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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

Heartbreak

Why does heartbreak hurt so much?

HeartbreakLast week I shared an article to answer the question “Does a broken heart ever heal or are we just left with the scars”, and I was very touched by the reaction the piece received.

A lot of people shared how the article had come at the perfect time for them, because they were dealing with heartbreak themselves, and it gave them another perspective to look at it from.

When I started hearing this, it took me back to some of my own personal experiences of heartbreak.

If a relationship has ended, at some level it wasn’t working. If you’re truly honest with yourself, I’m sure you don’t want to be in a relationship where you’re unhappy and unfulfilled or in a relationship where the other person is unhappy or unfulfilled, for whatever reason, because we know deep in our hearts that neither of those scenarios make for a good relationship in the long term. But that doesn’t stop it from hurting….and hurting deeply.

I know. I’ve experienced it first-hand many times.

…and I can vividly recall the times where I’ve felt like the bottom had fallen out of my world.

My experience with heartbreak…

Those moments in time where it felt like an effort just to keep breathing in and out.

The pain, the sadness, the numbness, the confusion, the fear…the complete and total overwhelm of experiencing so many emotions and thoughts at the same time, and not being able to make sense of any of them.

Mind and heart reeling, with no way out, only through.

When I brought these moments of my life to mind, I started to think about heartbreak, and why it hurts so much. As soon as I asked this question, two answers came to me.

The first you’ll no doubt have heard before. The second may be a bit of a surprise…

So why does heartbreak hurt so much?

So the first answer that came to me is that we’re experiencing a loss, which brings with it a sense of grief.

Whether a relationship has come to an end because we’ve chosen to end it, because someone else has chosen to end it, or because it’s been mutually decided that it’s for the best, we are still losing something.

We may not be grieving for the relationship as it was, but instead for the relationship that we thought it was going to be, the relationship it had the potential to be, or the relationship we wanted it to be.

It might seem strange to be grieving for something that you’ve never actually had…but losing the POSSIBILITY of something, is still a loss, and we still experience a sense of grief when the possibility appears to be no more.

We miss the other person…or maybe we don’t, maybe we miss who they used to be, who we thought they were, or who we thought they would become.

Whatever it is that we’re losing, whether it’s was something we had, something we thought we had, or something we thought we were going to have, it’s important to honour the fact that we will experience a sense of grief when the loss becomes a reality.

Most people have heard of the 5 stages of grief (or the Kübler-Ross model) where you go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance…but what most people don’t know is that the best way through all the stages, is to fully experience each stage, feel complete with it and then transition through to the next stage…in the timeframe that is right for you.

Do you allow yourself to ‘go through’ heartbreak?

When it comes to heartbreak though, a lot of people don’t allow themselves to go through this grieving process fully…they expect to just ‘feel better’ at some point, get told to snap out of it by someone trying to ‘help’, or distract themselves from really experiencing the feeling because it’s uncomfortable (whether that’s through alcohol, TV, another relationship or any other way to avoid the feelings)…and therefore get ‘stuck’ in one stage.

As I’ve said before, when you’re in this kind of emotional experience, the best way out of it really is through it…allowing yourself to fully feel each aspect of what you’re experiencing in order that you can then release it.

So if you’re in it right now, start to notice where you might be wanting to avoid or distract yourself from how you’re really feeling…because that in itself can be keeping you ‘in it’ and preventing you from moving through it to the other side.

The second answer that came to me when I asked the question “Why does heartbreak hurt so much?” hit me hard.

Because it was probably one of the hardest things for me to understand and begin to accept about my own experiences with heartbreak…and it was also the single, most powerful realisation that transformed my experience with heartbreak forever.

So join me again next week where I will be sharing the insight that changed how I experience heartbreak…and which helped me reach the point where, as I shared last week, I began to eventually be able to see each one as a gift.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

The day I fell apart…

Falling ApartOver the last few weeks I’ve been hearing the same comment on a regular basis….”you’re dealing with your breakup really well”.

Sometimes it’s said with surprise, sometimes it’s said with an element of hope…at other times with a slight hint of dismay.

At a lunch meeting a while back, a colleague mentioned to me that I was one of these women who seemed to always have it together…and she wondered if I ever have days where things just get too much.

Well, I do 🙂

I’m just like everyone else in that sense.

So today I thought I would share about one of my more ‘challenging days’…so that you can see that I have them, just like everyone else.

As you know, a couple of months ago I went through a difficult breakup when the boyfriend I was living with left unexpectedly the night before Valentine’s Day.

I shared a bit about my experience on my blog to help other women who might be going through a similar situation.

Unfortunately it was never going to be an easy split because he was involved in some technical aspects of my business…so as much as it would have been easier at that point to have had a completely clean break with no contact (at least for a while until the wounds begin to heal), this wasn’t the reality of my situation.

Over the past month or two we have had to stay in touch to try and work out the details and come to a conclusion about how things will be resolved, including a few financial issues.

So it has been challenging, but all in all, I’ve been doing pretty well. There have been good days, and bad days, but I’ve followed my own advice and felt whatever emotions have come up in order to begin to release them. I’ve had some health problems along the way, but generally I was doing OK.

…until last Tuesday.

Now, I love social media…it’s a great way to stay in touch with my many friends across the world, but there are times (like this) where I really wish that we weren’t so connected.

On Tuesday I had a phone call from a friend.

Unfortunately due to a problem with my friend’s phone I wasn’t able to have a proper conversation with her….I could hear her, but she couldn’t hear me…so I just had to listen, sat on my own in a venue in London.

She told me that few days before, through the magic of Facebook, it was announced that my ex was on holiday with his new girlfriend.

I felt a rush of emotions all at once….hurt, angry, betrayed, used,…you name it, I felt it.

I completely fell apart.

The challenge with this was that I got this information literally minutes before a meeting in London that I was supposed to be leading.

The women walked into the room to find me in tears.

A few years back, I would have ‘pulled myself together’, put on a brave face, and powered through.

Not on Tuesday.

On Tuesday I allowed myself to share what had happened. I was completely open, I was completely vulnerable and more importantly I allowed these amazing women to be there for me.

It didn’t stop the hurt, but it certainly did help.

What was interesting was the more I shared…the more the ladies there shared that they had had similar experiences…and it helped to know that there were others who had been where I was in that moment.

That completely honest connection with another person where you understand each other’s pain, you’ve walked in each other’s shoes, creates a bond. It gives a real sense of understanding, strength and hope.

So I’m sharing this today for one reason. I know that there are other women out there, perhaps you’re one of them, who are going through a situation like this.

It’s OK that it hurts. It’s OK that it’s painful. It’s OK that you don’t always have it together. It’s OK to sometimes have a hard time dealing with things. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK if you need to fall apart for a little while. It’s OK to lean on others….even if you’re supposed to be doing the leading.

We’re human.

None of us are perfect…myself included.

So the next time you have a moment when it just gets too much…give yourself permission to lean on the people around you.

You do so much for them, that it’s good for them to have the gift of giving back to you…especially at the times when you need it the most.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

How to deal with Heartbreak…

A question that I get asked on a regular basis is “How do I deal with a broken heart and still stay in my feminine?”

As we know, being feminine is about being open and embracing the ability to be vulnerable. So I’m going to be completely open about my current personal situation…

As you may or may not know, unfortunately I have recently experienced heartbreak first-hand.

I won’t go into details, except to say that a few weeks ago my partner took the decision to leave. …leaving me to deal with a broken heart.

Broken heart

Luckily or unluckily, depending on which way you look at it, this is not my first trip around this merry-go-round. So as painful as it is, at least I know what to expect.

Every breakup is different, but the emotions are often the same or very similar.

You have either lost or had taken away from you something that you cherished…so there is a real feeling of grief and pain.

Most of us know that there are 5 theoretical stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance (of which I’ve experienced at least 3 in the last few weeks…)

But knowing the stages that you’re going to experience doesn’t actually help you to deal with them.

So how do you deal with it and still stay in your feminine?

Being open, emotionally connected and vulnerable is painful when you are going through a breakup. But from my own personal experience, the alternative can come back to bite you …

I experienced my first real heartbreak at the age of 24. It was with the first man who I truly loved and who I had moved to a new area of the country to be with.

The split came totally out of the blue for me. I had no idea that it was coming and it was a complete shock.

It was like someone had just pulled the bottom out of my world.

As we lived together, and I had very few friends in the area where we lived, I had to leave in the middle of the night and went back home to my parents’ house.

For three days I completely fell apart.

…and I mean completely and totally fell apart.

I was inconsolable.

The worst part of it wasn’t actually the pain I was experiencing, although it was gut wrenching. As strange as this may sound, the worst part was watching my family watching me going through it.

We have always been a very close family and seeing the pain on their faces, watching me going through it while knowing there was nothing they could do to take it away, was unbearable.

After three days I’d had enough.

I was tired of crying. I was tired of feeling so awful. I was determined to take control again. So given that I was going to be moving to be closer to my friends and family there were plenty of things for me to focus on.

I was focused on getting a new job, finding a flat, anything and everything to distract myself from feeling as bad as I did.

…and for a while it worked.

I moved, I started my new job and began my new life.

Until one day, about 6 months after the split, I was walking back to my car after a long day at the office when it hit me like a freight train.

All of a sudden, I was experiencing all the emotions and pain that I had felt immediately following the split.

I no longer had anything to distract me from it. I hadn’t dealt with it…I’d just buried it.

…and although I’d done a good job, it wasn’t going to stay buried forever.

I was a mess.

I asked all of my friends for help.

“What do I do?”

They all came back with the same reply.

“You just need to deal with it”.

Well, as helpful as that sounded, I was none the wiser. Because I was happy to deal with it, I WANTED to deal with it, I just didn’t know how.

When I asked them “OK, so how do I deal with it?” I got nothing but blank faces in response.

So I muddled my way through and after a rollercoaster couple of years, I eventually felt that I was over it.

Unfortunately this wasn’t my only experience of heartbreak.

A few years later I found myself in exactly the same situation. Another breakup from out of the blue…and another broken heart.

Again, for a few days I totally fell apart…but this time was different.

This time I had the wisdom of “Sex and the City” to guide me through.

You see one day, not long after this second breakup, I was watching an episode of “Sex and the City” which provided me with all the answers I was looking for.

The episode is in season 6 and is called “One”. Charlotte finds out that she is pregnant, but after a brief moment of joy she loses the baby.

She is plunged into a state of depression and Harry (her husband) tells Miranda (one of her best friends) how worried he is about her. He doesn’t know what to do.

Miranda’s response is simple.

“She’ll be ok, she just has to feel it”

Light bulb moment.

You have to feel it.

That’s how you deal with it. You feel it.

What I’ve since learned is that it’s only when you allow yourself to really feel and experience the emotions fully, that you can release them.

Anything else results in just burying the emotions, and no matter how deep you bury them, they will still be there, still hurting you.

What’s worse is at some point they will bubble up to the surface…often when you least expect them to, and usually at an even worse time.

So cry if you need to cry, shout if you need to shout, feel the fear, the pain, the hurt…all of it, as and when it comes up.

…and when you’ve felt it completely, you can then let it go.

Although it might be painful in the short-term…letting yourself feel these emotions means that you can release them and begin to heal.

It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does get you through it as quickly as possible.

So that’s exactly what I’m doing. Feeling what I need to feel, as and when the emotions come up. Acknowledging them, feeling them completely, moving through them and then finally, bit by bit, beginning to release them.

…and next week I will be sharing the 5 most important things to help you deal with a broken heart.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x