April 3, 2015 –
According to a recent study by Northwestern University, the way you’ve been handling a breakup has been all wrong. Ice cream, rebound relationships, revenge tactics, and vegging in front of the TV are not the best way to cope after your relationship has ended. If you want to truly get over a breakup with the least amount of long-term psychological damage, then the best option is to spend nine weeks reflecting on the relationship and your new role as an individual.
There were two main groups in the study involving people who had recently gone through a breakup. The first group coped however they wanted and the second group included self-reflection and self-concept tasks. The later group had great success in overcoming a breakup and coming out of it stronger.
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Asking the participants to reflect on their relationships helped the participants “build a stronger sense of who they were as single people,” says Grace Larson of Northwestern University. “The process of becoming psychologically intertwined with the partner is painful to have to undo. Our study provides additional evidence that self-concept repair actually causes improvements in well-being.”
The key to the success is something termed “self-concept reorganization,” which is defined as “the process of seeing and defining yourself separate from your ex and from the relationship.”The process of becoming psychologically intertwined with the partner is painful to have to undo. Click To Tweet
Larson suggests a good coping mechanism could be keeping a journal and periodically writing in it over the course of several weeks. Your writing is based on your emotions and reaction to the breakup. Then start moving your writing into the direction of who you are as a person apart from the relationship. Focus on yourself and the elements of yourself as an individual that you can nurture back to life.
Here are some additional suggestions from Online Dating Magazine:
1) Rediscover your individual passions/hobbies. Sometimes when you get into a relationship, you lose something you were passionate about because your partner didn’t share in that passion. Now is the time to rediscover that passion and build upon it.
2) Work on improving your image. Now is the chance to becoming a better person. So instead of diving into that ice cream, start walking daily, meditating, and doing other things that you feel will improve you as a person. You deserve to be the best!
3) Don’t ignore your feelings. Part of the healing process is not ignoring your emotions. If you need to cry, then cry. It’s perfectly OK and healthy. Everyone needs a healing period after a breakup.
4) Don’t rush into a new relationship. If the breakup was rough on you, then give yourself at least a 2 and a half month period before you begin dating again. Use this to self-reflect, improve yourself, and visualize yourself as the great individual person you are.
5) Do volunteer. The best way to make yourself happy is by helping someone else. Volunteer for an organization that helps others or start your own “pay it forward” campaign. Next time you’re at a drive-through, pay for the meal of the car behind you. When you’re at the store, hold the door open for someone. Pack up all your old clothes and donate them to a church or local charity. Become a mentor for someone. The key is to look at ways you can make the life of someone else more pleasant. In turn, you will feel that returned to you tenfold.
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The research study mentioned in this article was published in Social Psychological and Personality Science online on January 6, 2015. The name of the article is, “Participating in Research on Romantic Breakups Promotes Emotional Recovery via Changes in Self-Concept Clarity.”
What are your thoughts on handling a breakup? Post them in the Comments section below.