A friend, who is going through a rough break-up asked me how to recover and move on. I wish I had a magic answer. A one size fits all, step by step guide that could relieve the pain, stop the obsessing and mend a broken heart. Although, I don’t have a magic cure, I do have some tips that will help speed up your recovery.
But first, let me explain the chemistry behind why break-ups are so difficult to “just get over”and feel a lot like withdrawing from a drug.
The Chemistry of Love
The beginning stage of the most relationships are so powerful. The impact of falling in love is intoxicating. Our emotions were so overwhelming and incredibly addictive.
Our brain literally became drenched in a potent cocktail of “love” and pleasure-inducing chemicals like: Adrenaline, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Dopamine. Adrenaline was responsible that exuberating flood of energy during the initial phase and is also the reason of why many new lovers require less sleep and often lose their appetites.
Then add in the drop of Serotonin levels that accompany falling in love. This drop in Serotonin basically drives you to obsess about your lover. Not surprisingly, lower Serotonin levels are also found in people who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Next pour in a little Oxytocin, commonly referred to as the “bonding hormone”, which produces and solidifies the attachment between partners. This hormone is the same hormone that is released in the brains of mothers who give birth and is linked to the bonding that occurs between mother and her newborn.
Top that off with the all-pervading chemical, Dopamine, which arouses feelings of pleasure within the body and coincidently happens to be the same addictive chemical that is released when people eat chocolate or take a hit of cocaine. So, it’s not really not all that shocking that a break-up can feel as challenging as quitting a serious drug habit.
Go No Contact
The No Contact method is a form of going “cold turkey” and detoxing from your ex. The method prohibits contact of any kind for at least 90 days to give your mind time to withdraw from your ex and level out chemically. It also allows your heart time to heal without distractions that potentially can set you back.
No Contact doesn’t only mean that you don’t contact your ex, it also means that you don’t respond to your ex should they try to contact you. Full abstinence is the goal. No texting, no phone calls, no emails, no Social Media, no drive-bys, no cyber-peaking and no smoke signals. Your brain requires time to withdraw from the potent “love cocktail” much like an addict withdraws from drugs.
Check Your Ego
If the break-up wasn’t your decision, your ego may have a difficult time accepting the feeling of rejection. Your ego will try to trick you into hanging on and hoping for reconciliation. Your ego will keep you waiting for the “I miss you’s” or the “I wanna see you’s” or waiting for your ex to come crawling back on their hands and knees or maybe even wanting some vindication.
Your ego may even drive you to do some dumb things. Your ego isn’t trying to be malicious. It’s the ego’s dysfunctional way of only trying to prevent you from feeling pain. So check your ego and let it go and feel your feelings.
With your ego out of the way, you can cut your losses. Once your ego is totally flattened, there is hope, because now you have real ground to stand on and move forward from. Your self-esteem and self-respect will be gained by walking away with your dignity intact.
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Get Out of The House
There is so much advice out there and it’s all so conflicting. Some people say start dating right away, others say, wait a while. I just say, “get out of the house”. Start doing what you love. Or, find new things to love. Take up a sport. Enroll in a class. Go out with friends. Make new friends. Go to the gym. Try new things. But, just get out there. Hey, if you meet someone you like, date them. Don’t be bound by too many rules. This is your time to be free to do as you choose.
Focus On What You Want
So often, people will advise you to write down all the cons about your ex on paper to remind you of all their negative qualities and quirks that irritated you. If this helps you, great. I personally don’t feel this strategy is all that beneficial because guess who you are focused on? That’s right…your drug! Now is the time to focus on yourself. Also, remind yourself of the popular wisdom in the statement “what you focus on e x p a n d s”. This is why I suggest writing down all the qualities in a partner that you WANT. Be specific and detailed and don’t leave anything out. This will bring the focus back on you and your wants and “when you want something, the universe conspires in helping you achieve it”. ~ Paul Coelho