I created this ‘manual’ to gather into one place the most valid information about the process of recovering after a breakup.
It’s a summary of what is waiting for you on your way to recovery, together with some tips on how to cope during each stage. Understanding the process, and following these simple tips can soothe the pain.
Just as every other instructional manual, this one also begins with some health and safety rules to help keep you sane. They will make your life easier along the way, so take advantage of them!
PART 1: Health and sanity rules after the breakup
Here are a few tips, that will help you to survive during the recovery period.
1. Accept the mess
Accept the fact that now is a difficult time and it is not going to be much better for a while.
It WILL get better in a few weeks or months, but it won’t be tomorrow.
How do you accept the mess of this difficult time?
Imagine you’ve had a car accident. It’s awful, but it happens. Your wounds are severe, but not fatal.
You wouldn’t expect yourself to get back to work straight after leaving the ER, would you? Same here. Focus on recovery and you will get well one day.
2. Take care of yourself. Absolutely!
This is a super weapon against madness. It’s more than certain that you’re going to feel like a bunch of buffaloes ran over you.
Therefore you need to enjoy yourself on a regular basis in order to balance the negative elements in your life right now. Check ‘One Joy a day’ and start today!
3. Quit dating. There’s something more important to get busy with. YOU!
Unfortunately, dating does not solve the problem of a broken heart; it only draws your attention from the grieving process inside you. So let it go for now and take care of the really important stuff right now, which is you and your recovery.
4. Get a human being for those times when you need to talk
Perhaps your ex was also your best friend or perhaps your mutual friends divorced you after your breakup. This way or the other–suddenly, there’s only you and the crickets in your life.
You can’t develop good friendships overnight, but start to look for people you can simply talk to about what’s bothering you. Find places where you can blow off steam and get nothing back but acceptance. Check the internet for therapy or support groups or online forums that focus on others going through the same situation.
5. Be like a hunting dog – search for things that can help you. Seek, seek…
After a breakup, we’re naturally get more focused on ourselves. Use this fact and search for things that will help you grow!
It might be yet another book, therapy, self-development workshops, home study, or anything else that helps. Sometimes all you need is a single sentence to open your mind.
So keep trying and fight for your (much better) future!
6. Careful with food and substances
Drugs, alcohol, food… and perhaps shopping, gaming, watching Netflix, etc., are all things that can take the pain away… for a while.
I hate moral talks, so I’m just gonna say: be careful, don’t overdo it. I know sometimes it gets so hard that nothing else will help than three bars of chocolate, a bottle of wine, or eight hours of gaming or Netflixing. We all do these things to stop thinking.
I get it… but still, don’t overdo it.
7. Have faith!
Believe it will be better one day, even against the odds!
‘There is no joy without hardship.
If not for death, would we appreciate life?
If not for hate, would we know the ultimate goal is love?
At these moments you can either hold onto negativity and look for blame, or you can choose to heal and keep on loving.’
Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (The Wheel of Life, 1997)
PART 2: Recovery from the breakup
Here’s a step-by-step instruction to get you through a divorce recovery along with some tips on what to do during every stage in order to soothe your pain.
How is it?
Pretty much as if they told you you had cancer. Disbelief gets all tangled up with fear and pain. You know your entire life is about to change and you have no idea what to do.
What to do?
- Put all important decisions on hold. It’s not a good time for major changes. This time is a restricted survival mode.
- Accept that you might react… hmm, differently than usual, such as:
- sit on the kitchen floor and stare at a wall for two hours
- burst into tears when you find something that brings memories back
- feel unable to accomplish simple things like making a meal
- Do one Joy a day to keep your life minimally balanced between bad and good things.
- Start a diary and pour your emotions out into it. Use it to regularly let off steam. Writing things out will soothe the pain.
- Keep the routine simple:
- get up, wash, eat and drink, go to work. That’s it. Minimum version.
- go to bed as early as you can. There’s no point in staying up late at night and trying to ‘figure it out’
- eat regularly
- walk a lot, it really helps
- Emotionally, you’re in an extremely difficult situation, and for that reason you need to be taken care of–by YOURSELF. You need your own understanding and kindness.
How is it?
Maybe a tiny bit better, but not enough to really notice.
You’ll go through all kinds of emotional states from anger to depression and then suddenly you’ll be tempted to beg for reconciliation so you can get back together. It’s an emotional roller-coaster. Just keep focused on yourself and react to what shows up as it comes.
Check out this article to find out more about the stages of grief: 5 steps through the pain
What to do?
- Again, writing on a regular basis is the best way to get the whirling emotions out. It’s even better than when you talk to a friend, because you can write about things you wouldn’t like to talk about.
Besides, let’s be honest, do you know a person who is ready to listen to all that everyday, over and over again, for hours? And that’s what we often need–to talk, and talk, and talk… endlessly…
- Apart from writing, look for other ways to express yourself:
- if you feel angry – get angry. Shout it out in your car or hit your pillow or kick your bed, anything but not hold it inside.
- If you feel stressed, check the TRE exercises
- if nothing makes sense–create yourself something pleasurable (bath, sleep, massage). Maybe the situation won’t make much more sense, but at least your experience in the moment will be nicer.
- if you feel miserable, draw a picture of your broken heart. Buy crayons and some large-size paper. Choose colors intuitively, let ‘the art’ create ‘itself’. Let it be a meditation, and connect with things deep inside you.
- make a sculpture. Add your feelings one by one to your sculpture. Keep going until you feel everything is out. The next day, smash it with a hammer and bury the pieces in the backyard.
- Take care of yourself all the time; do one fun thing a day. Give yourself as much pleasure as you can.
- Engage in sports, and don’t be afraid to get sweaty
- Make non-routine choices, like buying a meal you haven’t eaten for years since your ex hated it. Go back to old things or try new ones; question ‘default’ choices, check what is outside the box!
The pain releases
How is it?
The pain fades slowly. You’re more about here and now. It’s a good time to re-discover yourself, to know yourself again. It’s easier to spot bright sides of your situation and to start thinking about the future.
More acceptance and piece of mind show up.
What to do?
- Investigate who you are now.
- What do you like?
- What’s number one thing in your life now?
- What is one thing you will never ever do again?
- Announce your Life Manifesto. You are and that’s ENOUGH!
- Think about performing a goodbye ritual for your relationship.
- Keep exploring new things in life. Revisit the hobbies you enjoyed before you got married. Investigate what else you might add to your life.
- Start to meet new people. If your friends left along with your Ex, you need to fill this gap with new people. One person is good to start with, or maybe add few to go out to dinner with from time to time. You don’t need a bunch of people, but you need at least one person that genuinely cares about YOU.
- Discover the lesson of your breakup!
How is it?
It is about creating a sane picture of yourself–appreciating your strong points and accepting your weaknesses. It’s strictly related to the step above, but so important, that I made it a separate point.
What to do?
- Learn how to like yourself equally when you’re sharp and look pretty, but also with greasy hair and smelly breath
- Believe you’re awesome, even if sometimes you do a silly / stupid / childish thing.
- Search for an inner foundation. Appreciate your strengths and the things you’ve already accomplished in life.
- Work on kindness towards yourself.
- Feel… it’s not so bad to be you!
A new life
How is it?
Feeling of strength, because you survived. Maybe now you have the courage to live the life you’ve always wanted.
Finally, at some point, you ask yourself this question: ‘Do I want to try again?’ Whatever your answer is, the decision needs to be conscious, true to who you are inside, and never driven by fear.
What to do?
- When falling in love with someone new–enjoy it like a teenager, but make decisions as a grown up!
- Trust yourself, listen to your guts, draw on your experience.
- When dating–check for red flags, but don’t get paranoid. Again, trust your guts. You’re so much wiser now!
- Expand your life, make it fun to live, no matter if you’re seeing anyone or not.
Be strong! Have faith! Cope!
So what’s the one thing you can do right now?
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