Recovery after a breakup

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“Getting over pain and experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward”. – C.S. Lewis

A breakup is never easy and letting go of the person is twice as difficult. We all go through heartache or two or three. Its life but I believe it’s better to be alone than with the wrong person. Who knows, that breakup was just clearing the way for an even more beautiful relationship to come. It is truly heartbreaking to see some people allow themselves to suffer to the extent of wanting or even taking their own lives. We have so much to live for and all this hurt and pain that we are feeling will soon pass, time is the best healer. Breaking up is not the end of the world but a new beginning an opportunity to grow.

Buddhism says “pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” Many of us want to avoid the pain of loss through distraction or dating again. I believe that after a breakup we should take this time to reconnect with ourselves, to grow and to heal these wounds, if we enter into another relationship before we fully recover. We are most likely to bleed on this person not giving them a fair chance to prove their love for us.

Below I have put together this blog to help people that are going through a difficult breakup or those who may want to leave a bad relationship while still in love but they realized that holding on is more painful than letting go.

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Below is a brief overview

The psychological reasons why it is so difficult to move on after a breakup?

  1. Attachment – Our desire to connect with others is one of the deepest human motivators. According to Evolutionary psychologists, bonding has helped us survive harsh conditions. Developing close bonds with caregivers is essential to a child’s emotional and physical development. Research states that babies who are deprived of human contact or touch become sick and have cognitive delays. When children are separated from a caregiver, they send out signals to keep their loved ones close. They may cry, become angry (protest behavior), or anxious (separation anxiety). If the separation persists, children move into despair, and eventually detachment. As adults, many of us transfer our attachment needs onto a romantic partner. This means that when they are not available, we might send some of the same attachment signals as children.
  2. Changes in our Self-Concept – Early in a relationship, it’s natural to immerse yourself in the interests and identity of your new partner. When your relationship ends, it’s also natural to feel a temporary loss of your sense of self. While relationships can lead to a greater sense of self, breakups can lead to a smaller sense of self. Another change that occurs is the recreational activities, friends, can also be lost with a relationship this is called the self-concept content change.
  3. Memory – As with any significant relationship, the interactions we have are stored into two memory systems called implicit and explicit memory. Implicit memory is an unconscious type of memory that develops just before birth. It includes nonverbal, sensory, emotional, and motor memory. Between 12-18 months, explicit memory develops, which enable us to remember facts, timelines, and stories. As we develop, we continue to encode implicit and explicit memories together. So what do implicit and explicit memory have to do with breakups? The memories we have encoded during the relationship are often brought up through reminders, which can lead to negative emotions. These are called triggers. 

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Impact of breakups

In times of crisis, it is helpful to make sense of your experience. Many researchers have found that putting emotions into words has a calming effect on our brain and how you cope.

Exercise:

List all of the symptoms you have been experiencing since the breakup these should include:

Physical Symptoms

Emotional Reactions

Your Thoughts

Your Behaviors

When should one seek help from a professional 

for most these symptoms they are natural reactions that should fade over time. But in some cases, if the reactions persist and it interferes with the person’s ability to function then this will be a cause for concern and it time to seek professional help. 

Planning suicide – At this moment you may not be able to imagine your life without this person, but if you or anyone you know is considering ending their life, contact a professional immediately (e.g. psychologist)

Planning to hurt others – It is quite normal to be angry after your ex has broken up with you but it is a cause for concern when you are planning to harm them or anyone else, please contact any professional support system available (e.g. Psychologist, doctor)

If your symptoms have worsened or you haven’t seen any way of getting over this breakup within 4-6 weeks (please seek help).

If the breakup involved infidelity, manipulation, or abuse

If your ex threatens to harm you

You are using a self-destructive method to cope (e.g. drugs or alcohol use).

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