One Important Suggestion for Getting Through the Pain of Breakups
Using this technique isn’t for the faint of heart, but sometimes it works when nothing else does.
(Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)
By Dr T J Jordan
Sometimes we need to stop hiding from the hurt and accept that no matter how much we try, we aren’t going to be able to avoid thinking about the partner we lost. Sometimes there is merit to giving in to what seems our failed attempts at escape.
When we grieve the end of a relationship, we often hear that we should get over our partner and move on. But getting over and moving on aren’t automatic or easy. These steps don’t happen until we’re ready.
One technique used when working therapeutically with people who have experienced trauma is FLOODING. And relationship endings are among the most traumatic experiences we encounter in our lives.
When we engage in flooding, we immerse ourselves so far in old stimuli that we become desensitized to them. We actually become bored with the things that caused emotional pain instead of hurt and anxious. We take the wind out of the sails of our hurtful triggers.
Flooding is a bit like exercising a muscle to the point of fatigue, except that we’re fatiguing our psyches.
Flooding works when we feel anxious and even hyper-vigilant about the stimuli that remind us painfully of our lost love. When we avoid these stimuli, we endow them with more power.
By avoiding, we’re saying to ourselves that our memories and associations have the capacity to continually injure us, thus reinforcing our belief in their strength. We do this with photos, music, places, gifts, old electronic messages, and just about anything that reminds us of the person who has moved out of our lives.
Our well-meaning friends tell us that we should delete the messages, erase the images, toss the gifts, avoid the places, and otherwise behave as though someone who left never existed for us in the first place.
But denial doesn’t work. To deny reality is to set ourselves up for failure. Reminders will always exist. Our best recourse is to weaken their negative hold on our emotions.