At some point during, or after a breakup or divorce, most people wonder how they can go on. Over the years I have heard hundreds of stories of sadness and loss, and. I have been amazed at our ability as humans to withstand such raw, intense emotions. Also, I have seen the incredible power of kind words and compassion to support healing.
So what can you do to take care of yourself as you ride the big wave of emotion that accompanies relationship loss? How can you help yourself heal?
Firstly, suicide and homicide are both more likely after a divorce. So, please seek professional help if you or a loved one thinks you might be depressed; if you are having suicidal thoughts; if you are self-harming; if your feelings of anger have led to acting out, and/or you are stuck in anger. These are powerful emotions, and you don’t have to do this alone.
The problem with intense emotions seems to arise from resisting the feelings, or from piling on. What do I mean by piling on? It’s that critical, or shaming voice that keeps up a constant chatter of where we have failed, where we should have done better, and why it’s our fault we are in this situation. We may try to rewrite history with the new information we have, and feel like we should have realized what was going on in the relationship sooner.
Self-responsibility, and acceptance of the truth of the role we played in the breakup is wonderful, and this attitude supports growth and healing. The voice I’m talking about is the internalized voice of fear, judgment and criticism. Studies have shown that children and adults learn better when encouraged, and that an area of the brain needed for learning shuts down under stress from criticism, fear, blame, and shame. So a huge help in dealing with intense emotions is to shut off THAT VOICE.
Here are some of the ideas that I have seen work:
- Recognize the voice, observe what it is saying, and question the accuracy
- Rest and/or sleep
- Write your story
- Share your written story with a confidant
- Participate in activities that require full presence, or focus (yoga, skiing, rollerblading, horseback riding, writing, designing, building something, writing or playing music, performing, singing, dancing)
- Use visualization e.g. of Dumbledore and his ‘pensieve’ where he pulls the excess thoughts and memories out of his head into a bowl!!
- Make art (For information about my Vision Board Class click here)
- Talk to people who care. (For information about individual life-coaching sessions click here)
- Attend a retreat or workshop. (For information about classes click here)
- Spend time in nature