Being in love is something that is intense and elating. There is almost nothing more intense than the feeling of having fallen in love. As can be expected, the loss of that love can be just as intense. It can feel devastating, like you’ve just been dropped off of a 50 story building. It’s crushing. It’s overwhelming. It can really do some major emotional damage, sometimes for a long time, if not handled well. So how does one get over a break up? Well, first and foremost, it is important to remember that you cannot get over a break up. You have to get through it. Here’s how.
What is Love?
Before discussing how to get through the break up, it is important to understand what love really is. Where does it come from, and why is it so painful when it ends?
Love is in everyone. It is the core of our existence. We are all connected through love. It is more of an energy than a feeling. It might be easier to understand this by looking at how we connect through love as energy. Here are some examples:
- When we have an intimate conversation with someone else, we feel connected. The act of being able to express where we are coming from and actually being heard and understood builds a connection. This is love.
- Creative communications like writing, dancing, listening to music, cooking, and dancing are just a few examples of how we find a connection with the universe. This is love manifested.
- Praying, meditating, or participating in a yoga practice are examples of love energy. These exercises connect us to the universe, to God, to others’ energies. This is love.
- Connecting with nature is love. We feel connected to the universe, to the world around us when we take a walk, lie down and look at the sky, listen to the rain, and swim in the ocean.
- Sexual orgasm is connection. This is a form of love, yes, as disconnected as we might be with sex, orgasm brings physical connection. There are is a lot of literature about forming emotional bonds through sex, and the Dalai Lama has written about connection through orgasm as well.
Plain and simple, when someone falls in love with another person, he or she is actually experiencing the love that is within. The love interest is a mirror, reflecting back the love we already embody. It is in the love of another that we see the love and beauty that is within ourselves. Unfortunately, we do not appreciate that this is what is truly happening so the love interest is credited with giving us love. Not true. However, because we understand love in this way, we can become hyper-focused on that individual. We do not want to lose the feeling we have. We want this heightened feeling to last forever. It can become an obsession. Not good.
This yearning and need to keep this intense form of feeling in love permanent can often become a problem. We begin to fixate on an ideal for the relationship. We want it to stay the same, to always make us feel this good. That is unrealistic, and in time, destructive.
Everything changes. That is the truth! Change in inevitable. With that, as we change, so do our relationships with others. This includes not only romantic relationships but friendships, family bonds, and working relationships alike. As these relationships ebb and flow, some get stronger as some grow distant. In time, distant relationships can become close again, and previously strong relationships can dissipate.
When relationships change for healthy reasons (perhaps we learned all we needed to learn from a certain relationship, perhaps we grew apart in our growth), it can be scary and hurtful, just the same. Instead of moving on from a relationship or from the way a relationship is going (short-term intimacy changing into long-term intimacy), we may want to keep it the same. This is unrealistic and unhealthy. We must accept changes as they come, process our emotions, and re-evaluate long-term relationships time after time. When we refuse to do this, we change the relationship anyway, only into something destructive. Often, break-ups happen because of this act.
Giving True Love
Love for self must happen first before a healthy relationship can be created. Relationships are about ebb and flow, give and take, self-awareness, and patience. It is impossible to accept and participate in those things if we rely on our love interest to “fill us up.” With this attitude, it will never be enough. We will destroy the love that we so desperately want to hold on to because this type of exchange is not sustainable in a long term relationship.
Security and love come from inside of us, not from another. By accepting yourself, you can then begin to truly have a lasting and healthy relationship. It may be a work in progress, and that’s okay! You don’t have to be at your goal of self-acceptance to start a healthy relationship, you just have to be aware of it and continue to work on it. When you slip and fall, you get back up with your partner’s support. The difference in that scenario is that your partner is not the sole source of your happiness, he or she is just what a partner should be, a partner, a support (and you, of course, are the same for your partner).
Break-ups will still be difficult, but they will be tolerable, and you will recover while learning something about yourself and what you need in the world. With that said, how do you manage what you are going through now? Here are 7 tips to get you through.
6 Strategies to Get Through a Break Up
1. Mourn, and Let Go (Death and Dying in Existential Theory – Death as Loss)
No amount of angst will undo what has been done. Although, upsetting, you’ll want to begin to let go. With that said, give yourself some time to mourn it. Don’t feel like you need to let go before you have had time to feel the pain of the loss. Take a few days to yourself and mourn the loss. Then, begin the process of letting go. This means not obsessing about whether your partner will come back or not. Usually, when people break-up, it is for the best. Something was not working, and if neither can figure out what the “something” is and work on it together, it’s a fruitless venture to keep going back.
2. Release Tension and Use it In a Positive Way (Existential Anxiety – Can be Beneficial)
It is important to release any anxiety or tension you might be feeling so fresh after the break up. It’s a tough time, and releasing all that extra negative energy is essential to your positive mental health. Talking with a friend, a family member or a therapist is one of the best ways to release negative vibes. Processing your feelings and bouncing your thoughts off of someone else is extremely therapeutic. Other positive ways to release tension are:
- Writing feelings and thoughts in a journal. If you don’t know where to even begin, do an internet search on journal writing. There are plenty of “how to’s” online. (Also some tips in strategy #5.)
- Talk to a close friend – venting is a good way to release pent up energy
- Exercise – body movement helps get the blood flow going and increased endorphins (those “feel good” chemicals in our brains)
- Meditate – try a guided meditation to start. There are many available online you can use to get you started.
3. Learn to Love Yourself (Embodiment – the existential concept of understanding healthy emotions)
To achieve true stability in your emotional life, learn to love who you are. This is comes with practice, and it needs to be a conscious and intentional act. Consider it a skill building exercise. Here are a few tips on building love for who you are:
- Do something nice for yourself. If there is something you have always wanted to do but you avoided for one reason or another, do it! Treat yourself to a beautiful piece of art you have been eyeing. Take that 3 day cruise you wanted to take. Take a nice long bath with candles and your favorite tunes. Whatever it is, if it is good for you, do it. You deserve it.
- Think about qualities that you like about yourself, and tell yourself in the mirror. State, “I love that you are so organized and a good worker.” “I love that you make people laugh with your jokes.” “I love that you are a compassionate person and care about people’s feelings.” It will feel odd at first, but go with it. Remember, this is a skill you are attempting.
- Face some fears about being alone. These do not have to be anything major. You might find it intimidating to go out to the movies by yourself. Go anyway, and find the joy being in that experience and conquering something you avoided doing. Practice doing things on your own to challenge your fear of being alone.
4. Understand that Time Will Help (Again, Death and Dying and the Stages of Grief)
As time passes, things can come into perspective. Wounds can begin to heal. You can begin to move on. Remember that this intense pain is only temporary, and know that this too shall pass. Keeping this in mind helps with perspective and may keep you from acting irrationally and on impulse.
5. Journal about It (Embodiment and Personal Responsibility)
Try to write freely and see what come out. With pen and pad in hand, avoid the computer and let your penmanship do the work. If you need some guidance, here are some suggestions:
- Think about the lessons you might have learned from being in the relationship.
- Write about how your life is better because of this experience and the history you lived with this person.
- Think about your future and how it will be different.
- Ask yourself what the purpose of your present feeling is.
- Journal about your hopes, your fears, and your goals.
6. Do not Discount the Self-Help Section
Grab some books to help you get through this tough time. Reading about your experience and that there is light at the end of the tunnel is extremely helpful in these first moments of angst. You will, inevitably, learn something about yourself in the process, and it may be just enough to help you pass the time to a better tomorrow.
Here are some recommendations:
In conclusion, remember that the end of a relationship is not a negative thing. With all relationships, current or ending, we learn something about ourselves. This could be insights about what we do well or information about what we can do better. If we let ourselves, we can use the wisdom from past relationships to build even better future bonds. Be thankful for past relationships as wisdom-builders, and remember that if you allow, you become stronger and wiser each time your heart feels broken. Do not think of the end as a failure. It is not. It is an opportunity to grow. Nothing is lost, and remember, you will never find the right person if you do not let go of the wrong one.
Bruce, M. (2011). Break up ethics. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/angst/201106/break-ethics-0
Chearnaigh, A. N. (2014). The Existential Side Of Grieving. Retrieved from http://thoughtcatalog.com/aleanbh-ni-chearnaigh/2014/02/the-existential-side-of-grieving/
Hoffman, L. (2009). Emotion, Experience, and Embodiment . Retrieved from http://www.existential-therapy.com/special_topics/emotion.htm
Kubler-Ross, E. (1969). On Death and Dying. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Piver, S. (2011). Buddhism & Heartbreak: 3 Suggestions for Mending Your Broken Heart. Retrieved from http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/11/buddhism-heartbreak-3-suggestions-for-mending-your-broken-heart-susan-piver/
Saybrook University (2014). You cannot cure a broken heart with a paper-and-pencil test. Retrieved from http://www.saybrook.edu/newexistentialists/posts/03-06-12
Sun, S. (2008). Love & Relationships: What the Buddhists Teach. Retrieved from http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3273