But they are also an opportunity…
While they are hard to navigate, breakups help illuminate our pain points and areas that could benefit from attention and growth. They can show you where you’ve been abandoning yourself.
The process of splitting apart hurts. It disappoints and exhausts. It requires that you to take the little energy you have left and pivot in an entirely different direction. All of this as you are hit with an emotional tsunami and can hardly focus on having one straight thought.
Focus and clarity are essential to living a purpose-filled life, but they are near impossible to access during and soon after a breakup. As you drown in confusion and obsess over your ex and what might have gone wrong, I’d like to encourage you to use this time to put your attention on the person who needs it the most now — you.
Below are five ways in which you can begin to practice loving and caring for yourself as your world implodes from within and turns you inside out. After the storm passes and healing sets in, these practices will continue to serve you.
1. Get Space.
Love yourself by doing less and resting more.
Regardless of whether the relationship is truly over or whether there is still room for healing and growth, taking two to four weeks away from each other is critical to accessing that clarity. Emotions run high during this sensitive time and they can cloud your vision. Ideally, go low- or no-contact. Give yourself the time to think things over and reconnect with yourself. It’s a form of self-respect that shows you and the other person how valuable you are.
If the relationship was abusive, you’ll want the no-contact period to extend indefinitely. As a narcissistic abuse survivor coach, I hear horror stories about abusive men and women emotionally tormenting their partners and blaming them for the demise of the relationship. When in doubt, listen to your body. Love is not supposed to hurt.
Having the space will allow you to take steps to return to wholeness and rediscover yourself anew. Make it a sacred time to tune into your natural rhythms. Journal, reflect and reunite with your dreams. Deepen your breath and do a detox if that resonates with you. You will be amazed how much energy you can get back and progress you can make in just a month of no-contact!
Related: how to love someone with depression
2. Connect with Your Essence
Love yourself by celebrating your uniqueness.
This practice can be very effective at helping you get in touch with your identity that likely got bruised, if not entirely shattered, after the breakup. It will bring you closer to your authentic core and wellspring of inner power. It will ground and center you. It will reawaken your confidence.
People who have their male essence more dominant will benefit from engaging in active pursuits, such as signing up for a marathon, joining a self-defense class, connecting with other men or making progress on a project. Nothing feels better than making headway after your world crashed and burned!
People whose dominant essence is female will feel more grounded exploring their sensuality through dance, regenerating in a retreat or rearranging their homes. Indulging with aromatherapy and preparing food with love can do wonders. Practice self-nurturing and self-compassion while taking action that yields visible results and helps move you forward.
Better health and better environment will always lead to enhanced well-being and therefore better relationships. But it has to begin with you.
3. Connect with Your Deepest Feelings
Love yourself by feeling your feelings.
Your brain doesn’t care about your happiness. It only cares about keeping you safe. This is why instead of embracing painful emotions so that they can communicate, metabolize and depart, we develop a host of coping mechanisms to avoid it.
Food, sex, television, shopping, alcohol all serve as distractions for running from our pain. The more you run away the more it will persist. Worse — with time the ignored emotions gain monstrous proportions and can even manifest as chronic disease.
This is why if you want to truly return to wholeness (my new preferred way to call healing, per the Life Regenerator), it is critical to allow yourself to connect with and honor your feelings. Making time for this will make you more aware, resilient and tuned in. It will raise your emotional literacy and set you free.
I know this is not comfortable. It’s not meant to be. But the moment you embrace your emotions and instead of pushing them away you welcome them in, they lose their threatening charge and become you messengers.
When I feel the wave coming over me, instead of trying to push it away, I like to say this: Hello [name the feeling]! Welcome. What are you here to teach me?
4. Connect with Your Needs
Love yourself by honoring what you need.
Many of us compromise too much in relationships. It’s easy to mute our needs and desires to not make waves. Some of us may even become less authentic to make our partner like us more.
As children, we are trained to believe that serving others while putting ourselves last is an honorable thing to do. This is not true. A family friend recently was scheduled to have her hip surgery. She can barely walk. She is also her mother’s caretaker. Upon learning about the surgery, her mother was appalled that her daughter would take a month off to recover and therefore not be there to care for her. Now this woman is considering canceling the procedure so that she can continue caring for her mother. But how long can she be of help if she can hardly walk? Do you see the logical flaw in this thinking?
The degree of self-abandonment becomes evident during the split. As you are taking the time away from your partner, really reflect on the following questions:
- Who am I?
- What makes me happy?
- What makes me whole?
- What do I need?
To return to wholeness, learn to put on your oxygen mask first. If you can’t be there for yourself, it is impossible to be there for someone else.
5. Practice Sharing Your Vulnerability
Love yourself by choosing authenticity over perfection.
Vulnerable sharing is the ultimate cure to loneliness. But to have true vulnerability, you need authenticity, which requires self-acceptance. Here is where the breakup can serve as another opportunity — your identity is no longer bound with your partner. At this time, you are 100% free to be you.
So, get curious about who you are!
As I mentioned above, it is easy to lose yourself in another person while in a relationship. The degree of compromise you had to make in order to feel accepted and loved is the degree of healing that you’ll need.
The paradoxical thing is that what’s most attractive about you is also what’s most vulnerable. Speaking from your truth makes you more trustworthy and attractive. When you are comfortable with your so called ‘flaws,’ you come across as real, confident and relatable. You become a living example of what we are all striving for — to love ourselves more fully.
We can spend a large chunk of our life in hiding, because someone criticized part of us at some point in the past. But it is that part that’s still in the shadows that will give you most outer glow and inner peace when it’s finally integrated. It’s like the missing piece, the key that makes everything else click into place.
Relationships are supposed to be reciprocal. There needs to be harmony and balance between give and take. When you are fulfilled, you will be happier and there will be more of you to share. Find out what your needs are and don’t hold yourself back from expressing what that is.
So, wherever you are in your healing process, make a pact with yourself, a commitment to end the self-abandonment right now. Instead of running away, learn to embrace yourself and watch the transformation that ensues — your return to wholeness.
Your connections will be richer and deeper when you speak what’s really on your mind. Don’t try to be someone you think others will like. . . Be the person who likes yourself.
Yours in vulnerability,