*note: For a full guide to completely get over your break up and reset your relationship with the person you love, I highly recommend you read this.
Our relationships are the connection we have with people and so it often determines how happy or “sweet” our lives are. Just like the great fruit a lemon can be when it compliments other ingredients even when it might not be great with others, so is our relationships filled with the greats, the inevitable negatives, and ultimately despised break up.
Did you know psychologists concur that having a relationship break up is like going through grief? Contrasting grieving and getting over a break up, you can probably see why. In both cases you lose someone you loved and you’re unwilling to psychologically let them go. By using similar principles to grieving for someone, you can get over a relationship breakup.
Break Ups Happen
As with death, break ups are a part of relationships and life. Death is inevitable. Break ups are inevitable. Acknowledge relationships end all the time. As simple as that statement appears, do not mistake simplicity for power. Our egos blow personal problems out of perspective causing us to think what is common in the world is unique for us. We think an ending relationship will be the end of our well-being. However, if you talk to a friend about getting over his or her relationship break up, you won’t have this ego problem and you will be able to see from a healthy perspective that break ups happen.
You wouldn’t have been able to experience the wonderful feelings you had with your most recent partner if you hadn’t broken up with someone before. The same can be said for your future partner. You won’t be able to experience the wonderful times and emotions with them if you don’t get over your broken relationship. It is as simple as that.
Types of Break Ups
Not every break up is the same. Some create intense emotions of sadness, depression, and anger while others can be a complete relief. I categorize relationship break ups into three groups:
- You chose to break up – this type of break up is the easiest and will give you fewest troubles. Often the decision will make you happier than being in the relationship.
- The other person chose to break up – the hardest type of break up to deal with is the other person deciding to break up with you and is the main focus in this article.
- Mutual break up – the two of you have talked the process through and concluded splitting up is the best option. The rarest type of break up where each individual often cares how the other person they are leaving feels about the decision. Reasoning, openness, and future plans are common.
Coming to terms with breaking up and knowing which type it is will initiate you being able to get over your relationship break up. However, it isn’t that clear-cut. You can often undergo a painfully recurrent uncertainty when splitting up where you wonder if the two of you are actually apart. This leads us onto the golden rule of getting over someone.
The Golden Rule of Moving On
Having truly realized that break ups happen and more importantly that they will happen to you, it is time to tell yourself the golden rule of getting over a break up. Affirm and reaffirm to yourself, and internalize the belief, that you want to get over the person you are breaking up with. Why is this important?
Let’s put it this way. How often have you seen someone want to get over a break up yet they are resistant to actually breaking up with the person? It happens too often.
What is even worse than being resistant to getting over the person, yet wanting to not get over them, is not being aware of the mental tug-o-war game. The internal conflict within yourself will leave you frustrated and not in control of your thoughts and emotions. You’ll be uncertain of getting back together with your old partner while being unwilling to move on and enjoy your life by yourself or with another partner. By wanting both lifestyles you will achieve neither. Commit to a decision.
If you have a choice of flying to one of Paris or Sydney, and you hesitate because you want to visit both cities while not wanting to miss the other, you’ll never make a decision. You’ll miss out on visiting either city. There’s a Russian proverb that says, “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” By not being 100% clear with what you want (this goes for every other goal in life), you will achieve neither and remain frustrated. You become uncertain of yourself because you never critically think and investigate your feelings and thoughts to know your true desire.
You have to be certain of yourself and know what you want. Don’t destroy the golden rule. Ask yourself questions and be fully aware of what is making you resistant to emotionally releasing yourself from the person. You can ask yourself questions like, “What makes me still attracted to the person?”, “Why can’t I get over him/her?”, and “What do I like about the person?” to develop an understanding of yourself. Discover what is causing you the emotional pain. I cannot emphasize that enough.
Ask yourself other questions that help clarify your emotions and thoughts. Clarity will form a direction you will head towards in your life. It will tell you where not to go. It will show you want you want. You will no longer have second thoughts and be uncertain of what you want. By clearly defining a destination you are able to map out a path as to how you will arrive there. Conduct an “investigation” making it your goal to discover as much about yourself as possible. Gather as much information about yourself from self-talk and other people to solve “the crime”.
People are unconscious of their emotional awareness in a break up and never know why they are experiencing pain. You will never get a solution if you do not know the problem. To additionally help you overcome this problem, I recommend you check out an article I have written titled “1. Principle of Influence: Commitment and Consistency” and you’ll discover a powerful influence that makes you stay in an unhappy relationship.
You Can Decide What Is Right
Maybe you are still uncertain of whether you should break up. There are simple actions you can take to see whether a break up is the better option.
Don’t worry about going to university and studying a degree in psychology to have to understand when you are in a bad relationship. There are clues that you are probably already aware of that are hinting your relationship is more like a lemon than lemonade. Ask yourself these practical questions:
- Are you and the other person feeling the same emotions as you were at the start of your relationship?
- Do the two of you share the same important values like religious beliefs?
- How often do you communicate to one another?
- When you do communicate, what things do you talk about?
- Do you enjoy being together?
- Do you perceive being single in a better light than being in a relationship?
- What causes the two of you to fight? Little things that show hostility or big problems like an affair?
- Do you have a fear of hurting the person? Why are you putting yourself through misery in not wanting to hurt the person?
- Are you in the relationship because of guilt or love?
Ask other people what they see and think about your relationship with the person. Take their opinions into account to help you decide what you want. However, don’t base your decision solely on what they think as the most important factor is how you feel.
Most women live in bad relationships because they would rather avoid being alone. They see married couples and envy their relationship. The thoughts about getting back together or just finding any guy then start racing through their mind. It isn’t unusual at all for the woman to reason that being in a bad relationship is more desirable than being alone. Some women unknowingly feel comforted in awful relationships. This is a blinding and dangerous process for a woman’s well-being.
Are you using the excuse that you’re feeling of “love” is keeping you from breaking up? Love is an intoxicating emotion. It is blinding. Even if you think you still “love” the person, ask yourself the many questions above. The questions act as objective judges to the situation; contrasted to your subjective emotion of love that intoxicates your understanding of the situation.
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) teaches that people often fail to distinguish between their different emotions. For example, excitement can be misunderstood as fear. How do you know that it is love you feel? Does your answers to the above questions sound like love to you? What specific events tell you that what you are experience with one person is love? What physical responses do you have which let you know that what you experience with another person isn’t love? Asking yourself these questions will make it crystal clear whether you really do experience love.
Even if you are sure you love the other person (remembering to be thinking objectively about this with the questions asked), love alone isn’t a good indicator of a good relationship. Love is not a relationship. It is an emotion. Don’t become intoxicated by affection, attraction, or love.
Remember that relationships can be repaired of course so don’t conclude that you should break up just because things are sour at the moment. If you still have a relationship with this person where you can communicate, talk things over with your partner in a safe environment. Though if you are certain the relationship is over, asking these questions will help reinforce your thoughts to fight away “what ifs” and “maybes” that you may have about getting back into the relationship. Though you may know something has ended, you will most likely still need thoughts to reinforce that it has in fact ended.
Emotional Baggage Holding You Back
It can be easy to carry emotional baggage from one relationship to the next. Emotional baggage occurs when you carry your emotions from one relationship to another much like you would carry a backpack while traveling from one destination to another. The damage you received from one person, you hold it against the other and prevent a potentially deep interpersonal relationship from starting. You carry it around because you fail to let go or you fear of being hurt again.
By protecting yourself, you forgo the risk of being hurt again and miss out on amazing happiness with your partner. People are in relationships all the time where they protect themselves by holding back communication and experiencing full potential emotions. They say things like “I don’t want to get hurt again”, “I’m still hurting”, or “I’m not over it.” They withhold their full emotional selves and communication from the relationship to emotionally protect oneself.
There is no denying that you can get damaged when putting trust in someone or a situation, yet by holding back you are missing out on reaping the joyful rewards of an intimate relationship. You do not have to quickly “dive into” the relationship. Few relationships consist of quickly developed deep emotions. You can “dip your toes” into the relationship and gradually but surely fully immerse yourself. Overcome issues like managing stress in a divorce and begin dropping your emotional baggage onto the ground. Doing so will ensure you experience full intimacy that otherwise would not have been achievable by carrying emotional baggage around.
Learn From It
I’m a firm believer in that every person can learn a lesson from almost every person and situation. The same goes for experiencing a relationship break up. You can learn vital lessons and experience personal growth instead of personal decay.
Your main goal in relationships is finding your perfect partner. One who you can share love, feel connected, and be one. You cannot achieve this by carrying around emotional baggage as described before and not learning from your mistakes. Does it make sense to learn from a break up so you can progress forward finding your ultimate partner instead of the old relationship being a complete waste of time, intense emotions, and energy?
Of course it does!
However, it is easier said than done. Instead of looking for the positive in breaking up, it can be extremely easy to find the negative to strengthen your negative beliefs and not move on becoming smarter and stronger for future relationships. Little negative things you pick up can snowball into huge problems. This mindset is extremely damaging causing a chain reaction of negative building from the negative until you are fully emotionally unavailable in relationships. What happens here is you become extremely negative and see no positive. You see problems and not opportunities. (EDIT: take a look at all the negativity people are focused on in the comments below. See how people are focused on the problem? You don’t want this.)
In learning from your experience I recommend you take responsibility for what occurred. In many break ups, each person blames the other. No one person is often mutually agreed upon to have caused the split. There are lots of circumstances where this hasn’t been true, but be honest with yourself and learn from your past mistakes and problems. Take responsibility and do not play the blame game.
I can almost guarantee that you did something seriously wrong in the relationship which contributed to the break up. It’s just that maybe you are not aware of what occurred because you lack the knowledge to know what went on. Maybe you didn’t know how attraction works, you didn’t effectively listen to your partner, or you didn’t have the assertive skills to address a problem that was concerning you. Can you now see the powerful role you may have played in the break up?
It is important that you know getting over a break up is more than just moving on. It is learning from your past for a better future by accepting responsibility for what occurred. Look at the situation as a learning experience in your journey towards finding your ultimate partner.
Once you’ve recognized the break up is inevitable or has occurred, use the techniques explained earlier in addition to the ones below to get over the break up. There are many things you can do to get over a relationship break up but one of the most important things you can do is to have a support group.
For most girls this will come easy but for guys it’ll be difficult as society makes you think you’re not macho enough if you express your emotions. Girls can communicate to their closest friends and talk to their parents or brothers and sisters provided these support people are willing to listen and help you get through this difficult time. The people closest to you are the ones who care for your well-being and by letting them know you need them to just listen to you about your break up, they will be more willing to “absorb” the pain you are feeling. Let them know you are only after a listening ear to avoid having them turn into an amateur psychologist by giving you advice. You want a support group or person for expressing yourself and your emotions and not for relationship advice.
As for guys, you can use the same principles, but chances are you will not want to talk to your guy friends about the break up. Remember that if it’s not expressed, it’s repressed. You need to have a support group or at least a support person. You will find that accepting your emotions and expressing them will allow you to heal. (If you are a guy, and simply want to get your girlfriend back, there is a good guide here.)
How to Move on From Pain
At this stage, we’ve clearly defined what you do, and do not, want because a broken relationship can be very confusing. You’ve also learned about love, carrying around emotional baggage, learning from the past, and expressing your pain. If you’re not up to this stage, go back and read the beginnings of this article.
Naomi Eisenberger, a University of California neuroscientist, discovered that the feeling of rejection which occurs during a break up switches on the same part of the brain as physical pain. The anterior cingulate receives an intense boost in activity. This is why the other person breaking up with you can be very painful. Someone punching you in the nose is as threatening, according to your brain, as being rejected in a break up.
The physical pain you experience can be cured by a doctor. However, does a doctor actually heal your wounds? No. The doctor helps your body get into a state of healing so it can heal itself.
The pain you experience from the past is irreversible. There is nothing you can do about it. You need to put your mind and body into a state that allows it to heal itself emotionally. One way to achieve this is time, but I’m sure you don’t want to waste ten years of your life living in pain.
Another option is seeing a therapist. Should you choose a therapist? It’s up to you. All therapy works for different people in different situations. Even no therapy is therapy because time itself is therapeutic.
Before you do decide on spending thousands of dollars on someone who will listen to your problems, I want you to do this exercise. The exercise I’m about to share with you is powerful because it doesn’t change the content of your experience. Your experience has happened and you can’t change it. What the exercise does change is the process. The exercise changes the attributions you make to the past and future.
Think of a pleasant experience you have had in the past or imagine a pleasant experience you would like to have in the future. See the image. As you see the image, make it larger. Make the image bigger, brighter, and clearer. Take your time as you see the image increase in size. As the image changes, notice how you feel. After you’ve done that, move the image in the opposite direction. Take your time doing the exercise. Gradually make the pleasant image smaller, dimer, unclear, and distant from you. Again, as the image changes, notice how you feel this time.
Once you’ve done that little exercise, how did you feel when the image become brighter and increased in size? How did you feel when the image become smaller, dim, and further from you? Most people experience intense emotions when they see a bright and large image. On the contrary, they also experience little emotion when they see a small, dim, and distant image. You can probably see how this is playing out for you in moving on from pain.
If you make unpleasant images large, bright, and up close, while making pleasant images small, dim, and distant, you will be an expert at feeling miserable! On the other hand, if you make pleasant images large, bright, and up close, while making unpleasant images small, dim, and distant, you will be an expert at feeling happy!
Apply this very concept to your relationships. Your unpleasant images are the break up movies you continually play in your mind, while your pleasant images are whatever you see as pleasurable to you.
Shrink the unpleasant images and see the images going away from you. Next, having constructed your beliefs and defining clarity for you pleasant image, intensify what you want. Awaken your inner desire by constantly feeling, thinking, seeing, and even touching and smelling what your goal will be like. Imagine yourself with a big smile. Feel the joy within yourself. Think how great it will be to have gotten over your break up. See yourself touching your surroundings.
The premise of the law of attraction works by living your present as if it were your desired future. Acting “as if” attracts the thoughts, feelings, and experiences you desire. You will be able to get over your relationship much faster by intensely imagining what your five senses will be like having achieved that goal. Again, I recommend you apply this technique to as many areas of your life as possible. You will greatly increase your success by vividly experiencing what you want.
Source of Energy
Unfortunately for many people, their relationship with a partner is what exactly determines how happy their life is at the present moment. If their relationship is sour, then so is the individual. It is almost a codependency trap. This neediness eventually deteriorates the relationship and scares away their partner.
Many individuals have a mediocre life such that they desperately need a partner. The person isn’t bursting with pure joy and happiness when they’re single and thinks a good relationship is what will make them happy and solve their problems. If a person goes into a relationship like this, he or she will destroy it.
If you don’t have a great single life where you wonder how to fit a relationship in, then I question whether you should be in a relationship. You need to become your own source of energy and be in control of your emotions instead of being dependent on others for things like comfort, happiness, and emotional security. This view is the opposite perspective to a time-consuming, miserable, and codependent relationship.
You’ve broken up and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to make a big change in your life. For you, it could be working harder to get a promotion, exercising, reading self help books, taking a new course, socializing, or going out with friends more. You need to take the action to create a single life where you are happily busy and question whether you want a relationship with someone. I guarantee you that having such a great single life is what will attract a future partner for you.
I honestly believe a break up can be one of the greatest things to happen to a person depending on where they are in their life. I say this because you will have poor communication or relationship skills in various areas and improving in them allows you to have more fulfilling future relationships. Like I said earlier, learn from the break up. If splitting up encourages you to undergo a lot of self help, then the changes in your life will be amazing.
When life throws you a lemon with a bad relationship, do not try and divulge the lemon. Instead, look at the lemon from a different perspective and see that you can make lemonade. As with bad relationships, yours and the other person’s emotions seem awful and bitter, but by using these techniques you can now look at a break up from a different perspective and move on with your life continuing your search for that perfect partner.
(If you are reading this article, single because of your recent break up, feeling a sense of depression, and still want to get back with your ex, pay attention to what I’m about to share with you before your ex finds someone else. For a full course to get back with the person you love, I highly recommend you read this.)
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