Brain Breakdown after a Heart Breakup — Not necessarily!
Breakups are scary and painful!
These situations deeply affect us and can be accompanied — if we are not careful — by an existential crisis and its consequent psychological collapse.
It is essential to have some basic tools to deal with such an eventuality. Otherwise, we could find ourselves in unbearable suffering.
The relationship is broken; we are not.
Here is a short step-by-step guide to transforming a catastrophic situation into an opportunity for personal growth.
It is not easy to cope with a breakup emotionally. Intrusive thoughts about what was and what “could have been” often affect us significantly.
In both cases, psychological pain (and sometimes physical) is caused by taking our attention away from the present moment.
It hurts us to remember “the beautiful moments,” as well as the arguments and fights. However, what affects us the most is the “unfulfilled dream.”
It refers to that series of mental constructions we had created in our head, in which we have invested intensely emotionally.
This mixture of sensations clouds our critical judgment and darkens our mood. Here is where we begin to lose our enjoyment of everyday things and events. We dye our day in gray and sordid tones.
This reaction, which, by the way, is very normal and should not worry us, is rooted in the “denial” of the reality in front of us. But, unfortunately, what we have invested in the relationship (at all levels) makes it difficult for us to accept our reality truly.
Acceptance is not just about breaking up per se; it also extends to the following aspects:
• Our Exes.
• The causes of the breakup.
• The consequences of the breakup.
• The current circumstances.
The breakup conditions our perception of ourselves, our worth, and our ability to get out of the situation. It is an opportunity to observe us closely and accept ourselves fully.
It allows us the opportunity to be assertive with ourselves, to accept our failures and mistakes we made in the relationship, and to be aware of our positive aspects and the good things we have done.
Not accepting ourselves as we are is a significant difficulty in living a fulfilled life. It isn’t easy to recover our inner well-being without the complete and absolute acceptance of who we are.
This self-acceptance gives us the first step to growth. But, of course, we are not perfect. We have many flaws, which is fine.
Acceptance of our “Ex” (Human Nature)
Falling in love produces a biased view and an asymmetric perception of the attributes of the loved one. We see them as perfect or almost perfect. In reality, they are normal human beings with their ups and downs.
They are not as extraordinary as we saw them then, nor as terrible as we see them now. The truth lies somewhere in between.
It is important to accept our exes for who they are. They are human beings who try to live to the best of their abilities. Nevertheless, they bear with the burden of their past, the weight of their present, and the responsibility of their future.
Like us, they are conditioned by their circumstances, shaped by their core beliefs, driven by their reactions, sculpted by their habits, and directed towards their goals and expectations.
Like us, they are individuals trying to find their place in the world. Trying to tame their instincts, to develop their abilities, and to grow as human beings.
The acceptance of ourselves and our ex-partners is accepting human nature. It is a vital step towards personal evolution.
Acceptance of the causes
Every breakup allows us to take perspective.
If we keep our common sense, critical thinking, and calm to analyze what happened, eventually, we will find the clarity we need to understand the main question that distresses us: why?
At some point, we end up understanding what has happened. We remember the signs at the beginning of the relationship that gave a glimpse of the fatal outcome. Manifestations that, out of optimism and infatuation, we deliberately chose to ignore.
Gestures, reactions, attitudes, and behaviors that damaged and diminished our well-being come to our memory. We also need to be fair and a little mature to remember what we did wrong and the damage we caused.
The specific causes of each relationship breakup are different; however, the underlying principles are the same.
A fundamental reason why relationships end is due to the incompatibility of beliefs and expectations.
We were born and raised in different homes, with varying ways of seeing life. As a result, each of us has acquired different “lenses” to judge the reality that surrounds us. Yet, sometimes we forget that our glasses are completely different for each one when we start a relationship.
It is precisely this intentioned oblivion that makes all the difference!
We judge each event and each situation differently. Therefore, dialogue, agreements, and the respective “calibration” of our belief systems are essential to a proper relationship functioning.
Expectations are another fundamental aspect. Human beings have the unique feature of saying one thing and deep inside wanting another. The most insidious thing is most of them escape our consciousness.
Most of the time, this self-deception is not done “in bad faith”; on the contrary, we are unaware experts in deceiving ourselves.
We believe (or at least we try) that we are different from who we actually are, want something we don’t like, or like something we don’t want.
It requires a great deal of maturity and a significant effort of introspection to realize our true beliefs and expectations. Then, once brought to our consciousness, we decide if they need to be calibrated, modified, or completely changed.
A relationship breaks because the importance and impact of the incompatibility of beliefs and expectations are more significant than the feelings involved.
Acceptance of the consequences
Another problematic aspect of breakups is conceiving our existence henceforth without our ex-partner’s presence.
When we are in a couple, we design our present and future with the relationship in mind. This design conditions our decisions and our day-to-day behavior.
We have learned to live together, both physically and philosophically. Every relationship requires an adjustment of our existence. It has its routine and dynamics, we adapt to the other’s way of being and thinking, and we conceive a life with them.
Sometimes understanding and accepting the causes of the breakup is more accessible than dealing with its consequences.
The main reason why many couples remain together despite being in toxic relationships is the fear of the consequences of the breakup.
Every couple performs a division of labor according to the features of its members. Thus, what each other do well ends up becoming a “specialization” within the activities of the relationship.
A breakup again means taking care of those aspects that we had already trusted to our partner. Those we are not good at, and therefore we delegated in the first place.
If there are assets and children, the complexity of the consequences of separation is much greater. It will be a painful process, consuming many resources (financial, cognitive, and emotional).
It requires superb self-honesty to recognize that what terrifies us the most about ending a relationship is being in charge of ourselves again.
While the suffering caused by the relationship has stopped, a new type of suffering arises, that of being responsible for our existence again.
When we were sad, our partner gave us words of encouragement. When something went wrong, our partner comforted and encouraged us. When we were angry or disappointed, we used to vent our discomfort to our partner.
There was someone to blame and on whom to pour (unconsciously) our frustrations.
From now on, we will have to face our bad moments alone. Therefore, We need to embrace the separation process on our own and self-managing our emotions.
That moment when we meet mutual friends on the street, and they ask us how our ex-partner is doing. That restaurant, park, bar, or street reminds us of special shared moments. Those activities we do now, and the other did so well, and we do so poorly.
The complete acceptance of the consequences of the breakup implies being in charge of ourselves and being independent, autonomous, and self-sufficient again.
Acceptance of the circumstances
I am myself and my circumstances.
José Ortega y Gasset.
Life has everything to offer, ups, and downs, good things and bad things, better and worse times.
Sometimes the current vital period has been able to play an essential role in the termination of the relationship. Be it financial reasons, unemployment, intense stress, illness, family commitments; you name it!
A love relationship does not exist in “a vacuum.” Instead, it exists within the spatial, temporal, geographical, social, political, economic, philosophical, and technological limits imposed by current circumstances.
Wishing for another reality different from what actually is, is foolish and impractical. We can only change things when we recognize them, analyze them, accept them, and plan to change them.
Either because our job (or its absence) does not satisfy us, or we do not have savings because our remuneration is unfair. So maybe we are not where we thought we would be at this age or because we are dissatisfied with our place in the world.
Whatever it is, the most effective option to change our current circumstances is to accept them, plain and simple!
And the same applies to our ex-partner. So perhaps more than incompatibility of beliefs and expectations, what actually has happened is an incompatibility of vital circumstances. In other words, simply “it was not the right time.”
And that’s okay; human nature is so complex and embedded in a very complicated environment. Thousands of variables influence the stability and health of any relationship.
The norm is for relationships to fail. Making our internal and external worlds compatible with someone else’s and making them work harmoniously and happily is an almost impossible mission.
Therefore, it is crucial to face the breakup situation with healthy skepticism and pessimism. Since, by probability, really healthy, thriving, fulfilling, and happy relationships are statistically rare.
A breakup poses a risk of an existential crisis or a psychological breakdown.
The main difficulty in overcoming this situation is not accepting it. While it is true that denial is one of the phases of grief, it is vital to start the acceptance process as soon as possible.
The only reality we have in front of us is that the relationship did not work out, and we need to accept it, period.
Accepting ourselves, our ex, the causes, consequences, and current circumstances allows us to start a healthy grieving process and outlines us on the path of personal growth.
Ultimately, everything has been, is, and will be as it should be. And that is fine.
• The first step to avoid a psychological breakdown after a love breakup is total acceptance of the situation.
• Self-acceptance is the first step to recovery.
• It is essential to understand and accept the nature of the human condition.
• The leading cause of breakups is the incompatibility of beliefs and expectations.
• Sometimes, the circumstances are not right. Simply, it is not the best time.
• Perfect relationships don’t exist.
• Statistically, the failure of a relationship is the most probable outcome, and there is nothing wrong with it.
In my acceptance process, I have found helpful the resources provided by The School of Life. It is an organization to help us live a more fulfilled life.
I recommend it without any conflict of financial interests nor economic endorsement.