In my practice I work extensively with men and women dealing with how to survive (and thrive!) after a break-up. Yes, it is possible to thrive from difficult life experiences, but oftentimes symptoms of anxiety, depression, hopelessness and grief are so overwhelming that it seems impossible that you will ever feel good again.
However, It is possible to recover from a loss and come out feeling stronger than ever before, with a clearer idea of who you are and how you want to live your life. In my work with clients, we focus on two important aspects of recovering from the pain and loss of a break-up. The first step is processing all of the emotions that are swirling and difficult to deal with. Then, our second step, which is often overlooked, is finding the opportunity for growth, change and empowerment that is present in any loss.
Here are my best tips for how to survive (and thrive!) after a break-up:
Ride the roller coaster of emotions, without judgment. It is normal to have all kinds of conflicting feelings when dealing with a break-up. One minute you may feel sad and miss your significant other and the next you may feel angry and hate them. Dealing with the ups and downs of emotions is hard enough, but many of us make it even harder by judging ourselves for it. How many times have you said, “I’m so stupid for feeling this way” or “I shouldn’t even care about this”. Nothing like kicking yourself when you are down to make everything more difficult, right? Understand it’s normal and let yourself ride these emotions with acknowledgment and understanding. Be gentle with yourself!
Be open to understanding what happened. An important part of recovering from a break-up is making sense of it. This means we look at the situation from all different angles and perspectives, not just one rigid view. This can be very difficult because it requires being open to looking at your part in why the relationship ended. While this can be uncomfortable, it is an extremely powerful experience. The more you are able to see and acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses with empathy and compassion instead of judgment, the more control you have over your life. Something I teach my clients is that self-awareness is power.
Resist the temptation to compare yourself to others. When you experience the end of a relationship, it can feel like everywhere you look there are happy, loving couples living the life you had and want back. However, that is simply not true! Everyone has their challenges and ups and downs, and the truth is we know very little about others’ situations, but It’s common to idealize them and their relationships just as you are mourning the loss of yours. All this manages to do is make you feel worse and like you are not as worthy as others. One of my favorite quotes is by Steven Furtick and it says “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” Loss and endings are a part of life, understand that and look for the opportunity to learn from it rather than get stuck in feeling like you failed.
Seize the opportunity for a fresh start. Every ending is a new beginning, and this is a chance for you to re-define what you want for your life and your next relationship. Some people miss this chance by quickly filling the void left by a break-up with a new relationship or other temptations to avoid dealing with very difficult emotions. However, by taking the time to learn more about yourself, how you are in relationships and what you want moving forward, the more fulfilling life you can create.
I love working with individuals on their journey of finding their way after a break-up. While it can feel painful and challenging, the end result can be empowering and beautiful. Find out how we can work side-by-side to help you create the relationships and life you want, visit www.therapywithstephanie.com or call me now at 424-302-8227. I also run a support group for women coping with divorce, learn more here http://therapywithstephanie.com/2016/05/02/happily-ever-after-divorce-healing-support-for-women/
Author: Stephanie Macadaan
I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Los Angeles. I love working with couples and individuals to find strength, growth and empowerment through their struggles and challenges.