27 July 2012

7 Stages of Post Break Up

It was really nice of Radio station 938 to invite me down to share tips on emotional wellness over the airwaves on 16 July 2012. I thought it might be interesting to share with the listeners on breaking up, something usually painful and not easy to get over. One way of coping through such difficult times which may seem like a maze is to simplify it into 7 Stages of Post Break Up.  After breaking down it down into more manageable parts, we find ways to deal with them one at a time. I may have bitten a little bit more than I could chew as I was trying to explain over a 20-minute interview in nutshell on a topic which is better understood over a 1-day session that I conduct through interactive discussion.

1. Shock
The news of the break up comes as a sudden proverbial stab to the heart, to say the least.  The pain feels real enough though you cannot find any blood flowing out from your skin anywhere. But you may and usually find uncontrollable tears flowing out from you. You tell yourself, “This couldn't be happening to me!” And your body goes in a figurative state of shock, which feels real enough to those going through the break up. This sudden end in a relationship is a huge blow to your emotions and your senses shuts off to protect you from the pain. You feel numbness like a zombie, become totally disconnected from your surroundings, and your sense of time is lost, as likely will your appetite. You are in a state of confusion. You have difficulty in focusing on your studies if you are schooling, work if you are working. And even simple daily activities like eating, sleeping, writing your emails or adding a few numbers become disrupted as is your efficiency to carry them out. Some people may resort to alcohol or binging to distract themselves from the pain or numb themselves further.

2. Hope
After a somewhat recovery from the initial shock, the reality of the break up sets in. You refuse to accept the fact that he or she has left you and you desperately explore ideas, ways and possibilities to woo your ex-lover to come back.

You go all out to buy expensive gifts, perform acts of kindness and promise to repent for your past mistakes (even if they do not exist or know exactly what they are) to save the relationship. You attempt all possible ways to prove your love and get him or her back. You call and message your ex, hoping the relationship will revert to those perfect loving days. Some may do silly things; which is highly not recommended— like threaten to end their lives or injure themselves to get a response and hopefully, an ideal reconciliation from their lovers — I will not go into details but I am sure you have probably read one or two in the newspapers.

3. Rage
Now your dream of your happy marriage or future one is gone in a wisp of smoke. You are furious towards your ex-lover for spoiling the beautiful union that you worked out in your head. Blame him or her for causing you to be lonely single again. At this stage, emotions are raw with sudden outburst like crying, yelling or slamming of things. Out of revenge, some may expose compromising photos or videos of their ex online, which we as their friends sometimes unfortunately end up seeing.  Others might badmouth their ex, with the intention of making the ex suffer the way you had, and preferably more. Your actions frighten people, including the people around and ultimately yourself, when you reflect.

4. Bitterness
You are tired of crying, raging and trying to get him or her back. The energy has turned from hot-headed rage to cold bitterness as the reality settles in. You may have come to terms that this relationship is over. However the break up leaves  you scarred and scared of the world out there.  You become overly cautious, skeptical and biased about relationships. You may blame society or yourself for allowing this break up to happen. At this stage, ladies might generalize men as shallow, men may deemed women as materialistic. People around you can feel the negative vibes oozing out from you. Some acquaintance distanced themselves from you as they are uncomfortable with your self-absorbed, whiny and sarcastic disposition. Some people never leave this stage, which is an even bigger tragedy.

5. Dejection
Your self-esteem is bruised and you start to doubt your attractiveness and self worth. You see yourself as a social failure, sink into depression and feel sorry for yourself. You shun social activities, especially gatherings that involve couples and relatives. You have lost the confidence to socialize and no see the purpose to meet new friends. You are also afraid to go to places that you and your ex had been, for fear of evoking memories you had together. You carry a cloud of sadness and regret, bringing everything around you a notch down wherever you go. Friends and family wishes to bring you out and set you up for dating but you are too caught in your own sorrow and fears of failure to meet new friends. Even if you happen to meet someone suitable, you will not consider dating. I have met people who are stuck at this stage for years, which is a big shame.  I had a lady client who came to see me as she has not dated since her last break up 7 years ago. Before she knows it, she is already 39 year old (Luckily through help from LoveAgain, her emotional wellness is established. Now she is happily dating.).

6. Closure
The dark gloomy feelings have cleared. You reflect the past relationship and understand why it didn’t work rationally. There is control over emotional responses when you see your ex. You can even wish him or her happiness if you see them again. You accept that break up as part of your life, you learn from it positively and close this chapter of your life. You enjoy your independence, peace and confidence. You may be alone but do not feel lonely anymore. You feel more like a whole, peaceful and happy person again. This is the stage where the emotional baggages, stigmas or unrealistic expectations about relationships are greatly reduced if not totally shed. You are on the path to happiness!

7. Envision
The past experience had made you stronger and wiser with most of the bitterness gone. Your family and friends are delighted to see your new found ease, maturity and zeal. Your emotions evolve healthily and looked forward to developing connections on romantic level. You evaluate your criteria in looking for a life partner clearly and are willing to change your checklist base on suitability, wholesomeness and truthfulness. You can imagine the type of person you want to marry again. You are willing to share your life with others. You are open to dates, trust and love again! You decorate your calendar with social events to enlarge your network and catch up with old pals. You anticipate a wonderful, fulfilling and happy future.

Please note that this article was written based on general cases I’ve seen. These 7 Post Break Up stages are usually faced by most. However, not all the stages may occur to everyone nor follow the same sequential order. Some stages last longer than the other. But what is important is to seek assistance and get someone trained to support you in tough times like this.

Heartbreak is a complex event. It involves deep levels of healing and it is necessary to work with someone who can act as your mirror, to show you where you have been fractured and who can apply the correct intervention to help you heal in hours what would have taken years to recover. I encourage you to speak to a trained coach in heart break to help you manage your painful emotions and move on.

At LoveAgain, our heart break therapy consists of 7 stages of healing process to enable you to forgive, remove an emotional trauma, heal painful memories and gain a new perspective on life, feel like a whole person, have a vision of good healthy love, get empowered to pursue the vision and make better choices and attract the suitable people.

A single session at LoveAgain.sg allows you to let go of past hurt, anger and betrayal. Click here to find out more…