Through every breakup we are left depleted, heartbroken, and undergoing several stages of loss. Many times there is shame, disbelief, unworthiness, and other traumatic emotional issues that arise. You can heal after a breakup. You can regain your confidence and place your heart back in balance. After the initial shock, anger, sadness and acceptance, you can pass on to the greatest source of healing, which is forgiveness.
An article in HelpGuide.Org shares that “breakups launch us into uncharted territory. Everything is disrupted: your routine and responsibilities, your home, your relationships with extended family and friends, and even your identity. A breakup brings uncertainty about the future. What will life be like without your partner? Will you find someone else? Will you end up alone? These unknowns often seem worse than an unhappy relationship.”
Romantic relationships give us tremendous highs of joy and hope for the future. When they fail, we experience the sense of loss beyond words. This leads to emotional and physical issues including stress, anxiety and grief.
Here are 4 steps to healing after a breakup:
1. Mourn the loss.
It doesn’t matter how long you were in a relationship. Breakups don’t take time into consideration as to how much the pain will be endured. You still must go through the 5 stages of loss that were first proposed by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler- Ross in her 1969 book, “On Death and Dying,” whether it was two months or twenty-two years.
– Denial and isolation. Sometimes a breakup catches us by surprise. We didn’t notice the red flags (or maybe there weren’t any). The moment it happens, and we are done with the relationship, we begin to deny that it happened. We return time and time again to the scenarios. It is then that we isolate from the world. Denial and isolation are defense mechanisms dealing with the shock.
– Anger. This stage usually comes from vulnerability. We begin to blame the other person for doing this to us. We question everything in the relationship. We get angry for not taking action sooner. Anger can be explosive. It even escalates and magnifies with guilt and shame.
– Bargaining. This is the middle point to the stages of loss. We begin to rethink any decisions and even feel hopeful about a possible rekindling with our loved one. We begin to bargain with everything, including spiritual beliefs, friends, and our egos.
– Depression. Once bargaining ends its cycle of getting nowhere, we enter into the stage of deep sadness and depression. We begin to worry about what others think, how you will be talked about in social circles, and start regretting ever falling in love. This stage can linger for a long while and it’s important to get help. Depression can mask itself into feelings of hopelessness and even desperation.
– Acceptance. Finally, when you are out of the darkness of deep grief, you enter acceptance. Acceptance is the deep breath of hope. Coping with any loss is a personal experience. Acceptance is finally acknowledging the loss. And, it’s in this stage that you can let go of all resentments, regrets, and start healing.
While you are undergoing the deep mourning process, it’s important to seek help. This can be through conventional therapy, spiritual counseling, friends or other support groups. This is not the time to retreat into your own little space. It’s important to write, create, and talk about your feelings.
2. Start taking care of your body, mind and spirit.
The first thing we deprive when we are sad, is our health. We stop exercising, eating right and doing the things we enjoy. You don’t have to return to normal habits immediately. You get a grace period to mourn. However, the faster you begin to care for your physical body, the easier it is for your emotional body to also heal.
– Be in nature. Give yourself the gift of breathing clean air. You don’t have to start running or hiking, but you can just walk around the neighborhood. Sit outside under a tree. Allow nature to heal your soul.
– Eat better. Cut out the sugars and fatty foods that you have been craving. Recognize any addicting habits that have taken over such as alcohol and drugs. Return your body to the equilibrium of continuum health by slowly integrating back your dietary needs. Watch cooking shows or search for recipes on the Internet for inspirations.
– Join a gym or support groups. Sometimes you need a new environment to start over. Take a yoga class. Join a cycling group. You can check your local newspaper for hiking or other groups. It is important to put yourself out there in new experiences. Check out spiritual gatherings or other like minded subjects you have put aside because of the relationship.
– Have a makeover. Get that haircut you have been thinking about getting. Buy new clothes and donate old ones. Get that beard shaven or trimmed. Rearrange your closet and your home to make it only yours.
3. Give of your time.
Volunteer for a hospital, church, library, homeless shelter or other organizations. It’s satisfying to give of your time. You can’t focus on feeling sorry for yourself when you are seeing others who need so much more. Giving time to a charity raises your self-esteem and you begin to feel good about yourself.
– Read to an elderly person. Many assisted living facilities encourage volunteers to spend time with their folks. You will witness gratitude from these people who usually have no one come to visit.
– Adopt a pet. Giving your love to a new animal has many healing benefits. You will start to feel an immediate unconditional love in return. Pets bring out the selfless generosity in us.
– Babysit for a neighbor. Children can teach us how to play. They can show us how to take things lightly and enjoy life.
4. Meet new people.
As you begin to heal from the trauma of the breakup, it’s just as important to go out again. Reinvent yourself and put yourself in healthy places where you can be enriched and supported.
– Go out with friends. Start going out to movies, dinner, or other social gatherings. You don’t have to go to a nightclub or a bar. You don’t have to rush into exposing yourself into social interactions. Restart socializing and feeling good about yourself.
– Use your creativity to meet others. You can join a writing or book club. You can take a cooking or pottery class. Creativity opens you up and brings you joy.
Breakups are difficult events in our lives. We begin to question everything about ourselves. Remember that for every ending, there is a new beginning. You might just be making room for something much better in your love life.