Let’s face it: There’s no amount of preparation that can save any of us from the fallout of the untimely demise of a relationship. No one plans for a breakup, and when it hits, it hits hard. It’s easy to fall into the trap of internalizing all of the relationship’s failures and holding yourself solely accountable for the gaping hole in your heart, but as Katherine Woodward Thomas, a licensed marriage and family therapist, says in her latest book, Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After, the best way to get over a lost love is to refocus on your one true love… yourself.
All you need is (self) love
This might sound crazy, but a breakup can be a good thing. Sure, recovering from the paralyzing shock, helplessness and sorrow after the end of a relationship isn’t easy, but it can force you to look inward and establish a deeper connection with your very first love: yourself.
“I define self-love as the willingness to love yourself even when someone you love is unable or unwilling to love you back,” says Thomas. “Learning to speak words of wisdom, encouragement, comfort and solace to yourself as you move through heartache will go a long way towards healing your hurting heart and setting you on the path to having better relationships in the future.”
Let go of the physical pain
There’s some real truth to the idea of a broken heart when a loved one decides to bow out. The physical manifestation of a breakup is a very real thing. The trick is to be aware of the physicality involved in the healing process, and really focus on how the body is reacting to the emotional pain. Connecting with the body is paramount to rekindling the love you have for yourself when you’re recovering from that slap in the face of rejection.
“A breakup is a wonderful time to become conscious of self-defeating, life-long patterns in love and resolve to evolve beyond them,” says Thomas. “You can do that by noticing where you are holding the pain from your breakup and turn your attention towards this part of your body.” If you feel like a heaviness is tugging at your heart, or your feel nauseous just thinking about your ex, taking a moment to physically connect with your pain center is an avenue toward reconnecting with yourself and, in essence, getting back on the path to self love.
Go on an emotional detox
It seems that 2015 was the year of the juice cleanse, and now the soup cleanse appears to be the latest detox craze clogging up our Facebook news feeds. When you’re reeling from the emotional turmoil of a recent breakup, the best cleanse on the market is one that rids the body of toxic emotions, especially those pesky self-deprecating ones.
“There is a simple practice that psychologists use, called ‘affect labeling,’ that has been scientifically shown to lower reactivity significantly,” says Thomas. “Whenever you feel overwhelmed with negative emotions, rather than impulsively taking an action, press the pause button! Take a deep breath and see if you can stop long enough to identify the specific feelings you are having, such as rage, hatred, guilt or shame.”
Just the simple act of identifying your feelings will help to calm and soothe those nasty demons chipping away at your self love. Like Thomas says, you want to have your emotions, but you don’t want your emotions to have you!
How do you rekindle the love affair with yourself after a breakup? Share your tips by tweeting us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)