Stop looking for happiness in the same place where you lost it.
Ending a relationship is not easy, regardless if you were or weren't the one that made that choice. Whether a relationship lasted for a few months or years, breakups can leave us feeling lost and heartbroken. In this post I am going to share some tips and do's and don'ts that can help you to leave the past behind and move on more quickly.
At the initial stage of breakup we all go through a phase called grief, where we mourn the loss of our ex partner.
We think about the time we spent together, things we have done, experiences we shared with one another and so on. Generally speaking, at this point the focus of our thoughts is on positive aspects of our ex partner and the relationship. If we think too positively about what we lost we may end up questioning our decisions or feeling very low.
A good tip is to try as much as you can to balance your thinking on both positive and negative aspects of your ex partner and the relationship.
The sort of questions you may wish to ask yourself are 'Was it really like as I am thinking about now? Am I exaggerating the positive and discounting the negative? What didn't I like about the relationship? What set me off?' And so on. Reality is that nothing is perfect, there are ups and downs in every relationship. And possibly there were more downs than ups, otherwise you guys would still be together.
To help you balance your thinking, you may find useful to write down a list of 5 good memories and 5 bad memories you have about the relationship.
This will help you to see the bigger picture and consider pros and cons of things. The next step will be to link the 5 good memories and bad memories with how you felt at the time. Ask yourself the question: "How did I feel about being there? Do I want to feel that way again? Is it how I want to feel with my next partner?". This will help you to learn something out from your previous relationship and avoid making the same mistakes.
Another useful tip is to keep yourself busy with things you like.
This will bring a degree of comfort, happiness and relax to your days. You may wish to write down a list of 5 to 10 caring behaviours, things you enjoy doing and that make you happy. It doesn't have to be anything major or too complicated - of course you'd love to go for that exotic holiday, but it's not always possible - otherwise you' ll end up writing an unrealistic list of caring behaviours.
Instead, try to balance your list as much as possible with commitments that require a variety of degrees of effort, time and money spent planning/organising. Some examples of caring behaviours that require mild effort, time and little money include having your favourite coffee in your favourite coffee shop or reading your favourite author's new book, having a relaxing bath with scented bath products and candles whilst listening to your favourite relaxing music or going to the cinema with a good friend.
To make this strategy as much as affective as possible, it is important to plan your weekly commitments ahead so that you can visualise your diary and fill the gaps.
I usually suggest to my clients who are struggling with breakups to take some time on a Sunday afternoon to look at their calendar and organise what they'll do when they are free from their chore commitments (work, university etc..). The final step is to review your diary - you want to make sure that you don't overbook yourself! Then just do it, stick to your commitments and notice how taking care of yourself and doing what you love make you feel!
In Part 2 of this blog we look at how to handle breakups in the medium and long term and some useful tips about how to engage in a relationship with the right person.
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