We all can agree that we need to take better care of ourselves, especially after a breakup. Being your best friend in a time like this is vital to replace any self-criticism with self-compassion. But how do you do that? All self-care starts with acknowledgement / recognition.
If you think about any other forms of suffering, all require to be acknowledged first in order to be resolved.
For an instant, if you think about any problem solving skills, it requires to recognise the problem first, contrary to popular belief: “Don’t focus on the problem, focus on the solution instead”.
However, in reality, if you want to truly solve any problem properly, you need to have a good insight of the problem at hand, otherwise, how do you find a suitable solution? Only after that process of understanding the problem and assessing potential solutions to finding what really works for you, can you start focusing on the solution rather than on the problem.
The same applies to our feelings and if you want to take better care of yourself you need to start recognising your feelings instead of pushing them down, because the more you push them down, the more predominant they get, and the deeper down you bury them the more they can influence your actions even without your awareness.
Just because these emotions right now aren’t pleasant does not mean they are less important, therefore acceptance of these feelings is crucial to better understand what you are going through at present time.
Understanding your circumstances as well as your emotions without judgement, helps you accept them and with that comes the opportunity to practice, the so needed, self-compassion in this time of suffering.
Furthermore, how do you know where you want to be if you don’t know where you are right now? How do you plan where to go from here, if you don’t really understand where ‘here’ means? Knowing where you are right now is the starting point to drawing in that beautiful ‘map’ of yours where to go next.
Besides, remember that your emotions aren’t fixed, so you don’t have to necessarily suffer from this breakup forever.
Create an emotional journal
Writing down how you are feeling is one way of expressing yourself and getting in touch with your emotions, by labeling them and elaborating for example how feeling sad is like for you in this particular moment in time, and what comes to mind associated with that feeling.
Although bear in mind that not every exercise is beneficial for everyone the same way, therefore, I encourage you to try and if you find that it is not being in any way beneficial then you can try other exercises that may suit you better.
Nonetheless, you will only know if you try, so even if some don’t work for you, at least you gave them a chance – good for you!
Breakups often lead to serious psychological and emotional distress, and It’s when we are suffering that we need special care the most.
One form to cultivate self-compassion is through Mindfulness, a type of meditation that is often used in clinical settings. I leave you with this audio of Self-Compassion Break Mindfulness practice for you to give it a try.
Understand that, for Mindfulness to be effective, one must fully concentrate and be fully dedicated to it at the moment of practice – actually mindfulness means focused attention at the present moment.
Enjoy this moment and truly focus on these words of self-care.
Understanding our emotions is one thing but directly accessing them is another altogether.
If I ask you to close your eyes and picture a lion, can you do it? Picture a snowflake. Now picture yourself in your friend’s house. Can you conjure up these images? Of course you can! Now try feeling enraged, just feel it. What did you have to do to feel enraged? You had to think about something that would get you there.
Regardless of what you thought, the point is that it’s almost impossible to command your feelings. We may not have such direct influence over our feelings, however, we do have direct access to our thoughts, and by accessing the way we think, we can, not only, better understand how we feel (recognition) but to slowly adapt how we think, we can help the way we feel. And that leads us to our next point (Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts).
DRDT (Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts)
Dysfunctional seems a strong word, but in reality we all have dysfunctional or distorted thoughts from time to time, and some even struggle with these thoughts regularly.
Dysfunctional means these thoughts don’t serve you well, they tend to be unrealistic, negative and self-critical. If your circumstances are already stressful, such as dealing with a breakup, having dysfunctional thoughts can only add to your frustration and aggravate your emotions.
So here’s an exercise often used in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) that helps you ‘map’ your thoughts and understand the correlation they have with your feelings. Not only does this help to adapt your dysfunctional thoughts to more realistic and positive ones, in turn this exercise can help you improve how you feel and overall some relief from your breakup suffering.
- Start by writing down what are you thinking,
- followed by how that thought made you feel,
- also, rate that feeling’s intensity from 0% (nothing at all) to 100% (maximum intensity),
- next, write down what you consider to be a more healthy/appropriate/positive/realistic thought,
- write down how that made you feel,
- Rate these feelings as above (0%-100%)
- and finally look back at your notes and notice how the quality of your thoughts influence your feelings.
This exercise can be practiced everyday and the more you do it the more you learn to recognise your thoughts and evaluate them consciously and rationally, and as you improve the quality of your thoughts consequently so does your mood.
Wishing you a kind recovery.