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When You Are Going Through a Break Up

The difficulty of a break up is often underrated by our culture in general. While our friends and neighbors don’t have trouble understanding the pain involved when someone passes away, they don’t seem to understand the pain involved in a break up. Clients will tell me it’s one of the most difficult things they’ve ever gone through, yet their family members tell them, “Just get back out there” or “It’s okay, you’ll get over it” or they make glib statements like, “There’s more fish in the sea!”

While there may be more fish, break ups do a real trash job on most people’s self-esteem. Often they happen without a lot of notice, or with no explanations, or maybe, painfully, there was someone else was involved. All of these situations create a situation where the person is not only grieving the relationship, they are also comparing themselves to others and their self-esteem takes a big spiral downward. Sometimes they are the ones who had to do the break up, but it was because of their ex’s behavior or there just wasn’t enough in common with them. That’s still very upsetting and it makes you question yourself.

Here are some ideas to try and keep the spiraling at bay.

  1. Figure out what the one hobby is that you really love and do it. It might take some real effort here because your energy is low. But you have to physically stop ruminating and just go to that keyboard or those paints or your tennis shoes. Do you like to fish? Then, put in the effort to distract yourself with fishing. For me it’s creating something. A new web page, a new blog post, a new plant in a pot with a hanger. For others it’s reading a book, playing Pickleball or hanging out with friends watching a game or a movie. Maybe you draw or cook Indian food. Maybe it’s selling things on Facebook Marketplace.
  2. Make a list of what wasn’t so great about that relationship. Did they always yell at other drivers on the road? Did they talk down to you about something? Did they have a weird entangled relationship with their sister? Did their family always make fun certain people? Did they worship their job/beer/something else? Whatever it is, just take a minute to feel the relief that you don’t have to deal with that anymore. Really let it in.
  3. Along the same lines, note the actual reality of the relationship. The mind tends to paint old partners rosy and remember only the good moments. It discounts the mood swings or the lack of anything in common or the awkwardness of having the same fight over and over. It discounts that your mental health was suffering. It discounts the turmoil in favor of the glamor. It’s just what sad minds do. So take the time to really look.
  4. Create a page in your journal about your good traits. What kind of friend are you? What kind of child were you? What are your best qualities? Really toil around in your own positive traits. What kind things have teachers said or your friends said? It’s time again to really look! What about your smile or your ability to let others be themselves. Maybe you are great at taking care of little kids or keeping things organized. Whatever it is, try to see it even if you don’t want to.
  5. Find a community. This one is important. When we isolate after a break up we make a situation where our mind is only seeing ourselves through the lens of the person we just lost. Instead, it’s time to spend time with other people who can reflect your goodness back to you. Meet Ups are good for this. Hiking, cards, games, even axe throwing. Just find an activity and do it. It could be through a church or a club at a school.
  6. Find a book about how to handle a break up. Get on Amazon and do a search. Read about someone else and how they made it through. Or, what about YouTube videos on break ups?

What other ideas do you have for getting through a break up? Comment below!

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Free Clear Mind Therapy provides in-person therapy in Fishers & Indianapolis and online therapy across Indiana. Specializing in anxiety therapy for teens, adults, and kids.

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