Being in love is like being a beekeeper.
Boom! Mind blown!
“Say what now?”
Okay you got me. There’s more to it than that.
Let me explain.
When you and your ex met, whether it was love at first sight or you two grew to love each other over time, the result was the same. At some point the two of you decided to cultivate a relationship, or for this analogy’s purpose buy a beehive.
Just go with me here.
So you and your boyfriend took your beehive home and filled it full of all the wonderful feelings that come with being in love. The more in love you fall, the more bees fill your hive.
Now, the feelings at the beginning of a relationship are fueled by dopamine and serotonin. There are hundreds of songs, poems, movies, and books written each day. Each on describing the intoxicating effects of these chemicals produced by being in love.
So what do you think happens when you take them away?
According to a study done by the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University, the Departments of Neurology and Neuroscience at Einstein College of Medicine, and the Department of Psychology at the State University of New York, in 2010,
“Several psychologists regard romantic love as an addiction because it shows addiction characteristics such as the lover’s intensely focused attention on a preferred individual, mood swings, craving, obsession, compulsion, distortion of reality, emotional dependence, personality changes, risk-taking, and loss of self-control. Romantic love is likely to be a constructive form of addiction when one’s love is returned but a destructive form of addiction when one’s love is rejected”
Basically, after a breakup, those feelings lose that fuel from dopamine and oxytocin, commonly referred to as the happy chemicals. When you are in love they are in large supply. Your brain is feasting on all these feel good chemicals and your bees are happy and content.
However, when your body suddenly stops producing these happy chemicals, they are replaced with chemicals that are just as intense as the ones produced when we are in love, except these are much less fun.
These are the stress hormones, cortisol and epinephrine.
In small, natural doses, these chemicals regulate the body’s response time to threats.
Yet, when dealing with extended periods of distress, such as a breakup, they start to build up and cause the body and brain to malfunction in ways that can cause physical issues.
For example, cortisol’s normal function is to help the body convert proteins into energy. Yet, when there is an excess amount of cortisol in the body for an extended period of time, it can cause some serious damage. It will tear down and destroy healthy muscle and bone, interfere with the natural healing process, and restrict digestion, metabolism and mental function.
Now, epinephrine is the stress hormone that triggers the fight or flight response. It can be extremely helpful when it functions properly. But it can cause major adverse reactions when the body produces and holds onto too much of it, leaving a person in a constant state of high alert. That is partially why you have that hole-in-your-chest feeling right now.
There are many other side-effects to having too much cortisol and epinephrine piled up.
In a nutshell, by ending the relationship, your ex may as well have kicked the hive as hard as he could and then walked out the door, angering all of those emotions you had cultivated together and leaving you to deal with them.
Taming your Bees
Right now your emotions are all over the place. You’re probably feeling more than a little overwhelmed.
I don’t blame you one bit.
Being dumped sucks.
One moment you will be absolutely fine, and be hell bent on assuring everyone “Now really I’m fine.” And the next you will suddenly be convinced that the only logical solution to your problems is to never leave your bed again, surviving by eating fruit loops straight from the box.
Well, we’re going to discuss how to keep these emotions in check. It is impossible for anyone to control how they feel. But you can control how you respond to these emotions.
Now, these emotional bees are driven by many different factors:
The changes to your life in regards to the break up, such as losing shared friends or a schedule that has been thrown off (I certainly know my last break up messed with my sleep pattern for months after.)
Added stress caused by school, work, or other personal situations
Your mental response to the break up itself can be a major factor. Generally speaking, most people spend a lot of time dwelling on the past, wondering what they could have done differently or trying to make sense of the situation in which they now find themselves.
Some of these factors are completely out of your control.
You can’t control the way other people feel or react; nor can you foresee what will happen next.
But you CAN control how you respond to your emotional bees with a few simple tactics.
We’re going to break these tactics into three categories: External, Mental, and Physical.
Before we get into it, you need to go ahead and start No Contact if you haven’t already.
Click Here to read more about No Contact
Go ahead. Open it in another window and read it.
Okay, now that you’re an expert on No Contact, you know how important it is to take a break from your ex and focus on taking care of you.
Now we can move on to what I consider to be the fun part, namely because you can feel like you are actually DOING SOMETHING.
First things first and probably the toughest step to take.
You need to unfollow him on ALL social media. You don’t have to unfriend him, just make it so his notifications and posts don’t show up on your feed.
Put his number on “Do Not Disturb.”
If you think you can’t refrain from stalking him go ahead and block it.
The goal here is to remove temptation to spend entirely too much time analyzing everything he’s doing.
One of the first things that go out the window after a break up is the general state of your dwelling place.
It’s easy to get into a rut after a breakup.
The dishes don’t seem that important, they can wait till tomorrow… or the next day… or maybe next week.
Laundry starts to pile up. Heck you aren’t even trying to hit the basket any more.
Your place is essentially a wreck.
Your desk at work is piling up.
Well, first thing is first. Girl, you have got to clean up your space.
You cannot possibly do anything good for you when you wake up every morning in a pig sty.
Your living space is a reflection of your mental space.
You won’t be able to gain control of your mental clutter as long as your surroundings remain chaotic.
So get on it!
Put on some fun music.
If you’re a Spotify User, try one of these playlists;
Scrub the whole place from top to bottom.
Take a box and put every single thing that even remotely make you think of your ex in it. Put it in the back of the closet, where you can forget about it. Or you can give it to a close friend to keep safe if you don’t think you can handle the temptation to pull it back out.
Put everything back where it goes.
I mean EVERYTHING. If something doesn’t have a place, make one or get rid of it.
Get rid of all of those half-empty water bottles that have accumulated.
While you’re at it, get rid of everything that isn’t useful. You want to only be surrounded by things that make you want to get out of bed in the morning.
Open the windows and doors while you clean and let fresh air flow through your space and replace the stale air that has been stuck in there for far too long.
Move your big pieces of furniture around. Make it feel like a whole new space. A space your ex’s feet have never touched. It’s your space. Take control of it.
If you’re anything like me when I clean I take everything out of the room and put only what I want or need back in and then get rid of almost everything else.
I see it as decided what I want to keep rather than sorting through what I want to get rid of, just a personal preference.
Save all sentimental decisions till last, since those take the longest. The idea is to do this like a Band-Aid, as quickly as possible.
Then, make your place smell great and inviting.
I live and breathe (literally, I suppose) by these three smell good products.
No, no one paid me to say that. I just do all of these things I’m telling you to do regularly and I’ve just found them to always be effective.
Basically, if someone were to walk into your house after you finish this task, the result wouldn’t reflect the fact that you just took a heart shattering blow to the chest. It would reflect the calm stability that you need right now.
While you can’t control your friends’ reactions to things, you can clue them in on what’s going on in your life.
There are two groups of friends in every scenario; the Inner Circle and the Outer Circle.
Here is what you are going to tell each when the relationship or the break up comes up in conversation.
The Inner Circle- It’s alright to let your close friends know that you are having a hard time and ask for their love and support. However, fight the urge to complain endlessly or talk bad about your ex. Whether your goal is to get him back or get over him, you don’t want to taint your friendships with constant negativity. And I assure you, despite your best efforts, if you talk badly about your ex and it somehow gets back to him, no matter what your goals are, it will not make your life any easier.
The Outer Circle- No matter how good anyone’s intentions seem, only talk about the break up or your ex when they bring it up. Even then, you should maintain the appearance that all is well.
“Why?” you ask.
“That seems a little dishonest.”
Well, because, one, it’s none of their business.
Two, if you say it with such conviction, your mind will eventually accept it as truth.
I did this with my last break up. When anyone offered their condolences, I would respond with such fervor that, “While the break up was unexpected and handled poorly on my ex’s part, it was more necessary than I had realized. In fact, he had almost done me a favor.” It was either this or, “I’m fine.”
It became and almost automated response. The more I told people I was fine and that I only saw positivity coming from the situation, the more I actually saw the happenings after our breakup as blessings.
I had more free time to devote to my studies. I was going cycling because I wanted to, not to impress or keep up with him. I wasn’t spending all my time binge watching Breaking Bad, Vikings, or Game of Thrones out of order, because he wouldn’t wait for me to watch the next episode. (I can’t tell you how many times I found myself asking, “Wait. Wait. He died?!” or “Why isn’t he wearing pants?”) And I wasn’t having to go to bed super early simply because he had to get up early.
But in all seriousness, a lot of great things really did come from this positive view on things.
I came to find Ex Boyfriend Recovery because of the end of my last relationship and an overly chatty girl I met on a night out with all of my single girlfriends.
(By the way, random drunk girl, if you happen to come across this article. Thank you!)
I have an incredible group of friends that I never would have met had I not had my last relationship, and we are all much closer now that the reason I hang out with them is because they invite me instead of just going everywhere my ex went.
I learned more about building computers, video games, and aftermarket car adjustments than I ever imagined I would find interesting.
Telling the people around you that aren’t close to you a version of what happened that downplays your emotions will actually help lessen the pain.
Let me clarify. Don’t run around just telling random people about your business. You should only talk to people you know about your situation IF THEY ASK. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met, just out and about, that lay their entire life story on me and wind up blubbering on my shoulder. If I weren’t as nice as I am, I’d probably be a little rude about it.
But talking to the people that are actually part of your life, and assuring them that you are dealing with things constructively, can actually help you deal with things constructively. It also helps transition into the next point I’d like to cover.
Now that your surroundings have been tidied, it is time to take on the most difficult adversary of all time and turn them from working against you to helping you achieve everything you could ever hope to achieve. Okay maybe not everything, but the things that you need to reestablish footing in your life and make it your own.
What enemy do you have to win over to do this?
It’s actually quite obvious.
I mean, how are you going to achieve anything if your own mind is working against you?
Change the Story Your Telling Yourself
Right now when you wake up in the morning and you tell yourself,
“No. No. It’s totally fine to hit the snooze button eight times and go back to sleep.”
“I’m only going to lay here in the floor for a few more minutes, then I’m going to do something productive.”
I’m asking you to call yourself out.
When you tell yourself that hitting the snooze button is a good idea, I want you to fight the urge to remain in in your blanket burrito by being brutally honest with yourself that those 8 minutes of sleep won’t make a difference in how tired you feel, but they will keep you from doing anything productive with your morning.
Anytime you realize that you are telling yourself a fib to make what you’re doing seem okay, I am challenging you to break out the brutal honesty and fight the urge to give in.
I had to have this talk with one of my good friends who would literally drive across town just to go to the same grocery store her ex went to. She was wasting so much gas, which was almost $3 a gallon at the time.
What was her reasoning?
“They had the freshest produce there.”
Since she wasn’t going to call herself out, I did. The store was a chain, and there is an identical one literally two minutes from her house.
I know that a broken heart can drive you to do irrational things, but in order to reclaim your life as your own you have to face facts and realize that some things just aren’t going to get you there.
Buzz Worthy Ambitions
Determine your priorities. What do you want to achieve with your life?
I know that I personally spend so much time in a relationship supporting my partner’s goals that I kind of lose sight of my own or they get pushed to a back burner.
I have one class left to receive my Business Degree. I missed my window to take it last semester because I was so wrapped up in my relationship that I didn’t even think about it until it was too late.
Immediately after my break up I took out my white board and started listing all of the things I wanted to accomplish.
It looked something like this:
Now the first thing I noticed when I stepped back and looked at it, was that one of these things was a BIG goal and wasn’t something I was interested in before I had met my ex.
So I crossed it out and adjusted it into a few smaller goals that were more directed at what I knew that wanted:
So that way I could pursue the bigger goal later when I was less inclined to make decisions based on my desire to make my ex doubt his decision.
The reason I tell you this is because you need to be attentive to any desire that may be solely inspired by your desire to get your ex back.
While George Herbert was completely right when he said, “The best revenge is a well lived life.” As I’m sure you know, mental stability isn’t usually fruitful when paired with vengeful goals.
And why not create a well-lived life regardless?
So, now that you have your list…
You did create a list right?
Okay for those of you who didn’t, go ahead and make a list, and then re-evaluate any that are on there simply to impress your ex.
You’ll recognize them because they are usually a lot more ambitious and out of reach than the others. Either remove them or re-write them to benefit you and you alone.
Okay, now that we’re all on the same page, you are going to take that adjusted list, and break the items on it into smaller bits, or what productivity expert,
David Allen, calls “Next Actions.”
What you’re going to ask yourself is, “What is the absolute Next Action that need to be taken in order to make this goal a reality.
Here is mine.
After you’ve done this, there is only one thing left to do.
Start knocking things off the list.
You see what we’ve done is take everything that was getting overshadowed by your emotions and laid them out in from of you.
Write your list down and post it somewhere you can see it clearly. This will counteract the desire to ball yourself up into a blanket burrito and give you direction. It’s like a camera that is continuously getting misaligned. Your list of goals will re-center you when you lose focus.
I can proudly say that my list is mostly marked off and it’s about time for me to start coming up with some new goals and some new next actions.
Letting yourself go is almost an expected part of a break up, however, you don’t have to.
Take a bubble bath.
Shave your legs.
Deep condition your hair.
Put on a revitalizing mud mask.
Paint your nails.
Pluck your eyebrows.
Whiten your teeth.
The goal here is to feel as put together as possible.
You know when you have a really exciting date, and you take a whole day or more getting prepared. That’s the goal.
You want to look and feel your very best.
If you look at my list of goals above, a few of my goals line up with this tactic. Hopefully your case is similar, because this is very important.
Elle Woods had it a point,” Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”
So, now that we’ve established that you WILL NOT stay in bed hitting snooze and wallowing in self-pity all day every day, let’s talk about what you will do or at least should do.
You should get out of bed, get dressed, and get out and do something active EVERY DAY.
Let me repeat that…
Once more for the people in the back, EV-ER-Y DAAAAAAY!
Go to the gym.
Go for a walk outside. (Vitamin D from the sunlight will promote good feelings too!)
Ride a bike.
Take your dog to the park.
Take a dance class or a martial arts class. (Anything that gets the blood pumping is great!)
Join a workout group.
My favorite is Yoga in the Park or the Boot Camp Workouts that have become so popular recently.
Basically get out there and do something! Sitting on your butt overthinking things is not going to achieve anything unless your goal is to be unhealthy and unhappy.
You’ve got a clean slate sister, might as well take advantage of it and start with a clean home, a clear head and feeling great.
“But, Ashley, I don’t think I can ever feel happy again.”
Newsflash! You’re wrong! You can and you will.
I think I was reading an article on PsychologyToday when I found one of my favorite statements ever.
“When you can stay calm and present in the moment, you give yourself time to choose how to react. Remember: feeling the emotion isn’t the same thing
as reacting to it.”
Regardless of the Recovery Path you decide to take, getting him back or getting over it, you can control how you react to your bees and you can still create an amazing life that benefits you.
Do what is best for you first and the rest will simply fall into place.