A breakup can be so hard, causing so much pain and angst, as well as adversely affecting your self-esteem and confidence. Relationship coach and author, Wendy Capewell, offers some techniques to help you cope with separation…
Breaking up with someone you have loved – or who you may still love – brings up so many emotions, including anger, hurt and confusion. You may feel at a loss about why it happened and find yourself asking why – but not getting the answers you need. We talk about heart ache and heart break, because it’s not just emotional pain, but you may also experience a physical pain in your chest, as a result of the muscles in the chest tightening. Some of the emotions you feel are similar to the grief attached to a loved one dying. The difference being that this person is still alive. Because of this, your emotions can evoke feelings of being worthless and its easy to spiral into depression. That’s why its so important to be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to grieve the loss of the relationship.
Guys often feel they should be tough and ‘get over it’ but that’s easier said than done. You possibly learned from childhood that boys shouldn’t cry, believing its weak to show your emotions. It may be in your relationship your partner lent on you, and you saw your role as being protective and strong. As a result, you try to brush the hurt and pain aside. But ignoring the pain you are going through really won’t help – it may in the short term, but long term it may well cause deeper pain and suffering.
Anger is likely to arise, which is understandable, just don’t allow it to consume you or lead to actions or words you may regret later. This will only add to your sense of worthlessness. By holding your head high, you can be seen as the better person, and you will gain respect from those around you.
Feelings of rejection and blaming yourself for everything that happened isn’t realistic. Just remember it takes two people to make a relationship and two to break it. So you can’t be totally responsible for it all. Accept that you both made mistakes, and rather than seeing yourself as a failure, concentrate on the good parts in the relationship, even though it may feel hard when you are still feeling bruised.
Don’t allow those harsh words you spoke to each other to rent space in your head, they will eat away at your self- esteem, sapping your confidence. They are likely to play over and over again, but try not to dwell on them. Instead, acknowledge them and show yourself compassion and love. Remember that you loved each other once, and rather than doubting whether that was true and questioning the whole thing – just accept that fact, otherwise you will continue to punish yourself.
Take time out to think about the positives you took into that relationship, and how you can build on those. Talk to friends you can trust, ask them how they view you. And not just that they think you are a nice guy, but the qualities you possess. Even better if you can see them written down, as you can go back to them when you are feeling low.
I always believe its important to stay away from ‘drains’ and move towards ‘radiators’, and during this time when you are feeling low, its even more important. Drains are people who sap your energy, draining you emotionally bringing you down. Instead, spend time with people who make you feel alive and radiate positivity.
Take time out to take care of yourself. We each need to feel valued, and at times like this it’s even more important, and that starts with valuing yourself. Because you feel low you may feel you can’t be bothered to make an effort, you don’t change your clothes as often and self-grooming becomes neglected. But when you do that, you feel even worse! So, ensure that those vital things aren’t neglected, and do it for you.
Do nice things for yourself, which will look different for each person. It could be having a massage, going for a walk, playing your favourite sport, or enjoying the hobby that got neglected whilst you were in the relationship.
At the same time, learn how to start saying ‘no’ to things that don’t serve you well. Healthy boundaries are really important to regaining and maintaining confidence. People find it really hard to say ‘no’ because they don’t want to upset others. But remember you are not responsible for their happiness – they are.
- Say ‘no’ to people who bring you down and make you feel bad about yourself.
- Say ‘no’ to unwanted commitments, activities and things you don’t want to do.
- Say ‘no’ when you’re your ex gets in touch, and plays the ‘pull me – push me game’ that leaves you feeling confused. If there is a chance of getting back together, you need to ensure there is a new set of rules beforehand. So that you don’t fall into the same trap again.
There is often a temptation to seek solace in drugs or alcohol, in an attempt to deaden and block out the pain. And whilst they may do that in the moment, they will bring other bigger problems you will have to deal with later. They are props but those short- term props can end up in long-term dependency. Remember, alcohol leaves you feeling depressed and one of the side effects of cannabis is that is causes paranoia – neither of which will aid confidence.
Often people feel that getting back on the horse and into another relationship is the answer, in the belief that will help you get over it. The problem is, it doesn’t! You need to heal your wounds, and it isn’t fair on this new person or yourself when you take all that pain into a new relationship. The chances are that one won’t last and when it goes wrong, your confidence will be knocked even more. Think about it – if you injured yourself or had major surgery, you would need to be kind to yourself and take time to recover. If you tried to do too much too quickly I’m sure you would take longer to heal. There is no difference with emotional pain, so take the time out and allow yourself to heal.
Concentrate on the positive in your life, rather than dwelling on the negatives. Research shows that our brains are built with a greater sensitivity to unpleasant news, and that means negative feedback too. So you need to make an effort to focus on positive things. Keep a journal of positive thoughts, download an App, or use visualisation to help you by concentrating on positive affirmations. Remember that things will improve in time if you are kind to yourself and give yourself what you need to recover.
Wendy Capewell is a relationship coach, author and international speaker. Find more help with dealing with separation at yourrelationshipspecialist.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org