How to Free Yourself From Emotional Baggage After a Breakup
What doesn't kill you may make you stronger, but it can also leave you with emotional baggage that you carry throughout your life. The aftermath of breakups can entail so many hurtful thoughts and negative assumptions that you are unable to thrive in future relationships. Sorting through your unresolved issues can help you grow as a person and will lead to better relationships with others in the future.
1 Give Yourself Time to Heal
One of the biggest mistakes people make is rushing from relationship to relationship without giving themselves time to heal. After a difficult breakup, allow yourself to grieve the loss of the relationship. Its normal to feel sad and hurt after a breakup. In her Psychology Today article "The 5 Stages of Grieving the End of a Relationship," clinical psychologist Jennifer Kromber explains that grieving a breakup is similar to mourning the loss of a loved one and similar stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are experienced. Giving yourself time to sort through the pain will help you heal and prepare you for your next relationship.
2 Grow from this Experience
Although a breakup can leave you with feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and disappointment, it is also an opportunity to grow and become a better person. A study published in the September 2013 issue of PLOS ONE found that individuals who experienced the pain and ruminating thoughts of a breakup grew stronger, wiser and more self-cultivated, while attachment-avoidant individuals did not experience this growth. Turn recurring thoughts and regrets about your old relationship into something positive by asking yourself what you will do differently next time.
3 Learn to Forgive
Whether you need to forgive yourself or someone from your past, let go of anger and resentment. A study published in the March 2012 issue of "Psychological Science" found that unforgiving thoughts raise stress levels, blood pressure and heart rate and can deteriorate a person's health if they become chronic. Let go of resentment and grudges that you have been holding for years. Leave the past behind and understand that people often make mistakes because of ignorance or immaturity or as a result of their own emotional baggage. Try to see the other person's perspective and to empathize with that. Letting go of resentment will help you enter new relationships with a better mindset.
4 Reframe Your Thoughts
Your emotional baggage makes its way into your daily life through negative and self-limiting thoughts. Don't allow baggage to take control of you: challenge these thoughts. When you are having self-doubts or feelings of inadequacy, replace those thoughts with "I am a very valuable person" and "Others are lucky to have me." Stop yourself from making assumptions about other people based on your past experiences. Repeat statements to yourself such as "Although I have been let down by others, this is a different person" or "Not every person will betray me; there are good people in the world."
- 1 Psychology Today: The 5 Stages of Grieving the End of a Relationship
- 2 PLOS ONE: Attachment Styles and Personal Growth Following Romantic Breakups: The Mediating Roles of Distress, Rumination, and Tendency to Rebound
- 3 Psychological Science: Granting Forgiveness or Harboring Grudges: Implications for Emotion, Physiology, and Health