Let's Chat: Heartbreak
This chat is brought to you by one of our favourite psychologists, Rashida! You might have seen her when she joined us to chat about change + boundaries or when she sat down to answer questions for our "ask a therapist" video on loneliness.
This months “Let’s Chat” is about something we’ve noticed has come up in recent times. This is a safe, open space to chat about relationships and heartbreak. Most of us go through rough patches in our relationships at some stage, and lots of couples need support during times of stress such as lockdowns.
We are relational beings – A lot of understanding about ourselves comes through the relationships we have with others.
Therefore, the changing or ending of any relationship is going to elicit some strong emotions.
Heartbreak is painful. It can not only feel like our thoughts become filled with pain, we can feel physical pain too. It is common and normal to have physiological responses to heartbreak including feelings of heaviness, muscle aches, a racing heart, gut issues – nausea and weight disturbances, crying and fatigue + many more.
This is part of the human experience and the fact that we are social, relational beings. We thrive off of being in relationships with others.The length of the relationship and even the type of relationship is not that important. Just the fact you were in a relationship and that relationships are a vulnerable experience is enough for the ending of one to feel really distressing.
When you are in a relationship you are letting people into your world and opening up. This means that if that relationship ends, there will be emotions that crawl into that opened up space.
This is common and normal and can feel difficult.
We are not often accustomed to sitting with certain emotions such as sadness, anger, or anxiety and there’s a chance that if you have experienced them before, maybe you were using the person(s) that you were in the relationship with to help support you through them. So now without that person(s) there - it can feel lonely and isolating.
Relationship endings and heartbreak will still feel difficult if you were the one who ended the relationship or if it felt like the right step to take. Remember it is a time of immense change, loss and grief.
If you are going through relationship difficulties and attempting to work towards a healthy relationship, the focus should be on ensuring there is continued communication. Setting aside scheduled time to do check ins about the relationship, creating a safe space to share your thoughts, concerns and even appreciations for what’s happening in the relationship. An effort to understand each person’s communication style – know this may differ and will have to be taken into account to have a healthy relationship.
Break up action plan:
- Identify other people in your network to lean on - this is a time to use supports and ask for help if you need it
- Allow yourself to grieve and mourn the loss and changes associated with the relationship and its ending.
- Seek professional support if you feel the emotions elicited become overwhelming
- Reach out to others who have experienced a similar experience – use online forums and groups if you don’t have people around you who can relate
- Remember it is normal to feel a range of different emotions when experiencing heartbreak
- Know that the intensity of the emotion may change over time
- Spend some time reflecting on the reasons why the relationship ended
A big part of managing inevitable changes we go through in life is finding ways to accept them and adapt to them. It’s easier said than done but it isn’t impossible and we would like for this thread to be a space we can talk about how to do that.