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The Break-Up Guide: We Promise To Get You Through This Stage By Stage

The Break-Up Guide: We Promise To Get You Through This Stage By Stage

I’ve been through some rough breakups, and one in particular left me reeling, the pain overtaking me. I remember driving in the California sun, a brilliant day in the middle of spring, and I couldn’t see the blue sky. To me, everything looked gray. I could barely coax myself out of bed in the morning, let alone see how things could possibly get better.

It didn’t help that I lost my job around the same time as my boyfriend broke up with me. I felt useless, tired, and unwanted. My friends were supportive and invited me out, hoping that I would find some distraction in hooking up with a hot guy. But honestly, the last thing I felt like doing was trying to meet someone new.

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But in time, I did find myself in a much better place, not only over my heartbreak (and with a new job), but stronger and more confident than ever. It took some effort on my part, but step by step, I moved forward.

To get a better handle on what to expect if you’re going through a break-up, here’s a breakdown of the emotional stages, and what to do:

Phase 1: Go Through The Pain and Devastation

You might feel blindsided by a breakup, or you might have felt it coming for months. Regardless, the pain is the same, and it’s okay to grieve for the loss of your relationship. Take some time, gather friends and family around you, listen to music – whatever brings you comfort. Don’t ignore your feelings, accept them so you can process the pain. As I say in my new book The Breakup Guide, Don’t get stuck in your pain by trying to avoid it. Confronting and accepting it is the only way to move forward with your life.

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Phase 2: Wondering What You Did Wrong

There’s no doubt that in the early stages of a breakup we look for ways that we might have alienated our partners. You might think: maybe I wasn’t pretty/smart/successful/talented/ fill-in-the-blank enough. It’s time to stop the self-blame; it not only is faulty thinking, it gets you nowhere fast and it takes your confidence along with it. You are enough, period. The two of you together might not be right for each other, but that doesn’t mean that you are somehow lacking. Let go of self-judgment. Remind yourself of who you are and the wonderful things that you do – and if you need help, ask a friend to remind you!

Phase 3: Denial/ Wanting to Get Back Together

This goes along with self-blame. When you think things like: If only I had done…, then we’d be back together, you are setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. You are also looking back on a skewed version of the relationship with rose-colored goggles. Relationships have amazing moments, but they also have challenges, so don’t reconstruct history. Instead of trying to win him back with some elusive tactic, thinking that things will be perfect this time around, it’s time to seriously ask yourself: What do I really want? What did I not get from this relationship? Chances are, there are reasons to let the relationship go.

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Phase 4: Anger and Play the Blame Game

Not long after you’ve shed your last tear, you might feel anger. Maybe you are keeping a running list of all of the ways you’ve been wronged by your ex. Unfortunately, this blame game isn’t helpful. You might fantasize about calling him and explaining why he’s such a jerk, but you’re really only hurting yourself. The blame game keeps us caught in a vicious cycle of holding onto our pain, exacerbating our wounds, and prevents us from moving on. Instead of looking for justice or even some type of closure you may never get, make a decision to accept who your ex is and what he is and isn’t capable of. His actions don’t have to set the course for your life. By the same token, be realistic about your part in the relationship’s end. Were you holding back emotionally? What could you improve upon in your next relationship? We all have room to grow.

Phase 5: Letting go

Far too often, we become attached to the relationship, so when it ends, we are left with a void. We wander past that bar we used to frequent, or take the dog for a walk in the park as we’d done countless Sundays before. Instead of giving in to nostalgia, try doing something new. Establish your own routine. Get coffee on Fridays with a friend at your local cafe, or join a yoga class on Wednesday nights. It doesn’t matter what the new habit is, or even how long you maintain it. The important thing to note is by establishing your own routine, you are letting go of the reminders of your ex, and it will be much easier to let him/ her go.

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Breakups are painful, but they also shape us. When we take time to process the pain, we emerge stronger and more open to future love. It’s important to take a good, hard look at our own behavior and what we could do differently, but also to let go of expectations of what we could have done differently. When we accept the old relationship for what it is, we can move on to a healthier, happier relationship.

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Kelly Seal

Author, Dating Expert

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Last Updated on March 22, 2019

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

When we talk about happiness, we think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity.  We try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as our goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from us.

But what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?  It’s like your favorite food.  The more you have of it doesn’t always mean the better.  On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite of it.  So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

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We should always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

Video Summary

Assuming others are always happy is the biggest misunderstanding of happiness.

Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time.  Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales.  On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives (including ourselves).  So it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

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In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

No one has a perfect life.  Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires, everyone has their own set of challenges and problems.

When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve.  As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time.  During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals.  But I got through them, and weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

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You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.   Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

Stop trying to be happy. Just be.

It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.  So what can we do?  First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness.  Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect.  It’s from experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing the same trials.  If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize.  If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

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To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.  It sounds like a paradox.  What I mean is, accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life.  Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

Understand the importance of gratitude.  Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment right now, flash back your memory to when you had or didn’t have something.  I like to think about my career, for example.  When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated.  I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me.  But when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful!  This memory keeps me going when there are tough spots.  It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

Happiness and sadness exist together

What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments.  Happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories.  But your life will also be filled with rain and storms that don’t ever seem to pass when you’re going through them.

But whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.  Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones.  Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”.  In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements.  Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

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