‘I don’t like growing up! Broken Knees were better than Broken Heart,’ said Geet in one of her therapy sessions. She was undergoing counseling for heartbreak.
Let’s face it, breakups being the most common experience in our lives are definitely the tough ones. Be it Chandler ending with Janice or Monica breaking up with Richard, battling through post-breakup emotions are tough.
When we think of ‘Broken Heart’, we can associate it with things like betrayal, unfaithfulness, infidelity, breaking up with a friend or a loved one or also relating to things like not having your expectations fulfilled, not being able to reach your own goals, etc.
The reasons for heartbreak could be many. Similarly, the ways in which one expresses their symptoms of heartbreak can also differ. People are unique and hence how they process certain heartbreaking events in their life vary too. Some people may find it hard to stay motivated, focus on their tasks or go about their day-to-day life. People may also find it hard to sleep when they are feeling broken.
One thing to keep in mind is that the experience of heartbreak, pain and loss is inevitably a process of change and transformation. There are a lot of new insights that are generated towards the end of such events. The person may find it hard, but eventually, they do find a new way of life.
Such events bring broken feelings but have the potential to increase our self-awareness, enhance or change our understanding of the world around us. The key lies in adjusting to these new insights and then working your way up from there.
A lot of times, it is during these times that we come across certain parts and versions of ourselves that we once may have forgotten. This happens because heartbreak in other words gives way to an alternate reality that would not have existed otherwise. This ripple effect opens doors for new possibilities in life.
Coping strategies on how to fix a broken heart remain largely different for each person. However, there are certain things that a lot of people might do, like start to focus on self-more, or on their work that can help them realign their needs and goals which were earlier being met by the partner. People may also rely on their social support, and seek new experiences.
The whole journey of yours on ‘how to overcome heartbreak’ brings you closer to yourself. A thought to hold onto is that ultimately, it is really a journey, a process and such a process is only supposed to bring changes with time. People may have the misconception that with time all wounds heal. Yes, they most definitely do, but one should never downplay the importance of self-work when feeling broken that is required to do in order to help that would heal. The wounds of the broken heart need tending too, just like any other physical wounds in our body.
Our relationship and marriage therapists share some tips for you which might come in handy as strategies on ‘how to overcome heartbreak’:
- The “one where you realise you are not okay and the heartbreak is real” phase
So finally when you wake up one morning to realise things will not be the same anymore, that there will be a drastic change in routine from now, you will feel the tornado of emptiness.
Tips: It is very natural to feel clueless, according to psychologists sitting with yourself finding out your feelings in this phase is very helpful. You might have the urge to numb this pain, dissociate with it but that will not really help.
Instead start to connect with these feelings, write a diary or a journal, and talk to people about your feelings. You can start by reaching out to people whom you can trust.
- The “Why God Why” phase- Once you start analysing your emotions, this question will run in your mind at least fifty times a day. Here is the time when you start implementing your reflections about your feelings. This is the best time to analyse yourself which does not mean you have to be critical of yourself.
Tips: Take your time out to understand what your needs are right now. With the person or the relationship gone, what have you lost, and how can you outsource it? What was the purpose the person or the relationship served for you? This is where you understand the Why of your pain.
Be mindful of not pushing yourself too much, self-compassion is the key here. The frustration you are experiencing in this phase can be channelized by taking care of yourself through activities like hitting the gym for exercising, doing deep breathing, mindful eating, etc.
- The ‘one where you start packing up’ phase– This phase where you pick up the belongings of your ex that they might have left intentionally or unintentionally for you. This transition of the physical space and objects can be overwhelming as this is the point where you are letting go of connections and association with things.
Tips: If you were living together, you can redecorate the place. This will create a physical safe space for yourself without the memories of the past. This can add on to provide some refreshment as well. If unsure about dumping their stuff, you can put them in a box and keep it away for a while. It will be wise to communicate whether they want it back, if not it is always your choice to do whatever you feel like. You might feel challenged as the routine is new, it can be overwhelming.
The key is to address the feelings, accept them and usher yourself with all the positive feelings. Seeking therapy at this point of time can help you discover the appropriate ways of coping, guide you in the process of rediscovering yourself, you can start unlearning some aspects to add some new aspects to your life.
- The “ex-kward” phase– The most complicated time when you do not know how to react when they are in front of you. There are possibilities that you have common friends or likelihood of meeting up. However, you can take your time to make your decision. No need of pushing yourself to something that you do not feel like. If they want to talk, you can choose to respond but make sure you don’t invade their boundary or let them do so.
Tips: You might want to run away, but it’s important to keep cool and calm. Try not thinking about all the negative things related to them. Take a minute to calm yourself down, breathe in deeply and think yourself in a peaceful place. Acknowledge the awkward feeling which might ease out the situation.
Try not forcing yourself to physical affection by hugging or kissing on cheeks, you can simply wave or a brief nod can help in doing away with the situation.
- The “Life is good” phase– It is not easy to tell yourself that “the world does not end here” when we are trying to overcome a breakup. However, after the above-mentioned steps you will reach a place where you have been able to adjust to the new transition in life. As you are vulnerable, the pain and the risk is still there. Heartbreaks can make us do worse things.
This is the time when you might try to fulfill the emptiness by engaging in several things which can make us regret. These are unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Tips: It’s important to keep a check whether you are adding some negative habits in your list or not. Make sure you are spending your time with yourself engaging in hobbies, eating chocolates or pizza (keep a check though!!), engaging in your social life. This is the phase when you start accepting.
These strategies are generic to all however every person can have their own guide to how to fix a broken heart, based on experiences of feeling broken in the past. Heartbreaks are painful, but sometimes it becomes too difficult to manage the pain all by ourselves. This is when therapy and counseling comes into the picture. It helps a person with that journey and it helps the person stay committed to the process. Therapy takes time and focuses on small everyday changes in a person’s life. In the end, the person ends up learning the biggest lesson of life, that small changes eventually lead to big long term changes.
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