our own voice with the adult to elevate our child’s, asking our child what they need and how we can help, helping them find their voice, withdrawing them from the environment. 

Of course there will be times our children do or say things that aren’t okay, but this never makes it okay for any adult in your child’s life to treat them in a way that leads them to feeling ‘less than’.

Sometimes the difficult person will be a peer. There is no ‘one certain way’ to deal with this. Sometimes it will involve mediation, role playing responses, clarifying the other child’s behaviour, asking for support from other adults in the environment, or letting go of the friendship.

Learning that it’s okay to let go of relationships is such an important part of full living. Too often we hold on to people who don’t deserve us. Not everyone who comes into our lives is meant to stay and if we can help our children start to think about this when they’re young, they’ll be so much more empowered and deliberate in their relationships when they’re older.♥️
When we are angry, there will always be another emotion underneath it. It is this way for all of us. 

Anger itself is a valid emotion so it’s important not to dismiss it. Emotion is e-motion - energy in motion. It has to find a way out, which is why telling an angry child to calm down or to keep their bodies still will only make things worse for them. They might comply, but their bodies will still be in a state of distress. 

Often, beneath an angry child is an anxious one needing our help. It’s the ‘fight’ part of the fight or flight response. As with all emotions, anger has a job to do - to help us to safety through movement, or to recruit support, or to give us the physical resources to meet a need or to change something that needs changing. It doesn’t mean it does the job well, because an angry brain means the feeling brain has the baton, while the thinking brain sits out for a while. What it means is that there is a valid need there and this young person is doing their very best to meet it, given their available resources in the moment or their developmental stage. 

Children need the same thing we all need when we’re feeling fierce - to be seen,  heard, and supported; to find a way to get the energy out, either with words or movement. Not to be shut down or ‘fixed’. 

Our job isn’t to stop their anger, but to help them find ways to feel it and express it in ways that don’t do damage. This will take lots of experience, and lots of time - and that’s okay.♥️
The SCCR Online Conference 2021 is a wonderful initiative by @sccrcentre (Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution) which will explore ’The Power of Reconnection’. I’ve been working with SCCR for many years. They do incredible work to build relationships between young people and the important adults around them, and I’m excited to be working with them again as part of this conference.

More than ever, relationships matter. They heal, provide a buffer against stress, and make the world feel a little softer and safer for our young people. Building meaningful connections can take time, and even the strongest relationships can feel the effects of disconnection from time to time. As part of this free webinar, I’ll be talking about the power of attachment relationships, and ways to build relationships with the children and teens in your life that protect, strengthen, and heal. 

The workshop will be on Monday 11 October at 7pm Brisbane, Australia time (10am Scotland time). The link to register is in my story.
There are many things that can send a nervous system into distress. These can include physiological (tired, hungry, unwell), sensory overload/ underload, real or perceived threat (anxiety), stressed resources (having to share, pay attention, learn new things, putting a lid on what they really think or want - the things that can send any of us to the end of ourselves).

Most of the time it’s developmental - the grown up brain is being built and still has a way to go. Like all beautiful, strong, important things, brains take time to build. The part of the brain that has a heavy hand in regulation launches into its big developmental window when kids are about 6 years old. It won’t be fully done developing until mid-late 20s. This is a great thing - it means we have a wide window of influence, and there is no hurry.

Like any building work, on the way to completion things will get messy sometimes - and that’s okay. It’s not a reflection of your young one and it’s not a reflection of your parenting. It’s a reflection of a brain in the midst of a build. It’s wondrous and fascinating and frustrating and maddening - it’s all the things.

The messy times are part of their development, not glitches in it. They are how it’s meant to be. They are important opportunities for us to influence their growth. It’s just how it happens. We have to be careful not to judge our children or ourselves because of these messy times, or let the judgement of others fill the space where love, curiosity, and gentle guidance should be. For sure, some days this will be easy, and some days it will feel harder - like splitting an atom with an axe kind of hard.

Their growth will always be best nurtured in the calm, loving space beside us. It won’t happen through punishment, ever. Consequences have a place if they make sense and are delivered in a way that doesn’t shame or separate them from us, either physically or emotionally. The best ‘consequence’ is the conversation with you in a space that is held by your warm loving strong presence, in a way that makes it safe for both of you to be curious, explore options, and understand what happened.♥️
#mindfulparenting #positiveparenting #parenting
When children are struggling to physically control their bodies, we support them in ways that strengthen. If they’re struggling to write, for example, we don’t punish or shame them. We guide them and show them by doing ‘with’. We also lift them up, ‘I know you can do this. Keep going. You’re getting better and better.’ We also don’t wait for perfection. ‘You wrote a number 4! Nice work you!’ We sit with and do with, over and over. We also give them a break when they get frustrated or upset.

It’s the same for behaviour. Big behaviour comes from big feelings or attempts to meet valid needs. (And all needs are valid.) It is this way for all of us. When we’re upset or angry, the last thing we need is for someone to tell us we can’t be, or to lecture or shame us. Kids are the same.

With kids and teens though, there can be a sense that we need to ‘do’ something in response to big behaviour, so we lay down punishments or consequences with a view to teaching a lesson.

But - unless the consequences make sense (punishments never do), they risk teaching lessons we don’t want them to learn:
- that the environment is fragile and won’t tolerate mistakes. 
- that secrecy and lies are a safer option than coming to us. 
- shut down. They put a lid on expressing big feelings. The feelings will still be there, but they aren’t getting the vital guidance from us on how to calm them (through co-regulation). The risk is that they will eventually call on unhealthy ways to calm the fierce stress neurobiology that comes with big feelings.

Consequences have to make sense. Maybe it’s to repair or reconnect. Discipline has to teach. It’s not about what we do to them but about what we nurture within them. Is that trust and the capacity to learn and grow? Or is it fear or shame.

Often the only response that’s needed is a loving conversation with us. ‘What happened?’ ‘What were you hoping would happen?’ ‘What did you need that you didn’t get?’ What can you do differently next time?’ ‘How can you put things right?’ Because if discipline is about learning, the most powerful consequence is the strong, loving conversation with us that lights their way and speaks softly to the safety of us.♥️

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