Five steps to bounce back from a break-up

By Deborah Raj

Resilience will help you view your ex as a normal person, not some monster who you need to exact revenge on. Image / Getty
Resilience will help you view your ex as a normal person, not some monster who you need to exact revenge on. Image / Getty

Whether your whirlwind romance was brought to a screeching halt by a badly-timed break-up text or you came home one day to find a note from your wife saying she no longer wants anything to do with you, or the kids, the breakdown of any relationship is devastating.

But, while shocking, confusing and catastrophic, surviving (and ultimately thriving) after a split is possible. Resilience is key.

According to mental toughness and resilience expert Jamie Ford, who also leads the University of Auckland's Mental Toughness short course at the business school, a resilient mindset is more than the ability to quickly bounce back from the adversities and setbacks that occur in life.

It also plays an important part in keeping someone attracted to you when you're in a relationship, says Ford.

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For example, "the positive person who is not easily derailed," he says, "is much more attractive than the person who gets down in the dumps and stays there for quite some time banging on about their misfortune".

Aside from that, resilience can make you a better significant other by ensuring you:

• Don't sweat the small stuff and put unnecessary pressure on your partner and your relationship.
• Easily put issues behind you. You can bury the hatchet quickly and forget where you buried it.
• Don't have a mind-reading licence so you always assume good intentions on the part of your partner. Even if you find out otherwise, you can be forgiving more easily than the person lacking resilience.

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In the face of heartbreak, the power of a resilient attitude is priceless.

Ford says the world we live in is one that scientists deem increasingly egotistical and self-centred. Which has lead to many of us "assuming far too much responsibility for outcomes in which we have only played a small part in".

A healthy dose of resilience, therefore, can put things in to perspective and make mending a broken heart more manageable by bringing to mind:

• The many factors that led to the heartbreak and using them to get some balance alongside the tendency to over-exaggerate our part in it.
• All of the good things we gained through the relationship which will stay with us for life.
• The attractive, desirable qualities of the other person that help us see them as a normal person, not some evil monster.

But, perhaps most importantly, resilience will see you getting over a bad break-up fast so you can go back to being the attractive person others want to meet and get to know.

FIVE STEPS FOR MOVING ON

For a step-by-step guide to not only survive but grow from a break-up, Ford advises that you need to keep in mind five important points.

1. This is temporary

Nothing lasts forever so it won't be long before this too shall past. Soon, you will be over it and back on the dating scene.

2. It's not all your fault

For every one thing you are responsible for, try and think of another nine things contributing to the break-up that you had no control over. It takes two to tango after all.

3. Create context

This will help you see this temporary setback as a small portion of your life rather than all of your life. For example, if you live to 90 that means there will be 32,850 days in your lifetime. This relationship ran for nine months (273 days). That's 0.83 per cent of your lifetime, that's not even 1 per cent of your lifetime. So, in the grand scheme of things, perhaps it's not worth crying/stressing over?

4. Don't be a sore loser

Always speak well of the other person and make sure that in conversations your break-up is not the only thing you talk about.

5. Take back control of your happiness

Watch some funny movies to cheer yourself up. Remember that you have a great deal of control over your emotions by taking care of the way you think about the break-up.

Don't consider yourself a resilient person? You can build on that by adopting a resilient style of thinking. For instance, rather than feeling sad about being dumped, look at it like you had a lucky escape and remind yourself that there are plenty more fish in the sea.

Also remember that while they didn't treasure and appreciate you, this doesn't make you any less lovable or attractive.

Every time you find yourself thinking about how awful it is, how unfair it is, and how you will never be happy again, Ford suggests tapping your hand on something solid like a desk or table top before shouting (or saying quietly to yourself depending on the setting): "STOP! You are on the wrong track!"

Then, hone in on the aforementioned resilient thoughts once more. This is the key to building up and maximising a resilient mind over time. Before long, you'll find your bad mood lifting and life will become enjoyable again.

- NZ Herald

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