Breakups hurt like crazy, and there’s no way around it. If you were involved in a relationship with all your heart, no matter the amount of compassion the breakup is dealt with; it is a painful process. Experiencing a heartbreak of this sort can shake you to your very foundations, making you question your faith in love and confidence itself. The pain of rejection or mourning a lost love is intense. Even if you’re the one who ended things, there’s often guilt associated with your sadness. Most cultures around the globe emphasize “forever” as a relationship goal. It is a common fallacy to label an ending as a failure in such environments.
In reality, despite being painful, breakups open doors to a new and improved life – one that eventually makes you feel less burdened and may include a relationship with a more compatible person. However, those initial days and weeks right after a breakup can be tough. One may feel inconsolable and drained of energy. Though you can move onward with time, staying mentally strong through a breakup is essential.
The seven stages of grief after a breakup
A breakup isn’t something that impacts you in a single go; it targets you in phases. Especially after a serious or long-term relationship, each stage brings its share of grief, guilt, blame-game, and emotions. The more you’ve emotionally invested in a relationship, the more difficult it is to accept the heartbreak. To look after your mental health through a breakup, you need to be aware of these seven phases that follow a split:
Shock is an immediate reaction right after the breakup. If your relationship just ended, chances are, you’re still in shock and unable to deal with anything at the moment. You were used to being with a person, and now suddenly they aren’t a part of your life anymore. Such thoughts make you feel lonely, vulnerable, and insecure. This stage usually involves many questions flooding your mind. You question yourself and want some answers from your ex. This phase of disbelief can last for days, weeks, or even months.
Dealing with this phase is the first step toward healing. Continually calling your ex and seeking explanations isn’t going to help. Though it’s okay to discuss what went wrong in a relationship, don’t let this need for answers choke your sensibilities. Don’t freak out! Understand that this is just a phase, even if everything seems too confusing right now. Give yourself some time, and things will start to make sense on their own. You can try meditation, calming exercises, or go for walks to divert your mind.
The second stage, followed by shock, is often denial. Denial is a common reaction to overwhelming conditions and circumstances. You refuse to accept reality and bottle up your emotions. Most people who go through breakups think that if they don’t accept the truth, it didn’t really happen, leaving a reunion chance. During this stage, it is common to call, stalk on social media, or excessively text — anything about the relationship that seems remotely “normal”— to delay the heartbreak dealing process.
“This isn’t happening, not to me,” “He/She won’t do this to me” – if you’re experiencing these feelings, chances are, you’re in denial. Denial sometimes gives you the time to gather your strength for something you know you must face soon. It is essential to realize that shutting down or ignoring reality will only leave you stuck during this phase. To move forward, try to accept the present even if it hurts. Open up to a friend or pen your feelings and fears in a journal. Identifying unreasonable thoughts will give you a chance to overcome them.
Once you’re out of the denial phase, you get into the process of dealing with the relationship’s dissolution. A recent breakup may make you replay the memories of the relationship over and over again in your head, trying to find the reason it fell apart. You yearn to pinpoint the exact moment things started to go down and wonder how your bond could’ve been saved. During this phase, your thoughts are often scattered and disorganized. The grief keeps you in a state of withdrawal – you skip updating your social media feeds and status, you don’t check your voicemails, and you avoid people and socializing. Sitting in isolation with a pint of ice cream feels much better than interacting with your social circle and admitting, “Yes, it’s over!”
To go through this period, keep finding excuses to go out like groceries, that new place you wanted to try, or even work. Don’t indulge in self-loathing or self-pity. Instead, try to be close to your family and close friends during this time.
In this phase, your heart goes from gloominess to anger. It becomes fueled with rage towards your ex for his/her part in the breakup, or perhaps towards yourself for your part. Many people indulge in reckless behaviors like burning old pictures, holding their ex’s stuff hostage, slandering their ex, or worse during this stage. Anger at oneself may include a lot of negative self-talk — regretful and angry conversations with self. The reason for all this is to find something or someone to blame.
Though breakups feel like the end of the world to most people, they aren’t. If you are going through the stage of anger after a breakup, it is crucial to control your rage. Try to pen it down or seek help from a Therapist / Psychologist. But, try your best not to act on it.
Once the anger phase subsides, most people go into depression. Once you realize your loss’s magnitude, dealing with your emotions and reality can feel all too overwhelming. You may spend many days in a state of deep sadness that resembles mild depression. During this phase, recalling what your life was like before the relationship can be challenging. For many, even getting out of bed feels difficult. If you are going through this stage, you may feel intense emotions like hopelessness, helplessness, and sadness.
It is essential to surround yourself with positivity during this time. Keep your friends and family close and try to avoid unhealthy habits like drinking or binge eating.
The emotional roller coaster
“Will, I ever find true love?” “Will I be happy again?” – if these questions cross your mind after a major depression phase, you’re probably going through the emotional-roller-coaster stage of a breakup. This phase includes intense emotional pain, guilt, self-doubt, hope, desperation, and loneliness. One minute, you feel energetic and hopeful; the next, you want to lie down or take a pillow and cry. It’s like being on an emotional roller-coaster ride.
While this phase can be harsh and confusing, it is actually a good sign. You are more into recovery and slowly moving ahead in life. To heal, you must push through the pain! It sounds cliché, but it’s true.
The last and final phase following a breakup is acceptance, the stage when you fully come to terms with the reality and decide to move on finally. Your thoughts may be like, “I understand why we got together, why we aren’t together now, and it’s time to move on.”
This stage of a breakup makes all of the other phases worth it. It gives you that sense of exhalation. You are able to realize what the future holds. The sun begins to shine bright again, and you start feeling like yourself, ready to move on.
Are you seeking support?
If you’re going through a devastating breakup and your emotions seem to be getting the better of you, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. If you are looking for support in Corona, California, Los Angeles, California, or Riverside, California, choose MindShift Psychological Services. Therapists / Psychologists at MindShift Psychological Services provide quality counseling and in-depth therapy sessions like Individual Therapy and Group Therapy to help you come to terms with your past, learn strategies to cope with your pain, and move ahead with a positive perspective on life. They also provide Teletherapy services so that you can start the healing process in the comfort of your homes.