A breakup pulls at your heartstrings and while your mind tells you that the pain will eventually end, the agony can relentlessly pull at you for days, weeks, and months to come. Recovering from a breakup takes time as you need to recharge and reflect on the experience. We may all hope that something could make the healing easier, stronger, and if honest, faster. Science may have found a way to do just that following a breakup.
Research has discovered that those who are feeling brokenhearted, but take time to reflect on the lost relationship over a nine-week period end up stronger overall. Part of this process is termed “self-concept reorganization” which involves first rebuilding and then strengthening your sense of self as independent of the relationship status.
This is necessary because relationships profoundly affect our self-beliefs, even when we do not realize it. Over time, a relationship allows us to intertwine our lives and personalities with that of our partner. After a breakup, goals, needs, and wants for the future need to be redetermined.
This is not necessarily because you have lost yourself, though this is possible, but because the intimacy you have in a relationship involves being open in special ways with another person. You have likely been influenced by their hopes, dreams, wants, needs, and love, but now need to adjust to what you need and where you want to go. While in the relationship, this intimacy is healthy, when it ends, you must find your own way. The familiarity suddenly disappearing can be confusing and disheartening, but rebuilding your own self-concept helps healing move along faster.
Science has given us some specific steps and tips on how to reorganize yourself and move on in life without the relationship.
Talk About It
Though it seems obvious, talking about the breakup can facilitate healing. This occurs in two ways. The first is to provide clarity. The problem with being in love or simply liking a persona a great deal is that we tend to be blind to certain things. If the relationship ended, it was because something was not going well. Talking allows you to gain clarity on the areas that may have been failing, but that you chose to remain blind to overall. This leads you to insight which is the second positive. The insight can help you learn about yourself and be better prepared for the future and new relationships.
Find Your Story
With talking about the relationship comes the ability to find your story. This constructs a story of the relationship that provides meaning for the overall experience, which includes the relationship, breakup and healing.
Finding your story is all about framing it in a way that is helpful, not hurtful. At some point the relationship was good, focus on the good, the lessons learned, and the love felt so you can gain strength. If you focus on the negative and the pain, it will lengthen the healing process.
Journaling has been shown to heal many areas, not just breakups. To use journaling after a breakup, write as often as you want or need to get the thoughts and feelings out. Once they are written, they have lost much of their power and you can think much more clearly. Even a few times a week spent journaling can be helpful and healing.
Reclaiming Your Neglected Self
Now that the relationship has ended, you must establish or reestablish yourself as an individual. This is a critical aspect of healing. Determine what parts of self may have been put aside for the relationship and rediscover those or find something new. Build and nurture these areas to further recovery. This can mean taking up a new hobby, setting new goals, or choosing a whole new direction in life. This will speed up recovery and keep your mind well occupied.
Most of all, remember a breakup is simply an end, not a rejection. Though you may feel rejected and your heart may be broken, it is possible. It may take a while to find your way back to wholeness because the process is emotional and physical. If you keep working, keep focused on what is beautiful, strong and extraordinary about yourself and the world, healing will happen.