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The Stages of a Breakup: How to Heal a Broken Heart

The Stages of a Breakup: How to Heal a Broken Heart

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

The Stages of a Breakup

 

The Stages of a Breakup: How to Heal a Broken Heart

We get so many breakup questions on our Growing Self blog and through Facebook from broken-hearted people looking for breakup recovery advice. More than anything, they want to know how to get over a breakup. They have questions like:

“How long does it take to get over a breakup?”

“How do you get over a breakup when you live together”

“How to cope when your Ex moves on?”

“How to stop thinking about your Ex?”

“How to get over a bad breakup?”

As you know if you’ve ever listened to my podcast, I have a special place in my heart for people who are in the midst of a bad breakup, and I really want to help. (You can read my own horrible breakup story here.) I thought that, instead of trying to answer so many specific breakup questions, it might be more helpful to everyone to learn more about the stages of a breakup. My hope is that in learning about the stages of a breakup, you can identify where you are in this process and get some direction for how to move past your breakup.

The Stages of a Breakup

Breakup recovery is not an event, it’s a process. Learning about the stages of a breakup, and what the breakup recovery process actually looks like, will provide you with a more robust answer about what to expect.

Breakup Stage 1: Craving Contact With Your Ex
In this stage of breakup recovery, you’re in intense pain. You can’t stop thinking about your Ex, you’re craving contact with them, you’re idealizing your Ex, and you’re often wishing that you could get back together. This is the “withdrawal” stage of breakup recovery, and it’s bad. Worst yet, people can get stuck in this stage for a really long time. We’ll talk how to take your power back, and break free from this stage so that you can truly begin the process of healing.

Breakup Stage 2: Grieving
Once you’ve decided for yourself that the relationship is really over, then your healing process begins with honest grieving. We’ll talk about how to use the power of grief to release your attachment to your Ex, and work through the pain of heartbreak.

Breakup Stage 3: Releasing Anger
Once you’re past the hardest parts of withdrawal and grieving, the deeper layers of healing can happen. Most people, when the dust starts to settle, become aware that they still have feelings like anger, guilt, and even shame related to their relationship. Until you work through these feelings, it’s hard to fully release your attachment to your Ex.

Breakup Stage 4: Repairing Your Self Esteem After a Breakup
The next stage of breakups often involves turning away from the focus being on your Ex, and turning towards yourself. Most people going through a bad breakup feel like it’s taken a toll on their self-esteem. Learning how to love yourself again is the foundation for being able to truly rebuild and move on after a breakup.

Breakup Stage 5: How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex
Once you’ve worked through the dark emotions of a breakup, craving, grief, anger, shame…. you’re free to move on. AND, annoyingly, many people still find that they are thinking about their Ex. They might even have intrusive thoughts about their Ex. In this stage of a breakup, there’s no continued reason to keep thinking about your Ex… but it’s easier said than done.

Breakup Stage 6: What Did I Learn?
When you’re feeling clear and strong, you have a wonderful opportunity to gather up the learning experiences that you may have uncovered through your healing process. Keeping these life lessons in the forefront will give you the power to create a better future for yourself in the future. If not, you’re destined to repeat the mistakes of your past.

Breakup Stage 7: Learning to Trust Again
The last stage of a breakup is learning how to create healthy new relationships in the future. For many people, this requires learning how to trust again after a breakup. What many people discover through this healing process is how to trust themselves.

The Stages of a Breakup & How to Heal From Heartbreak, On The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast

Today, I’m putting my breakup recovery coach hat on to address your breakup question and put them in context of the stages of breakups. I’m also taking this opportunity to answer a few listener questions.

All of these stages of a breakup require intentional skills and strategies to work through effectively. Some stages of a breakup take longer to work through than others. For example, many people stay stuck in the first stage of a breakup, craving contact with their Ex, for a very long time. However, getting stuck in any of the stages of a breakup can prevent you from being able to move forward.

I also hope that learning about the stages of a breakup will provide you with guidance about how to move forward after a breakup, no matter what stage of breakup you’re currently in. I’ll be sharing tips on how to move through each stage of a breakup on today’s show.

We’ll be talking about specifics related to how to get over a breakup when you live together, how it takes to stop thinking about your Ex, how to get your confidence back after a breakup, and how long it takes to get over a breakup.

I hope that this breakup advice, and the breakup success stories I share help you find your way forward too.

Yours in healing,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

PS: I discussed many resources to support you in YOUR journey through the stages of a breakup. Here are links to all of them, if you’d like to learn more:

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The Stages of a Breakup: How to Heal From Heartbreak

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Should We Break Up or Stay Together?

Should We Break Up or Stay Together?

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Can This Relationship Be Saved?

Break up or stay together? Who hasn’t wondered the same, during a seriously difficult time in their relationship? Or, entertained an even bigger question: Should you try to save a relationship? Especially a relationship that has been feeling really hard and unsatisfying for a long time? How do you know when it’s time to call it quits?

I’ve been an online couples therapist for years, a Denver marriage counselor for over a decade, and a married person for even longer than that. I can say, with confidence, that all relationships go through hard times.

Strong, healthy couples with a lifetime of love ahead of them can have weeks, months, or longer where they do not feel good about their partnership. Communication is hard, they’re upsetting each other, and one or both people can even start to wonder if they’re compatible after all.

This is normal. Couples go through this and can come through the other side having grown as people and having stronger relationships than ever before. I’ve seen it happen, and it’s happened in my own marriage. Not getting along for a spell is does not neccesarily mean you should break up.

Break Up or Stay Together: How to Tell

Yet there are situations where relationships are too far gone to be salvaged. There are partnerships where partners are fundamentally incompatible. And there are toxic, unhealthy relationships that aren’t good for anyone. Sometimes, breaking up is the best thing for both of you.

It is very difficult to know sometimes what is “normal” relationship turbulence and what are signs that you should break up. The dilemma about whether to break up or stay together can be even more pronounced if you have complicating factors, like shared children. Other cases of whether a relationship can be saved seem more clear-cut, but even then people wonder if they’re doing the right thing by ending the relationship or if they should give their relationship another it one more chance.

Because deciding whether to break up or stay together is such a hard decision, we have many questions come through from clients, listeners of our podcast, and readers of our blog wanting help in deciding if their relationship can be saved, or if it’s time to throw in the towel. They want to know things like:

  • “How long should it take to see improvement in my relationship?”
  • “In my heart, I don’t want to be married to this person anymore. Will it ever come back?”
  • “Is what I’m seeing solvable, or is this a sign we should break up?”
  • “Once a cheater, always a cheater? Or can you have a good relationship after infidelity?”
  • “I’m not being treated well by my boyfriend. Can this change?”
  • “How do I know if I’ve tried hard enough to save my relationship?”

If you’ve been going through a hard time in your relationship that has led you to have doubts, I hope that this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast can help shed some light on signs that it’s time to break up, or whether your relationship can be saved.

Sincerely,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

P.S. We discussed a number of resources on this show. Here are the links for more information if you want to check any of them out:

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Should We Break Up or Stay Together?

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Your Relationship Questions Answered: Free Relationship Advice

Your Relationship Questions Answered: Free Relationship Advice

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Relationship Help

As a marriage counselor and couples therapist, I know that relationships can be confusing sometimes, and lots of people have relationship questions. We have listeners of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast and readers of our blog get in touch frequently asking questions about how they can connect with their partners, improve their communication, or create positive change in their marriages. (As well as asking questions about how to grow personally, or create positive changes in different areas of their life). But today’s podcast is all about relationships – specifically, your relationship questions.

Your Relationship Questions, Answered.

Today, we’re answering your relationship questions in order to give you some direction, and real help for your relationship. Here are some of the relationship questions I’m answering today:

Ms M asks, “How do I know whether my relationship is worth saving, or if I should let this go and move on?”

Lisa asks: “Should I stay friends with my Ex?”

Mr. T asks: “I’m shutting down with my partner. How do I stop?”

Ms. K asks: “I’m afraid that my boyfriend is emotionally unavailable due to his own issues. What do I do?”

  • We talked about the realities of having a partner with unaddressed emotional issues, and who is not interested in working on themselves. We discussed her points of power, and her opportunities for changing the situation, as well as how to move forward with a partner who is unwilling. Resources mentioned included, What to Do When Your Partner Has a Problem.

Do you have relationship advice for these questioners or personal experiences that you can relate? Perhaps you have your own relationship questions, self-improvement questions, breakup questions, or career questions for an upcoming episode of The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast? If so, please leave them in the comments!

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Relationship Advice: Listener's Relationship Questions, Answered

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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How to Deal When Your Ex Moves On…

How to Deal When Your Ex Moves On…

Markie’s mission is to help you create authentic happiness and satisfaction in your life. She supports you to create deeper connection with others, as well as actualize your life purpose. Click here to learn more about Markie.

Has Your Ex Started a New Relationship?

We have all been there… witnessing our Ex moving on without us. As both a therapist and life coach who has walked with many people through the breakup recovery process, as well as a fellow human, I know that if you’re in the early stages of getting over a breakup or recovering after divorce, can feel like a flaming knife is stabbing you in the gut to see your Ex with someone else. One sure-fire way to suppress your appetite would be to take a look at your Ex’s Instagram a few weeks after breaking up. So how are you supposed to deal, when your Ex moves on?

Breakup Recovery: Understanding The Power of Attachment

First, start by understanding what’s really going on. When you’re in terrible pain after a breakup, it’s because you are grieving the loss of an attachment. A romantic attachment is when you feel a sense of safety, security, and closeness to another person. It’s “the feeling” that most people are looking for in a loving relationship. When you break an attachment, it’s common to lose your sense of security, and feelings of loneliness and longing can set in. Breakup expert Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby does a great job of explaining how working through a break-up is like letting go of an addiction – that’s how powerful our desires to feel love can be.

So considering what’s psychologically going on – take your experiences of sadness and longing seriously. Ask yourself: “What am I doing to stop this feeling from continuing to happen?” And, “What am I doing to make sure this feeling doesn’t return again?” Healing after a breakup is an active process. Time alone does not heal.

Here are some strategies to help you move forward after a breakup:

Stop Stalking Your Ex On Social Media

One simple solution to move away from the feelings of insecurity that inevitably arise when you know that your Ex has moved on is to stop having contact with this person. Chances are you do not HAVE to follow this person on social media. And if you don’t, you should halt any communication (and or “social media monitoring”) with your Ex as soon as possible. If that seems hard – take an approached borrowed from the recovery world: Take it day by day. Don’t make any long-standing commitments to NEVER talk to this person again, but rather make the choice to not talk to them today. Tomorrow you will have the same choice and it’s okay to wait until then to make a decision.

It’s important to remember that your choices impact your feelings and your healing process. Take time to consider what behaviors would be the most effective for getting you to commit to ending the attachment (aka, “quitting your addiction.”) For example, clicking on your Ex’s Instagram page and reading all the comments is a cognitive choice you make. You have options. You can either choose to look at the photo with the awareness that you will continually feel bad. Or, you can choose to put your phone down and do something more positive.

Asking yourself to stop what you’re doing and put the phone down can be hard, even when it makes you feel awful. Romantic attachments are meant to pull us back. It’s often more compelling to indulge in our desire “to know” even if it leads to pain. But you have the strength to make singular choices. Every time you have the opportunity to connect with that person – treat it as though that is the only choice you have to make. You don’t have to decide if you are going to talk to this person 5 years from now. All you have to do is decide what you want to do in this moment. I hope that you choose to prioritize your happiness and emotional well-being.

What to Do When You Have to See Your Ex

Here’s a tricky situation: let’s say you already stopped contacting this person and unfollowed them on social media but you work together or maybe you live in the same building as your Ex. That makes things a little bit more complicated. Sometimes you’re going to have to live with this other person in your life and see them when they fall in love again. So I’ll give you some steps to follow to help you cope with this especially triggering situation:

Do a Personal Inventory

On a scale of 0 to 10 of how affected are you when you see this person, “0” meaning that you don’t think twice about your past relationship when you see this person to “10” meaning that you’re about to burst into tears every time you’re reminded of this person. If your number is higher than you’d like it to be, we must first work on mindfulness.

Mindfulness: A Core Skill For Breakup Recovery

I describe mindfulness as the practice of observing without judgment. Mindfulness is crucial to your breakup healing process because you can feel so disjointed, confused and boxed in during a break up that you feel like you’ll never escape the grief. Mindfulness helps to regulate your emotions when you get triggered so you can listen to your rational thoughts. (And listening to your rational thoughts is key to your well-being, when you’re recovering after a breakup).

If you’d like practice in mindfulness – try this grounding exercise below…

  • Take a deep breath and then breathe it all out.
  • The next breath you take, breathe in for four seconds and then breathe out for eight seconds.
  • Do this 10 times.
  • As you breathe, allow thoughts to come in and out of your mind and practice observing them without giving them meaning or power. Sometimes people can see their thoughts floating past them like leaves in a river. Practice externalizing your thoughts so that you can find a sense of peace with them.

If you already have a mindfulness practice, I encourage you to continue working towards acceptance of the present moment in your work. [Check out: Mindfulness For People Who Hate to Meditate]

Using Empowering Mantras to Heal After a Breakup

Once you feel a stronger sense of stability by grounding yourself in mindfulness, the next step is to create a helpful mantra (or three). A “mantra” is a saying that you repeat to help you with concentration on intentions. Mantras are different than grounding exercises in mindfulness. Mantras allow you to quickly focus your concentration on something else when you are triggered. You can use mantras to redirect yourself when you find yourself thinking about your Ex and their new relationship or if (God forbid) you actually see your Ex with someone new.

For example, say I’m in the grocery store and I see my Ex with a new partner. My mind may want to go directly into a panic, but as soon as I am aware this is where my brain is going (because of my mindfulness skills!) – I can then pause and say my mantra, “I made the right decision,” or “This is for the best.” Saying this to myself as much as I need to can change my perspective on the situation. My mind and emotions are no longer completely out of control. Instead, I have a plan, and a saying that helps me remind myself that I have control of myself and my thoughts right now.

Some Examples of Mantras For Break-Up Recovery:

  • I’m allowed to be happy
  • I live for the present, not in the past
  • I can and will move on

You Have The Power to Control Your Thoughts, Your Feelings, and Your Behaviors

Here’s an empowering new idea: You can choose to allow yourself the freedom of only focusing on what you want for your life right in this moment. If you have intrusive, painful thoughts about your Ex, you can mindfully let them go, without judgment. You can remind yourself of what you want, instead of what you don’t want through your mantras. And you can choose behaviors that support your happiness and your healing. When you are focusing on what you need, whatever your Ex is doing or not doing is irrelevant.

When you prioritize yourself, take charge of your inner experience, and intentionally create positive new experiences for yourself you can create a collection of healthy, affirming moments that you can be proud of. Lives are built of moments. When you choose your moments, you are once again back in control of your life.

I hope these ideas help you move forward, after a breakup.

Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC-C, CSPC

Dealing With Heartbreak? Get Your Breakup Questions Answered.

Dealing With Heartbreak? Get Your Breakup Questions Answered.

Getting Over Heartbreak

For years now, it’s been a personal passion of mine to help people recover from heartbreak. I know that when you’re going through a bad breakup or divorce, it can be absolutely overwhelming emotionally. Most people describe feeling “obsessed” with matters related to their breakup: Thinking about their Ex, or plagued with incessant thoughts about what went wrong in their relationship, why the breakup happened, what it means about them, and — most importantly — when they’ll ever feel better.

A bad breakup or divorce can turn your world upside down. The life you’ve known feels shattered. The pain seems bottomless. It can feel hard to function, or “be normal” when you’re so sad. And the swirling questions often have no answers, but gnaw at you constantly nonetheless.

I’ve found for many people dealing with heartbreak, the unanswered questions, or confusion about what to do in different situations, are on their minds constantly. I get many questions from people in the process of trying to get over heartbreak, and I thought I’d take the opportunity to answer some of them today on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

We’ll be talking through the following breakup questions:

  1. “I was blindsided by my breakup, and feel totally confused about what happened. Should I try to have a ‘closure talk’ with my Ex?”
  2. “I was getting past my breakup, but then learned my Ex started dating someone else. Now I feel devastated all over again. Why do I feel so upset by my Ex’s new relationship, and how do I move on?”
  3. “My Ex moved on quickly. Now I’m struggling with low self esteem after my breakup, and I can’t stop thinking about my Ex. How do I move past this?”
  4. “I have to work with my Ex, and see him flirting with his new love interest who is also a co-worker. I have been feeling anxious and depressed as a result. How do I cope with this terrible breakup situation?”

Listen now to get some advice for how to cope with a breakup, get your confidence and self esteem back, start feeling like yourself again. If YOU have a question for an upcoming episode of the podcast, you can leave it in the comments section of this post, or call 720-433-1110 to leave me a voicemail that I may use on an upcoming episode.

In the meantime, take care…

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

P.S. Did you know that I host a free, online breakup support group on Facebook? This is not a therapy group, but simply a space for you to connect with other people going through a painful breakup. Breakups can be so isolating, but you don’t have to go through this alone. This group is a secret, private group, so no one can see that you’re a member except other members, and your posts will only be viewable to the group. If you’d like to join, please message me via Facebook, and we’ll add you to the group.

Dealing With Heartbreak? Your Breakup Questions, Answered.

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Tristen, “Into The Sun”

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