“It’s all going to be okay.”, “You’ll feel better soon.”, “I know it hurts.”
Those are some of the cliched breakup advice tips I have received from friends and family over the past five months. I know they are trying to make me feel better, and I am so lucky I have people in my life like them. But, those pieces of advice also drive me crazy and make me so upset. I can’t even describe how annoyed I get when someone tells me they know how hurt I feel, but it is going to be okay with time. When they say those things I always ask myself “how do they possibly know that? What if it isn’t okay with time and I am alone forever?” Those tips always make me have crazy thoughts and I always feel like I am being over dramatic or overly emotional. I know that isn’t true, and I know all my friends and family members are trying so hard to help. But when you are going through a breakup you have crazy thoughts and a lot of anxiety ridden emotions that you can’t control. I believe this was why every piece of advice I got caused me to get very anxious.
A few months into my breakup, when I was at my worst, I remember going into a therapy appointment (yes, I sought help after my breakup) and telling my therapist, let’s call her Lucy, that I was getting so angry from all of the cliched advice. I didn’t know how to handle it without getting upset. I just wanted someone to really understand how I felt, not just say they did. Everything was stressing me out and putting me on edge. Every time someone made a comment I wanted to cry. I couldn’t focus on anything besides my breakup. I couldn’t do school work, and when I tried I would get so anxious that my breakup would cause me to do badly. This was when Lucy gave me the best advice I have ever received.
She said, will this matter in five years? At first I wasn’t quite sure what she meant. Did she mean will my breakup matter in five years, will the stress I was feeling affect me in five years, or will the anxiety I was feeling matter in five years? I asked her to explain what she meant. She meant that, will the stress I was feeling now still be the same stress I felt in five years? And the answer to that was no. In five years I will probably be stressed about student loans, car payments, and rent. Not the breakup I had back in college. This is a type of stress that will only get better in time. I have applied this advice to almost every situation I have faced since receiving it. When I was stressed about an exam I’d ask myself, will this grade affect me in five years? When I was stuck in traffic and stressed about being late to work I asked, will this moment be worth all the stress in five years? To both of those types of things the answer was always no. This advice helped me put things into perspective.
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When I got this advice, the pain and stress I felt about my breakup was debilitating. Everything was difficult and I felt like I would never be happy again. But, once I got this advice, I was able to look at things in a different way. Of course the pain was hard at the time, but it helped me realize that in a few years it will be nowhere as bad. For example, I used this advice when I was freaking out about an exam I did badly on. That was three months ago and now I don’t even think about that exam at all. I was obsessing on it and was convinced my college career would end in flames. When I stopped and asked myself will it matter in five years I was able to calm down. And in fact it didn’t even matter three months later. I have started applying this to my breakup all the time. Will the sadness I feel from seeing a picture of Max and his new girlfriend matter in five years? No. Will the sadness I feel from looking at his twitter matter in five years? No.
This advice is hands down the best I have ever received. It allowed me to stop and reflect on how this pain will go away one day. Not today, not tomorrow, but eventually it will be better and not matter nearly as much. I hope you all can use this advice during your breakup, and know you are not alone.
Until next time!