The 24 hours after a breakup are the absolute hardest and most important. (I know because I am in hour 32) It’s a time when emotions are running hot and we are deeply connected to a complicated mix of our truest feelings; hurt, regret, fear, relief, anticipation etc. No matter where we are, at home, spending time with friends, or at work. (yes my bf called me AT WORK) everything seems to quickly fade and our emotions hijack our thought process. And it is inevitable that the hours immediately after this shitty conversation will have our mind racing faster than we can drive to Whole Foods for a pint of vegan ice cream. This intense self reflection can lead us down a path of growth and happiness or a darker road to self doubt and fear. Because fate rules my life, I opened an email this morning that changed my perspective. Buried in the text from “The Daily Love” – a daily email I get that’s all about…. love. (great branding guys!) were the exact words I needed to hear in a really painful moment.
“Whatever you admire, or Love, or look up to in someone, is a part of yourself that you have not yet cultivated that is asking to be called forth. Basically, what you see in someone else is yourself seeing itself and wanting to be cultivated.”
And that’s so true. We are attracted to characteristics that we wish we had more of in our lives. We want to laugh more, so we are attracted to hilarious people. We want to be successful so we are attracted to highly motivated people. We want to have kids, so we look for a nurturing partner. But, it’s so interesting how these things that initially draw you to a person at the beginning of a relationship, can take on such negative connotations during a breakup. I always admired by boyfriend for being incredibly intelligent, but over the last few days I focused on how it made him condescending. We have always had a wonderfully close and communicative relationship, even when we were not in a relationship. This easily translated to him stringing me along and being needy. The qualities that made me love and appreciate him, quickly became the building blocks of resentment and anger. I recognized this immediately and remembered an exercise I created for a client of mine who was in a similar situation. I scoured my google docs for the writing exercise and after scribbling away for twenty minutes, I felt a huge weight lifted and my anxiety was finally settling down. Actually I found that I’ve used a ton of writing exercises, breathing exercises and daily practices to help my clients heal from breakups.
Holy change of perspective Batman!
I put together all of my favorite healing exercises in a new 30 Day email course. This is for the do-ers who know that they are going to be just fine, but want to get there faster. In addition to the course, here are 3 things I’ve done in the first 24 hours of my breakup to change my perspective and save my from being overwhelmed by self doubt, and most likely, years of therapy.
Transform negative thoughts into positive 2014 goals
We create our own history. And right now you have the choice to remember the things that were good in your partner as positive or negative. Not only that. You can let the negativity drag you down, or transform those positive qualities into a tool for self growth. Did you fall in love with your partner for their creativity? Instead of remembering that quality as negative, (flighty, wishy-washy, or unrealistic) choose to remember it as a positive. Maybe it’s something you want to look for in your next partner. Or more importantly, maybe it’s something you want to cultivate in your own life. Here’s an easy exercise I created to get specific with your emotions and help steer you down a path of growth.
Feel all of your feelings
No matter how bad or good the relationship was, or who was at fault, breakups makes you feel like total shit. You have a flood of emotions that either run through you naturally, or you bottle up and they start to fester. (that word is so good you can smell it) Instead of keeping it inside, get a girlfriend or your mom on the phone and cry it out for an hour. Feel as much as you want as quickly as possible. Don’t store your feelings to vent to someone later. Get it over with and you won’t get fixated on the negative. It’s an emotional cleanse. Hear all of the things that you feel as they come out of your mouth and realize how ridiculous you sound. I didn’t feel hurt or sad or rejected. I felt angry. As an entrepreneur there is nothing that makes me feel pure white hatred more than someone wasting my time. At one point I called him a douche-tastic-self-obsessed-ding-tard and that was the moment where I realized I’ve felt all of my feelings and can move on in peace. Asshole.
Throw Yourself a Pity Party
It only takes a few minutes while surrounded by friends to realize that you are loved, and you are better off now that you have time to spend with these awesome people. Get some of your friends together and tell them what happened. And then play a game of twister, or watch a movie and take your mind off of things. Getting more than one friend in the same place at the same time will also help you avoid telling and retelling your breakup story and not being able to move on. Rehashing these emotions can be hard and keep you stuck in the negativity. Inevitably you will end up swapping break up stories and remembering that the hurt doesn’t last forever and everyone moves on. That feeling is really important.