Coping After Breaking Up  –  What Can I Do?

One of the most difficult things to do when a relationship ends is to let go of the strong emotional ties that we may have for our ex-partners. It is hard not to think about what they are doing or thinking, how they are feeling, or whether they are okay or as miserable as we are. We have spent so much time making decisions that revolved around them adjusting that framework afterward takes time as well as intentional effort.

When is it time to stop investing our emotion into a dead relationship? Intentional effort is needed to identify when our thoughts hopelessly gravitate toward our ex-partners overshadowing the fact that most of the evidence points to ‘its over’. Easier said than done so how can we begin to heal and adjust?

Some strategies may include:

  • Allow yourself the right and time to grieve the loss as this is a normal process that is as essential to being human as breathing.
  • Creating and repeating uplifting / affirming statements about ourselves when we catch ourselves emotionally over-investing in.
  • Identify an emotional over-investment in our ‘dead’ relationship and do three push ups, sit ups, squats etc. (consider how fit we might become 🙂 .
  • Take three to five deep breaths (20 seconds each -> 5 inhale, 7 hold & 8 exhale) thinking of a positive during inhaling and a negative when exhaling (e.g. inhale calm… exhale upset)
  • Plan schedules heavily with activities to refrain from having “free-time” for a few weeks or even months
  • Increase self care activities (biking, bathing, reading, music etc.) catering to your personal likes and interests can be helpful distractions.

The biggest steps involve finding ways to intentionally redirect our emotional investments away from our ex-partners toward ourselves and others. Being loving to ourselves is so important even though this is difficult after a break-up. Positive  and caring thoughts and actions can prevent us from slipping into self-loathing, ‘stinkin thinkin’ and hyper-criticism which rapidly increases feelings of despair and hopelessness. Also, finding ways to do loving things for others (also called altruism), volunteering time to family, friends and even strangers is a great way to redirect emotional investment and soften the impact of grief and loss.

Making an investment in counseling is another form of self care. You can discover additional strategies for coping as well as new intrapersonal and interpersonal skills to help build healthy, exciting and enduring relationships. If you want to find out more contact one of our counsellors today!

 

Photo credit 1: clarita from morguefile.com
Photo credit 2: pippalou from morguefile.com

Faces-nevit

Why Do I Feel So Worthless?

Breaking up from a romance or going through separation and divorce knocks us down emotionally. These tough times can even increase negative self-talk, lowering our self-esteem. We invested so much of ourselves that when the relationship ends, we can feel a sense of loss of identity and a tarnished self-concept.

“I feel so worthless I can’t even get out of bed this morning. I know of no reason for doing anything today. I just want to be little and stay in bed until I can find a reason why I should get up. No one will even miss me, so what’s the use of getting up,” (Fisher & Alberti, 2000).

Sometimes, we can have the best support systems, loving family and friends who are there for us, yet still have a difficult time believing in ourselves and maintaining a positive self view. When we are having difficulty connecting with our identity, seeing our worth and having confidence in our absolute amazingness, it may be a good time to reach out for confidential and professional counselling. A few “coaching” sessions with a counsellor you connect with can help a lot and quite quickly too. A counselling environment helps decipher thoughts that have been generated from past experiences. Whether it be our upbringing, relationships with our parents and friends and our history of love relationships, all experiences significantly influence our self-perception. The key is to consider which thoughts seem to dominate negative self-perceptions, “catch them” so to speak and then intentionally shift or reframe thoughts into more positive ones. This approach improves our emotional state and behaviours also improve with practice. Counselling helps us objectively examine the inner most regions of our thinking, exploring the way we perceive ourselves and the core values we have as human beings. In a trusting therapeutic relationship, we can safely identify “Stinkin Thinkin”, those negative and incorrect perceptions that drag us down. We can re-establish how we want to think and feel about ourselves and develop the steps required to gain a healthier perspective. To improve your self-perception, contact us today…because YOU ARE WORTH IT!

 
Photo credit: GaborfromHungary from morguefile.com

 Photo credit: snowbear from morguefile.com

Some of us will say “Absolutely!” Some of us will say “Not for me!” And others may be too confused to decide. The reality is that sex plays a significant role in love relationships. While it promises so much joy and satisfaction, it can also be the deciding factor that destroys very loving relationships.

When we first choose to be in a romance or “fall into” a loving relationship, most of us are so infatuated with our partners. The sex drive is amazing… even through the roof (thanks dopamine). We can barely take our hands off each other. It’s exciting, engaging, enchanting and we just seem to connect on a level that we assume will last forever. So often we dive into a romance head first (Or is it “heart first”?) and the commitment to be together opens up new expectations and responsibilities, many unforeseen and under-discussed… “love is blind”.

Well not really yet it can certainly feel that way.  Diving in head first quickly becoming more committed than our understanding of one another can handle. As the expectations and assumptions increase, the pressure can overwhelm healthy relationship development. When certain steps are missed in almost any project, task or adventure something will usually falter.

Cracks in the relationship appear and couples can be found scrambling to save or salvage what wasn’t really well established in the first place. Many separated couples state that the connection “just isn’t there anymore”. The passion and excitement that was there when they first met is said to have “faded” until they felt like they were just friends, or worse, “roommates”.

Couples often agree that life and children and work get into the way of romance, however, isn’t this denying ownership and personal choice?  After all, who’s making the decisions? It’s about finding the strategy and skill set to balance our lives in such a way that are able to meet all our needs, not perfectly but sufficiently and satisfactorily for both partners.

Separated couples also share, retrospectively, that they become frustrated, disgruntled and then turn away from their spouse.  Gradually withdrawing to other distractions, many find other potential partners and their sexuality becomes sparked elsewhere. Relationship abandonment is frequently preceded by minimal effort, money and energy being invested into reading and seeking help to “tune-up” their run down relationship; finding ways to become new and adventurous in the apparently no longer “forever” relationship.

When couples seek counselling, many find it is often too late which is statistically supported. One or both have already “checked out” of the relationship and are thinking of lives without one another. What contributes to the decisions to give up on what was once a committed relationship, find another partner and go through the same thing all over again? Many factors can be draining on romance so it is important to have a thorough assessment.

Once we find ourselves moving toward a committed relationship, it is imperative to decide to invest time, energy and significant effort toward the ongoing improvement of intimacy skills; communication, sexuality, problem-solving, conflict resolution, assertiveness, moral and spiritual foundations and healthy family values and beliefs.

Don’t be a statistic. When you and your partner want to enhance ALL aspects of your relationship, contact us for a confidential and professional assessment / consultation.

 


Photo credit: Kopfjaeger from morguefile.com

Why Does This Keep Happening?

“I took two years before stepping into another relationship. The previous lasted four years. At the four-year mark, my world was turned upside down. I could honestly say that I cried every day for the first year (although the episodes did decrease in length). I was sad and vowed that I would do things differently the next time.

When the next time came, I remembered to do things differently; however, I never really decided what ‘different’ things I would do. And thinking back, I didn’t think I committed to any behavior changes. I thought I would put a wall up to protect myself from hurt (just in case this relationship also wouldn’t work out).

And to my surprise (really, it was a surprise), this relationship has ended and I feel almost the same as when the previous one ended. I feel like I was stabbed in the back. I feel confused. And worst of all, I feel rejected. I ask myself over and over why I don’t seem to be good enough.”

After the first breakup, perhaps this individual did not consider her feelings of rejection in depth.

“Everyone around me was surprised by the breakup. And questioned how it could be. So yes, I did feel rejected but tried not to dwell in it. With this past relationship, I feel like the ending was so much similar to my previous that rejection is the forefront of my feelings now.”

It’s easy to blame the person doing the “dumping” for the breakup. Many of those in our support system will also want to put blame the one who initiated the breakup, however, the “blame game” is ineffective and, if prolonged, destructive to healthy growth and development.

Introspection (looking inward and examining our own intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics) can change the way we relate to ourselves and to other people. Following improved self-awareness often comes the realization that just because a relationship ends, does not imply that we are inadequate or inferior. 

Most of the time, space between relationships is a good thing; however, we have to be able to use that time for self-reflection, growth and personal development. Efforts to improve ourselves helps us develop better relationship skills, thus, more satisfying relationships. There are many great resources; self-help books, group work, videos and online training you can use to augment your work with a professional counsellor. For assistance Call us today .

Grieving the Loss of a Romantic Relationship ?

How did you find out? Did she change her status on Facebook? Did he say he’s headed off to work and never return? Did she email or tweet her goodbye? Maybe he said; “It’s not you… I just need to figure me out” or she said something like; “I‘m just not in love anymore”.

Either way it hurts and hurts a lot! When someone we love and cherish bails, gives up, and then chooses to do so in a cowardly way, such betrayal causes severe grief.

“Grief combines overwhelming sadness with a feeling of despair,” (Fisher & Alberti, 2000).

When recovering after a relationship loss, grieving is an important element. Everyone copes with and responds to loss differently. Thoughts and actions associated with grief often vary greatly from one individual to another. This can make it quite difficult for loved ones to understand and help one another. We may think we are not handling things well, we are powerless to overcome this loss or we may think our lives are hopeless. We may place blame on ourselves, and others, for the pain resulting from the broken relationship.

It can be very difficult to cope well when we are consumed by these thoughts and feelings, seemingly every moment of every day. They are especially strong when the break in a relationship is recent. Many people find comfort in the guidance and support received from family and friends yet, for some this is not the case. Some can also find support through their church fellowship, prayer and other spiritual resources. This may also be a good time to seek a consultation with a registered, professional counsellor who is experienced in assisting with the healthy recovery processes.

Crisis intervention, stress management combined with cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) help people not only cope but also adjust following a significant loss. CBT helps the grieving person(s) develop an increased understanding about thoughts, feelings and behaviours related to loss and grief.  Along with feelings of despair and helplessness, those grieving may also experience intense sadness/depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, grief, disappointment, anger and a severe sense of aloneness or isolation. Strangely enough some may experience relief as well.

With these rising and falling waves of emotions and thought, day-to-day living becomes a struggle which can further disrupt functioning. Loss of sleep and poorer eating add to the already distressful situation. These feelings and related stressful events may even foster destructive behaviours such as increased arguments, substance abuse, disordered eating habits, refusal to engage in daily routines, isolation from family and friends and recklessness.

It is important to have the support of another at this difficult time. Talk to someone to vent and find solutions to better cope with the discouraging thoughts and feelings. When we have effective support, and maybe even professional counselling, the grieving process can foster improvements in ourselves we may never have believed possible. With counselling we can heal wounds, recover and rebuild. Developing healthy and appropriate ways to cope help us have more peace and comfort with the grieving process, opening up new opportunities and possibilities for growth.

Book an appointment with us today!

 

“My Dog Treats Me Better!”

“After years of lies, betrayals, and secrets paired with infidelity and inappropriate sexual behaviours, I ask myself why I’m still here. Why am I still in this relationship? He says he loves me, and I actually trust that he does; however who cares? My dog loves me and treats me way better than he does…and HE’S A DOG! I have never experienced such a magnitude of hurt from any of my family or friends, so why do I put up with this guy?”

We all may be able to relate to “Stephanie” to some degree. Romantic relationships are difficult to maintain and even more difficult to cope with when the relationship is in trouble. When trust has been broken, couples spiral through a crisis and without healing and recovery work, often begin the dynamic or pattern of living crisis to crisis. This is often referred to as a chaotic or crisis-oriented relationship.

Stephanie’s dilemma is common in that we tend to compare our romantic relationships, albeit without sufficient facts or data, to those of our friends, family members and even to examples from popular media and literature. Our perceptions and misperceptions of others’ relationships colours our view of “what intimacy should be”, often leading to us setting the expectations for our relationships too high. With limited and inaccurate information, our expectations can easily become unrealistic, gradually contributing to worsening and even quite hurtful communication.

Of course, when our intimate relationships are in a crisis state, like Stephanie, we start to question why we are still in the relationship. By obtaining more accurate information about relationships and doing some analysis, we can improve our understanding and thus our ability to resolve relationship troubles. Robert Sternberg from the University of Wyoming, proposes the “love triangle” framework in which he presents love’s three main dimensions: intimacy, commitment, and passion and the seven relationship types below have more or less of these qualities (Psychology Today).

When couples consider their place in this model, they can identify their relationship to one of 7 types of relationships (Psychology Today):

  • Consummate (the highest form): a high regard on all three dimensions of the love triangle
  • Infatuated: high on passion only
  • Fatuous: high on passion and commitment
  • Empty: high on commitment only
  • Companionate: high on intimacy and commitment
  • Romantic: high on intimacy and passion
  • Liking/friendship: high on intimacy only

Some couples experiencing a crisis in their relationship escape, withdraw or give up. Consideration toward getting assistance and more research-based analysis helps individuals and couples understand the dynamics underlying their dilemma. This then helps us negotiate the type of relationship we want to achieve and navigate the journey to it. Couples counselling can create a space to work together to heal the hurt, achieve goals, rebuild trust and, ultimately, get the loving relationship you want.

Let us help! Book your appointment with us today!

Help For Eating Disorders Saves Lives – Durham Region

In a “sweeping” analysis of 77 studies, involving more than 15,000 subjects, University of Wisconsin researchers post-doctoral student Shelley Grabe and psychology professor Janet Hyde found that “exposure to media depicting ultra thin actresses and models significantly increased women’s concerns about their bodies, including how dissatisfied they felt and their likelihood of engaging in unhealthy eating behaviours such as excessive dieting.” (www.news.wisc.edu/15215)

My earliest memories about my appearance were of my mom and me (although I think I had insecurities about my appearance prior to these recollections). She would say that I would look prettier if I didn’t have my father’s nose. Absurd, I know now; however, that was a comment that stuck by me for the rest of my childhood and well into being a young adult.

So here’s how stinkin’ thinkin’ worked. It took that one silly comment from my mom and planted it into my head (like a seed being planted into the ground). Then, it would look at all my experiences to come and water the seed so that that one comment would grow and other related thoughts would sprout. Thoughts such as, “I’m ugly” “I’m not good enough” “I’m fat” “I don’t want to eat” “If only I was skinny like her.

Much of my experiences revolved around the media. Going to school and developing friendships, most of our conversations included the latest fashion trends, the hottest celebrity gossips or the fittest athletes. Body images were ingrained in me and consumed much of my eating, clothing, and activity choices.

I eventually became so tired of thinking about my body appearance. My body’s health and well-being now overshadow the superficial ideations exposed by the media. I’ve been blessed with education on disordered eating, self-esteem building, healthy body-image thought processes and family conflict and dynamics.  This has allowed me to discover that with healthy mind management, my external environment can have little to no control over who I am, what I look lik, and how I feel about myself. I learned that the cultural ideal of beauty is unrealistic and prejudice.

The authors of the study cited above emphatically conclude;

“We’ve demonstrated that it doesn’t matter what the exposure is, whether it’s general TV watching in the evening, or magazines or ads showing on a computer. If the image is appearance-focused and sends a clear message about a woman’s body as an object, then it’s going to affect women.” (Postdoctoral researcher Shelly Grabe)

For some of us, more help and assistance is required. And that’s perfectly OK! Some of us suffer from feeling powerless against our thoughts, images from the media, and difficult relationships in our lives. There are few safe outlets in our community that provide us with the strength to cope and heal. Disordered eating behaviours can develop unknowingly and unconsciously, often masquerading as our best and only way of coping within an unsafe and chaotic environment.

Disordered eating involves a wide range of abnormal eating behaviours, such as chronic restrained eating, compulsive eating and habitual eating. Eating patterns are chaotic and the physiological aspects of eating (like feeling hungry or full) are ignored (www.nedic.com).

Some people, even the ones who love us the most, have a difficult time understanding disordered eating or what is required to provide support during recovery. This is normal, however, the lack of understanding may create increased conflict and stress for the entire family. The process of overcoming disordered eating patterns takes a lot of work and a supportive and informed environment is essential for success.

Jeff Packer MSW & Associates, a registered, professional counselling service in Oshawa, Ontario, works with the individual engaging in abnormal eating and their family members. Treatment is catered to their individual needs and goals. It is important to include family doctors and registered dietitians in the recovery process. We also strongly encourage family members and loved ones to participate in family sessions.  This can help families improve and strengthen their relationships as well as learn to create loving and supportive environments for those in recovery.  To start your road to recovery, call us today.