MMcGinnisPicWhether you see it coming or it happens out of nowhere, a breakup can shake you to your core. A shock wave floods your body and you become numb to the world around you. You’re hyper-focused on your internal pain, your ego screams out for justice, and your heart is in ruins. Pages upon pages have been written on love lost and the pain of unrequited love, but I want to focus on the silver lining found only when you’ve hit rock bottom.

Face Your Demons

All of us are damaged. Some of us come into young adulthood with a freight train of baggage; others come with a carry-on or two. No matter the weight of your baggage or the depths to which it owns you, we all have some. You have got to stop running from it. Open up those boxes, clean out your closet, call it whatever you want… but you need to face your demons.

There is no better time for this then when someone dumps you and you fall face-first onto the pavement. Now, you’re acutely wounded. In actuality, emotional pain highlights the same neural pathways as physical pain; heartbreak is a real pain. So when you lie on the couch or the floor, whatever is easiest to get to, don’t hate on yourself because you are literally in pain. Now, why am I asking you to take this moment of unadulterated pain and dig into the roots of your past, which will surely only bring up more pain? Well, because I care. I want to help set you free.

Starting at Rock Bottom

I want you to look around and see that rock bottom is a pretty good starting point. Heck, it’s a great place to plant some roots and grow. But to grow, you need to dig. You need to unearth your issues. Whatever those issues may be, they are causing you pain and are most likely a big part of why your lover left you. That and he might just be a jerk. Either way, this isn’t about him, it’s about you.

So let’s get started, shall we? Disclaimer: this is not going to be fun. It’s going to be painful, time consuming, and, some days, flat-out annoying. But, I urge you to stick with it; it’s not going to happen over night, but one day your going to realize that your past no longer claims you and you’ve awakened to the present. And that, my friend, is freedom.

Transformation and inner growth do not require you to go anywhere but inward. Start small: make it a goal to spend 30 minutes on reflection or put your thoughts onto paper and begin to journal. Track your emotions: realize what you are feeling and thinking and look for patterns of emotional disturbance and triggers of pain that arise through your writing. This can be a good first step in identifying your “boogeyman,” your intimacy issues, your inability to commit, your excessive materialism, etc. In time, you will begin to understand why these problems exist.

Make time to heal, not only spiritually, but physically. Look good, feel good: find your way onto a yoga mat or a treadmill. Whatever form of physical exercise is your bread and butter, it doesn’t matter as long as you get your heart rate up. Physical exercise releases endorphins, feel good neurotransmitters that can actively help fight depression and lower anxiety. Plus, working out has the added benefit of making you look killer, which will just annoy your ex, and that is an added bonus.

PicnicGet connected: and I do not mean via the endless forms of social media. Get outside and find your connection with nature and other beings. We are social animals, but after a breakup we tend to retreat and lick our wounds. This only fosters depression and self-isolation. Force yourself outdoors, feel the sunshine on your face, play with your dog, and call up a friend. Regain a sense of community and a sense of belonging that does not center around your ex.

Let out your inner child: Now this sounds wildly “hippy-ish,” but all it means is take time to laugh, do something creative, be spontaneous, be alive. Ask yourself when is the last time you had a belly laugh? When is the last time you did something creative: be it poetry, designing, gardening, or even drawing a stick figure? Life requires balance. However, many times in a relationship we become all too consumed with the other and lose a part of ourselves. Now is a good time to find it again or to recreate it. Become what you have always wanted to be, whatever that may be.

There are numerous ways to rediscover yourself post-breakup and to become a more fulfilled and self-aware individual. Use this experience to grow; do not harden with bitterness and resentment, but be thankful you have this opportunity for growth. Most importantly, know you’re not alone and this too shall pass. If you do the work, you’re going to come out that much stronger.

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