It’s no secret that going through a breakup feels terrible no matter which side you’re on. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most universal experiences humans encounter throughout their lifespan. If going through a breakup seems inevitable at some point, it’s important to understand the healthiest ways to begin to move forward when this stressful time occurs. Transitioning from being in a relationship to being single can be an uncomfortable change as individuals in your life will likely continue to ask about the person you’re trying to forget. Not only are your trying to move forward from your relationship, you’re also simultaneously grieving the loss of the future you had planned/imagined with this person. All of these factors make dealing with breakups in a healthy way very difficult. Below are 5 healthy tips from Dr. Judy Ho, a Triple Board-Certified Clinical and Forensic Neuropsychologist, with a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology.
Allow Yourself to Feel
Somewhere throughout history someone decided that negative emotions are a bad thing and we should avoid them at all costs. As a result, many of us avoid feelings of sadness, anger, guilt or other negative emotions by distracting ourselves with other things. However, these emotions are just as valid as positive emotions and they won’t go away by simply ignoring them. Instead, when these feelings come up, acknowledge them, let yourself feel whatever it is your body is saying you need to feel, and then move forward. Understanding that emotions are temporary and they come and go will help you to tolerate them.
Eliminate the Memory Slideshow
When a relationship ends it’s easy to start a montage in your mind of all the positive memories and experiences you have with your ex. All of a sudden the thoughts in the forefront of your mind are the great times you had and the positive qualities they possessed. This is totally normal but counterproductive to trying to move forward. To combat your mind’s tendency to drift in an unwanted direction, engage in activities or tasks that require mental focus so it’s not as easy for your mind to wander. As time goes on your tendency to reminisce will decrease and it will become much easier to redirect your thoughts.
Begin Thinking of the Breakup Differently
It’s hard to think of a breakup as anything other than an immense loss but shifting your mindset to think of a breakup as an opportunity can make a big difference in how you process your emotions. The end of a relationship is the beginning of a time where you can rediscover your own interests, needs, wants and desires. It’s also a time where you can recalibrate to attract a more suitable partner in the future. Breakups are excellent opportunities for personal growth and exploration.
Utilize your Supports
Research has shown the importance of feeling like we belong and having a community on mental and physical health. Part of the difficulty of a relationship ending is the feeling of loneliness and isolation. These feelings can be greatly reduced by spending time with the people who care about you.
It’s not uncommon to hear people say they just need closure after going through a breakup. When you take a step back, what exactly is this closure people are looking for? In reality, we may never truly find the closure we seek from our ex-partner although we can find closure within ourselves. This process is largely about reconnecting with yourself and disengaging from leaning on your partner. Creating a goodbye ritual you can conduct on your own or with a friend is a great way to symbolize the end of a relationship and the beginning of a new chapter.
If you’ve found yourself struggling to move forward in a healthy way after a breakup it may be beneficial to try therapy. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!