ON POST-BREAKUP PAIN, STOICISM, AND NO-CONTACT
Welcome to another weekly newsletter, lovingly named the “Beyond The Breakup Newsletter.”
It’s the newsletter that provides you with big ideas on how to grow and improve as a person and build better relationships so you can avoid a future breakup.
sign up and join the adventure!
Along with the fancy weekly newsletter, I’m also going to give you access to 4 exercises that will help you stop obsessing over your ex as soon as you sign up.
Today’s topics are going to be:
- The link between the emotional pain of breakups and the physical pain of a hot coffee spill.
- Letting go of your ex with philosophy.
- The excuses we make during No-contact.
Let’s get to it.
1. THE LINK BETWEEN EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL PAIN OF BREAKUPS
Imagine two scenarios. In the first one, you just spilled yourself with a burning Starbucks brew, while in the second one, you were shown a photo of the ex with whom your relationship unwillingly and recently ended.
While on the surface level, these two scenarios seem quite different. When we examine the underlying pain beneath each one, we can uncover a funny similarity: both experiences activate the same brain processes and generate the identical form of suffering.
And I’m not the only one stating this. There have even been numerous fMRI studies where scientists concluded that the same brain parts activated when we’re dealing with physical pain are also activated when dealing with the emotional pain of losing our romantic relationship.
Then there were even studies that backed up those studies!
For instance, there was one where researchers found how our brain releases natural painkillers when we’re faced with rejection. These are the same painkillers released into your body amid physical pain, such as the one you experience when you get burned.
Another evidence of the connection between the physical and emotional pain of breakups is hidden in our expressions of pain.
For instance, when you spill yourself with boiling-hot coffee, you might curse at how much it hurts or cry, “it’s not fair!” And when you get betrayed and heartbroken, you could say, “it hurts like hell,” or “It felt like a slap in the face” Can you see the similarities between these phrases? We use eerily similar ones while enduring emotional pain, compared to the ones while we’re feeling physical pain.
I also wish to add that the above linguistic patterns are not exclusive to only English. Researchers proved that many cultures worldwide use the same or almost identical terminology to describe their emotional distress and physical pain.
So we can ultimately assume that a broken heart causes emotional and physical pain, comparable to a hot coffee spill.
But now it’s your turn, what do you think about this phenomenon? Does your breakup also hurt physically? Do you maybe feel aching or a subtle pressure around your heart and chest? Let me know by replying to this email. I always read the responses of my readers.
Note: this topic got so much traction, that I’ve decided to make a full article out of it. You can read it right here.
2. letting go of your ex with a stoic habit
Let me share a simple technique that I learned from Stoic Philosophy that just might help you ease your mind from your breakup.
This exercise’s whole premise is to help you understand how small you are (which is a good thing) and how insignificant the heartbreak you’re going through truly is compared to the grand scheme of things.
First, find a spot to perform this exercise. It can be anywhere as long as it’s somewhere you won’t be disturbed by outside forces. You can sit or stand; it doesn’t matter. Just make yourself comfortable.
Next, close your eyes. I want you to take a big and wide view from above. Imagine yourself staring at the world and all the shitstorms conglomerating on it from outer space. Observe the clouds, the mountain tops, and the valleys and hills below you.
After seeing the world from afar, begin to observe it closer. Slowly, at your own pace, drill down from the clouds and mountain tops down to the city streets, the serene villages, and lastly, the people around and in these areas.
Now observe all that’s happening in those imagined domains, the good and the bad, the beautiful, and the sinister.
For example, imagine things like first kisses, childbirth, new inventions, discoveries, art pieces to atrocities like robberies, murders, wars, children’s abduction, fresh affairs, recent breakups, and ugh…traffic jams. Be sure that you don’t judge any of your thoughts and experiences. Like in Zen Buddhism, simply observe them and resist making any attachments to them. (If you want to know more about non-judgmentally observing your thoughts or worries, I’ve written about it extensively in this article.)
Lastly, get perspective on your problems by reflecting on how minuscule they are compared to everything else going around in the world.
You probably realized at some point that a) other people can have much more significant and painful problems than you and b) that a lot of them are struggling with the identical issues you’re going through.
These realizations often give us a sense of calm that we are searching for since now know – and believe – that the things we’re going through are not special or unique, which consequentially means that other people have endured them successfully already.
3. the excuses we make during no-contact
For those who don’t know, no-contact is a well-known technique that helps you move on from your ex. As the name implies, it means you cut off all contact with your ex. You don’t call her, you don’t message her, you don’t like their posts, you don’t even wish them a happy birthday.
Now here’s the danger: When you’re engaging in no contact, you will probably ruminate on all kids of reasons to break your silence and reach out to your ex. As a result, your breakup wounds will once again open up.
To help you avoid this uncomfortable experience, I’ve compiled 3 of the most frequent excuses people make to break no-contact and an explanation next to each on why you shouldn’t follow their lead.
Excuse: let’s be friends
Why it’s BS: You’re probably not trying to be a friend but are searching for a way to keep the emotional connection intact, or you’re searching for a sneaky way to rebuild the relationship back up. In any case, there’s just too much emotional baggage around your past relationship right now to consider a friendship. So just do yourself a favor and don’t go back. At least not until you’re fully healed.
Excuse: I need closure.
Why it’s BS: You don’t need answers or explanations to find closure. No matter what the loss, the closure comes from inside you. That’s it. You’ll also never be satisfied with any closure your ex might give you.
Excuse: I’m confused and need an explanation of why things didn’t work out.
Why it’s BS: Just accept you were with someone incompatible. Meaning their values, beliefs, and goals didn’t align with yours. Maybe you valued loyalty and honesty, and your ex didn’t. Maybe you wanted kids, and they didn’t. Who knows. Perhaps it was always evident that you thought and lived your life in different ways or saw the world differently, but you chose to ignore it or worked hard to conceal or correct it. It’s ok. Accept the breakup, and that you think differently from your ex and let go, so you can find someone who is actually compatible with you.