In the middle of a long rant describing how angry and frustrated she was feeling as a result of a not-so-recent breakup, a client interrupted herself and blurted out with exasperation in her voice, “how do you get over someone?!” She had been struggling for several months and just couldn’t seem to “get over him.” She was looking for something, anything she could do to make things better. She was in search for something she could say, do, think, or even take-A switch to flip to just move on already.
Unfortunately (and fortunately, too) there isn’t some quick fix for dealing with rejection or managing the feelings associated with a breakup. Breakups, especially those involving rejection are heart wrenching and can take an emotional and physical toll on you. Sometimes to the point where you’re left feeling like a lesser version of yourself or even worse yet, like someone else.
It makes sense that after a breakup you often feel a void or like there’s something wrong with you or even like a failure. It’s natural to feel alone and hopeless, like you’ll never find someone else or like you don’t know what to do with yourself. You likely spent a great deal of your time with that person both physically and emotionally. Even when you weren’t physically with them, you were thinking about them, talking about them, doing things for them, etc. No matter whether the relationship was good or bad, the energy you spent on your former partner is left floating in space without direction after a breakup.
While “breaking up is hard to do (Thank you, Neil Sedaka),” there are many things that you can take away from a breakup and that time that it takes to move on is exactly what you need to move forward.
Even though anger, sadness, fear, physical pain, hopelessness and a lowered sense of self-esteem and confidence are normal after a breakup, it doesn’t mean that you should let those feelings stick around for too long. While it’s important to acknowledge, understand and accept negative feelings, there comes a point where they become simply self-destructive. In order to make the most of a breakup, it is essential to take that time as an opportunity reflect, regroup and invest in yourself.
Let It Out
Don’t be afraid or even ashamed to get in a good cry or two or ten. It’s totally okay, and even necessary to grieve the relationship. Talk to your friends and family about your anger, your disappointment, your regrets, your insecurities or whatever it is that you are feeling. Get those feelings on paper and do some journaling and if you feel so inclined, write it out for your ex, too (just make sure NOT to send it).
Focus on Yourself
After a breakup, you’re often left feeling an emptiness, a pit in your stomach or a big fat void, if you will. You’ve likely been spending a lot of energy focusing on someone else for quite some time. So now it’s time to focus on yourself. Give yourself some “me time.” Hit the gym, start a new project, read some books, take baths, hang out with girlfriends (or guy friends), spend time with family, get massages, go on a trip, etc.. Do those things that you used to do or have always wanted to do but never did.
Sometimes all we need to hear is why things didn’t work out or even just the very fact that they didn’t. When we hear those words, it’s that much easier to put things behind us and move forward. If you can’t get closure from your former partner, make your own. Decide for yourself why it didn’t work out. Take some responsibility for why the relationship went south or even why that relationship wasn’t right for you.
Picture Yourself Over Your Ex
So often after breaking up, all we can think about is how amazing it was to be with our former partner (even if it wasn’t most of the time) or what they might be doing right now or who they are with or that godawful (painfully) vivid image of them “hooking up” with someone else. Well, stop that shit! That type of thought is certainly not going to help you feel any better or move on for that matter. Picture yourself over your ex. Imagine yourself in different scenarios: What would you be doing? How would you be feeling? What would you look like? Who would you be talking to?
Cleanse Your Environment
Get some new decorative pieces for your place or furniture you can be excited about, spend time rearranging your apartment, remove the things that remind you of your ex and do some deep cleaning. And don’t procrastinate when it comes to returning, storing or tossing your ex’s belongings. Not only do you want your environment to feel fresh, clean and pleasant so that you can enjoy being in your home and so that you can put your best foot forward whenever you walk out the door, the act of cleaning and purging can be therapeutic in and of itself.
Delete their number (even though you know it by heart), block them from facebook, twitter, instagram and any other social media platform and stop reaching out. While it may feel petty to up and delete an ex from all things social media, it will help you to clear your mind of that person and focus on yourself. By removing the possibility to act on that urge to check up on them, you’ll also eliminate the potential self inflicted torment of analyzing new friendships, pictures, posts, connections, likes, etc. And if they are reaching out to you, tell them to stop.
Invest In Yourself
Start doing something new and challenging. Build some capital. Take on a new role at work or seek out new and exciting opportunities in other areas of your life. By doing something challenging, you’ll begin to gain back some of the confidence you may have misplaced and will begin to feel that long lost feeling called motivation. And if you don’t feel confident in starting a new challenge or embarking on a new opportunity or maybe you don’t feel ready to step out of your comfort zone, fake it-You’ll surprise yourself, you’re stronger than you think.
Observe Your Environment
…is there something else that needs to change? Take a good hard look at your diet, sleep and exercise patterns. Healthy and purposeful eating, exercising and stress/anxiety management can seriously help you bounce back from a break up. Following a breakup, reaching for a drink, unhealthy foods, drugs and gravitating toward previously toxic relationships, while tempting and certainly helpful in numbing difficult-to-deal-with feelings, will not help you move forward but send you into a deeper rut than that in which you may already be stuck.
Talk To Someone
Reaching out to friends and family for support can be incredibly helpful for someone who is finding their way through a breakup. But maybe your friends and family are too focused on telling you what you want to hear or what they think will make you feel better. You might need someone who isn’t emotionally involved in your happiness to give it to you straight; to help you take notice of what you might be doing to sabotage your own recovery (because maybe subconsciously you don’t want to move on), to call you out on what role you may have played in your failed relationship and to help you take the right steps to move forward.