Breaking Up and Bouncing Back: Moving On to Create the Love Life You Deserve

Breaking Up and Bouncing Back: Moving On to Create the Love Life You Deserve

by Samantha Burns

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486823959
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 06/13/2018
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 276,201
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Known as "The Millennial Love Expert," Samantha Burns combines the clinical background of a therapist with an empathetic style to help readers kick their breakup in the butt! Burns runs a thriving private practice in Boston and consults with clients around the world. She also partners with Match.com on their research and has been featured in Women's Health, Brides, Reader's Digest, Elite Daily, and many other publications.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Emotional Roller Coaster

Forget period cramps, bad hair days, hangovers, breakouts, getting fired, the guilt you feel after you've eaten a half-dozen donuts by yourself, or even a fight with a dear friend — few things feel worse than the way you are likely feeling right now. Newly single has left you dazed, confused, and feeling as though you've been stabbed in the heart. You feel like your entire world collapsed, like your body may explode, and you're numb from crying so much.

No matter your role in this breakup, whether you were dumped or you walked away, it takes serious courage and resiliency to make it through to the other side. Your whole life is changing, and the unknown can be scary. You suddenly shifted from a "we" to a "me," no longer having to consider someone else in your plans and daily routine. Flying solo and making decisions as an individual can be overwhelming. You've learned to rely on someone else for emotional support, and to share living responsibilities.

It's hard to be optimistic about a happy future love life when you're dealing with the painful nuisances of getting back all of your stuff, finding a new place to live, and running into him and his new girlfriend at your old favorite coffee shop — you still can't believe he had the indecency to bring her there! You may be wallowing in self-pity, questioning if you're doomed to be alone forever. You're consumed by thoughts of the breakup, and nothing seems to distract you. Your mind is racing and only one person is running through your mind — your ex.

So why do you care so much about this breakup? Why is it so challenging to stand up and be strong on your own? The answer is because at our core, we are a species that survives and thrives on giving and receiving love. We are animals who spend the longest time being reared by our parents, depending on someone to care for us from infancy through our teen years. We regulate our emotions through our connections. Studies with both monkeys and human orphans have shown that growing up in isolation without physical comfort and love is likely to produce adults with disturbed cognitive and emotional behavior, and early death. We have evolved to be in close, intimate relationships — it's our primal need, so much so that our brain chemistry and nervous systems are affected by those closest to us. Rejection is one of the most excruciating human experiences because it makes us feel alone, unvalued, unprotected, and that we don't matter. We feel like we've been left for dead, and that we can no longer depend on the person we trusted most. "Can I rely on you to be there for me? When I turn to you, can I depend on you to respond to my needs? Do you value, respect, and accept me? Do I matter to you? Do you need me too?" Because you're going through a breakup, the answer to all of these questions is ultimately no, your partner is not there for you in the way that you need. This devastating realization can make you feel utterly alone and question if you will ever be able to trust and depend on a romantic partner again. In the aftermath of a breakup, you're missing your emotional home, your sense of connection and belonging in this world. The home that was supposed to protect your heart and keep you safe is the one that hurt you.

Science has shown that couples in happy and stable long-term relationships are better prepared to thrive. These couples are healthier: they have lower blood pressure, decreased stress, anxiety, physical pain, and they live longer. When in a loving relationship, individuals view themselves more positively, they're more confident in solving problems, and they are more likely to achieve their individual goals. So when we are rejected, our world comes crashing down and we're at greater risk physically and emotionally. On a biological basis, your breakup is processed as a survival threat and is a huge trauma to your life.

Right now your heartbreak probably has you questioning the very concept of love, lacking a sense of belonging, and writhing with a deep sense of shame. Researcher and author Brené Brown captures the interdependent relationship between love, shame, and belonging in The Gifts of Imperfection, in which she defines these concepts as follows:

Love: We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known ... Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them — we can only love others as much as we love ourselves ... Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows.

Belonging: The innate human desire to be part of something larger than us ... We often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

Shame: The intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.

Keep these definitions in mind, as we'll work on increasing self-love, decreasing shame, and opening yourself to vulnerability along the way in your bounce-back journey.

WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT TO FEEL DURING YOUR BREAKUP?

Though the content and context of everyone's breakup may be unique, there are common emotional experiences and stages of grief that we tend to go through. Do any of these feel familiar?

* Ruminative

* Despondent

* Numb

* Enraged

* Betrayed

* Blindsided

* Hopeless

* Fearful

* Embarrassed

* Shameful

* Guilty

* Remorseful

* Preoccupied

* Disgusted

* Worried

* Blamed

* Abandoned

* Insecure

* Unloved

* Unlucky

* Wronged

* Devastated

* Traumatized

* Exhausted

* Lonely

* Stressed

It wouldn't surprise me if you nodded along to every single adjective. Many of the words listed above may be symptomatic of depression and anxiety, which are very real mental health disorders that should be treated by a professional. Symptoms of depression include feeling very sad, empty, or hopeless; tearfulness; losing interest or pleasure in most activities; loss of appetite or emotional eating that result in changes in weight; insomnia or hypersomnia; low energy; fatigue; feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt; difficulty concentrating; and, in severe cases, thoughts of suicide. Symptoms of anxiety include worry, feeling on edge, jitteriness, nervousness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance. People going through a breakup are often told to get over it, or are left to fend for themselves, and the pain of their breakup goes untreated or even unacknowledged. But a breakup can be a monumental moment in your life, changing the course of your life forever.

I don't want to minimize or diminish what you may be feeling right now. We're so used to intellectualizing our feelings and not being tuned into our bodies that it's challenging to connect to yourself on an emotional level. You're likely experiencing numerous, conflicting emotions at once, and it's important to take the time now to identify them. Research actually shows that when you become mindfully aware of your emotions and label them, they won't feel as strong. It sounds too simple to be true, but it works. That's because when you think about what feelings you are experiencing, this mental effort activates the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, a brain region responsible for emotional regulation. We know through science that when you don't take time to identify your emotions there's no decreased response in the brain region called the amygdala, which helps process feelings, and your emotions can actually be more intense and harder to understand. Once you label the emotions, you don't need to do anything radical or rash to numb or change them; just observe them gently and kindly without judgment. Know that you're able to experience these emotions, and despite their feeling intense, they are not static or permanent. The rest of you can hold strong and watch these emotions roll in and out, like waves, coming and going. Imagine yourself flowing with them, instead of fighting against them, honoring each without resistance. This is your first step to healing.

Complete the following exercise, which will help you process and hold space for these intense emotions.

EXERCISE: PROCESSING YOUR EMOTIONS

Begin a daily exercise in your Bounce Back Journal with the following prompt:

* Today I'm feeling:

* On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 = most intense), I would rate this feeling as a:

* I noticed this feeling when ___________________________

* Time of day I was feeling this way _____________________

* Length of time the emotion lingered __________________

Create a separate entry for each notable emotion. Keep an eye out for any patterns, such as things that triggered your emotions or time of day you struggle the most. Notice that when you take the space to honor these feelings, each will start to become smaller and easier than the last, and the interval between them may lengthen, leaving you with more time to relax, be still, and be at peace.

CHAPTER 2

Stages of Breakup Grief

Going through a breakup is actually very similar to grieving a death. You're grieving the loss of someone you love and learning to live life without them by your side. You may have heard that there are five stages of grief, originally identified by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, which can also be applied to a breakup. The five stages of breakup grief are denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance. It's like a roller-coaster ride with a long and twisted track. Your emotions are so mixed up that you bounce around from one extreme to another on a daily basis. Though it may not feel like it right now, eventually you'll come full circle and the track will straighten for a safe landing. In fact, a yearlong German study found that for teens and young adults dealing with a breakup, their self-esteem rebounded by the following year, even if they remained single. There are no rules as to how long you'll spend in each stage of breakup grief. Some days you'll feel like you touched on all of them. Some weeks you'll question, "When will I just get through this?" It takes time and active effort, and is most helpful when you are kind and compassionate with yourself, instead of judgmental and self-critical.

Don't compare your own breakup recovery to the pace at which you think your ex is moving on. I know you want to hear that they're just as devastated as you are because in some way this will validate the importance of the relationship, but people process and cope in different ways and at different speeds. Rather than turn to your ex to hear that the relationship was meaningful or significant, tell yourself your own feelings are just as valid.

The stages of grief don't work in a linear fashion — you can jump from one stage to the next and revert back to more intense emotions at any point. One day you may feel like you've finally reached acceptance, and then you walk past the restaurant where you had your first date and all of a sudden you're sad or angry again. This typically happens when you've been exposed to a trigger. When I say trigger, I mean something or someone that reminds you of your ex and elicits powerful emotions and memories. Triggers can pop up out of the blue and be difficult to anticipate, and often lead to intrusive thoughts. If you experienced any trauma in the relationship, such as physical or emotional abuse, you might experience things like flashbacks and physical symptoms, such as shaking, muscle tension, and shortness of breath, after encountering a trigger. The good news is that with time you begin to bounce back from these intense emotions more quickly. Here's a breakdown of the emotional stages of a breakup and some tips on surviving them:

DENIAL

In this stage, it hasn't sunk in that the relationship is over. We can't believe this is the end. We cling to hope that it will work out and we can't accept our new reality. We may feel disbelief and totally paralyzed. Sometimes we can feel physically and emotionally numb.

In this stage, you may wake up and for a blissful moment think that you are still together. You hope they'll realize they made a mistake and come back to you. You might even be that person who refuses to accept that you've split up, so you text or engage with them on social media as if nothing has happened.

SURVIVING DENIAL

You can breathe a sigh of relief that denial is normal. Anytime you're faced with a big transition or trauma, denial and shock allow you to adjust to what happened as you begin to comprehend all the ways in which your life is about to change. It's kind of like survival mode for your mind. To help reality set in, talk with trusted friends and supportive family members. It may take one of them shouting like my mom did, "He doesn't love you anymore," for it to sink in, if only for a moment.

One of the things that may shift you out of denial is changing your daily routine. You and your ex likely shared many rituals and traditions, such as calling each other on your drive home from work or getting brunch together every Sunday. This is the time to start replacing those routine activities that you normally relied on with something else, like calling your best friend to chat about your day, or making sure you're busy with plans during particularly lonely parts of your week. One of the worst things or times for me was crawling into an empty bed at night, so I distracted myself with good books, podcasts, and music. You can also a put an essential oil diffuser next to your pillow, filling the room with scents for relaxation, stress, and sleep. If you're stuck in denial, my tough love discussion in chapter 4 may be exactly what you need to hear.

BARGAINING/ANXIETY

I've added the word "anxiety" to go along with the bargaining stage because it's a prevalent emotion that many people feel when experiencing significant loss and going through a major life transition. In this stage we try our best to win our ex back and make the relationship work. We may beg, demand, negotiate, and make unrealistic promises. We try to shift our lives around to give the relationship another chance. We have tunnel vision that the only way to be happy again is to get back together. We worry about what life could look like without this person, and are overwhelmed with fear.

In this stage, you may promise your ex that you'll change or go to therapy. You might try calling your ex's friends to get them on your side and persuade them to help get the two of you back together. You tell your ex you can't live without them. Maybe you send their favorite cookies in the false hope that they can't live without them and you too. In my breakup story, remember how I hung all those pictures up on the wall and mailed him a card about the fun things we could do in San Diego? Yup, that was bargaining.

SURVIVING BARGAINING/ANXIETY

Ask yourself this: Are you trying to save the relationship because it's perfect and you love everything about your ex and the way they treat you; or, deep down, are you really afraid of change, starting over, or what other people will think about it not working out? If the relationship really was so perfect, would there have been a breakup in the first place?

Bargaining is a no-man's land where you're not making any progress. The more you talk, beg, and plead with your ex to be with you, the more stuck you become in believing that the only way to live life is with them. This is when the anxiety kicks in: fear about the future can be paralyzing, so you fight for the relationship instead of embracing change. The most important thing to tell yourself is that you should never have to convince someone to love you or want to be with you. During the relationship or breakup you may have received criticism or constructive feedback (that's for you to define) from your ex about your personality or behaviors. During this stage, you may realize there are things you want to work on about yourself. If you decide to change yourself, it needs to be because you value these changes and not as a ploy to win back your ex. There are many paths in life, so it's time to be flexible and resilient and begin your walk down another one.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Breaking Up & Bouncing Back"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Samantha Burns.
Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS

MY BIG BREAKUP

INTRODUCTION

SECTION I: SURVIVING YOUR BREAKUP AND LEARNING FROM YOUR LOVE LESSONS

CHAPTER 1: EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER

CHAPTER TWO: STAGES OF BREAKUP GRIEF

CHAPTER 3: SELF-CARE SURVIVAL SKILLS

CHAPTER 4: TOUGH LOVE FOR A TOUGH BREAKUP

CHAPTER 5: COLD TURKEY CUTOFF VS. HANGING ON HOOKUP

CHAPTER 6: GET OUT OF MY HEAD

CHAPTER 7: UNDERSTANDING YOUR BREAKUP

CHAPTER 8:reframe your breakup pain into wisdom gained

CHAPTER 9: STATUS QUOPLES

SECTION II: CULTIVATING SELF-LOVE AND CREATING NEW PURPOSE..........................................................................................................

CHAPTER 10: SELF-LOVE IS THE BEST LOVECHAPTER 11: GETTING BACK OUT THERE

CHAPTER 12: HERE I AM

CHAPTER 13: REALISTIC DATING MINDSETS

SECTION III: LIFE BEYOND BREAKUP

CHAPTER 14: PERFECT MATCH

CHAPTER 15: CORE VALUES & RELATIONSHIP REQUIREMENTS IN INTENTIONAL DATING

CHAPTER 16: DATING QUESTIONS ANSWERED

CONCLUSION

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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