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Heartbreaks Do Hurt: How To Heal From A Painful Heartbreak

Heartbreaks Do Hurt: How To Heal From A Painful Heartbreak
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Heartbreaks really hurt. It’s for real literally, not a mere metaphor.

Every time you choose to connect with someone deeply, you’re exposing the most vulnerable part of yourself to another person. It’s like taking your heart out and connect it with another person’s. When this bonding is broken, the connected parts will torn apart. When your heart’s tearing apart, of course it hurts. There’s no difference than any physical pain.

Heartbreaks are so intense that it feels the same as physical pain.

When we experience a heartbreak, we feel sad, disappointed, angry, stressful and fearful because we feel like being rejected. The mixed feelings even cause physical pain with our heart.

Scientists conducted an aforementioned fMRI study of heartbroken individuals,[1]

When the subjects looked at and discussed their rejecter, they trembled, cried, sighed, and got angry, and in their brains these emotions triggered activity in the same area associated with physical pain.

Another study showed that subjects who touched a hot probe and those who looked at a photo of an ex-partner had the same experience of rejection. The physical pain and social rejection are rooted in exactly the same brain regions.

But like any kind of physical injuries, a heartbreak will heal; it just takes time (including a period of emotion ups and downs).

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The six stages we go through during a heartbreak:

    Stage 1: Denial.
    When things are happening too fast, it’s hard to believe it really is happening. We’re not good at handling sudden rejections, and so we want to choose to believe that the bad things never happened. We want to lie to ourselves so as to feel better.

    Stage 2: Anger.
    When lying to ourselves doesn’t work any more, we start to feel mad about what happened. Why it has to happened on me? Why s/he has to leave me like that? Why life is so unfair? We blame others. We blame the world. We hate the fact that we’re the one losing something.

    Stage 3: Blaming yourself.
    And then, we start to blame ourselves. Did I do something wrong so this happened to me? I should have done better. I could have done more than that. It’s all my fault. Instead of blaming others, we start to hate ourselves for being ourselves and having messed things up.

    Stage 4: Bargaining.
    Until this stage, we still can’t really accept what happened. We’re willing to do anything just to revert the result. We want to go back in time to change our past. We want a better ending. If there’s anything we can do to get him/her back, we’ll do it no matter what it takes.

    Stage 5: Depressed.
    Now we’ve come to a stage where we feel so hopeless and tired after going through so many negative emotions. We don’t want to do anything. We simply want to hide ourselves somewhere to cry, and rest. We are too sad to do anything. Our hearts are crying. Our hearts still ache.

    Stage 6: Initial acceptance.
    Finally, after all the emotion ups and downs and all the difficult time, we’ve started to accept the truth. We’ve begun to manage to keep ourselves calm. Bit by bit, we realize that we’re not crying that much any more. We’re still sad, but we don’t look back to the past so often.

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    Reaching stage 6 of heartbreak is a great breakthrough because you’ve totally embraced your emotions, accepting yourself as a vulnerable person. Yet this just the beginning of getting back on track of your life.

    After going through the six stages of heartbreak, you’re ready to work on the real healing.

    To mend a broken heart, firstly, understand the primal nature of the wound.

    Whether it’s a breakup or a loved one passed away, we’re losing a part of our life that means a lot to us. Here’re two different approaches for different reasons of heartbreaks.

    If it’s because a relationship ends:
    Are you feeling sad reminiscing all the sweet memories you had with him/her, missing all the moments which are like dreams to you now?

    Do you feel like you guys are meant to be together that you simply want to hold on to the relationship?

    Or are you afraid that you won’t be able to find a partner who’s as sweet as him/her, or who understands you as much as he/she did?

    Maybe it’s not really the person you’re missing; maybe it’s the memories and the feeling of being with someone that you’re missing. Maybe it’s also your ego messing with you, having to face the rejection.

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    If it’s because of a loved one passes away:
    Is it the regret you have that makes you so uneasy? You wish you could have treated him/her better? Or you wish you could have spent more time with him/her?

    Or is it that you don’t think you can live without him/her because after all, you guys had been together for so long? Is that you think it’s really hard to get used to living without him/her?

    Maybe you do miss the person, but you’re more afraid of living on your own. Imagine yourself living the future without him/her is just painful. You also hold a lot of grudges against yourself.

    No matter why you’re experiencing a heartbreak, it all comes down to your fear — the fear of past failure and the fear of future uncertainty.

    To kick away the evil fear, try this way.

    We can’t change what happened in the past, but we can learn from it and make ourselves a better future.

    Now, take out a piece of paper and grab a pen, write down everything you’re sad about this heartbreak:

    • I regret not spending more time with her.
    • He used to cheer me up when I was sad, now I have no one.
    • I never changed my feelings for him but he changed his.
    • I was lost, it wasn’t the real me when I started to become so needy.
    • ……

    When you finish writing these, look at each of them and ask yourself these questions:

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    • I understand this is part of my life and there’s a lesson in it, what’s that?
      This question makes you think about something that you can take away from the experience, so you can fully accept what happened and take only the lesson with you.
    • How can I apply the lesson learned to my daily life?
      This question guides you to make changes in your life, so you can be more positive about the situation.
    • What can I do now to prevent this from happening again?
      This question forces you to learn from the experience and think again what you can do when coming across similar situations.
    • What (or who) do I have now that will make me feel better?
      This questions helps you to get out of your cave and look at all those people who love and care about you; so you have the motivation to move on.

    While writing down your thoughts helps relieve the burden in your heart, asking yourself the above questions reminds you the importance of focusing on the present moment. As you’re answering the questions, you’ll understand yourself a lot more and will soon realize your future becomes more certain, and your life is not that out of control.

    Your mind feels calmer, but there’re a few more simple actions to take.

    Call your friends and invite them for dinner or just any kind of activities. You need their support and you need a lot of laughters!

    Take up some new hobbies or just take back up your old hobbies, just anything you enjoy doing!

    Take a break and go traveling (or a staycation in somewhere you’ve never been to) alone. You need some alone time to quiet your mind.

    Make some new friends. If you’re too shy to join your friends’ house parties, take some interest classes and meet people with like-minded. Meeting new people can stimulate your brain and make you happier.

    Yes time heals, but only if you take actions to take good care of yourself.

    As time goes by, bit by bit, you’ll realize that you no longer miss him/her that much any more. You’ll be able to smile when you see the thing that used to remind you of him/her. You’ll be able to see the bright side of things again.

    And you’re getting back on track with your life, having good time with your friends and family, enjoying your work and hobbies.

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    Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

    Reference

    [1] AsapSCIENCE: The Science of Heartbreak

    More by this author

    Anna Chui

    Anna is the Chief Editor and Content Strategist of Lifehack. She's also a communication expert who shares tips on motivation and relationships.

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    Last Updated on July 20, 2021

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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    You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

    Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

    Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

    1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

    According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

    “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

    Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

    Warming up

    If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

    If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

    Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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    1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
    2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
    3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

    Stay hydrated

    Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

    To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

    Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

    Meditate

    Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

    Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

    Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

    Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

    2. Focus on your goal

    One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

    Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

    Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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    Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

    If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

    3. Convert negativity to positivity

    There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

    ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

    It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

    Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

    Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

    Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

    4. Understand your content

    Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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    However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

    “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

    Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

    Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

    One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

    5. Practice makes perfect

    Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

    In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

    Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

    6. Be authentic

    There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

    Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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    Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

    To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

    With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

    Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

    7. Post speech evaluation

    Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

    Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

    We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

    You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

    Improve your next speech

    As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

    Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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    • How did I do?
    • Are there any areas for improvement?
    • Did I sound or look stressed?
    • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
    • Was I saying “um” too often?
    • How was the flow of the speech?

    Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

    If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

    Reference

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