NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Overcoming the Heartbreak of a Breakup

Anyone who has ever gone through the agony of a heartbreak knows that, at the height of the emotional pain, it can feel like you'll never get over it.  All you want is relief--a pill, a potion, a magic cure, something, anything that just makes it all go away.  You don't want to hear platitudes that feel completely irrelevant to what you're going through  at the time.

Overcoming the Heartbreak of a Breakup

Finding the Right Balance For Dealing With the Heartbreak of a Breakup
Everyone goes through the heartbreak of a breakup in his or her own way.  Some people jump right back into dating immediately, wanting to just "move on" from the pain and put it behind them as quickly as possible.  But most people who do this usually discover that it's not so easy, especially if your former lover or spouse meant a lot to you.

You Can't Just Flip a Switch to Turn Off Your Feelings
Most people can't do the equivalent of just flipping off a switch to turn off their feelings.  Although no one wants to endure suffering, denying your feelings will only prolong the pain.  Sometimes, it takes a lot more time than we would like.  You might think you can just "move on," but your heart might tell you a different story about what it needs to heal.

Isolating Won't Help You to Overcome the Emotional Pain
Other people do the opposite:  They isolate themselves from everyone and vow to never date or get involved in another relationship again because they don't want to go through the loss and emotional pain again.

Unfortunately, You Can't Avoid Loss and Pain
Vowing that you'll never open yourself up to loss and pain again isn't helpful and it's not realistic because, unfortunately, loss is part of life.  Even someone who is in a loving. long term  relationship knows that if s/he doesn't die first, the spouse or partner will die at some point.  Should they have never gotten involved so they could avoid the pain?  Most people would say no.

So, how do you maintain a balance that's right for you by neither trying to push your feelings down  nor vowing to spend the rest of your life as a hermit?

Here are some tips that might be helpful:

Burying your feelings, whether you do it by going into a social whirl, drinking too much or using drugs (which I obviously don't advise), or hiding out isn't going to help you in the long run.  It might feel good momentarily, but those unexpressed thoughts and feelings will usually come right back, sometimes stronger than before.  So, being mindfully aware, although it might be momentarily unpleasant, helps you, in the long run, to overcome the emotional pain.

Denial isn't going to help you in the long run.  The more time and energy you spend trying to resist the pain, the longer it will take to go through it.

Why is this so?  Because the only way to overcome the hurt is accepting it and going through it.  There's no going around it, as much as you might want to avoid the emotional pain.  While you don't need to feel these painful feelings every minute of everyday, you need to take time to allow yourself to grieve.

Often, emotional pain, similar to physical pain, comes in waves.  You can feel the intensity of the pain as it rises.  It often hits a peak, then you cry, write in a journal, talk to a friend, see your therapist, or do whatever it is you do to cope in a healthy way that helps you to deal with these feelings.  After a period, the feelings usually subside for a while until they begin to intensify again.  This could happen many times in one day.

Knowing that the emotional pain usually comes in waves is helpful.  It's rare that a person would feel 100% overwhelmed with emotional pain 24/7, just as it's rare that physical pain is always off the charts all the time.  It ebbs and flows.  Usually, when people become more mindful of what's happening to them, they realize that there are some moments that are better than others.  But it gets easier over time if you accept the fact that there will be pain, there will be some bad moments, and, in time, there will be some good moments too.

Acceptance doesn't mean passivity.  It doesn't mean you accept that there's nothing you can do ever to make yourself feel better ever again.

You can take healthy steps to feel better:
  • Taking extra care of yourself is very important when you're going through a heartbreak:  eating nutritiously, getting enough rest, pampering yourself in healthy ways
  • Maintaining contact with your emotional support system  
  • Writing in your journal 
If you've gone through a heartbreak before, at least, you know that it usually gets better with time.  You also know that you got through it and went on with your life.  You might have felt, initially, that time should have stopped when you got hurt, but it didn't, as cruel as that felt at the time.  But remember:  You got through it.

Getting Help in Therapy 
Self care and emotional support from your loved ones is very important when you're in emotional pain, but it might not be enough.  Your loved ones care about you and that's important, but they won't know how to help you work through the pain in the way a skilled psychotherapist knows how to do it.

Working through the emotional pain in therapy can help you to mourn and heal, so rather than continuing to suffer, you could benefit from seeing a licensed therapist who has experience helping people to overcome the emotional pain involved with a breakup.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

I have helped many clients to work through their emotional pain so they could go on to live fulfilling lives.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.

Also, read my articles:
Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships
Overcoming the Fear of Falling In Love Again and Getting Hurt
The Creation of a "Holding Environment" in Psychotherapy
Journal Writing Can Relieve Stress and Anxiety