It has been six months since a devastating breakup and I have been slowly clawing my way out of the horrible pit it felt like I ended up in.
It’s been a tough time for me, but I wanted to share some facts, techniques and lessons I’ve learned about during these trying times.
Conventional breakup advice has been rather silly, since most of it amounted to you just need to be patient. That’s obvious and not really helpful.
Instead, I’m here to bring you a random assortment of tips and observations. Let’s get started. Some of these are all about ways of thinking.
Identifying thought loops
Sometimes you might find yourself thinking something that leads you down a particular thought pattern that repeats. At some point you might realise that you’ve thought these things before.
This means you noticed you were dealing with a thought loop. Ending up in a thought loop can easily cause hours of your life to pass by in a blur. If you’ve found yourself in a negative thought loop, this can be quite bad for your mental health.
Try asking yourself frequently if your thought process sounds familiar. Figuring out that you’re thinking in circles is usually enough to break the loop. Once you can “catch” yourself doing this, you can “catch” a particular thought and put it to bed.
Deflecting negative emotions
Have you ever thought something like this? “You are a loser. You are worthless. You are ugly. No one likes you.” These are painful thoughts.
I’m sure everyone has had invasive thoughts like that, especially after a difficult period in your life. My reaction in the past was to actively fight these thoughts, but I have a different way of handling these invasive thoughts instead.
I just let these feelings wash over me, and then I go: Here’s what I’m doing to address feeling like a loser: I’m working out every day (for example). This acknowledges the emotion behind the invasive thought but also sends the mind in the proper direction: towards the future.
This way of thinking is intended to break or deflect the negative thought without actively fighting it. In order to be able to do this, you need to be able to think towards the future.
Handling bursts of sadness and anger
I’m still dealing with infrequent remnants of what were (previously) much more frequent bursts of feelings of sadness and anger.
These were the hardest to deal with, but I realised I did not need to suffer from this. As it turns out, you can’t do anything about which emotions you feel. You can, however, decide what you do in response to those emotions.
Our mind tries to come up with an explanation for the stimuli our brain processes. Sometimes that’s all an emotion is: our brain trying to explain something. Have you ever tried to stop yourself from eating something in order to lose weight? It’s like that, but you can fight more feelings than just the desire to eat. You needn’t be a slave to your impulses!
The easiest way to deal with these is to just experience them, but not to act on them. This is, in effect, not exactly different from standing under a cold shower or a waterfall: you just have the feelings roll over you. You’ll feel bad, but your thinking should be separate from the feeling that you have.
Talk, talk and talk some more
The very first thing I did once I suspected my relationship might end up becoming a dumpster fire, was to contact my closest friends and tell them my story.
Having the opportunity to talk it all through and understand that I was not going crazy was an incredible relief. I felt vindicated and justified in my actions.
It is the number one thing that got me through that period: lots of conversation. Not just about the breakup, but about life and all of the problems and frustrations that came with the relationship that had just ended.
Since certain friends of mine unfortunately had to suffer through similar situations, we were even able to swap notes on various aspects of the particular type of breakup I went through, and I got a lot of great advice.
I’m incredibly grateful for my closest friends and confidants. Without them, I’d still be a sobbing mess.
If there has been one takeaway for me, then it is this: life sure ain’t easy, but I have more time than ever before to work on becoming the person I would like to be.
I am unburdened by the stresses of life that kept me down before, unburdened by a person I had to take into account for big life plans, and unburdened by expectations of a person who was moving away from my orbit. I am my own judge now. The bar has been taken down and replaced with a new one.
The path I am on is not an easy one; I was very comfortable before. Too comfortable perhaps, lazy even. Moving forward will require determination, grit and persistence.
I have already accepted that I will feel uncomfortable and scared in this new direction. Such is life. Eventually, though, I will thank myself for not standing still and withering away, I suspect.
Wish me luck!