It all comes down to your identity
Breaking up is hard. Really hard. After the boxes of Kleenex, morosely stalking social media, hours of telephone calls, and pints of ice cream, what’s a brokenhearted person supposed to do?
Guy Winch has dedicated his career to “emotional science.” The New York-based psychologist’s new book,How to Fix a Broken Heart, chronicles how to get over a breakup as quickly and painlessly as possible.
“The thing about recovering from heartbreak is that you aren’t aware of the emotional injuries you’ve sustained,” Winch told The Daily Beast. “We tend to think that we’re just hurt. We neglect how aspects of our lives are impacted by a breakup.”
It helps to understand why our brains and bodies disintegrate in the aftermath of a breakup. Think about how you introduce yourself at parties: Perhaps it’s by your job, or where you go to school. Part of becoming a couple is the fact that your identity undergoes a fundamental change, where you define yourself in relation to your partner—there’s a reason why some people call that person your other half.
“When we enter couplehood, our identity goes through a change, from ‘I’ to ‘we,’” Winch said. That change in identity is crucial to how we identify ourselves to the world: We went on vacation, we got a puppy, we made dinner.
But when the “we” dissolves, it can feel like the very core of who you are has dissolved, too. “We can be left with a significant void, and you have to fill voids,” Winch said. “You can’t hold your breath and tolerate them; you have to fill them.”
So that’s why breakups are the worst. But how do you get over them?
Yes, you know that already. But it’s true—and it all goes back to figuring out your identity after a breakup, particularly if it was traumatic. “When you’re heartbroken, you’re really not clear about what to do [with your sudden free time],” Winch said. That can lead to hours on end of loafing around in bed, blankly speeding through bad Netflix series, and avoiding humans.
Don’t, Winch advised. “Filling those voids, reforming your sense of identity, figuring out what the new ‘me’ is going to be about”—that’s what you should do now that you’re on your own.
Don’t listen to your gut.
It’s after the breakup and you’re scrolling through Instagram or Facebook when your ex pops up.
Your first instinct? More likely than not, it’s to send your ex a note—you know, just to let them know you’re thinking of them.
Yeah, right. Winch can see right through that bizarre logic, and in the depths of your brain, you probably can, too. But Winch understands, and said you should blame evolution for our wanting to avoid getting better by avoiding our ex. “We didn’t evolve to become happy,” he said. “Our mind is not that great at doing the thing that makes us avoid danger.” We get tempted by danger, and staying in touch with your ex is one of those dangerous things.
Complain—but not too much.
Winch said that it’s important for the breakup-ee to make sure they are not “burdening” their loved ones and realizing that constantly being a slump takes a mental toll on not only you but your friends as well. “People have a statute of limitations that just kicks in at a certain point,” Winch said. “Certainly in the first few hours or weeks, there might be more heartbreak, but we have to be aware the support doesn’t come without a price.”
In plain English: The people who talked about their feelings did best because they were able to figure out their identity post-breakup—which circles us back to the idea that the reason why breakups hurt is the loss of identity, and finding that identity provides a sense of closure that could help propel a person forward toward recovery and maybe even new love.
Winch noted that if you’re that friend—the one that’s fixated on your ex—it’s important to take a step back. “The goal of recovering from heartbreak is to diminish the presence of that person in your thoughts,” he said. “If you keep talking about them so much, you’re giving them too much stage time.”
For complete article, visit The Daily Beast.