Should You Follow Your Head or Heart?
As a divorce counselor and the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love,” I often sit with people who are stuck in agonizing indecision. Part of them wants to make a change, but another part cautions against it. They are wondering if they should break up or stay together with their significant other, and they are trying to decide if they should follow their head or their heart.
Their indecision usually stems from a disconnect between the head and the heart. High emotions are telling them one thing, but their rational self is telling them another.
So, which one should you follow, your head or your heart? When your emotions tell you one thing, and your thoughts tell you another, which should you trust? It’s so confusing when you’re being pulled in different directions.
Here’s a new idea: Don’t give either too much weight or make a final decision until you’ve done some work on yourself.
Are You Self Aware?
The key to making the right decisions for yourself and your relationship isn’t choosing between intuition or logic–it’s self-awareness and understanding your own vulnerabilities. We all have our own weaknesses, which sometimes include a lack of self-awareness. We also each have our own strengths. One person might be prone to over-calculating their way out of a relationship while another might let emotions from past relationships cloud their perception of a new situation. Only when you can get to know yourself will you recognize when either your head or your heart is pulling you off track. Getting to know yourself through working with a therapist or life coach can be the key to making decisions that best align with your truest self.
Getting Over a Breakup: With Your Head or Your Heart?
Now that you’ve done some work on YOU, it may be time to make some changes in your relationship. If you are in the midst of figuring out whether or not to break up, this can be a terribly difficult decision. This is when you weigh the good against the bad–and truly decide whether your relationship has a normal amount of fighting and indifference or if there is deep-seated resentment and animosity. Once you’ve given this some thought, it can then lead to deciding if there is hope for real change, which is where couples counseling can help. Many relationships can be saved when there is commitment from both sides to work on repairing the divide.
So, what if you’ve decided to end the relationship and are now dealing with a break up? There is a way forward. It may feel like you have to choose to follow your head, which might be telling you to just move on, get over it, and not look back. But there’s also your heart begging you to hold on to the good memories, wallow, and allow for sadness.
Maybe you don’t have to choose–elements of both can be healthy and healing. There is power in the “and”–you can feel confident in your ability to move on AND you can be terribly sad that this relationship didn’t work out. Getting over a painful breakup takes time and a focus on self-care. Just as we don’t put a timeline on grieving the loss of a loved one who has passed away, we can’t put a specific timeline on getting over a breakup, especially if it was a significant or long-lasting relationship that ended.
Listen to your head when it tells you to care for yourself and have healthy boundaries, AND listen to your heart when it tells you that a good cry or a moment to reminisce is in order. It’s when you get stuck on an extreme end of the spectrum that indicates you’re not making progress or moving forward from a painful breakup.
The Power of Connection to Better Understand Yourself
Is it your head or your heart that’s currently ruling your life? Take this free mini-life coaching session with Dr. Bobby to find out. You’ll start developing self-awareness, and also learn a couple new tricks to keep yourself moving in a forward direction.. Then, consider the power of connecting with someone else, like a trusted relationship therapist or life coach, who can help you discern your next right step. There is power in connection and you do not have to go through painful experiences alone. Your head and your heart will both thank you.
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
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