Science of coping with breakup woes revealed
A relationship counsellor has shared her tips on coping with post breakup pain.
According to research, rejection by a romantic partner during a breakup activates regions of the brain associated with physical pain, Stuff.co.nz reported.
Author Elly Taylor has said that the most important thing to cope with a break-up is to recognise that it is a legitimate loss and needs to be respected like one.
The more significant the loss, the greater the mourning of it. That chest crunching pain of losing love can send us into the same stages of grief that other losses, even a death can.
Firstly, know the stages you will go through - shock and denial, bargaining, anger and depression, and how to manage them. How you manage them will determine how you get through to the final stage of acceptance.
Next, don’t pretend that you are fine when you aren’t as people will withdraw vital support because they think you don’t need it. Don’t bury your feelings, they only go deeper.
Don’t try to manipulate the person into taking you back because the pain is unbearable, this will just delay things and lead to a very compromised relationship. Pain and loss, sadly, are a part of life and we need to learn, at some stage, to get through them.
Distracting yourself is great at times to relieve the intensity of grief, but doing it to avoid the pain is counterproductive, so if you find yourself throwing yourself into work, going out every night, keeping so busy you exhaust yourself every day or spending up big to make yourself feel better, you are just delaying the inevitable.
Likewise, don’t jump into a new relationship before you have grieved the old one. Grief gets compounded that way. Unresolved grief from previous relationships builds up and then can hit us like a tonne of bricks down the track.
How long the pain will last depends on the relationship, but as a guideline it takes around 18 months to grieve and then 18 months to heal.
The most important part of the grieving process is the expression of the emotions that come up. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is and find ways of getting it out.
Between relationships is the best time to work on our relationship with ourselves, as this, internal model, is the basis for all our other relationships. We compromise so much of ourselves, especially in flailing relationships. Now is the time to reclaim all those bits that we gave away.
How we treat ourselves after we do something we regret is a great indication of our relationship with ourselves. If we are compassionate and forgive ourselves, we begin to re-build the self-esteem that was dented through another’s rejection of us. If we beat ourselves up, we really have some work to do, because it''s a way of rejecting ourselves.
Contact should be cut off only if the contact is likely to lead to desperate and unlikely bargaining attempts to get back together, or to get hurt more, or to hurl abuse, this will just further undermine our self-esteem and leave us more vulnerable.
This is a time to steer clear of advice, because it can just make the process more complicated. What we really need is a good listener who can support us to work out what we need to help ourselves. This is how we build resilience to cope with future losses.
Take a deep breath, give yourself a big internal hug, keep it short and sweet and give yourself a pat on the back afterwards if you run in to them unexpectedly.