5 Actions to Overcome a Break-up

We have all been there. We think we have found “The One,” our “Soul Mate,” and it all crumbles away. Break-ups can leave use destroyed; we feel unlovable; we tell ourselves horrible lies like “you’re disgusting,” “It was all my fault,” and “you’re useless.” These are falsehoods that we tell ourselves in a destructive attempt to make sense of the pain we are feeling. We burst into tears at the slightest trigger; we end up sleeping poorly; binge eating or maybe not eating at all; we try to cover up our pain with drugs or alcohol; we isolate and hide from the world for fear of running into out Ex. There is another way. You can heal from this and there are things you can do to not only pass through the grief but overcome and end up stronger than before.

1. Be Kind to Yourself: After a break-up we can treat ourselves like out own worst enemy. We say things in our heads that we wouldn’t dream of saying to another person. This needs to change. Try this, for every action you take tell yourself “I love myself.” Say it with love and compassion, say it with conviction, notice the difference it makes in your life.

2. Take Care of Yourself: When our hearts are broken we can end up spending all day in bed and binge eating pints of ice cream and several large pizzas. Our minds and bodies are connected and when we are not taking care of our bodies by sleeping well, eating a well balanced diet, and exercising our bodies do not feel well and it is harder for our minds to heal.

3. Spend Time Outside: After a break-up we often avoid the world. We lock ourselves in our homes and begin withering away. Going outside and surrounding ourselves in nature has huge benefits from the vitamin D to the fresh air. Get outside, walk around the park, go for a hike, notice how you feel before and after.

4. Surround Yourself with Supportive Friends and Family: When we are rejected by a loved one we can often feel like no one wants to be around us. This is another lie we tell ourselves. Reach out to your friends and family, connect with them, lean on them to listen to you and distract you from your pain.

5. Seek Professional Help if Needed: Sometimes the pain of a break-up is too much for us to handle by ourselves. When this feels like the case seek out a mental health professional: a therapist, a counselor, a psychologist, a psychiatrist. Find someone who is trained in handling the specific pain you are experiencing.

Break-ups are difficult and painful but by taking action we can heal and ultimately become stronger than we were before.

 

Dreams

I love dreams. They are not only freaky fun, but they often give us a glimpse of what we need to be focusing or working on. Although it true that we do not fully know the purpose or value of dreams one theory is that it is our minds ways of processing, organizing, and storing the information and events of the day into long term memory. Check out this great article in Scientific American briefly describing this idea. This theory is also why researchers believe that eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an effective form of mental health treatment (check out this FAQ page for more info on EMDR.)

Many people, especially those struggling with trauma do not always pay attention for acknowledge their dreams. I fully understand this approach. First dreams often do not make much sense so just trying to pay attention to them can be confusing. Second, those with trauma often struggle with nightmares and I know if I have a nightmare the last thing I want to do is try to remember and acknowledge the experience; I want to forget it the moment I wake up. Once we begin to be mindful and aware of our dreams, however, we can gain a great deal of insight.

This past week, for example, I had a dream I was providing therapy to an old classmate of mine. She is normally very mild mannered and reserved. In this dream, I kept offering advice and suggestions (things a good therapist shouldn’t do). In the dream, my classmate exploded on me and yelled, “Alex, you need to shut the fuck up.” When I woke I was surprisingly disturbed by the dream. I could have shaken it off and left it as just a weird dream after all I haven’t even spoken to this classmate in a long while. Once I allowed myself the space to acknowledge and even more importantly appreciate the dream I realized that one of my biggest fears as a therapist and especially as a therapist newly opening up my own practice was that I didn’t know what I was doing and that It was all a charade.

When I was able to translate my brain’s cryptic message to me I was able to challenge and reframe it. I was able to recognize my own fears and insecurities and begin doing my own work on these issues. I recognized that I am a well trained, widely experienced, empathetic, and knowledgeable therapist. Although I have a lot to learn on the business side I am fully capable of learning it all. My brain may have been shouting at me that I am not ready and trying to get me to retreat but I saw through its scare tactics and was able to gain insight and wisdom from it.

I encourage you to start paying attention to your dreams. You don’t have to pull out a dream interpretation book or channel your inner Freudian. Simply, acknowledge what the dream was, what your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations were during the dream and after you woke, and ask yourself, “What in my current life is creating these same thoughts, feelings, and body sensations?”. Once you have identified what that is thank your brain for sending you the message and making you pay attention (no matter how cryptic it may have been). You may be surprised how it all comes together.

What is Therapy?

We all know the image of what therapy is; the cliché of a patient laying down on a couch and the therapist sitting behind them taking notes. This may be what some need in order to heal, but honestly, it’s a little outdated. Therapy is so much more than just coming and telling someone all your problems. Here are three components that make therapy truly healing.

Connection

Therapy is about connection. Firstly, its about connecting to your therapist; experiencing and learning what it is like to have someone truly listen to you with compassion and empathy.  Secondly, it’s about learning to tune into who you really are and recognizing how your mind, heart, body, and spirit affect each other and ultimately how to get them to all work together instead of battling within. Lastly, therapy is about connecting to everything around us: our relationships, our environments, our family and friends, our jobs, and the world as a whole.

Possibilities

Therapy is about discovering infinite possibilities. When you learn to embrace your most authentic self and live a life that is true to who you are your potential and the possibilities explode. You learn that your own thoughts and feelings were the main obstacle holding you back. Once you learn to challenge and overcome those barriers you quickly learn to thrive.

Hope

Lastly, therapy is about hope. Often times we have been so beaten down not only by the world but mostly by the lies we tell ourselves. We tell ourselves that things are hopeless; that things will never change, and that we are destined to repeat the same cycles over and over again. Therapy helps you regain hope. It may not happen right away but the right therapist can hold hope for you, encourage, and support you so that you can learn that life is full of hope. H.O.P.E Hold On Pain Ends.

Therapy is about connection, possibilities, and hope. The roots of a tree are connected to the earth and everything within it; when things are as they should be the tree grows and thrives; it blooms into all its infinite possibilities; it spreads it branches toward the sky with hopeful anticipation. A healthy tree can withstand the strongest winds, the most powerful storms, and even when the Earth itself shakes it stands tall, unfazed. The same is true for us. Our minds, hearts, bodies, and spirits are all connected, and our essence is connected to the world around us. When we learn to be connected, embrace endless possibilities, and face life with renewed hope we can let go of our resistance, our barriers and obstacles; we can bloom to withstand any storm.