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How to avoid the annual break-up season

Would you like to know how to avoid the annual break-up season?

How to avoid the annual break-up seasonThe festive season can be wonderful.

…it can also be a really challenging time of year.

Family commitments, present-buying, Christmas parties, money-worries, end of year deadlines…

It’s a recipe for a stress-cocktail.

It’s no surprise that according to Facebook, December is the month of the year with the highest number of breakups.

The problem with stress is that we have a tendency to take it out on the people who are closest to us. They are the people who see every side of us…the good, the bad and the very ugly.

We don’t put on pretenses for those who are closest to us…and we don’t tend to pull our punches.

You see, when we’re under stress our bodies jump into fight or flight mode.

Why is this the annual break-up season?

We learned our stress responses many years ago when ‘stress’ was caused by coming face-to-face with a saber-toothed tiger or a woolly mammoth. It was a matter of survival. Us or them.

Unfortunately our stress responses have not evolved with our lives…so we get the same rush of adrenaline and hormones when dealing with an urgent deadline as we did when being considered as a Paleolithic beast’s lunch.

So when we feel stress we see the world as a threat…including our partner.

When we see someone or something as a threat, all compassion and understanding tends to fly out of the nearest window. We have two go-to responses; protect & defend ourselves, and attack.

…and when one person gets defensive or confrontational, the other person often isn’t far behind.

So how can we avoid the stress-loop that often leads to a break-up?

Well the biggest problem when we enter this stress-pattern is that we forget that we are on the same side.

We’re on the same team.

They aren’t your adversary, they’re your team-mate.

Think about a football team. How successful do you think a team would be if they spent all their time tackling each other rather than focusing on the opposition, or the goal?

Not very.

You see, our response to stress often has us drawing battle lines against the person with whom you could instead be creating a battle strategy WITH.

So if you notice yourself dropping into ‘confrontation mode’ with your partner, here are a few simple steps to help you get back in each other’s corner again.

  1. Stop – So many of our troubles at this time of year start because rather than responding to what’s happening we react. We fire right back at the moment we feel upset or triggered without taking a moment to stop and consider how we want to respond, or the consequences of our reaction. Take a pause…it could make all the difference.
  2. Breathe – Take a deep breath, and allow yourself to let go of some of the tension in your body. When we go into fight of flight mode our muscles tense in order to be ready to swing a right-hook, or run for the hills. Taking a deep breath and shaking out your body can release some of this tension and help you to relax.
  3. Ask yourself a question – When we feel this way, it tends to be because we’ve attributed a meaning to our partner’s behavior (what they’ve said / not said / done / not done) that might not be in-line with the intention behind it. So ask yourself “What else could this mean?”, could there be another reason than the one you’ve got in your mind?
  4. Apologise – At this point you may be a little confused. Apologise? But they’re the one who’s upset me! While that may be true…step back a little bit. Is there something that you’ve said or done (or not said or done) that might have caused a reaction in them? Might they have misinterpreted your actions or words? If you can see how they might be upset, apologise for your part in what’s happened, without reservation, and without bringing how you’re feeling into it (for now).
  5. Ask for their help – It may be that they simply don’t know what you want or need, and how to give it to you…so the easiest way for them to be able to do this is for you to tell them. But barking instructions at them is probably not going to help them feel you’re on the same side. Instead ask for their help…ask for what you want and need, show them how to help and support you.
  6. Remind them that you’re on the same team – Remind them that you’re on their team…and that you know that they’re on your team too. Just verbalising this can make such a difference to how you both perceive what’s going on. It might be a misunderstanding, it might be a difference of opinion, but if you’re on the same side, you can figure it out together.

When you’re on the same side, dealing with the stress of the season seems so much more manageable…and you know you’re not dealing with it alone. Navigating your way through this can both pull you together, or tear you apart…choosing to be on the same team can make it more likely to be the former.

…and what if you do break-up?

…and if you do break up this time of year, there are a few things to bear in mind.

If the choice to separate wasn’t yours, then the other person has done you the favour of walking away from you. You want to be with someone who chooses you, who sees you, who values you…who wants to be with you. If this person has made another choice, you deserve more.

But knowing that doesn’t make the process of dealing with it any easier…so you might want to check out a couple of these articles to help you through the process:

…and the new year is a good time to move start afresh, to go through the process of letting go of the past and to begin to attract and create the relationship that you desire and deserve.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

What chance my experience of heartbreak forever?

What changed my experience of heartbreak forever?

What chance my experience of heartbreak forever?So last week I gave you the first of my answers to the question “Why does heartbreak hurt so much?”

The second answer that came to me when I asked the question “Why does heartbreak hurt so much?” tends to apply more when you feel like the decision to end the relationship has been completely out of your hands.

When this happens, we feel like the victim. We feel out of control. We feel ‘wronged’. We feel like this is something that has been done ‘to’ us.

…and when we’re in this place of feeling like it has been done ‘to’ us, the lack of choice, the lack of control makes it even harder to process.

We’ve been forced into this situation of having to deal with these emotions without any choice, any say, and (often it feels like) no consideration.

What I have to say now might be difficult to hear if you’re currently going through heartbreak.

I know, because I’ve been there, and it was hard for me to consider at first too.

But really hearing this, really understanding it can make a huge difference to your experience…and to your future experiences too.

The path out of this feeling of being out of control, of feeling like the victim, the wronged party, is to understand and accept that it is your own choices that have brought you to this moment in time.

(Take a couple of moments to shout and swear at the screen in front of you if you’d like…that can sometimes help too! 🙂 )

This side of heartbreak can be hard to face…

I can almost hear your thoughts “What do you mean?! They’re the one who did this! It’s their fault! I did nothing wrong!” …and I know how this feels, because I’ve felt it myself.

But the reality is that the choices that you have made have led you to the point you are at now. What you’ve done and haven’t done, who you chose to date or not date, what you allowed from other people and what you didn’t allow, how you showed up and how you didn’t show up.

Now, let me be perfectly clear about this…this is not about blame.

This is not about blaming yourself for what has happened (or the other person for that matter)…it’s about understanding that you can take responsibility for your part in how the situation played out.

Whether it’s in that you prioritised your work over your relationship, or that you didn’t always bring the best ‘you’ you could to the relationship, or simply that you chose to be with someone who wasn’t willing or able to meet your needs, or whose wants and needs you weren’t willing or able to meet in return.

This is not about looking back with regret or shame…you’re at this point now because there’s something you need to learn for yourself…and without this experience the lesson wouldn’t be as powerful and wouldn’t make a difference to how you choose to live your life going forward.

Simply understanding this, simply getting to the point where you can see it, and take responsibility for your part in where you’re currently at is the point at which you can shift from feeling like a victim, to feeling empowered.

If your choices have helped create the situation you’re in right now, your choices can help to create something different in the future….they can help to create what you really want for yourself.

I’m not going to lie. This was hard for me to understand at first…and a part of me didn’t want to understand it.

It was easier to blame someone else for how I was feeling.

I didn’t want to accept that I could have done anything that could have changed the situation I was in and the way I was feeling.

I wanted to make him the ‘bad guy’ because it made me feel momentarily better about the fact I wasn’t with him anymore and I had someone to blame for the pain I was feeling.

But when I really took a moment to honestly look at it, I realised that I had played my part in it too.

I’d played my part in each one of my heartrbeaks

Every heartbreak was different, and my part in it had been different too.

There were some in which I’d simply chosen a person that I was fundamentally incompatible with. They didn’t have the capacity to be the man that I wanted to be with long-term.

There were others where I simply wasn’t giving him what he deserved, because I’d not been ‘getting it’ from them first.

There were others where I’d held back for fear of getting hurt, and in doing so I never gave the relationship a chance to see what it could really be.

There were others where I ignored warning signs of dishonesty and just ‘hoped’ that it would get better.

The list goes on. I had to accept that I had a part in the every one of those relationships coming to an end (even if that part was just in starting the relationship in the first place!)

…and here is the part where the power lies.

The gift in heartbreak…

Because if you can see how your choices have helped create the situation you are currently in, you can choose (if you want to) to make different choices in the future.

The awareness that this brings is the key to finding the gift that I mentioned in my earlier article…because the gift is the learning. The gift is being able to understand yourself better, understand what you want in the future, and grow in a way that will enable you to have it.

To make new choices that will empower you and that will create a different outcome, and that will get you close to the life and relationship that you desire and deserve.

…and as a last note, I’ll say this:

This is a very powerful part of the experience of heartbreak. It is also something that needs to happen at the right time. This is part of the ‘acceptance’ stage of the 5 stages of grief that I mentioned in my last article.

Trying to go through this process when you’re still deep in anger, or denial or bargaining, or depression is likely to make you feel worse, not better…because it will be used as a tool to enhance your current stage. You’ll feel more angry (normally at yourself!) if you try and do this from the anger stage…or feel more depressed about the situation if you do it during the depression stage.

It’s a very important process to go through, but you will only get the real benefit of it if it’s done at the right time.

During my last heartbreak I remember ranting to a friend and shouting, “I know this is all happening for a reason, and I know that there will be a gift in it eventually, but right now it just sucks…and I just want to be with the fact that it sucks, because that’s all I have the capacity for right now!!!”

So be gentle with yourself…allow yourself to experience all the stages of grief and all of the emotions that come up fully and in your own time.

…and then when you’re ready (and not a moment sooner!) take yourself through this process to find the gift for you.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

Does a broken heart ever mend, or do we just end up living with the scars of heartbreak?

Does a broken heart ever mend or do we just get left with the scars of heartbreak?Heartbreak.

Unfortunately most of us will have experienced this at some point in our lives.

That agonising pain that comes with the end of a relationship, when it feels like you’re the only person in the whole world feeling like your heart has been torn in two.

The desire to eat every comfort food consumable to try and feel the empty hole in your heart.

Wanting to forget.

Wanting to remember.

Wanting to talk.

Wanting to not have to talk.

Feeling like your whole world is crumbling around you.

Not wanting to be alone and yet not knowing how to be around others.

Wondering if the pain will ever subside.

Thinking that you will never be the same again.

Feeling like you’ll never want to put yourself out there again, because you don’t feel like you could take going through this again.

That awful time when just remembering to keep breathing in and out feels like an effort.

I know, from personal experience, the pain of heartbreak

Heartbreak and I are old friends…we’ve spent many a day and sleepless night together.

I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Every time I’m in it I always say the same thing “I just wish it was 6 months from now”.

Why?

Because I know I’ll get through it, I always do. But I also know that in order to get through it I need to be in it. I need to feel it. I need to feel it all.

…and that isn’t easy, in fact it’s one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to deal with.

So when someone reaches out asking for help with heartbreak, my heart goes out to them. Because I know where they are. I’ve been there, many times.

This week I saw a question “Does a broken heart ever mend, or do we just end up living with the scars?”…and I felt moved to respond to it in a very personal way.

…and today I want to share that response with you, because I know from the messages and comments I receive that it might be relevant to you too.

So, my personal story of heartbreak…

My sister has been what most people would consider very “lucky in love”. Her first long-term boyfriend turned out to be the man who she fell in love with, married and now very happily has a little boy with.

Her husband is wonderful and I’m so pleased that they found each other and have created their lovely life together. As a result, she’s been ‘lucky’ enough to never have really experienced ‘heartbreak’ as you and I might know it.

On the other hand as you may know from my previous articles, I have experienced many heartbreaks during my lifetime.

There is a part of me that at times in my life has been slightly envious of my sister’s experience. Because she never experienced heartbreak, she in some ways kept the innocence and naivety that comes with first love. She never had that part of her life ‘tainted’ in any way by a negative experience. Being that she’s my sister, I am grateful that she’s never been through this.

However, as much as I wouldn’t wish the heartbreaks that I’ve been through on anyone, much less my sister, I know that because of the experiences I’ve had my life, I am a changed person…and every one of those changes in me has been for the better (in the long term).

My life has been richer for walking the path I have, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have grown in ways I know I wouldn’t have without those experiences. Each one has tested my emotional resilience in ways I couldn’t have imagined…and yet each one has brought with it such a gift of growth and personal learning too. It has made me the woman I am today. I have a depth of compassion, of self-knowing, of emotional experience, of love as a result of it.

I appreciate love in a way I wouldn’t have done, had I not lost it at times along the way.

My heart has been changed for those experiences.

Some might say that it’s been scarred by them…but as with scar tissue in the body…those parts of my heart are actually stronger for it.

Remembering those ‘scars’, the heartbreaks, the experiences I’ve gone through, the pain I’ve felt, helps me to continue to choose every day the woman I want to be. It’s helped me learn what I want for my life, what I will and won’t accept (both for me and by me), and it helps me to be the best woman I can be for myself and the man in my life every day.

As a result of these moments in my life I don’t take love or life for granted, which sometimes people who haven’t experienced them can.

My experience is that in time (with a compassionate approach of truly processing the emotion and the experience), the pain subsides, the wounds heal, the lessons are learned and we move on into our next chapter forever changed.

That change can be our greatest gift if we allow it to be.

Heartbreak has been a real gift to me

…and this is why I describe heartbreak and I as old friends, because that’s what we are. Though our relationship has never been easy, it’s brought me more than I could have ever imagined.

Without the heartbreaks in my life, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today, doing the work I do, helping people around the world to create deep, mutually fulfilling relationships.

But most importantly I don’t believe I would have had the experience that I personally needed to be able to create the level of connection, communication and compassion that I have in my two most important current relationships – the one with myself, and the one with my partner.

I wouldn’t change any of the heartbreaks I’ve experienced in my life for anything.

Although I experienced terrible pain through every single one of them…I am truly grateful from the bottom of my heart for each one of them and the gifts that I eventually allowed them to bring me.

In Japan there is a practice called “Kintsukuroi” which means “to repair with gold”. It is the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver laquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

So I invite you to repair any ‘cracks’ you may feel as a result of your heartbreak with gold, or silver, or another gift that is valuable to you, and begin to see the beauty in them too.

Stay fabulous,

Claire x