Annie has tried taking classes at a community center. She’s joined a book club, a philanthropy group and she’s started volunteering at the local dog shelter. When she’s not at the office working, she’s keeping herself non-stop busy
But Annie still cannot sleep at night. She continues to feel overwhelmed and all torn up inside because of the breakup of her long-term love relationship.
She knows that ending the relationship was a wise idea. Her live-in boyfriend of the past 8 years was cheating on her– and this isn’t the first time he’s had an affair
Even though she believes that breaking up with him was for the best, Annie still can’t seem to get over the sadness, grief and emotional pain. A friend of hers suggested that she try distracting herself from her broken heart, but it isn’t helping at all.
If you are desperate to get over your broken heart pain, you might try to distract yourself in whatever way you can.
It’s absolutely true that a distraction in the form of a class, hobby or volunteer work are healthier ways to try to cope with a broken heart than other things– such as turning to alcohol, drugs or other potentially addictive substances or practices.
At the same time, it’s almost always the case the distraction does not effectively support your healing.
Have you ever tried to ignore or just work through a headache? You can return to your report, chore, conversation or whatever it is that you’re doing. This distraction from your headache might work for a period of time.
But, chances are, the headache remains. In fact, your headache may end up being a distraction from other things you are wanting to do.
When you attempt to distract yourself from the sadness, anger and upset you feel about your breakup or divorce, you might be trying to escape the discomfort and pain– just like you would with headache pain.
This is understandable.
Whatever you choose to do may be a perfectly wonderful activity. But, if you aren’t also dealing with the real feelings you have, the distraction will not help you to truly heal.
Focus on your feelings and needs– NOW.
Be in the present moment as much as you possibly can. This might mean that you sit and cry. It might also mean that you rage and yell around.
Try to create regular time alone for yourself so that you have the opportunity to just be with whatever feelings come up.
If you feel as if you want to or will physically hurt yourself or another person, seek help from a professional immediately.
What you’ll probably find is that, at least some of the time, your feelings are not as intense or painful as they are at other times.
During these easier times, fully acknowledge that you feel slightly better– perhaps even marginally okay.
Tune in to what you need in each present moment as well.
Are you craving a hug from a close friend or family member? Do you most want to go see a comedy movie and laugh right now?
Be willing to be flexible and listen in to what you want and need.
Re-direct your attention instead of trying to distract yourself.
When you are allowing your feelings and staying tuned in to you, you’ll probably find it easier to focus in on things that aren’t related to the breakup.
This is NOT distraction, by the way.
There is a big differences between distraction and re-direction.
First of all, re-direction is a conscious choice that you make to shift your attention in another direction. Distraction might also be a deliberate choice, but it is done as an attempt to escape or avoid the pain.
With re-direction, you acknowledge ALL of your feelings. You give yourself permission to cry and also to laugh or smile.
You take the time to be with your anger and your emotional pain and then you encourage yourself to open up to a wider experience of your present life.
This might involve some of the same activities that we listed above as distractions– classes, hobbies, volunteer work, and so on. Again, what is different with re-direction is that these activities are focused upon as you ALSO allow your feelings and the pain when it comes up.
When you re-direct your attention in this way, you’ll most likely find that the painful moments become less intense or less frequent. You will then be better able to focus more of the time on creating the future that you want for yourself.