Many people join my private practice for breakup or divorce counseling. And a large percentage of them want a quick fix from the pain they are experiencing. Some of the most ubiquitous questions I am asked are, “When will I feel better” or “What can I do NOW to stop feeling this way?”
I have so much empathy for anyone encountering psychological pain. Breakups induce a plethora of complex feelings –some which are quite foreign. Some folks tend to lead with their rage, and others feel blindsided, devastated, afraid, or abandoned. These are hard emotions to understand and process on any given day – but they are especially unpalatable when one’s life is being turned on its head during the complicated transition from being a couple to becoming single once again.
For many the inevitable and occasionally overwhelming feelings of sadness and anxiety are the most difficult to cope with. It can be quite frightening to go through a day feeling simply awful and wondering if you’re ever going to feel happy or balanced again. I’ve been there, and so have countless others.
The good news is that most people do eventually recover, but there are no shortcuts, and proper healing does take time. Although counterintuitive to most, I encourage my clients to witness their emotions and embrace their feelings. There are many good reasons to do this. Getting in touch with your feelings will help you process your pain. If you don’t take the time to experience your grief, there is a good chance you will never fully understand why you picked your mate and why the relationship ended as it did. And if you can’t comprehend those factors, you may be setting yourself up to choose similar partners and regrettably, have similar outcomes in the future.
Slow and steady is the way to go. If you book yourself 24/7, date before you are ready, or run from your feelings, you are setting yourself up to live as a shut-down, unhappy, and unconscious being. That behavior will not allow you to live life to your potential nor experience at its fullest. Taking time to sit with your disappointment, fear, and anger, although challenging, will allow you to get to the root of these complex emotions – and often times the roots are deeper than you may imagine. Plus, delving into your feelings creates opportunities for massive personal growth.
This is challenging and revealing work, and I fully understand our embedded drive to avoid pain at all costs. Thus, I was not surprised when “The Wall Street Journal” recently reported that the medicating of America for psychological issues grew over 22 percent during the past decade. My clients regularly ask me whether they should be on an antidepressant or anxiety medication following a breakup. And although I have much empathy for their pain and predicament, I generally ask them to try to tough it out for a few months before they consider taking that route. Starting a drug regiment is a serious decision, and there is a good probability that your feelings will naturally subside with the building of a strong support system, psychological counseling, and the passage of time.
Taking your time to feel your feelings without medication, without running from them, will produce tangible results. Plus you’ll be so proud of yourself knowing that you didn’t take cover, and that you fought the good fight for your mental health, because you are worth it.