Friday, February 25, 2011

6 Essential Stages for Healing from A Break Up: You Can Heal!

The person, who has decided to end the relationship, has probably already passed through the stages of heartache before they announced their decision.  Generally, it seems easier for the one who is doing the leaving, although this may not always be the case.  Frequently, the one doing the leaving has had to wrestle with a combination of grief and guilt.  The decision to call off a relationship is never easy and if there has been a true connection, it is quite painful for the one doing the leaving as well.

If you are the one who was left, this is an agonizing position to be in.  For many people, it is worse than a death, because with death, it’s final and there’s no hope of negotiating a return. 

When we’re left, we have to deal with the pain of rejection along with the pain of loss.

There are several stages you can expect yourself to go through in processing your feelings from a broken heart. 

They more or less go in this general order:


The first is Shock.  When we first hear the news that the relationship is over, we are usually in complete shock.  We become vulnerable to our feelings.  In shock, we feel as if our world has been turned on its head.  We are not capable of making clear decisions.  We feel a sense of being vulnerable and lost.  It may even be very difficult for us to even make sense of what is happening.  We break down, we cry.  Men tend to explode outward in their reaction to shock.  Women tend to implode, go internal and blame themselves. 

We then proceed to the next stage, which is pleading.  In pleading, it’s our attempt to restore order to our world by attempting to restore the relationship.  In pleading, we may beg the other to return so that our world can return to normal.  We may make offers to change ourselves or throw out grand gestures of compromise that here-to-for had been withheld, in order to call the other back into the relationship and ease our aching heart.  If you come back, I’ll change.  In reality, these overtures rarely last if they are even made at all. 

In most cases, the pleading makes us look desperate and weak in the eyes of the other person and does the exact opposite of the desired effect and pushes them away ever farther.  We are left feeling empty, hollow and in agony.

We then proceed to the next stage, which is anger.  It is a natural and healthy progression, but the anger is really a defense against the depression and helplessness we feel from the disconnect with our ex.  In our anger, we feel like striking out.  This is the time when many people will go into some kind of destructive action that ultimately does not serve them.  They will tear up photos; destroy the ex’s property, or spread vicious rumors around about them. 

The anger comes from a place of helplessness from our loss.  We feel that we are a victim of our ex and we use anger as a way of trying to recapture some of the power that we feel they’ve taken from us through ending the relationship.  It’s a way of desperately trying to balance out our sense of powerlessness.  The anger gives us something new to believe in when the belief in the relationship has been taken away.  It gives us new strength and new structure at a time when we feel weak and loss of structure.  This is especially true if we derived our sense of identity from our ex.  The break up has now taken that identity away so the anger temporarily rushes in to give us a new identity.

We may need to remain in our anger for a while.  Anger over the breakup can be helpful in neutralizing any loving feelings that you once felt toward your ex.  You may want to get in touch with the anger you feel towards this person.  It’s OK to hold onto those feelings for a while, as long as; you don’t act those feelings out with hostility towards the other person or yourself.  Anger can be a part of the letting go process.  Again, you are the one who is in control of your anger.  You create your anger and you are the one who can let it go.  No one else is responsible for your anger but yourself. 

It’s OK to have fantasies of “acting out” against our ex as long as we don’t actually act it out in real life.  Over time, anger helps to break the love feelings we felt towards our ex. 

Do not seek revenge.  It’s OK to fantasize about it, but it is not OK to act it out.  Angry behavior such as hitting things, yelling or screaming only leads to amping up the drive for more angry behavior.  Don’t do it. 

Underneath our anger resides sadness and it comes next in the stages of healing heartache.  Remember, anger is often an attempt to not feel the sadness of the disconnect with your ex.  The experience of sadness moves us into the present and allows us to experience what is.  The sadness is a time of reflection and slowing down.  It is the slowing down process of sadness that allows us to adapt to the new reality of our life.  The sadness cooks and reshapes us from within. 

Experiencing the sadness is an important part of recovering from a breakup.  It causes us to stop and re-examine our lives.  We slow down and process.  The sadness brings a gift.  It allows us to view the world from a different perspective giving us a wider and wiser view of life.  It also gives us some perspective on how deeply we loved and are capable of loving. 

Acceptance occurs when we’re finally able to release the sadness.  We stop fighting what is and allow it to be.  It does not mean that we like the new order of things, but we stop fighting it.  We accept the change.  Things will never be the same and we revise ourselves and our future.  It is a time when we are able to have a vision of the future with our ex no longer in it.  It is the time when we withdraw our energy and expectations from the relationship we had with our ex and are ready to begin opening ourselves up to new relationships and connections with others.  We find ourselves opening back up to life and beginning to live again. 

Part of the healing process is learning something from the experience you just went through.  We come to acceptance more easily when we realize that along with our loss, we have also gained something, we have gained experience, wisdom and a better understanding of our wants and needs. 

To do this, ask yourself:
·      How are you different now from the way you were before you met you ex? 
·      What have you learned from your experience with them? 
·      What lessons have you learned for living the rest of your life? 
·      Have you changed what it is you want out of a relationship?
·      If you’re your best friend just had this experience, what advice would you give them?

Search yourself to find out how you’re different now from having known your ex. 

When you’re able to see that you have received some gifts from the relationship, it makes it easier to let go of the past moving you significantly closer to a true and authentic experience of forgiveness of yourself and the other.  

For more information on Dr. Jim, log onto his website at

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Considering Divorce? There Is An Easier Way

Separation anxiety frequently holds marriages together.  Not all marriages should be saved.  The couple may want to separate, but they are afraid of it.  The fear is "If I leave the relationship, then I'm never going to get the love I have wanted."  This fear is based in emotional irrationality and only serves to perpetuate the couple's unhappiness by defining themselves as victims of the relationship rather than active participants. 

Victimhood leads to resentment and resentment leads to anger.  Anger eventually kills the love that we feel for the other person, but it can also immobilize us from taking right action.  We can organize our thoughts in such a way through our anger at the other person that we are unable to see that we do have choices.  We then become trapped in our anger and as a result feel trapped in our relationship. 

Instead of taking the action that we need to liberate ourselves, we blame the other person and remain stuck in an unsatisfying relationship.  Our anxiety about establishing a new life for ourselves becomes bound up in the anger we experience with our partner. Yes, this is a way of avoiding the unpleasant feeling of anxiety for beginning a new life. However, we remain stuck in a very uncomfortable old position in a relationship that no longer functions a way we would like.

To begin getting out of victimhood, you have to take responsibility for your half of the problems in your relationship.  Only by letting go of the conflict will you begin to heal and see your way more clearly in creating separate lives.  You will also need to learn how to negotiate with your erstwhile partner without allowing emotions to override clear communication.  A divorcing couple needs to transform their relationship into a business relationship.

In a nutshell:
Forgive yourself
Take responsibility for your half of it
Let go of the conflict so you can begin to heal
Learn to negotiate with your ex

If you chose to divorce, you need to know how to separate while significantly reducing the damage, both emotionally and financially, that comes from a divorce.  If possible, mediation is a good way to go.  It is a more cooperative and less adversarial way of separating hearts, finances and lives.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day: The Sting of the Arrow

According to recent studies the time around Valentine’s Day has increasingly become a time when people either break up or seek a divorce. It is been estimated, that filings can skyrocket by 40% or more at this time of year. It may be that people wait to file till after the New Year for file for financial reasons, or for reasons of getting past the holidays without drama.  It is also a time when people who are in relationships, but not married, also find themselves breaking up.

It may be that at Valentines, people become nostalgic about love. They compare their own love situation against the background of advertising in the media with lovers presenting each other with romantic cards and jewelry and flowers and feel they come up short in their own relationship.

It is not surprising that the rate of people breaking up and/or filing for divorce goes up at this time of year. By comparing themselves to others, they may be reaching out for unrealistic expectations within their own relationship. Seeing happy lovers on the television sharing their love may cause them to feel an internal sense of isolation or dissatisfaction for the relationship in which they are involved.

If you are alone at this time of year, or if you are single, you may feel even more alone in the world at this time.  This holiday may reinforce your feelings of being unworthy or unlovable.   And it certainly it can underscore your sense of being alone especially if you hold any  misgivings about being alone.

Valentine’s Day can raise our fantasies and beliefs about love to an unachievable height which may lead to dissatisfaction in our own lives whether we are in a relationship or not. In some ways, Valentine’s Day can trigger feelings of dissatisfaction with those who are in relationships as well. Especially if we have either unrealistic expectations of our partner, or unrest realistic expectations of what love itself can do for us. 

Valentine’s Day celebrates the ecstasy of falling in love. But a relationship takes much more than love and the exchanging of cards and flowers if it is to survive. It takes work, it takes commitment, it takes support, and it takes acceptance of the other, as they are, without criticism.

If you’re in a relationship at this time, use Valentine’s Day as a time to recommit to your relationship, to work on it, and to enjoy all that it reasonably offers as a partnership in life. If you’re alone on Valentine’s Day, go out with your friends and use this time to reaffirm your friendships and your ability to feel loved by others who are close to you.