Breakups. Some people have them harder, some easier, but we all go through them at some point, and they always suck.
After my most notable breakup, I started frantically rummaging the Internet for answers on how to get over my ex. Luckily, with a quick Google search, I got access to a boundless sea of breakup advice. And, oh boy, was I fucking thrilled to get my answer.
I’ve read every sweet article, listened to every succulent podcast, and watched every savory video I could find. I was like a starved dog thrown out to rot, who just uncovered an open truck full of fresh doggy-delicacies.
However, after spending weeks glued to my computer screen, I’ve encountered a glaring problem with all the so-called get over your ex guides: they contained little to no tangible value.
These guides were either sales pitches for a product or shallow fluff pieces full of cliches and drivel like “work on yourself,” “get back out there,” or “just socialize more.”
Don’t get me wrong, these bits of advice do help people get over an ex, but at the same time, they put forth a nonsensical and dumbed-down picture of what breakup recovery actually is.
I’m not going to bullshit you. Getting over your ex is much more complicated than just “going out there and focusing on yourself.” It will take time, grit, and effort — and it will suck.
But ultimately, that suck will be worth it because as you reach the other side of your painful recovery, you’re going to become a more compassionate, resilient, and an overall better person.
So, grab a gallon of ice cream or a bottle of whiskey, and let’s get through this fucker together.
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Why breakups hurt so much
This will sound crazy, but after your relationship ends, a part of you dies. I know, I know. What the fuck, Max. Why are you so dramatic? Just hear me out.
When you’re in a relationship for some time, the values, beliefs, and goals you and your partner share begin to intertwine. This process makes it possible for the two of you to become one. Your partner infuses with a part of your identity, and you infuse with a part of theirs. As a result, the two of you form a “shared identity.”
The shared identity carries many benefits. It deepens the love, respect, trust, and emotional connection between you and your partner. It helps you live a longer, mentally healthier, and more fulfilling life. And it provides your life with one more facet of purpose.
However, this formation of life purpose is not limited to only romantic relationships. You can even start to form one by cultivating a deep and fulfilling relationship with your career, body, family, and friends.
Now, think about this: something that’s a part of you, something that provided your life with meaning and fulfillment, is suddenly stripped away.
Without a doubt, you’d fall into an existential crisis as a result — one where you’d start to question everything you know, everyone you know, and even yourself, and your deepest core values. And the same result would occur whether your relationship was toxic or healthy because, in the end, it was still yours.
As if that wasn’t enough, it gets worse. The more meaning and emotional value you attached to your past relationship, the more empty, hopeless, and miserable you feel now that it’s gone.
But if you keep marinading yourself in your emptiness, hopelessness, and misery, you’ll risk staying stuck in the past, chasing after an old life, a life that is now dead. This tendency is the equivalent of mental, emotional, and spiritual stagnation.
So, how do you move forward instead of backward? Well, my friend, it all starts with three simple (yet emotionally difficult) steps.
- Why Do Breakups Hurt And What Can You Do About It.
- Breakups Through The Lens Of Attachment Theory.
- 3 Beliefs That Keep You Heartbroken And How To Overcome Them
- Top 7 emotional needs in a relationships
- 5 Fallacies That Prevent You From Finding Love Again
1. The three first steps of breakup recovery
Step 1: Decide that you’re going to get over your ex. Decide that you’re going to retake control over your emotions, identity, and life. Decide you’re going to do all of this despite the odds.
Step 2: Take responsibility for your breakup. It might not be your fault that your relationship ended, but it’s always on you how you’ll respond to its end.
Step 3: If you’re the reason your relationship ended, forgive yourself. We all make mistakes. If your ex is the reason why your relationship ended, forgive them. Again, we all make mistakes. And if the breakup is the fault of both of you — which is most likely — forgive them and you.
Obviously, these three steps are not always easy to do or to keep doing. So to make this easier, try creating a daily habit around them. For example, every morning, remind yourself, “Move on, it’s over for a reason. You’re responsible for your life. Don’t play the victim. I forgive myself. I forgive my ex. Work on yourself, etc.”
Above all, remember this: after loss, there’s always rebirth. When you lose someone, you concurrently make space in your life for someone else to fill. When you lose yourself, you at some point also find yourself again. When you lose your old life, you also build a new one out of the remains and ashes of the old.
A word of warning: many people begin to want their ex back during this period of the first three steps of breakup recovery. While there’s nothing wrong with that, I generally advise people to find someone else instead because of three reasons:
First, if two people broke up, they probably weren’t compatible. Their relationship was over for a reason. And if they suddenly get back together, their incompatibility is will not magically go away, at least not with months or even years of self-work. Therefore, the odds are that they’ll just break up again shortly.
Second, most people want their ex back due to their fear of not finding anyone else or because they don’t feel worthy of anyone else. If these kinds of people get their ex back, the usual result is an unsatisfying relationship or one trapped in a perpetual cycle of breaking up and coming back together.
Third, the odds of staying together with your ex after a breakup are not in your favor. Therefore I would deem the whole venture a waste of time. I know this sounds counterintuitive since most “get your ex back” experts tell you otherwise, but it’s the truth. Those people lie to you on purpose, so you buy their shoddy products.
- Stop Trying To Overcome Your Anger After A Breakup
- 6 Surprising Misconceptions About Breakup Recovery
- How To Get Back With Your Ex The Right Way
- The Bullshit Behind The “How To Get An Ex Back” Gurus
- Should I Take My Ex Back
2. Go no contact and remove all reminders of your ex
To get over your ex as fast as possible, you have to emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually cut them out of your life for a certain period. This is what the no-contact rule helps you with.
No contact is a technique where you revert from contacting your ex in any way, shape, or form. During this period, you don’t call them, you don’t message them, you don’t like their social media posts, nor do you wish them a happy birthday. And you definitely don’t have any “accidental” encounters with them.
Ok, but for how long should I revert from contacting my ex, and what if they contact me first?
The length of the no-contact period varies. Some people recommend making it 30 days, others say 60 days, and some swear by 90 days. However, I recommend that you stay in no contact forever. I mean, it’s an ex. You’re better off finding someone else
Moreover, if your ex contacts you at some point during your no-contact period, be human. If you want them back, tell them that. If you want to heal, tell them not to contact you because you’re trying to heal. And if they keep bugging you and don’t respect your wishes, block them. It’s that simple.
But my ex lives with me/has kids with me/works in the same office, etc.. What can I do in that case?
That’s where modified no contact comes in. The only difference between the classic and modified no-contact rule is that you’re “allowed” to contact your ex when applying the modified. But this contact has to be strictly tied to logistics, business, or family.
Note: Some people apply the no-contact rule to make their ex miss them and increase their chances of getting them back. This does work, but it’s not the original purpose of no-contact — the original purpose is to win yourself back and not your ex.
Ok, I get the whole no contact thing, but what can I do about all the things that remind me of my ex and spark my urge to contact them?
Just as you need to separate your ex and yourself with no-contact, you also need to separate yourself from their things or just about anything that reminds you of them.
Your phone is always a solid starting point. Delete your ex-lover’s phone number, your text/social conversations, and your email exchanges. Also, unfriending them on Facebook and unfollow them on all your active social media channels.
Next, throw away any gifts that your ex gave you or objects that remind you of them. However, if throwing them out is too much for you, hide them in a closet or something. Basically, find a spot where you can remove anything that reminds you of your ex. You know the drill; what’s out of sight is out of mind.
And finally, until you’ve gotten over your ex, avoid going to places that you’ve loved to go to when you were still with them. Even better, find new fun places to spend your time in, if that’s possible.
- How To Stop Thinking About Your Ex: A Fun 50-Step Plan
- 4 Reasons Why You’re Missing your ex And How To Stop
- The No Contact Rule Explained And Exposed
3. learn to let go
Pain is an inseparable thread in the fabric of our life; It’s always there, always present, and no one can protect us from it. The more we try to scratch, burn, starve, choke, or therapy our pain from our life, the more of it we’ll feel.
And, not only that we can’t rid pain from our life, but we also shouldn’t. An attempt to tear out pain also unravels everything else with it – the good and the great.
Therefore, the only thing we can do is accept our pain, live with our pain, survive, and maybe even thrive despite our pain. One way of doing this is by learning to let go.
In its simplest form, letting go means becoming aware of a specific feeling, allowing it to come up, clutching it tightly, and then letting it flow away from us without judgment or any desire to change it.
So when you feel a certain negative emotion — be it anxiety, anger, sadness, or hurt — let yourself feel the very depths of it. Don’t try to suppress or avoid it. Just let it be. Likewise, do the same thing for the thoughts that pop up because of your negative emotions; let them float around, and don’t judge. Be zen.
In practice, this whole letting go process would look like this:
When you’re feeling down or misty-eyed, find a place where you won’t be disturbed, like, a bedroom or a car, and then let it rip. Don’t think. Just let yourself cry, wail, scream, and punch everything around you.
You can also amplify your negative emotions by telling yourself things like, “I feel like shit, “I’m going to die,” “I’ll never be the same again,” and “I am unworthy of life and love.”
The reason you would say these horrid things to yourself is you could squeeze all the hurt out of you. Hence the phrase, when you feel it, you heal it.
This entire process of letting go may take you from 20 minutes to 5 hours, but ultimately, it’s different for everyone since we are all on different points in our breakup recovery.
Also, you’ll probably repeat this activity multiple times throughout the days or weeks. This is because negative emotions regrow as time goes on — At least until you’ve fully got over your ex.
Hence, letting go is not something you do once and forget about it. It’s an activity you repeat until you have finally outgrown and transcended the longing for your ex.
How people screw up letting go
As you can probably grasp by now, letting go ain’t a cakewalk. Many people fuck it up by either holding in their emotions, trying to escape them, or by allowing them to radiate controllably. Here’s what I mean in detail.
Suppressing and repressing your emotions means pushing them down instead of feeling them wholly. The only difference between the two terms is that when we repress our emotions, we push them down unconsciously, and when we suppress them, we push them down consciously.
But why is suppressing our emotions bad?
Because the more we do it, the worse we’ll feel, the more, the more mood swings, temper tantrums, and general irritability we’ll have, and the higher our chances are for trauma to develop.
Escapism is when we avoid facing and overcoming our painful feelings by indulging in a variety of trivial pursuits that act as distractions. These can be binge playing video games or watching movies, exercising, drinking, or shopping.
There’s nothing wrong with occasional distractions, but they become mentally unhealthy when people engage in them for too long. Sadly this is what usually happens to breakup survivors. They don’t just play video games for a few hours or pamper themselves with an evening dessert. They have a two-week-24/7-video-game binge and overeat on their favorite dessert until they throw up.
Over-expression is another word for our lousy emotional management. It refers to venting all our negativity to the point where it gets smothering and destructive for the person we’re talking to.
Imagine a gal named Samantha who just got cheated on and dumped by her now-ex-boyfriend. She just met up with her friend, Tom. As soon as they sit down at a nearby table at their favorite cafe, Samantha — instead of taking 10 minutes to vent or ask for advice — goes on a 2-hour-long dumpster-fire rant about how her ex is the incarnation of Satan. This is toxic vulnerability; it’s oversharing; it’s over-expression; it’s hell. Naturally, Tom quickly begins to regret his decision to meet up with Samantha.
- How to be vulnerable in a relationship
- How To Grow From Your Breakup Pain
- How To Be Happy After A Breakup
- Accepting A Breakup
4. Take care of the life-essentials
If you’re like most people, you probably have difficulty sleeping and focusing on work after your breakup. Maybe you also struggle to eat, or you’ve begun to binge-eat? Hell, you probably even quit exercising and instead fused your flesh with the living room sofa.
I get it. Your breakup hurts like hell, you’re feeling lonely, you’re pissed off, and you just want to stay in bed all day. It’s fine. Go and do that for a while. Take a week or two off. Just know that you can’t afford to stay that way, or you’ll end up miserable.
Sooner or later, you will have to snap back to reality, get off your ass, and get your fucking life in order. However, don’t feel pressured that you need to do it all in one go.
Start rebuilding your life slowly, day by day, so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Below, I’ve outlined five life areas you should rebuild and make changes/improvements in first: sleep, exercise, hygiene, diet, and general well-being.
If you have trouble sleeping after your breakup, there are many things you can do to turn around the situation.
Start by rebuilding your sleeping patterns. Meaning, commit to waking up and going to bed at the same time every night.
Next, try incorporating a vigorous exercise regime into your afternoons or evenings. You can do weight or cardio, whatever feels best. The point is to tire yourself out to the point where you fall asleep instantly.
Lastly, experiment with sleep-aid devices like white-noise machines, sleep sounds/music, and relaxation exercises, like meditation (which we will get into later on), qi-gong, and deep-breathing.
No matter how much pain you feel, you have to muster up the energy to perform some form of physical exercise at some point. As mentioned previously, this will also help you get better sleep.
Your exercise doesn’t have to be hardcore. You can start small as a walk in the woods for 20 minutes every morning or go for a bike ride for an hour every evening.
As a sidenote, activities done in nature are proven to be more relaxing and therapeutic than those done at home, the gym, or any other closed place.
I won’t overindulge in this topic because I assume that you already have your personal hygiene in order. The only reason I’m throwing this bullet-point in here is because many people need to be reminded that they stink after five days of mulling and weeping in bed due to their breakup.
So rapid-fire: shower at least once a day, wash your hair and teeth, invest in quality clothing (this does not mean expensive), clip your nails, use deodorant. Just look presentable, don’t be a slob.
You know the drill: you get your heart shattered, and suddenly you end up at the nearest TV with a bowl of chocolate ice-cream in your hands. Soon, one bowl turns into ten bowls, with the addition of salty chips, Oreos, and Jaffa Cakes.
Look, do yourself a favor and cut any sweets out of your diet. Having an abundance of sugar in your body is proven to make you more emotionally volatile, increasing the likelihood of drastic mood swings or temper tantrums.
Another thing you can do to improve your diet and your overall health is to cut out any wheat-based goodies, like pasta or bread. Those foods cause brain-fog, lower productivity, make you gain rapid weight, and make you feel stodgy — which no one wants.
A couple of tips:
- If you’re working long hours, maybe even late into the night, creating a stop point would be beneficial. As would cutting your workload be.
- Learn to say “no” more times to the requests of other people.
- Cut back on the booze if you think you’re drinking too much. Similarly, reducing smoking or other drugs would be very helpful.
- Do a social media detox. Or even better, quit social media altogether, especially if it makes you anxious, irritated, or full of FOMO.
- If you’re watching, reading, or listening to things that piss you off(e.i, news), stop watching, reading, or listening to those things for a while.
- If you’re distracting yourself with something – a.k.a, indulging in escapism, try to catch and stop yourself from doing that.
To wrap things up, taking care of our life essentials is like cleaning your room in Jordan Peterson lingo. When we take care of our 101 life essential areas, we’ll not only feel better about ourselves and our heartbreak but also begin building a solid emotional foundation on which we’ll be able to rebuild our whole life.
- The Guide To Healthy Boundaries In A Relationship
- 12 Powerful Solution For When You Can’t Sleep After A Breakup
- How To Rebuild Your Self Esteem After A Breakup
- How To Stop Feeling Worthless And Inadequate After A Breakup
- How To Stop Being Needy After A Breakup
- Dreaming About Your Ex? 6 Reasons Why And What It All Means
5. Socialise now — Date when ready
Socializing is paramount when you’re going through a breakup. It helps you fend off loneliness and depression, it increases your overall happiness and well-being, and even helps you live a fuller and longer life. So go outside and meet up with your friends or family, for god’s sake!
Also, we as humans are wired for social connection. So it’s only reasonable to presuppose that we will feel better if we get active again in our community or friend groups.
However, don’t mistake going out and socializing with dating. Dating is a whole other story.
Many dating coaches blazon how you should start dating other people, even if it’s just a week after your 10-year relationship collapsed. I call BS on this perspective.
If you start dating right after your breakup, you’ll risk ending up in an unhealthy rebound relationship, or you’ll use dating as a distraction that will prevent you from dealing with your breakup pain and consequentially delay your recovery.
So here’s what I recommend you do instead.
Don’t rush into another relationship when you just came out of a fresh one. Instead, take some time off to enjoy the single life, to process your grief and other emotions, and to get a taste of what living without someone you cherished feels like. And only start seeing other people when the world of dating starts feeling fun and exciting again.
I can’t stress this enough. You have no idea how many people tell me that they actually hate dating after their breakup, but they do it anyway because it prevents them from dealing with their pain or strokes their ego and makes them feel worthy of love again.
Don’t be one of these people. 90% of the time, they’re even more miserable than when they were before they started dating. Again, start dating when it feels fun. Here’s another way you can look at it: start dating when you’re not motivated to do it by fear or hurt.
- How Everyone Gets The Stages Of A Rebound Relationship Wrong
- How A Rebound Relationship Can Save Your Life
- How To develop solid social skills (newsletter)
- The Importance Of Dating In A Relationship
6. The holy trinity of Breakup Recovery
The world is full of trauma healing techniques, but specifically for breakup survivors, I’ve seen no other techniques work as well as meditation, journaling, and dream analysis. Seriously, these three tools were often the catalyst for massive breakup recovery with my clients. Because of this, I’ve coined these three techniques The Holy Trinity of breakup recovery. Let’s go over each in turn.
Meditation is very much the simple act of observing oneself. You can do it practically anywhere, and you don’t need any fancy gear or software for the activity. But the best part about the practice are the potentially life-changing benefits:
- Meditation gives you a boost in focus and discipline and makes you think more clearly. This means you’re going to be more likely to stick with doing vital tasks without deviating your attention on trivial ones, like checking your Instagram for the 69th time.
- Meditation helps you develop a better connection with your intuition. This is your instant gut reaction or the voice inside your head that reminds you that you’re drunk and should go home while you’re partying, for instance.
- Meditation helps you develop emotional stability and deepens your self-awareness. Having higher emotional stability translates to fewer tamper tantrums, inner frustrations, and neuroticism. And increased self-awareness translates to an improved ability to become aware of what you’re doing, thinking, and feeling at the moment.
- Meditation improves all major life areas. This means that by meditating consistently, you’ll see improvements in sleep, health, fulfillment and emotional, and spiritual well-being.
- Meditation increases your Ability to Empathize with Others. In other words, the more you meditate, the easier it will be for you to empathize and bond with others.
So, now that you’re all stirred up about meditation, here’s how to do it:
- Find a place where you won’t be disturbed. Set your timer, either a phone or a clock, for about 10 to 20 minutes.
- Sit down on the floor with your legs crossed. If it hurts, grab a pillow or two, and stick them right below you. Get ’em all nice and fluffy down there. Keep your back straight and tall. And place your hands on your knees or cup them softly on your lap.
- Don’t stress too much about your posture being perfect. It doesn’t have to be. Just try your best here.
- Close your eyes, or look straight ahead and relax your whole body. The way you do this is by releasing any tension from each of your muscles. Start with the face muscles and finish off with the feet muscles. This is called a body scan, and people usually do it in under one minute.
- Take three initial deep breaths: in through the nose until your chest is full and out through your mouth until it contacts fully. After taking three deep breaths, shift to breathing at your usual pace. This is where the actual meditation starts.
- Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Relax, unwind, and think about nothing. Or at least try to. Remember: Meditation is all about focusing on your breath, despite the different thoughts and feelings that creep into your mind.
- Always keep your focus on the breath. It may even help to count “zero” when you reach the end of your inhale and “one” when you reach the end of your exhale.
- Keep doing this over and over again until your timer rings. That’s it.
Any meditation that you find more complicated than the process I’ve just outlined is probably a result of a marketer’s faux-complexity mind. You see, complex solutions for simple problems make way more money than simple solutions for simple problems. Hence there are way more complex solutions for simple problems out there.
A word of warning: meditating will feel uncomfortable and challenging the first few times you do it. You probably won’t be able to keep your focus on more than three or so breaths before your mind wanders off.
But that’s ok. In fact, it’s to be expected. You’re not accustomed to the painful sitting position, the weird sensations, or thinking about nothing. So don’t judge or beat yourself up. Just let it go. You’ll get better in time. Don’t worry.
Many of the greats journaled, all from Queen Victoria, Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon, Anne Frank, Franz Kafka to Marcus Aurelius, Ben Franklin, Mark Twain, and more.
Most of these famous characters even went on to admit how journaling helped them become a more relaxed and grateful person and a better decision-maker and lover at large.
And if that’s not a good enough reason to start journaling for you, here are some scientifically validated benefits of the practice.
Journaling is proven to lower emotional distress, worry, and the effect stress/stressful events have on us. Likewise, the activity helps people sleep better, restricts their constant ruminations, and reduces intrusive and obsessive thoughts.
But how do you start with journaling?
Grab a simple pen and paper and start writing about your breakup. Hell, write about anything if you want to! You can jot down all the things you feel at this moment — your worries, what you’re grateful for, what you’re angry about, or what you’re afraid of. You can write about your past, the lessons from it, or plan your ideal future. You can even write about people, the ones you love, and those you don’t.
Whatever you do, do NOT overanalyze the simple discipline. I know people who spent days researching the best times to journal, the pros and cons of different pens and notebooks, and so forth. Don’t get into that rabbit hole. Forget all the trivial BS, and Just grab a simple pen and paper and start writing about your breakup or your life in general.
The fact that you’ve brain-dumped your thoughts — the good and bad — on a piece of paper will automatically make you feel better about your loss.
The idea of a dream diary or dream reporting stems from Freud and his work on the human subconscious and is somewhat similar to journaling.
Freud reckoned that our dreams could give us a greater awareness of what’s going on in our subconscious mind. And when we learn what’s going on in there, that awareness further acts as a sort of therapeutic understanding or enlightenment.
The first step to dream reporting is writing down what you dreamt off as soon as you wake up. And be sure that when you do this, you get all the details that you can. If you have multiple dreams in a night, stick to scribbling down only the one you felt was most important — meaning the one that held the heaviest emotional weight.
Continue doing this for about a month, and then start analyzing the patterns found in your dreams by asking yourself:
- What are the themes inside them?
- What are the approximate meanings behind the objects, people, and scenery around your dreams?
- What colors, sounds, and scents do you see, hear and smell?
- And most importantly, what are the feelings that you have in your dreams?
The more times you go through this dream examination process, and the longer you keep writing what you dreamt down, the sooner you’re going to make the subconscious matter of your dreams conscious. And when that happens, your brain will find it easier to process your emotions, and thus, you’ll be able to get over your ex faster.
Making breakup recovery a habit
Journaling, mediation, dream reporting, or just about any other self-help activity is useless if you perform it only once and then forget about it. To recover in the fastest way, you have to build tiny habits around your go-to self-help activities.
Instead of meditating for three hours, spurting out three pages in your journal, or plotting down a 1000 word-long description of your dreams followed by a two-hour-long analysis period, relax and start small. Meditate each day for 5 minutes, journal each evening about 200 words, or take one 50 word note of your dreams when you wake up. This is the way.
Only when you’ve created consistency with your previous tiny habits for at least a week or two should you add 1% more effort/time/word-count to your activities.
But why start small with your habits?
Because if you don’t, those habits can become too laborious, and thus, suck you dry of the motivation to do them. And once you skip one day by not engaging with your habits, that one day soon turns into a week, then a month, and BAM! You get no results in your breakup recovery.
- 10 Crucial Books To Read After A Breakup And 336 To Avoid
- How To Let Go Of Your Ex With Art Therapy
- 3 big Ideas That Will help you get over your ex
- On reality, self-talk and the resistance of closure (newsletter)
7. ENGAGE IN SELF-rEFLECTION
Reflection starts by engaging in thoughtful self-talk and self-inquiry tied to your breakup and past relationship(s) in general.
The goal of the practice is to find realizations amid your pondering about why things turned out the way they turned out, what emotional problems you have, and where to start with your self-improvement.
Below are four examples of reflection in action.
“Maybe I wasn’t such a good boyfriend/girlfriend that I thought. Maybe I did put too much emphasis on the amount of time I’ve spent with my ex. Maybe I was too clingy, controlling, and jealous…
Why was I like that? I was scared that my ex might leave me if I don’t chase after them and fight for their love. Ok, but where did those tendencies and beliefs come from? My childhood? What event? My neglecting father and overcontrolling mother probably. Hell, no wonder I never felt good enough to be loved unconditionally. I do have an unhealthy desire to hold on to others way too tightly due to my irrational fear of losing them.”
“Maybe I wasn’t such a good boyfriend/girlfriend, after all. Maybe I was scared to open up to my ex. Maybe I did hold too many secrets from them. Maybe I was afraid of intimacy. Why was I like that? Why am I still like that? Hmmm… Possibly because none of my family members communicated and opened up but just shunned each other and closed down.”
Realization: I have problems with intimacy and vulnerability. So, how can I become more vulnerable with others? And how can I lose my fear of intimacy/ letting people in?”
“Why did my ex dump me? They did have unhealthy values, were they addicted to instant gratification, was I not meeting their needs? Yeah, I probably failed to meet their needs. I was aloof and inattentive for months.”
Realization: I was complacent with my ex. How can I now avoid falling into the same pattern with future partners?
“My ex wanted kids, while I didn’t. My ex was a Christian, while I was a Muslim. I wanted to solve everything with open communication, but my ex just gaslighted me all the time and kept going on passive-aggressive rampages.” What went wrong here?”
Realization: First, my ex did not have the same core values and world-views as me, so they were incompatible. Second, my ex loaded with red flags that I should have noticed earlier in our relationship.
Reflective self-discourses in general won’t always unfold in such a concise and logical order, as shown above. In actuality, you might be reflecting for months before you can precisely pinpoint what life-sabotaging emotional issues you need to work on and why your relationship failed.
Ultimately, every failed relationship fails for a reason. And without participating in self-reflection, you might miss what that reason is. If that happens, you’ll probably make the same mistakes that led to your breakup in a future relationship.
8. Try THERAPY
Many people bounce back and forth with the idea of going to therapy after their breakup. Yet, if you find the right therapist, the experience can be incredibly beneficial for your emotional well-being.
A good therapist will act as the examiner — the person asking “Why?” They will lead you to question your inner world, consider new perspectives on your crisis, and help you realize new things about yourself. They will also give you an outside and objective perspective on your breakup situation.
The idea behind therapy is identical to meditation, journaling, and dream reporting we mentioned earlier. In all four cases, what you’re doing is trying to make your mind’s unconscious aspects conscious. And when you achieve this, you’ll be able to exercise control over them. This is generally how you learn to take care of your mental and emotional health.
For example, suppose you always felt uncontrollably anxious when your ex hasn’t called you back. In that case, there’s probably something hidden within your unconscious, causing you to react in such a senseless manner. By attending therapy, you can start burrowing into your past and examine your life problems, personal challenges, and traumas in detail to find the trigger for your anxiety.
Maybe it was because you had a neglecting father to whom you always tried to prove yourself. Maybe it was because you had a mother who loved you only under certain conditions. Or maybe it’s a result of some childhood trauma you’ve encountered.
A therapist will help you figure these things out. And when that happens, you’ll be able to process your anxiety in a safe environment. This will further allow you to become more aware of your anxiety and, therefore, not feel so powerless to the outbursts when they happen. In time, you should be able to exercise enough emotional control to modify your behavior.
However, some therapy forms like behavioral therapy, CBT, or ACT do things differently. Instead of focusing on your unconscious emotions, they focus more on changing your behaviors for the better.
So if you’re suffering from, let’s say, jealousy, these forms of therapy will help you notice when you’re jealous and how to stop yourself from allowing that emotion to influence your behaviors.
Conclusively, don’t be too nervous about choosing the wrong form of therapy. Most of them are of equal effectiveness. Some are just better at certain things than others. For example, existential therapy, Jungian therapy, and psychotherapy are the go-to choices for trauma survivors, and CBT and ACT are the go-to choices for people suffering from depression or anxiety.
A note on consulting: While it is true that I incorporate legit therapeutic frameworks in my consulting practice, and I do have a CBT practitioner certificate, I would never say that my consulting is the equivalent of therapy.
However, most people who read my site believe otherwise. So let me make things crystal clear: consulting or coaching is not therapy. But it does work in tandem with therapy.
My best and most successful clients all participated in therapy sessions in addition to our consulting. Sometimes their therapist helped them with their unconscious emotions, and I helped them with their behaviors, habits, and goals. And other times, I helped them with their unconscious emotions, and their therapist helped them with their behaviors, habits, and goals.
- On therapy, consulting and coaching (Newsletter)
9. FIND SOMETHING MORE MEANINGFUL THAT YOUR BREAKUP
One of the things that got me through my most mortifying breakup was an intense desire to become a less needy, emotionally damaged, and emotionally volatile person — someone more psychologically resilient and mature. This desire was my forcefield against the devastating currents of hopelessness and misery. In fact, because I was so eager to make it a reality, overcoming my breakup didn’t seem so impossible anymore. It was something that I was willing to struggle for to become my ideal self. And fuck, it worked.
But now is your turn.
Find something that you value more than your dead relationship and focus on it wholeheartedly. Find something that’s healthy and will keep you moving in the direction of healing, growth, and unapologetic self-expression. This “something” can be as grand as a life purpose or as small as a desire to become a good writer, dancer, or cook — whatever “good” means to you.
10. Don’t overwhelm yourself with self-improvement
Till now, we’ve covered a variety of tools that will help you get over your ex and become a more well-rounded, mature better person. But, before moving forward, let’s make one thing clear: self-improvement should not cause self-overwhelm. Yet, sadly, this is what I see all the fucking time.
People take on five different daily mediation practices, then they add Qi-gong, yoga, and tai-chi to the mix, and on top of that, they even start vomiting in three different journals.
When they feel exhausted from doing so much shit, they assume that they need even more self-improvement to keep their energy up. So they dive into green-juice cleanses, intermittent fasting, and cryogenic baths.
The next thing you know, in just a month, these breakup survivors already spent way over 5000$ on self-help seminars and dodgy online courses. Oh, sorry, they didn’t spend 5000$. They “invested 5000$ in themselves.”
One more time, say it with me: Self-improvement is not self-overwhelm.
I know you want to move on quickly, I know you want to become a better person, and I know you want to squeeze out all that juicy potential from yourself. I commend you for your bravery. But try to understand that you don’t need to force yourself into 10 or 20 different self-help activities to achieve those things.
Just focus on the few activities that genuinely resonate with you — that you enjoy doing — and go deep with those. In other words, pick the activities that you’re willing to struggle for and let them take you to recovery and beyond.
However, there’s another crucial point on self-improvement that I well want to point out: know when to stop.
For example, when you got over your ex, when you overcame your anxieties, insecurities, when you rebuilt your self-esteem, etc., stop digesting self-help —this includes my site.
The reason being that the more you chase unnecessary personal growth, the more flawed, unworthy, and unhappy you’re going to feel. Primarily because you’ll always think that something is missing from your life; that there’s some area in which you have to improve more; that there’s some next level in life you have to reach.
It’s all an illusion. When you reach the level of self-improvement that you needed (not necessarily wanted), switch to cultivating self-acceptance. I find it way more vital than any self-improvement work ever.
Ultimately, think of self-improvement as an Aspirin. You take it when you’re, let’s say, having a headache. But you don’t keep taking it afterward when you’re healed. That wouldn’t make sense.
Loss is a fact of life
To conclude this long-winding article, here’s something to inspire you: this shit never stops.
Human life naturally moves toward entropy. We’ll be dealing with loss and chaos as long as we live, and this goes far beyond our romantic relationships. We’re going to lose our jobs, kids, health, our mom and dad, and we’re going to have to deal with all of it. In the end, we’re even going to start losing ourselves.
Bit by bit, we’re going to begin losing the pieces of our sanity, identity, and soul — the pieces that made us who we are and start to move towards our inevitable demise, the sweet kiss of death, the ultimate change agent.
Death can very well be just around the corner. Ponder this. What will you do before she gets you? If you got hit by a car tomorrow and you’d know it, would you still sulk and mope over your breakup?
Instead, focus on what you can make of yourself in this one short life so that when Death actually comes, you can proudly give her the middle finger as you let go of any regrets, whisper your last words and exhale your last breath.
Make this life count. This breakup is a new beginning for you. And I know you don’t believe me, but you really are going to be ok.