Bounce Back From A Breakup
“Be kind to yourself.” If you keep good company, someone has probably uttered these words to you at some point, maybe during a particularly hard spell, or at a time when you were being a little too harsh on yourself. It’salwayssound advice—irksome though it may be to hear at the time—but new research published inPsychological Science reveals it’s especially apropos when you’re dealing with a broken heart. Self-compassion, according to researchers, may just be the secret to bouncing back after a breakup.
[sidebar]In the study, researchers met with recently divorced people to assess how they were coping. They noticed that some people were much better able to move on without their relationship woes interfering in their day-to-day life—and the effects continued for nine months after the initial visit. Their secret? They were nice to themselves.
The good news is that whether you’re naturally nice to yourself or not—it can be learned.
“Self-compassion is a perspective people can take with respect to difficult experiences in their life,” says lead researcher David A. Sbarra, PhD, associate professor of psychology at the University of Arizona. That means instead of beating yourself up for your mistakes or shortcomings when times are tough, says Dr. Sbarra, try to view what you're going through as part of the overall human experience, with its inherent highs and lows.
Of course, you can’t Pollyanna your way out of heartache—self-compassion doesn’t mean pretending things are perfect when they’re not. “You may still experience negative emotions—and sometimes quite strongly,” says Dr. Sbarra. “But you won't get sucked into their experience and become overwhelmed by pain.”
Sounds good to us. Here’s how to boost your own self-compassion:
1. Pretend you’re your friend.When you see a loved one in pain, your first thought probably isn't “Well, if you had done X, Y and Z then maybe this wouldn’t have happened.” (Here’s hoping, anyway.) So instead of giving yourself a coulda-woulda-shoulda tongue lashing, think of how you’d speak to someone else—and then apply that same tenderness to yourself.
2. Remember you aren’t alone.Everyone wants to be loved and everyone wants to feel good at the end of the day. And everyone hurts sometimes, too. This can be hard to remember when you’re going through something as painful and alienating as a breakup, but recognizing your common humanity can keep things in perspective.
3. Take time out for quiet thinking.If you have a meditation practice, congratulations—you’re miles ahead of most of us! But any kind of quiet contemplation where you can be non-judgmental with yourself and aware of how you're feeling—even if that feeling is really low—is a good start.
Video: How to bounce back after breakup and regain control
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