Understanding Heartbreak

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Dealing with heartbreak, of any kind, can be one of the most challenging things a person goes through. Recognising the significance of acknowledging and managing these emotions, Joslin Gracias, a CDA-licensed psychologist at Thrive Wellbeing Centre in Dubai, shares her strategies for navigating emotional turbulence.

Heartbreak, an inevitable facet of the human experience, often leaves individuals grappling with intense emotions and uncertainty. Heartbreak, whether stemming from the dissolution of a romantic relationship, the loss of a loved one, or other impactful life events, can trigger a range of emotions, including sadness, grief, anger and confusion. Effective coping strategies to navigate the turbulent waters of heartbreak are necessary.

We all have dealt with heartbreak in relationships and friendships and know the grimness of the pain it brings. It’s a mixed bag of emotions we have no choice but to deal with. While we have different ways that we each like to handle and deal with breakups, I like to think of the five stages of grief when dealing with heartbreaks.

Stage 1: Denial
Not wanting to deal with difficult emotions that encompass heartbreak is denial, and being aware of this can help us understand our process better instead of pressuring ourselves to get over it.

Stage 2: Anger
It is expected that we start to resent our ex-partners or friends for being a cause of the emotional upheaval and pain. We must allow ourselves to acknowledge the anger that we are feeling and find healthy outlets like journaling, self-talk and expressing it to a non-judgmental friend.

Stage 3: Bargaining
This looks like trying to see if there is still hope or finding a middle ground to deal with the pain caused. Wanting to get rid of the pain becomes the primary goal.

Stage 4: Depression
It’s normal to feel sad when going through heartbreak. Also, the reality that nothing can change the situation causes depressed feelings.

Stage 5: Acceptance
It takes time, but when you reach this stage, you will gather all the broken pieces and be able to face reality. This part cannot be rushed or demanded; it’s a process.

Allowing oneself to move through all the stages of grief, and being aware that these stages aren’t always linear and that you can keep jumping between these stages, can help us process and heal from heartbreak. Different coping strategies to deal with heartbreak whilst being aware of the grieving process can be helpful, while behavioural goals can help deal with the emotional turmoil of breakups.

Navigating heartbreak requires a delicate balance of self-care and seeking support. Practising self-compassion is crucial—being kind to oneself amid adversity helps manage heartbreak’s emotional toll. Finding a ‘window of tolerance’ through mindfulness, yoga, hobbies, and relaxation aids in maintaining stability.

Additionally, leaning on a supportive network of friends and family creates a safe space to share feelings and seek solace. Embracing temporary distractions offers relief from overwhelming pain without ignoring the healing process. Setting boundaries, both with the source of heartbreak and others, allows for personal healing at one’s pace. Moreover, focusing on introspection and personal growth aids in finding meaning amid the emotional turmoil, fostering resilience beyond the immediate pain, and facilitating a healthier emotional state post-grieving stages.

After a breakup, being open and vulnerable again takes time and depends on whether you have processed your emotions and healed. Take your time to process your feelings. Learning to regulate your emotions is a skill that you master over time that helps you be more resilient; having said that, being resilient does not mean the heartbreak journey gets easier. It only means you will make healthier healing choices.

Joslin Gracias is a CDA-licensed psychologist who holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology and supports individuals and couples with their therapeutic goals.

Thrive Wellbeing Centre was founded in 2018 by Dr Sarah Rasmi. The centre now has a team of 20 specialised psychiatrists and psychologists who know that mental health is just as important as physical health, and that social relationships are the key to our well-being. In April 2021, Thrive Wellbeing launched Thrive in 5, an online, accessible and affordable platform for mental health and personal development for individuals and corporates alike. For more information, visit thrive.ae.