ReCentering Yourself After A Break-Up
You just broke up with your partner, and you now find yourself with an enormous amount of energy that you used to spend on that person. Take this opportunity to re-center that energy onto yourself. Often times, people tend to use this energy in the wrong way. You obsess about what you did wrong or get overly angry with the other person for breaking up with you. You experience negative thoughts that race out of control to the point that you cannot sleep at night or function on normal, daily tasks. You may find yourself excessively checking on your previous partner either through a social networking site, mutual friends, or direct contact. Other times, people jump into another relationship and spend that energy on someone new. While all of these activities may seem productive at the time, it is more beneficial to spend that extra energy on you, thus giving yourself time to self reflect and grow as a person.
Relationships can be fulfilling; however, sometimes they tend to distract you from meeting your own needs and wants as you get swept away in the other person’s likes/dislikes, needs, and wants. In order to be ready for a new, healthy relationship, you have to be grounded. Let’s get to know you! What are your needs? What do you like? What do you desire? If you can’t please your Self on your own, how do you know how to let someone else please you?
The first step you should take is to reflect back on the relationship and evaluate it. If you have not done this step for previous relationships, do it for them as well. What were some activities you did for your partner(s) but that you decided you like for yourself? How might you have self-sabotaged the relationship; what was your role? Are there patterns to your relationships, specifically in the way they ended? What is negotiable, and what is not in these relationships? How do you negotiate with your partner, and what are your hard limits? Lastly, what do you want to be different and the same going into your future relationships?
Think back to when you were an infant; you were less inhibited, less aware. In other words, you had no filter. In order to get your needs met, you fussed and cried, and people responded. You did what you wanted because it felt good. You weren’t held back by responsibilities, time, or rules. Let’s apply that to you, now. What is something you’ve wanted to do but have been putting off? Right now, make a list of at least 10 items that you have been wanting to do. Now separate this list into “able to do now,” (activities that you are solely in control of) and “can’t do right now” (activities that you may have to rely on other people in order to obtain, such as getting a raise or making a new friend). The activities that you “can’t do right now” should be limited to financial reasons, time off of work, or other issues that are unrelated to your lack of a partner. Remember, you are trying to find your Self, and sharing your activities with someone may not be conducive to that. Your “can’t do right now” list of activities may include extravagant vacations, which take more planning and money; however, keep that list as you may come into more money or a bit more vacation time at some point. Your “able to do now” list should be made up of the smaller activities you have been putting off, but still mean a lot to you. Now, make it your priority, regardless of your responsibilities to other people (you have a responsibility to your Self), to do at least one item on your list each week.
Now that you’ve done something for you, without regard for responsibilities, time, or rules, how does it feel? What was it like to make your own decision on an activity without the influence of your partner? What was it like to take that personal risk and maybe having it fail (for example you signed up for salsa lessons, and it turned out to not be fun)? What is it like to pursue your dream regardless of the success of your dream? How influenced are you in these choices? If a girl from your salsa class asks you to go for drinks instead, what does that mean? What does it feel like to have boundaries? Is it scary to go after these things that are driven by your Self versus the idea of a relationship. Let’s reflect on it. What did you like about it? What didn’t you like about it? Would you do it again? Get to know your thoughts, and be comfortable with them. Understand them.
It is important to be able to be on your own; after all, at the end of the day, it’s always going to be you you’re going to sleep with at night. Are you happy with the way your day went? What did you need that maybe you didn’t get? How could you have gotten it? Did you feel forced to do something, or did you struggle to manage your needs with others’ needs? Stay true to your Self.
Once you have finished your first list, start a new one, and finish that one! Remember, these lists are supposed to help you find your inner Self that you may have lost. These lists do not care about social stigmas, time, or responsibilities. These lists care about making you happy and helping you to figure out who you are, without having to rely on other people for your happiness. You may also want to think back to the first exercise you did, which was to explore possible patterns of your past relationships. You can also reflect back on what your partner did for Self care that you could adapt for your Self.
You’ve been working on your activities and have been making strides toward bettering yourself, so how do you know when you can stop? The truth is, you should never stop working on your Self. You should always work to stay in touch with who you are and stay true to your Self, even with a partner. However, there are some questions you can ask yourself in order to measure your progress.
The first few days after a break-up are the hardest. You have so much empty time to fill that you used to spend thinking about that person, with that person, or for that person. After participating in some of these activities that you have listed for yourself, the energy will seem more directed. Instead of thinking about your partner all throughout your day, you have now started to think less and less about him/her. Your thoughts may only wander in the morning when you first wake up or at lunch, on your commute from work, or when you’re laying down for bed. Will these thoughts ever completely go away? Probably not, however, these thoughts will go from longing thoughts to memories. Instead of seeing the bench where you had your first kiss with your partner and longing for that moment over again, you will see the bench and think of what a great moment in your life it was. You will be able to appreciate the moment without necessarily missing it or needing it back.
When you were together, the two of you probably made plans together. When you first break-up, it is natural to continue to make plans in your head that include your partner. Habits such as these will dissipate as well. Eventually, you should start to feel the void disappearing, and you will have the ability to fill it with positive activities and thoughts that do not include your partner but do promote your Self. The void of not having someone will start to fill. Instead of becoming sad or upset when you realize your partner won’t be there with you for certain plans, you will start to enjoy that you can go by yourself. In the distant future, you may even be excited to do these activities with someone else, whether that be a friend or a future romantic partner.
The guidelines that were just listed above are meant to be helpful in provoking thoughts to help you and make sure you are covering all of your bases. Do not be afraid to ask yourself more questions; this is just a starting point. Some of these questions may not be for everyone as you make the transition from being in a relationship to being single and finding your Self. Each person will take these steps at a different pace. It may be helpful to give yourself a timeline. If you think about the amount of time you spend thinking about your partner per day, try to lower that by an hour or two hours each week or two weeks. Tell yourself you will be excited to participate in activities without your partner by 3 months out of the relationship or 6 months out of the relationship. Take into consideration how long you were in the relationship, how intense of a relationship it was, and at what stage of the relationship did it end (were you together for 5 years but the last 2 years were going toward break-up, or were you together for 5 years and the last year you were looking at rings). Do not make an unrealistic timeline for yourself. If you find that you are not fitting in with this guideline, it may be beneficial for you to check in with your friends and family or even see a therapist to work on getting through your break-up and finding your Self.