The willingness to listen, the patience to understand, the strength to support, the heart to care & just to be there. That is the beauty of a woman. Happy Women’s Day!
The willingness to listen, the patience to understand, the strength to support, the heart to care & just to be there. That is the beauty of a woman. Happy Women’s Day!
• Do men and women react differently after trauma? Yes.
• Does it mean one suffers more than the other? No.
• Do the differences confuse and often create tension for couples? Too often.
What we find across cultures is that in the face of traumatic loss, women need to speak about what has happened and men need to do something about what has happened. In one scene from the devastation of the Tsunami in Sri Lanka in 2005, the women gathered, crying for their lost children while the men rebuilt the homes.
In their 2006 review of 25 years of research on sex differences in trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder in the Psychological Bulletin, David Tolin, and Edna Foa reported that although men have a higher risk for traumatic events, women suffer from higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. In their analysis, they suggest that the different rates of PTSD may actually be a function of the fact that men and women manifest their emotional pain in different ways.
In the aftermath of a traumatic event, women are more likely to have feelings of anxiety and depression, while men are more likely to express distress and depression in terms of irritability, anger and increased alcohol consumption.
Caught in the physical and emotional pain from a traumatic loss or event, couples often have very little patience for differences. It is hard for them to believe that their partner could feel different. It is even more difficult to believe that their partner could feel the same and react so differently.
When she suffered a miscarriage in the beginning of her fifth month, Claire was devastated. Then in her late 30’s, she was worried that this might have been her only chance to have a child. Even when she regained her strength, she was often unable to concentrate or sleep. She would ruminate and blame herself for waiting until her career was set before starting a family.
Claire was further upset by her husband John’s reaction. He was upset by the loss, but he seemed confident that there would be other chances. Claire wondered why he wasn’t blaming himself for their decision to wait to have kids. When she questioned him about this, he felt judged and blamed her for making it worse. They would end up fighting.
According to Dr. John Gray of Mars and Venus Starting Over, in the aftermath of the loss, both men and women need time to grieve. As such, it is often more common for women to blame themselves and for men to blame others.
Differences Don’t Equate to Lack of Love
If you find yourself struggling with your partner in the aftermath of a traumatic event, it does not mean that you don’t have a good relationship, or that you were never truly in love.
• Traumatic events are beyond what we ever expect. No one is prepared to respond.
• Differences in response don’t mean that as a couple you won’t cope or can’t heal.
If you take your time and give yourself and your partner a chance to grieve, cope and regulate stress in your own way and different ways, you will be able to use your relationship as an asset for coping.
• She joins a bereavement group at the church.
• He increases his workout schedule.
• She doesn’t want to socialize on the weekends, but he needs to get out—they settle on a movie date together.
Couple Considerations for Coping
• Everyone deals with trauma in their own way and in their own time – there is no right way.
• When in doubt don’t assume the worst about your partner – assume you don’t know.
• Interest and acceptance of your partner’s reactions invite sharing and empathy, which enhance healing.
• Being physically next to someone you love is a natural buffer for stress and emotional pain.
• Talking about the pain at times for her, valuing the shared silence for him—reflects the resilience of connection.
Sometimes the best-traveling companion in life is someone who sees and reacts to things in a way you would never have considered.
Being alone can be painful. It can also be blissful. It all depends on your level of personal development in this area. A joyful state when you’re alone is attainable. And it is a very worthwhile pursuit.
Once you learn how to be alone you will no long be chained to the desperate need to keep a person in your life even though the relationship is bad for you. Whether the person is a lover, a marriage partner, a friend, or even a family member what good is it if the relationship brings you pain and lower self-esteem? If you can’t bare the thought of being alone you will always be in a position of weakness in your relationships. However, once you learn how to be alone and truly enjoy it you’ll be able to negotiate your relationships from a position of strength knowing that you can end it and be okay.
We all experience moments of intense loneliness. We initially experience this when we are left alone for the first time as children. As we develop and grow we learn not to fear being alone. Nevertheless, there times when we face feelings of loneliness. These times can be extremely difficult at first.
Transitions in adulthood can bring on powerful feelings of loneliness. When we break up, get a divorce, or a partner dies we are suddenly alone. Before this event, we grew to rely on their companionship. We knew that during almost every evening, weekend, and holiday we would have someone to share it with. The sad feelings that you experience can be the same when a close friendship ends.
If your break up or divorce was preceded by months of tension, the separation might come as a relief initially. After a few nights and weekends alone, however, the relief can turn into desperation about being alone. It is at this point where profound growth is possible. You can use the pain of the break up and the loneliness to move yourself past the sometimes terrifying feelings of facing the future alone! Once you breakthrough and find your strength, which is present in you right now, you’ll experience a whole new world of personal power and freedom.
In the insightful book “Intimate Connections – The Clinically Proven Method for Making Close Friends and Finding a Loving Partner”, Dr. David Burns talks about the importance of learning how to enjoy being alone. He says that a person ability to have healthy relationship is in direct proportion to their ability to be alone.
If a person is comfortable being alone, they are in a position of power and not neediness in a relationship. People who do not have the ability to be alone will be imprisoned if they find themselves in a toxic relationship. You can break free by learning how to be alone and truly enjoy it.
– Surrender to Your Loneliness.
There is something indescribably sweet about surrendering to your loneliness. On that darkest of nights, when you come face to face with yourself, true self-discovery can occur. The quietness and the realization that you are completely alone in a world full of billions of people can be chilling. But once you embrace it and surrender to your aloofness you will begin to grow right there and then. And your growth can be rapid and profound. With each new experience of being alone you will grow stronger. Eventually you will begin to enjoy your own company without a nagging need to be with another person. Once you reach this point, you’ll have the power to choose whether you want to spend a Saturday night alone, with a friend, or with a love interest. Your ability to choose any of these options without any worries empowers you. Then if you do chose to enter into a relationship, you’ll be able to do it from a position of strength, independence, and confidence.
– How Do You Learn How to Be Alone?
Don’t fight being alone by trying to distract yourself. Don’t distract yourself by scheduling all your free time with friends. Don’t distract yourself with over indulgence of food, alcohol, drugs, television, the Internet, or video games. Just be with your loneliness until you come to terms with it. Face it head on! Deal with the feelings that come up. Stay with the discomfort until you find your way to contentment. If you are frightened, move toward your fears until they dissipate. As it is with most fears, you’ll most likely find that what you feared was only an illusion or a misunderstanding.
– Embrace Being Alone.
Embrace being alone by using these periods to get to know yourself on a deeper level. Perhaps on a deeper level than you have in your entire life. You can’t do this by spending a few hours alone. You need much more time. Several weekends or even an entire week’s vacation would provide a great start toward mastery of being alone.
Once you can spend a Saturday night, a weekend, or an entire vacation alone and truly enjoy it, you’ve mastered yourself. You teach yourself how to enjoy your own company by treating yourself like you would a close friend or lover. You look for ways to enjoy, entertain, and please yourself. And yes, I mean the big “M.” There are benefits to learning this art as well, especially for women. Men don’t need any coaxing in this area.
Whenever I refer to the benefits of learning to be alone, I am not only talking about you but also the benefits that your lovers and friends will enjoy. These relationships will benefit because you will be able to participate in them from a position of strength and giving rather than weakness and neediness. If you can’t bare even the thought of being alone you’ll put unhealthy demands on these relationships. You will also sell yourself short because of your inability to enter and maintain these relationships from a position of strength and confidence.
Use periods of being alone to get to know yourself. What do you like to do on a Saturday night? Take yourself out to a fancy dinner. Make yourself a gourmet dinner at home. Have fun! Enjoy your own company. Enjoy your own humor. Laugh at yourself. Do you get the picture?
If you don’t know what you find humorous when no one else is present, find out! If you don’t know what you enjoy to do by yourself, discover it! Make it an adventure! Make it an adventure of self-discovery!
Your goal is to find peace, contentment, and confidence when you are alone whether you are at home, in crowded public space, or at table in a fine restaurant filled with couples on a Saturday night! Once you are comfortable, content, and happy in each of these situations you have mastered the art of being alone. Once this is achieved and you are able to “choose” whether you want to be in a relationship or with other people, your ability to truly love and give without fear or measure will be greatly enhanced.
The word “heartbreak” is bandied about so much we often forget that physical heart pain is a side effect of high-stress events.
Along with depression and loss of appetite, physical heart pain is an actual side effect of high-stress events like the loss of loved ones. The grief from a breakup or death can be so consuming that it’s actually heart wrenching and can have serious consequences for our physical health, too.
The ‘Physical Effects’ of a ‘Broken Heart’:
Anyone who has experienced real heartbreak knows that it’s not just a melodramatic term. The aching, tight feeling that accompanies such sadness is uncomfortable, but usually not disconcerting. However, for people with broken heart syndrome, it feels scarily similar to a heart attack — in fact, most people are diagnosed after being taken to the emergency room.
Broken heart syndrome, also known as stress cardiomyopathy, is a sudden weakness in the heart muscle due to a severely stressful situation. It has the same symptoms as a heart attack — difficulty breathing, chest pain, and a drop in blood pressure — but while a heart attack permanently damages the heart, broken heart syndrome’s effects are temporary. Also, heart attacks are caused by blocked coronary arteries; people can experience stress cardiomyopathy without existing blockages. This important difference is often how doctors determine one from the other.
In 2005, researchers at John Hopkins University discovered the distinction when they studied the hearts of patients dealing with deaths of family members, car accidents, financial woes, and other anxiety triggers. They postulated that being under such stress causes the brain to release a constant stream of stress hormones like adrenaline into the blood, which makes heart vessels work too hard and reduces pumping strength. However, this is but one theory — doctors are still trying to determine exactly why adrenaline surges affect heart muscle cells the same way that heart attacks do.
The syndrome might be serious like a heart attack, but luckily it’s a temporary condition that can be cleared up in about a week with proper medical care. Mostly people just need time to recover from whatever physical or emotional event shocked their systems enough to cause cardiomyopathy. Even seemingly innocent things like surprise parties and public speaking can spark heart problems; many patients don’t have preexisting heart conditions, so it is difficult to tell who is at risk for the syndrome. For reasons still unknown, it does occur more frequently in women than men, particularly postmenopausal women.
Toxic Relationships Can Be Deadly, Too.
Suffering through a traumatic event like a breakup isn’t the only way to weaken our hearts — staying in a toxic relationship can be just as detrimental. It’s no secret that negative relationships, whether platonic or romantic, can have negative effects on our physical well-being. Emotional stress puts added pressure on our bodies, which weakens our immune systems and increases depressive episodes. In 2007, a study conducted at University College London found that people in bad relationships — characterized by a lack of support and a constant source of stress — had a 34 percent higher chance of having heart problems in the future compared to those in positive couplings.
The study followed 8,000 subjects, initially heart disease free, over a twelve-year period. At the end of the study, 589 people had developed heart disease and those who previously reported relationship strife, especially the ones who felt that talking with their companions about problems made things even worse, had a higher occurrence of the disease. We’ve always known that fighting with loved ones is a sure source of heartache, and now we know it’s a potential contributor to heart disease as well.
Our Loved Ones’ Deaths Can Lead to Our Own.
Grief over someone’s death, particularly when it’s someone as close as a mother or father, can be debilitating and excruciatingly painful. Depression and weight loss often stem from such loss, but now there’s evidence suggesting that it can even result in death. A 2008 study led by Ivan Mendoza, MD found that in 102 reported cases of sudden death, thirteen of them happened on the anniversary of the day that their parents died. Out of this group, one third of them died around the same age that their parents did. But unlike broken heart syndrome, sudden death resulting from grief occurred more among men than women in this study and the majority of cases had underlying coronary heart disease.
This isn’t the first time that grief and death have been linked. A psychiatrist named George L. Engel wrote a paper in 1971 detailing numerous cases of people who died soon after a loved one. We’ve all heard similar tales of people dying unexpectedly just a few weeks or months after their partners, as if they couldn’t imagine going on without them.
We’re inundated with the different habits we should adopt to keep our hearts in tip-top shape, like eating well and exercising, but getting out of bad relationships and dealing with loss in healthy ways aren’t usually on those lists — even though they can potentially cause physiologic harm. Perhaps as more studies like these come out, people will realize just how important it is to strive for emotional as well as physical well-being. They’re inextricably connected, even if more significance is put on one over the other. The effects of a breakup or death can be crippling and we should recognize that. Metaphorical heartbreak is painful enough as it is.
What distinguishes strong, attractive, accomplished people in any area of life from the rest? One of these things is their ability to accept losses with grace and dignity. Dating and romantic relationships are not an exception to this rule. It’s easy to enjoy love when it’s reciprocated and everything is great in your relationship with whoever you are dating, but too many people act in not so honorable ways to their partners and to themselves when things get rough in that relationship. It is of course understandable how someone who has problems with or loses a person who they love, care and had long-term plans to be with would be angry and frustrated after their lover unexpectedly leaves them or even worse – leaves them for someone else, but it is very important to your emotional health and to your proper recovery after the break-up to not make certain mistakes motivated by that anger. It might sound counter-intuitive to you now, but the sooner you learn how to forgive or at least how to rise above the break-up and any associated drama that better you will feel about yourself and about the whole thing. Here is a short but important list of do’s and don’t’s for that difficult time in your life, shortly after you broke up with someone you really care about:
* Don’t disparage your ex to your friends or co-workers or her friends or co-workers. Don’t blame him/her for the break up and don’t get into the details of why things didn’t work out when you talk about your relationship with anyone except perhaps your closest friends, if you really feel like you have to confide to them. It will not benefit you at all to say anything bad about your former partner, and it certainly won’t help you if your ex starts spreading bad rumors about you in reaction to what you say about them. You will sound especially silly if you were praising your partner throughout your entire relationship and you started criticizing him/her only now, when you are no longer together, as this will make you sound less than objective, to put it mildly.
* Resist the urge to contact your ex and check if there is any chance in the world that you can get back together if your ex was the one who broke up with you. The reason a reason why he/she left you and if anyone decides to make a move in the direction off getting back together, it should be the same person who initiated the decision to not be together anymore.
* Don’t waste any time “licking your wounds.” Do not try to imagine how many things you could have done together and how great it would if you could spend the coming weekend, week, month or year with your ex. It’s not going to happen, so why even bother and allow your rich imagination go in that direction. There is no need to go through your stuff and look for gifts, pictures and other items that might remind you of your ex. Stay away from those things for a while, and when you feel better and less angry, gather all that stuff and put it in a separate box. There is no need to return them and there is no need to destroy them, as you might just enjoy having these things months or years later. After all, these things that you want to throw away now are part of your life and your history. Whether it ended badly or not, you had some great times with your partner, while the relationship lasted, and those memories will likely stay with you for much longer than any anger or sadness associated with the break-up.
* Stop telling yourself that you are never going to meet anyone like that again. The undeniable truth is that everyone is special in their own way, and even though you will not meet your ex’s twin in the future, you will likely meet quite a few more people that will move you emotionally in different but equally potent ways. Surely they are not going to make you feel exactly the same like your ex did, but they will be special in their own way.
* Don’t hate your partner for hurting your feelings. No matter what happened, the reason that your partner didn’t want to be with you any longer is not because he/she wanted to intentionally hurt you, but because of their own selfish reasons. They did not feel like you were a good match from their perspective. Whether it’s good news or bad news for you has no bearing on how they feel about it, so they don’t deserve to be hated, but they probably deserve your good faith effort to understand them.
* Don’t keep talking about your split. Sharing news about your recent break-up and how you feel about it with the closest friends once and getting their perspective and support is very important, but there is no reason for you to do it more than once and to keep analyzing and over-analyzing what happened and why you weren’t able to make your relationship work. Tell your story one time and move on. It won’t make your day or your friend’s day to keep going over the same thing, and it certainly won’t restore your relationship.
* Stay busy and entertained. This is a common but true advice. It’s the wrong time to be alone and feel sorry for yourself. This is the time to connect with your friends, to perhaps share your problems and then let your social circle help you forget about your break-up and make it easier for you to move on by occupying your time and mind. Of course, this should be the right circle of friends – people who are positive and supportive and who “infect” you with strength and hope, rather than despair due to their own endless relationship and other problems. Being busy is not going to make the pain go away in an instant, but it is one factor that should help distract you and take your mind off your break-up at least to some extent.
* Meet other people. Some people believe that it’s important to fully recover after the break-up before meeting new people. However, the opposite is often true. Talking to others and going out on casual dates might just be one important element of taking your mind off of your recent break-up. You are likely not going to be able to madly fall in love with someone new right away, but that’s okay. Being swept off your feet is not your goal at this point. Entertaining yourself and keeping your mind open to meeting and getting to know other people is what you will be trying to accomplish. This also doesn’t mean that you have to go on a “rebound” and have sex with random strangers or that you have to use others by misleading them into believing that you are more interested in them than you really are. You can make small steps that won’t hurt anyone but would be fun and helpful to you.
* Use your recent relationship and the break-up as a valuable lesson. Step aside and look at your recent relationship and the break-up as objectively as you can as an outsider. It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort to try to apply logic and reason to what happened. Were there any mistakes on your part? Or perhaps you weren’t a good match in the first place, but you refused to recognize it and waiting till your partner made a move? What else could you have done or could have avoided doing that would have made your relationship work out better? These are very important questions, as your answers will directly and necessarily affect your future romantic relationships. That important lesson that you learn might be laying right in front of you, but you have to make that move and take the time to learn it carefully.
Break-ups are tough and painful, and, of course, the more special your ex was to you, the more difficult it will be getting over them. But it is your right and your duty to yourself to get the most good out of the seeming negative situation so that you become stronger, wiser and more attractive to your future partners, that will be undoubtedly coming into your life.
It goes without saying that breaking up with someone you love is not easy. And the more you like someone the more painful it will be when you have to stop seeing someone who you really like and care about, and if your to be ex-partner is the kind of person you think you are not going to meet any time soon because there aren’t just many individuals out there, who will be that special to you. Losing a loved one inevitably breaks one’s heart and learning how to heal that broken heart is very important to our emotional health and to our ability to return to enjoying dating life promptly.
Indeed, we often have no choice but never see each other again, and therefore it’s worth knowing how to get over those break ups and continue moving forward with our lives with the right mindset, and not continuing drowning ourselves in self-pity or indulging in any kind of self destructive post-break-up behavior for too long after.
Here are the steps you can and you should take in order to get over any break-up quicker and in a more healthy manner:
1. Avoid harboring hope that you and your ex-partner will get back together. This is the crucial time when you must demonstrate strength and reluctance in letting those thoughts get into your head. Being strong now will most certainly pay off in the future.
2. Stop reminiscing on the wonderful times that you and your ex had while you were together. Such wonderful memories are great to have, and you should be thankful that you had those great experiences and feelings. However, at that most painful time, right after breaking up, these thoughts do nothing good to you and only aggravate your pain and prolong your recovery by making you feel that you sustained a major loss.
3. Stop thinking that your ex was one of a kind person. No matter how special he/she was, you own future dating life will show that your next love will be also very special in his/her own, unique way – this is just the reality of how love works.
4. Realize and truly believe that whatever happens, happens for a reason and for your own best. This includes break-ups. Think about it – every time you have to throw away a great pair of old, worn-out shoes that felt more comfortable than any other shoes you have ever had, your next pair of shoes is often even more comfortable. Most people who lose a job eventually find a better one. This is a far reaching analogy, but the same applies to relationships. If you were taken out of your recent relationship by some great force, perhaps that force is trying to take you out of that relationship and put you back into the market, so that you start looking for and eventually find a partner who is even better for you and more compatible with you on all levels.
5. Perceive your recent break-up as a great opportunity to learn how to deal with such experiences and become a stronger and a more mature individual. Like any other challenging experience that pushes your emotional levels (such as employment termination, loss of a loved one to a terminal illness, etc…) breaking up and losing love today will “condition” you and will make your recovery from similar experiences in the future easier.
6. Do not perceive a relationship as an investment and your lost relationship as a waste of time. Be grateful! Be grateful for having been granted the joy of love and affection of your former partner as long as your relationship lasted and don’t forget that some things are probably just not meant to last. There is no insurance against breaking up whether you have been together for one month or for 20 years. Just look around you. I surely don’t need to tell you how high the divorce rate is. Some people perceive it as a very negative by-product of the modern, western culture, but I would like to suggest to you that it is quite normal and even natural. Most people simply do not belong with each other in a romantic relationship. Most relationships end, most people who are dating, are bound to break up. There is nothing wrong with it – it’s an inevitable selection process and we all participate in it. Accepting it as a natural part of dating life is very important and can be quite effective in helping you overcome a painful break-up.
7. If you believe that you made certain mistakes in your recent relationship, whether they were the ones that caused the break-up or not, make sure you learn from those mistakes and move forward as a person who possesses a better understanding of himself and his interactions with romantic partners, and make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes in the future.
8. Lastly, continue living! Pursue your professional and social goals and don’t leave much space for boredom in your life. This is not the right time to “relax.” You will have plenty of time to relax once you are over your ex and perhaps once you met someone new.
Breaking up is hard, but it can be a positive experience if you allow it to be. It can make you grow and become a stronger and a more attractive person. Make sure you take advantage of those valuable life lessons!
Further, it is important that you remember that the pain of breaking up is an emotion, and as such, it will not go away overnight. It will take time for your feelings to go away. But with conscious effort of keeping in mind the above points, you can make the process of overcoming and recovering from the break-up much faster and easier.
1. Prick your memory every day.
Memorizing something every day, even a poem, a phrase, a joke, will help keep your mind fresh, active and improve your memory.
2. Get out of your comfort zone.
Change your point of view, see the world as a gift of life, a package that you can open and enjoy and not as a cruel and suffering. With a positive attitude you will discover wonderful things. Develop curiosity and try new things. Say “yes” to life, instead of “maybe”.
3. Take care of your body.
A healthy body leads to better health, more confidence and more success in professional and personal life, three excellent reasons to drink more pure water, sleep earlier and drink less alcohol and eat less saturated fat.
4. Focus on the present.
By focusing on the past we are locked in a vicious circle of events that can never change, and waste the opportunities of today. The future is the result of your present. Learn from the past to enjoy your present and your future better.
5. Keep smiles.
Did you know that the simple act of smiling causes your brain to secrete serotonin, a substance that makes us feel good? Tomorrow, when you wake up, try to smile a little. Happiness gives us smiles, but smiles lead us to happiness. I bet you will start your day much better than others.
6. Learn to forgive.
Forgiveness is something that is difficult for most people. The resentment only brings misery and sadness, loneliness and bitterness. You constantly make mistakes; don’t you think that others deserve a second chance too?
7. Embrace your emotions.
The only person you can brighten or sadden, really, is yourself. Learn to embrace your emotions with meditation techniques and how they affect you recognize the words of others. Find the strength you need to maintain stability.
Work is important, and being successful is more important. However, the rest is much more important to help achieve these objectives, as well as congratulating yourself for achieving, carrying out tasks and responsibilities.
9. Do what you love to do.
There is a huge difference between doing what you have to do, and do what you love to do. What do you do? Does it give you happiness and satisfaction? Does it makes sense to work and live a life you hate until you finally have a chance to retire and then do what you want? Why not start from now? Learn to recognize what you love and begin to apply it in your daily life.
10. Listen to your intuition.
Not only listen to your mind, but also your feelings. What are they saying? Do not mistake the voice in your head with your unconscious. Learning to distinguish from each other will help you find a better way and take better decisions.