Breakups are some of the most gut-wrenching experiences, yet so many of us experience it in our lifetime. Most of us want to fast-forward through the painful emotions associated with losing someone. On top of that, each of our separation stories are unique, and we will experience compounded feelings based on what happened as the relationship ended. So, how do we get over a breakup? First, it is important we define what that means.
Defining “Getting Over It”
It can be helpful to consider what “getting over” this breakup means to you. Consider:
- What does letting go mean to you?
- What does moving forward mean to you?
- What does closure mean to you?
- What’s currently between you and being over it? Consider emotions, fears, beliefs, behaviours, or other impacts that might be between you and being over it.
Helping Ourselves Move Forward
Here are some suggestions of how we can wade through the pain and hurt associated with a breakup:
- Consider your emotions and needs – Try to understand what you’re feeling. What emotions are you experiencing most these days? What thoughts are coming up most? Is there a part of you that is resisting moving on? Why? Do you have a need for closure that is holding you back? How can you create closure for yourself? What is in your control in terms of the closure you want?
- Consider your boundaries – Some of us crave continued connection with our ex-partner. However, some distance can help us adjust to the change and the new roles you and your ex-partner are stepping into; you’re moving from partners to ex-partners and there are new boundaries associated with those roles. What kind of boundaries help you put distance between you and your ex-partner?
- Meet your basic needs – Are you eating, drinking water, sleeping, and moving in a way that feels good for your body? A body that is deprived and running on empty is also a body that feels more emotionally dysregulated. For example, some of us may simply not have an appetite while others are perhaps trying to harm ourselves by depriving ourselves of what we need most. It’s important to understand why we aren’t caring for our bodies and try to meet ourselves with compassion.
- Keep busy – Doing activities we would normally enjoy are generally helpful when going through a breakup. It’s normal to have little to no motivation to go for a run, see a friend, or continuing to attend that course we are taking. However, often motivation follows behaviour (not the other way around). The more we care for ourselves, the more we will feel inclined to care for ourselves. Too much idle time can be really hard, so try to plan ahead so your schedule isn’t empty.
- Connect with others – Spending time with others can help us wade through feelings of loneliness. Give yourself permission to talk about the breakup or not talk about the breakup when spending time with loved ones. No one will replace our partner, but it is important to meet our needs for human connection, even a little bit.
- Practice patience – Getting over something that was so important to us takes time. While we may want to feel less emotional immediately, it is unlikely given what place this relationship held within our inner and outer world. So be patient with yourself. There is no timeline.
- Try to avoid coping that leaves you feeling worse – While using substances or alcohol can provide short-term relief, they also provide long-term suffering. If you tend to use alcohol or drugs, consider what those avenues provide you with? How do they help you in the short-term? Once you know that, consider what may provide a similar sense of distraction or relief and, even if it isn’t as distracting or relieving, try to use those strategies instead.
- Practice creating a balanced perspective – Remember that when we are suffering we tend to look at things from a specific vantage point. In moving forward, what are you stepping away from? What are you stepping toward? Are there any reasons you are grateful to no longer be in this relationship?
- Connect with people with shared experiences – It can be helpful to sense that we are not alone and that others have been through what we’re going through. This can look like real life connections, movies, podcasts, or books that address issues related to breakups.
Receiving the support of a compassionate psychotherapist can help us make sense of our experiences and gradually step toward a future that we want to cultivate.
“Allow” – a Poem by Danna Faulds
There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado. Dam a
stream and it will create a new
channel. Resist, and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground. The only
safety lies in letting it all in –
the wild and the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes.