8 Steps For Recovering From A Messy Break UP

Nobody likes to suffer from a broken heart, due to a bad break up. Life would be great if couples could learn to dissolve their relationships in an amicable manner. Wouldn’t it be great if two people could simply say; “this is not working, we both agree that we want out, have a nice life, and see you around.” Unfortunately this rarely happens, instead there is name calling, fighting, court battles, lies, accusations, and sometimes violence. The person you once loved, you now hate and wouldn’t shed a tear if they died the next day. The truth is that the hate and anger is usually rooted in pain; the result of betrayal. So, how can someone move on from a broken heart and a messy break up? Hopefully the following suggestions will help.

1. Perform a relationship (autopsy)= examination of a dead relationship: figure out what went wrong, what role you played in the relationship demise. Maybe you ignored red flags, maybe you had poor communication, maybe you did not assert your thoughts or feelings etc.

2. Create boundaries: change phone numbers if necessary, change locks to your home, close join accounts, change passwords to online social media or any other accounts, create distance from your ex. (exceptions are made when children are involved), stop phone calls and texts

3. Social support: create a support system of friends and family, seek group or individual counseling if necessary, church support can be helpful

4. Exercise: to release stress, yoga, walking, running, or hand weights work well

5. Occupy your mind: volunteer to help others to keep your mind off of your problems, learn a new hobby, work a second job if possible

6. Positive words: choose your words wisely, don’t dwell on the break up, don’t share the story over and over, don’t ruminate in hurt feelings, don’t focus on the negativity, don’t burden friends and family with stories about how horrible your ex is or what their latest antics are (seek counseling if necessary)

7. Spiritual connection: prayer and meditation are essential, God heals all

8. Journal: express emotions, regrets, and lessons learned

Stop Sign

The stop sign is an interesting object, often individuals can be seen yielding instead of stopping at the stop sign. The stop sign is important if one is going to successfully use it they must press the brakes of their car and come to a complete stop and then look for oncoming traffic in all directions, before driving on. Quite often individuals speed through the stop sign or simply yield, and forget about looking for oncoming traffic, one might look down at their cell phone or the dial on the radio before checking the safety conditions or traffic, or simply are just lost in deep thought.

One way to practice mindfulness is to STOP at the stop sign, to stop, take a deep breath, and look for traffic before driving off. This same technique can be used within relationships, before proceeding with a serious relationship, STOP, take a deep breath, look for signs of things that might hurt you (traffic) and then proceed once you have taken a careful look. In relationships important aspects are often overlooked such as signs of violence, lying, criminal histories, inconsistent stories, or unaccounted years in a person’s life. That’s why it is important to STOP and give yourself the opportunity to consider whether or not to proceed with a relationship, this act of Stopping may save time and heartache.

Here are some benefits of stopping:

1. Having the opportunity to gather your thoughts

2. Having time to consult others about your relationship

3. Feeling secure in your decision because you were not pressured and did not rush

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Patience In Relationships

Relationships are a lot of work, and like many other aspects in our lives, relationships require patience. Patience is key to having peace in life and in life’s circumstances. Ideally, we should have a greater level of patience with those whom we are in relationship with. Quite often those who we are in relationship with have the ability to evoke great emotional responses, because of the history, and emotions that are tied up within the relationship. With this being said, those that we love are sometimes difficult to love, which makes patience difficult as well. Can you remain in love and show kindness when your patience are being tested? Can you be patient when you are angry? Can you show patience when your heart is hurting and you feel betrayed? If not, how should one show patience in trying times? Here are some helpful ideas for maintaining patience in difficult times.

  1. Show patience by walking away from negative behaviors until you are calm.
  2. Show patience by praying for yourself and the other person.
  3. Show patience by reading bible scriptures daily regarding your specific issue.
  4. Show patience by meditating daily, this will improve your mood, give clarity, and allow for more patience.
  5. Show patience by understanding that you cannot change others only yourself.
  6. Show patience by listening to the other person, don’t interrupt.
  7. Show patience by not having the last word.
  8. Show patience by validating the other person’s feelings.
  9. Show patience by using humor, make yourself and or the other person laugh to ease the tension.
  10. Show patience by compromising and taking the higher road.

The Emotionless Man…..

How do you express your emotions? Well this many depend on whether or not you are a man or a woman. There seems to be this ongoing debate between men and women, and among women that men are emotionless, quite often women are witnessed saying things like “he just shuts down” or “he doesn’t show emotion.” Well there are many different ways to show emotion. It appears that God made men and women differently for specific purposes. One way in which men and women differ is the manner in which they express emotions.

Women seem to be under the misconception that men should express themselves in the same manner in which they do. This couldn’t be further from the truth, men have the God-given right to express their emotions in whatever manner they see fit. When thinking about emotions, it is important to remember that this varies with the individual, emotional expression may be based on past and present experiences, such as family upbringing, abuse, culture, and religion.

Perhaps if someone is not expressing their emotions in a manner that is conducive to your personal needs then maybe you are in a relationship with the wrong person, or maybe you need to be more flexible and understanding.  Also, it is important to remember that it is sometimes unreasonable to force others to change the way they express themselves, simply for personal gain.

Women, unfortunately can sometimes wear their emotions on their sleeves, this can be good and bad depending on the situation. God made women visibly emotional because  we were made to be caregivers and bearers of children (just one reason). Think about how most individuals learn to love and express affection, it starts with the mother. However, it is important to remember that men are not cold and emotionless human beings, in general. Some people are cold and do not express their emotions but both men and women can be the product of this. Having a difficult time expressing emotions is not solely a male issue there are women who have this issue as well. Often, when we do not like the way someone is expressing their emotion we tend to say that they have issues expressing their feelings, but maybe they are just expressing their feelings in a way that we do not like or understand, which doesn’t mean they are wrong.

So to say that men do not have or express emotions, is inaccurate, men and women are different as they are supposed to be. Often men can be seen expressing emotions in the following manner and situations.

  1. During sporting events, many men have expressed happiness, sadness, frustration, and anger. Many coaches and players display an array of emotions on the football field and basketball court. Many men can be seen crying when they lose an NBA championship, or the first round of the play offs. Men definitely cry when they are injured during sports, try shutting down when you have a fractured bone or a sprained anything….
  2. Men definitely show emotion when they witness the birth of their children.
  3. Men show emotion on their wedding day, when they see the woman of their dreams walking down the aisle.
  4. Men show emotion when they witness their sons passing the threshold of moving from boy to man.
  5. Men show emotion at funerals.
  6. Men show emotion during heated conversations/fights with their spouses or enemies.
  7. Men show emotion when they cannot find employment, and are frustrated when they cannot provide for their families.
  8. Men show emotion when the woman they love is in pain or bothered by something.
  9. Men show emotion when they see their dreams crash in front of their face.
  10. Men show emotion when their marriages fail and they have to get a divorce.
  11. Men show emotion when they accomplish their goals.
  12. Men show emotion when they see an old friend, that they have not seen in a long time.
  13. Men show emotion when they realize that their actions have caused pain for others.
  14. Men show emotion when they have broken hearts.
  15. Men always show emotion when they hold their babies in their arms.
  16. Men show emotion when their children are taken away.
  17. Men show emotion when they are fired from a job.
  18. Men show emotion when their trust has been violated.

Selfish Tendencies……..

Selfish tendencies in all relationships can be a major problem because selfishness promotes individualistic thinking. In order for relationships to grow selfishness must die. Selfishness can come in many different forms in all sorts of relationships: parent/child, intimate, work, and spiritual relationships just to name a few. When a person is selfish they tend to think of themselves only at the cost of others, meaning that although their actions seem to affect others directly they continue on regardless. Selfish people tend to be so focused on their needs and wants that they refuse to think about the ramifications of how their actions will affect others. So how do you know if you have selfish tendencies?……Well hopefully the following will assist:

  1. Spouses: can be selfish when they only think of themselves, making social arrangements without inviting their spouse. Many incidents of infidelity are based in selfishness in that an individual has decided to fulfill their selfish need outside of the marriage. When couples do not ask or consider the other’s opinions, for instance always picking the restaurant or the movie without consulting with their husband or wife. During sex, men and sometimes women are often selfish when they are only concerned with having an orgasm and do not work to make sure their partner has an orgasm or is completely satisfied as well. When one person wants to control and spend all of the money without consulting the other party. When couples do not say thank you for all the little things that their spouse does on a daily basis, such as cooking, cleaning, taking out the trash etc. When spouses do not recognize when their partner is overwhelmed.
  2. Parents: can be selfish when they put their love lives before their children, many single parents spend a lot of time engaging in uncommitted, destructive, abusive, and painful relationships. The children are left to witness their parents spiral out of control, chasing love from relationship to relationship. Parents who put their careers before their children by working excessively and leaving their children alone or to be cared for by strangers in daycare centers from 6am to 6pm  or longer (depending on the situation, some parents don’t have a choice). This does not leave a lot of time for bonding and care-taking by the parents. But for many mothers the thought never occurs to them to stay home and care for their young children, that they desperately wanted, and worked hard to create.
  3. Spiritual selfishness: develops when individuals only pray in times of turmoil or emergency. When God is an afterthought then selfishness has occurred. When every prayer is simply for asking for something as opposed to quality time with God where appreciation and thanksgiving is allowed to develop. When individuals only attend church on major holidays such as Easter or when there is some sort of major church celebration.
  4. Friendships: where the relationship is one-sided, people who call simply to borrow something, to share good news (brag) or to extract some sort of information from a friend. This type of friendship is not reciprocal, there is no give and take, only take.

The good thing about selfishness is that it is not a life sentence, it can be easily remedied with just a few steps. The other good thing about selfishness is that if you determine you are selfish, you are not alone, most people are selfish in some manner (including myself). The key is identifying ways in which you are selfish and working to change. First, sit and have some quiet time to journal and probe your life for selfishness, see if you fit in any of the above categories. Next, ask your love ones if there are times when they notice selfishness in you, this is not an opportunity for your to defend yourself or confront someone else. This is a time for you to listen and learn, and thank them for their honesty. Next, begin to pray and ask God to help you overcome your selfish tendencies. Something that works well in getting the ball rolling is volunteering to help someone who is in need, search your community and find a church or organization that needs your help. Lastly, give without expectation, help and give to others without expecting something in return, not even a thank you. If you are truly giving from the heart, then you are not expecting to be recognized or to have the action reciprocated.

Interacting With Difficult People

Understanding your limitations when dealing with difficult personalities is key for having peace of mind. People have difficult personalities for various reasons: some have psychological issues which compromises their personality at some level, some have been hurt and traumatized early on in life (childhood), and many have spiritual issues. So lets look at each of these a little closer. Any of  these issues could lead to a difficult personality.

Psychological issues: this could include but not limited to diagnosed and un diagnosed mental health disorders such as Bipolar and Borderline Personality. There are many other personality disorders, but the key to understanding these issues is to know that in spite of being diagnosed with a disorder, individuals can live loving productive lives and co-exist with others in a healthy manner. When those struggling with a disorder are not able to form healthy relationships, sometimes it might be due to their lack of medication compliance along with talk therapy. Often, individuals attempt to used medication without talk therapy, which may not be the best idea. Talk therapy is important because it provides the opportunity to learn new coping skills to deal with personality deficits as well as how to communicate such deficits to friends and love ones. Usually when people with personality disorders are receiving consistent treatment they are much easier to interact with.

Childhood trauma: childhood trauma unfortunately is very common and can include sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, and disrupted attachment (extreme neglect). Any of these issues left untreated can lead to disruptions in healthy personality creation and growth. When individuals suppress emotions and symptoms related to childhood abuse or neglect they have a difficult time forming healthy attachments and may have many unpredictable, abusive, and dangerous relationships. Those with childhood trauma issues not only have difficulty attaching themselves emotionally to others, but they also have trouble allowing others to attach to them (spouse, friends, and children).

Spiritual issues: this may include but is not limited to a connection and a belief that God exist and that the bible (his living word) can change, heal, and guide them through life. Many do not have an understanding, belief, or connection to God. Many are attempting to figure out life’s meaning. These things are best understood when a connection is made to God. Those that do not have a relationship with God often find themselves angry, insecure, panicky, ill etc. because they feel lost, and find themselves unfilled in all aspects of life.

So what do you do if you are interacting with a difficult person? Well it depends on why they are difficult which will determine how you should react and interact with them. It also depends on the nature of your relationship with the individual. For instance, because I am a psychotherapist I tend to have a higher level of tolerance when dealing with difficult personalities, because I have a unique understanding of what is possibly making them difficult this understanding allows me to be more patient than the average person (at least I think so).

As Christians, I think that we should always walk in love and practice patience with others, but I know there are times when others make this a difficult task. Which is why it is important to determine the level of relationship involvement that is present, for instance spouses and close friends or even family may require more work. This is because we love them, and often are stuck with them for life. At the same time, consideration should also be given to those who are dealing with their issues, the person going to therapy, taking medication, and trying to establish a connection with God should probably be allotted more patience. These things take time and will probably be an ongoing process (like all of us). So maybe we don’t invest as much time and energy with people that we do not interact with regularly, as this may lead to frustration, but we invest more time with loved ones.

What about the difficult person who is NOT attempting to better themselves? It is in this situation where sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on. I say this because you cannot change others, you can only change yourself and the manner in which you react to them. So, the most difficult scenario then becomes the difficult personality, who is within close proximity, and is refusing to change or seek help.

What should you do if this is your situation? Hopefully the following will be helpful:

1. I am a strong believer in prayer, not only for myself but I pray for others (healing, understanding, guidance).

2. Limit conversations and interactions, understand who and what you are dealing with, accept people for who and what they are (often wounded).

3. Lower expectations, sometimes we have expectations that are too high for others to achieve, especially if we are interacting with a wounded person who has not been healed, they may not be able to interact in a positive manner.

4. Arm yourself everyday, with a word from God, this means that we are protected and strengthened; making it difficult for evil spirits to penetrate.

5. Acceptance, that you cannot change others, only yourself. We often want others to change, but we forget that maybe we are the ones who need to change, maybe this difficult person is a test from God to develop something in you or to remove negative qualities from you (judgement, anger, controlling personality etc.)

6. Understanding, because it is imperative that you develop compassion for others, and know that when others are acting ugly that maybe they do not know any better, quite possibly they are in some sort of pain which manifest itself in a difficult personality.

7. Stop ruminating, in the negativity of the person or situation, when we dwell on our problems or fears, we give them power to grow and manifest in our lives on a large-scale. Don’t gossip or share stories about the broken souls in your life that present as difficult personalities (co-workers, friends, spouse, siblings, or parents).

8. Examine yourself, and find out why this person is so difficult for you to interact with. Maybe, just maybe, they reflect the parts of your personality that are not developed or healthy, maybe it is a sign that you need to work on your self.

9. Take your power back, sometimes difficult personalities are like bullies. They can only bother you if you allow them too, if you respond in a different manner, then they will usually stop or move on to someone else, or you learn to become strong enough not to allow their behaviors to affect you.

The Rally Around Relationship Sin

When we are behaving badly, what is the motivation?  Why do we allow ourselves to be pulled into more sin and dysfunction with the encouragement of others? How often have you listened to or participated in conversations such as women encouraging other women to engage in negative sexual acts, or men encouraging other men to abuse women? Who do you take your counsel from? What qualifies that person to counsel you? When others encourage certain behaviors in you, do you ever take the time to question their motivation? I have experienced and observed people who encourage others to do wrong, and their motivation is usually for selfish gain, wanting to disrupt or gain something in the progress.

How do you determine who is worthy of giving you counsel? Well, for starters the person who counsels you whether friend or family should be someone who has values that are aligned with yours, and your values should be aligned with God’s. Often we allow others to give us advice when they are simply not qualified to do so; and or have the wrong motivation. We cannot afford to arbitrarily allow others into our lives and advise us when they are not qualified to do so, because this could lead to more negative behaviors.

Negative Behaviors that are often encouraged:

  1. Promiscuous sexual behaviors
  2. Disrupting marital vows
  3. Stealing from work or unknown people
  4. Gossiping about others
  5. Retaliating against others
  6. Lying for personal gain or to avoid responsibility
  7. Belittling others for a so-called justified reason or cause
  8. Betraying the confidence of others because of a lack in loyalty
  9. Encouragement to physically harm others
  10. Encouragement to evade responsibility such as parenting, paying childhood support, and admitting to or serving a sentence for illegal behaviors
  11. Encouragement to use drugs or alcohol

Others may benefit from your negative behaviors in the following ways:

  1. Dismantling a relationship that you treasure
  2. Causing you pain misery
  3. Positioning themselves to have a relationship with you that would otherwise be prohibited
  4. Receiving support in engaging in their sinful behaviors. Ex. encouraging you to commit adultery, lie, cheat, or steal (they may feel less guilty if they have company in committing their negative acts
  5. When others are afraid of trying and progressing they will encourage you not to try as well, they cannot stomach the idea of you being successful They are more comfortable with you remaining on their level

You may be easily influenced and coerced into sinful behaviors if:

  1. You are more interested in pleasing people and not in pleasing God.
  2. You are not secure within yourself, and believe whatever others tell you.
  3. You are too lazy to read and study the bible to find out God’s plan for your life.
  4. You live in fear because you are afraid to confront your fears.
  5. You are easily manipulated

Before Its Too Late……..

When is it ever a good idea to end a marriage? When do you cut your losses? I’m a firm believer in working through marital discord such as sexual issues, financial issues, communication issues etc., but some issues cannot be remedied. Issues like domestic violence, drug and alcohol addiction, financial irresponsibility such as refusing to work or reckless spending. If children are physically, verbally, or emotionally abused, then the marriage should end. Lastly, having a spouse who is checked out or refuses to take responsibility for actions may lead couples down the road to divorce, it takes two people working for a common goal for a marriage to work.

It is better to make the decision to end a marriage early, especially before children are added to the relationship. There should not be any shame in ending a marriage before too much time is invested into a dysfunctional relationship.

Because of the above reasons, marriage should begin on a strong foundation and every effort should be made to get to know the other person. Remember that marriage is a commitment and the relationship leading to the marriage should be private, so that outside forces cannot break the covenant.

Change Yourself and Change Your Marriage

I am a firm believer that you cannot change other people, you can only change yourself. Often, couples come to counselors for counseling because they are upset with their spouses’ actions. Usually one of the two appear to be miserable and spend a considerable amount of time nagging, complaining, and criticizing the other. This is a waste of time, couples have to realize that they do not have the right to force someone else to change. Who is to say whether or not someone needs to change? If someone does need to change wouldn’t the change be more effective if the individual came to this realization on their own? Individual change cannot occur because someone demands for it to happen or because they are shamed into change. For change to occur and to be meaningful it needs to happen because the individual sees a need, and desires to make it happen.

The best approach is to change yourself which will change your marriage. When you change the manner in which you respond to others, they will in return change the way they behave.

Being Authentic

One thing I know for sure is that God created us in a perfect form, and that it is our job to love and accept ourselves. When we do not love ourselves we create an injustice toward God, who created us in his perfect form. It is our duty to love ourselves, treat ourselves well, and honor and respect our bodies. One of the ways in which we dishonor ourselves is by trying to be something we are not. For instance when we attempt to change our sex or overall physical appearance. Imagine the God above looking down on his children and seeing so many miserable individuals. Individuals who have been hurt, and individuals who do not believe in themselves.

No one has the right to mistreat you, but unfortunately it happens. Your job is to deflect their hatred and abuse. Your job is to persevere and become the wonderful individual that God created  you to be. There  is  nothing wrong with you, you are wonderful just the way you are. You are smart enough, pretty enough, kind enough, and talented enough. Don’t allow others to trick you into thinking that you are not an awesome individual. Be true to yourself, don’t try to fit the molds that others have created. The only person you need to please is yourself and God, if you are pleasing God then you are on  the right track.