One of the worst feelings in the world is feeling helpless. When you feel like you have no control over your life or the situation you’re in. When someone you love wants to leave or break up with you. It can leave you with this horrible feeling which can turn you to become someone you don’t even recognize.
I’ve met with many people who have been faced with feeling very helpless. Nine times out of ten they react with an obsessive compulsion to regain some control. I hear students tell me how they couldn’t stop themselves from texting their recent ex, or driving by their apartment or house, or stalking them on Facebook, or hacking into their email account. Normal, kind, caring people can become self-absorbed, insecure, and very obsessive people when going through a situation that puts them out of control.
Especially when a boyfriend or girlfriend breaks things off. You can have this overwhelming feeling that if you only explained how much you still love them, or asked them to give you another chance, or got them to see you ONE more time, then they would take you back with open arms. You may think the only way to get them back is to fight for them. In your mind, getting back together with you ex is the only way you can imagine ending your pain. Other people may tell you to let it go and move on, but your brain can’t even comprehend that statement. Even if your ex treated you like crap, if you loved them, then you want them back.
So, what can you do during this time when you feel so helpless?
1. Do not obsessively contact your ex. Trust me, this will not help your situation. They are pulling back for a reason. It may even be for a stupid reason. However, if you continually bother your ex with texts, emails and Facebook messages, it is going to annoy them. This is only going to push them away further. Your instinct to choke hold them to you will only have the opposite effect. After the break up, I suggest contacting them one time to let them know you still love them and want to get back together. Also tell them you’re going to give them the space they asked for, and that your silence doesn’t mean you want the relationship to be over. Say what you have to say, then leave it alone. Give them time to think and possibly even miss you. This way it isn’t like you’re giving up and just moving on, but you aren’t pissing them off either.
2. Distract yourself. Enlist the help of good friends and family to help you occupy your time. They can listen to you and hug you when you cry. They can take you out and help you to forget for a few hours that you feel so crappy. They can also take your cell phone away or reset your passwords on your Facebook and email account so you can’t login without them. They can help you avoid the urge to contact your ex. It is hard to give up control. However, it is the best way to get through those first really hard days and weeks. If your ex has asked for space, then show them that you heard them by choosing not to contact them. It may be exactly what your ex needs to want you back. If they are just breaking up with you to get you to beg them to come back, then you aren’t giving them what they want. If they are trying to manipulate you, distracting yourself from contacting them will be a way to stop it and you may find they come to find you sooner than later.
3. Build back your confidence. Break-ups have a way of reducing your self-confidence. You can feel like you aren’t good enough or that something is wrong with you. This is a good time to take an evaluation of yourself. Did you mess up? Did you do something you regret? Since you can’t change the past, why not focus on the future? What would you do different if you had the chance? This way if your ex comes back, you’ll be able to tell them realistically what you would change and do differently. This may help build trust back into the relationship. Even if your ex doesn’t come back, you’ll be able to avoid making the same mistakes with someone new. If you’ve evaluated yourself and feel like you didn’t do anything wrong in the relationship, then work to own that reality. Don’t let your brain trick you into thinking, “If only I had…” You can get caught up in tearing yourself down. Sometimes there isn’t anything you could have done to save the relationship. Remember all the positive things you have to offer to someone in a relationship. Eventually one day you will be ready to find someone who will see those things in you.
4. Focus on yourself. I know I said break-ups have a way of making people self-absorbed. There is a right and wrong way to focus on yourself. You don’t want to talk to your friends for weeks about you’re ex and completely ignore the fact that your friend lost a job or just failed a major test. Sometimes it even helps to get out of your own pain and listen to others. Don’t ignore other things going on around you just because your life is upside down. Some days it is okay to just focus on your own pain, but don’t let that go on for weeks at a time. The right way to focus on yourself is to get back those things you may have lost in your relationship. You may have spent a lot of time focusing on your ex when you were together or always helping them with their problems. Now is the time to go back to things you enjoy doing. Remember those hobbies or sports you used enjoy? Find time to do those things again. They will help you process your feelings of grief and get those pieces of yourself back.
There are a lot of positive things you can do when someone puts you in a situation that makes you feel helpless. Remember that you can choose to give up control, even though it isn’t easy. Doing what comes naturally isn’t always the smartest or best thing. Fighting your instincts to chase your ex may end up getting exactly what you want a lot faster. Even if it doesn’t, you’ll feel proud of yourself in the long run.