The biggest struggle when getting over a breakup or a divorce is the ongoing, non-stop, obsessive thinking loops that keep us worried and feeling miserable about the state of our lives. Of course, you do your best to stop the nonstop inner noise. I know that. But the self-criticism, the anger, the nonstop, internal fighting with your ex is almost impossible to turn off! Sick of feeling miserable about your divorce? Here’s how to stop thinking about it for awhile. All of it… the good, the bad, the ugly.
What is all this thinking about anyway?
Obsessive thinking loops are just that – thoughts that go round and round your head filling you with miserable feelings. We all get obsessed about getting over a breakup or a divorce. You work super hard to figure out how to move on after your divorce even when you’re the one who didn’t want it. I know that you’re doing your best to figure out how to deal with your breakup no matter how much it hurts. No one blames you for trying. It’s just much harder to stop thinking about it than we realize.
While your body is in fear… the limbic system… that part of us that relates to all things reptile (yes, think crocs and lizards) has its own wiring. It’s a deep, internal part of our neurology. It also reacts when our lives are in danger. Getting over a breakup or a divorce brings with it enormous change. Change is life-threatening to our limbic systems. It makes sense from this point of view that you’re having a tough time turning off the nonstop obsessive thinking loops. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to do so without some outside help and awareness.
How to stop feeling miserable?
Help doesn’t have to come in the form of medication, alcohol, drugs or even a good cry. Help comes with perspective and new, better coping skills. And then, over time, an acceptance that life is changing and you’re going to have to change too. It’s almost as if you have to let go in the midst of the fear trusting that you’ll be okay. (You will be okay even when you don’t believe it.)
Without the willingness to feel and to breathe and to learn and to be open to change, you’ll, unfortunately, remain obsessed, miserable, unable to cope with your break up. If you’re sick of feeling miserable about your divorce, here are some ways to stop thinking about it for a while.
Think about something else.
Soooooo much easier said than done! (Haven’t you been trying to do this all along?)
Well, consider this: if your child was ill and needed your immediate attention or your parents needed you at the hospital, I bet you’d forget all about yourself and your breakup almost immediately. You’d put your attention on someone, something else wouldn’t you? You’d step into taking action to help those you love.
If your parents or your children needed your help, there’d be NO time to beat yourself up. You would work to focus on the things you can control. You’d do your best to help. You’d show up ready and able to lend a hand. When others need us, we show up.
When getting over a breakup or a divorce, focus on the things you can control.
The problems you want to solve (rather than have to solve). Consider the projects that interest you. The things you want to learn or the things you have to do in front of you that when completed, will help you feel good about yourself. In other words, decide that you and your well-being matter enough to focus on feeling good about the things you can manage and control instead of beating yourself up for the things you can’t.
It’s time to take action.
The best cure for feeling miserable is taking action. Walk outside. Go to the gym. Chop wood. Clean your house. Get into motion and think about taking care of yourself instead of allowing your thoughts to continue to beat you up.
When we’re miserable or obsessed with certain thoughts like getting over a breakup or a divorce, it’s tough to shift gears and focus on new things. Getting into activity helps. It may also help you become healthier (and who doesn’t want to become a little healthier or fitter after leaving a relationship?) Activity helps everyone move feelings through their bodies. We are feeling animals and those feelings need to be expressed not repressed and shoved down.
When you move, you help emotions move through you instead of being pushed down and made stagnant. You’ll begin to feel better simply by getting into motion. Then the motion begins to feed upon itself and before you know it, you’ll be running marathons, dancing the tango and getting into the best shape of your life!
Sick of feeling miserable? Surround yourself with other people.
Running marathons and learning to tango may not be for you but both have something in common. Both experiences force you to surround yourself with new people. People who are counting on you. People who can handle your stuff, who can help you learn a new skill or help you get into better shape.
Surrounding yourself with new people who never knew you as a couple is perhaps, the best thing you can do for yourself.
Not feeling up to meeting new people? Of course, you don’t!
That lizard part of our brains wants us to hide when we’re not feeling good about ourselves. But here’s the thing, when you hide and avoid making new friends or taking action or caring for someone else, your mind plays tricks on you. It’ll say some horrible things about you while you sit there trying to become comfortable with your loneliness or boredom. And, the worst part? You’ll believe it!
And six months will go by then a year, two years. Before you know it, you’ll look back and several years will have gone by and you’ll still be sitting there feeling miserable about your divorce or breakup!
We all do it.
Everyone getting over a breakup pulls in and wants to hide. We all feel miserable when we start comparing our lives to other people’s lives. (Or when we compare our lives to the ones we used to have. Which really stinks by the way!)
So, do me a favor. Well, actually, do yourself a big favor… go do something that scares you. A little (no burning buildings please.) Go outside and say hello to a neighbor, begin to volunteer, head over to the local YMCA and join a team. Take a class. Begin getting outside and exercising your body. Even when you don’t want to -and you won’t want to! Expect not to want to. Be prepared to feel really awkward and embarrassed. Perhaps even afraid.
You are okay.
You are even safe.
Get your body moving and focusing on someone else or something else isn’t easy but it is doable. (Yoga anyone?!) The idea is to get out of your own way and out of your own head. To focus on the things you can control and excel at! Make them small wins, easy steps; ones you can excel at. Surround yourself with other people also working toward a happier and future. And know, the more you take these actions, the easier they’ll become!
Laura Bonarrigo is a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Divorce Coach. Laura’s a writer, public speaker and the founder of doingDivorce™ School an online coaching program for those ready to shed the pain of divorce. For empowering and practical ways to lose the identity of your past, visit www.doingDivorceSchool.com.