You’ve gone around and around in your head, talked to friends, listened to podcasts, and now you’ve decided that you want to end it. The talk is just as difficult as you had imagined and it does not go very well. You still want to be seen, heard, and cared for, but now you are all alone. Your friends and family say that they are here for you and you know that they can’t quite be there for you in the way that your primary partner was. Let’s be honest. We’ve all been here. It really sucks!
Your body is a super-intelligent system that instinctually knows how to take care of itself. When a body realizes that it is in danger, it immediately goes into shock and restricts blood from the less important parts of the body and directs it back into the heart. This is what you need to do directly after a break up. Direct your attention back into your heart and take care of yourself. Cease trying to manage the less important parts of your life and don’t bother making big life decisions. If you need to take a day away from work, cancel that commitment, or ask for help taking care of the kids, do what you need to do heal.
It may be tempting to curl up on the couch, turn on the TV, and block out the world, but that’s not what is going to be best for you in the long run. Just like a soldier who has been wounded in battle, you need a team, a medic, and a safe place to rest. This may look like calling a few friends to come check up on you for the first week, working with a therapist/coach, or staying at a friend’s house for a few days. Get the idea out of your head that you don’t deserve other’s care and attention. This can be ultra-healing for them, too.
Once the shock begins to wear off and you’re ready to face the world again, take baby steps. It is probably not the best idea to start dating within a month of a big break up. If you do, there’s a good chance that you will roll your old baggage, that hasn’t been dealt with, into the new relationship and crash and burn all over again. If rebounds are a pattern for you, then consider doing something different and intentionally place the focus on yourself for a period of time. Think health, community, family, self-development, and passion. The more secure you are within yourself, the more likely you are to draw someone into your life that is also secure in themselves.
When you’re ready, take complete ownership of the part you played in the relationship and dig deep to understand. This is the part that will really set you free. If you drew someone into your life that was emotionally unavailable, unable to commit, narcissistic, or co-dependent…why? What did you do or not do that allowed this person to enter into your life and affect you the way they did? Or, why did you choose to stay with them for so long once you knew how they operated? This doesn’t mean that it’s your fault that you were lied to, cheated on, or abused. The purpose of asking these questions is to empower you in your relational life.
Once you’ve designed your life in a way that you feel good about yourself and you understand your patterns, it’s time to open your heart again and trust. If you don’t fully open yourself to the possibility of love, the fantasy that someone will come swoop in and open it for you may never come true. You are totally, completely, and entirely deserving of the love you want and it’s important that you continue your search with this in mind. You’ve been hurt, but you’re not broken. Be honest. Be vulnerable. Be you. Life is inherently trustworthy and it will continue to provide lessons in all the areas that you have to grow.
In my work as a relationship coach, I’m continually hearing Men talk about their partners as self-proclaimed Empath’s. They typically say something like, “So, my wife is an Empath. Do you know what that is?” I give a little sigh and nod my head because I already know what they’re going to say next.
“Yeah, so it’s like she feels what other people are feeling and she gets overwhelmed by emotions and it’s really frustrating because she’s always feeling things.”
So, although I have my own skepticism about one’s ability to literally feel what someone else is feeling, I wanted to tackle this head on because, whether it’s true or not, most Men can use a little guidance in how to deal with a partner that experiences strong emotions.
Chill out, bro! No, not her. You! Look at what happens to you when you see her in her strong emotions. Your blood pressure goes through the roof and you either run away or fight. The reason this happens is because you do not have enough capacity for your emotions. Your job is to be with your own emotional experience here. Do you feel angry, frustrated, or confused? Great! Sit with that. Stop running away, defending, stonewalling, and becoming passive-aggressive. This is all about you! Once you learn how to be with your emotions, you won’t feel so threatened by hers and you’ll be able to handle the situation like an adult.
Use her sensitivity for YOUR benefit. Women that are highly empathic, emotional, and affectionate may be difficult for you AND they have an abundance of information that you can glean. If you’re the type of Man that is emotionally constipated, then there is a good chance that she is going to sense when something is up for you. That charge you feel in your body when you get asked, “What’s wrong?” is the feeling of something coming to the surface that was already there. She didn’t create it by asking you a question. So, you have 2 choices. Blame her for being the way she is or get curious and use it as a chance to look inside yourself and learn something new.
Stop judging yourself. The next step, if you aren’t already there, is usually a realization that you’ve been emotionally shut down for most of your life. You stuffed your sensitivity at an early age because of how you were conditioned to be and now you often don’t know what you feel or why. That’s okay. The more you can accept your “way of being” the more that you will be able to accept her way. Neither are wrong and you will probably never feel things the way she does. You get to keep all your logical expertise, your stoicism, and your Manhood. The true test of a warrior is how he handles the things he fears the most.
It may have been nice if it was just there and we didn't have to work through layers of old stories and fears to share our authentic desires, experiences, and feelings, but emotional safety doesn't come to us very naturally.
It doesn't mean that we're bad people or that we're weak. When we are in state of growth, it's normal to take a little break from the work from time to time.
However, if we stagnate too much, stop taking care of ourselves, and don't build emotional safety into our lives, then we begin to feel...
And then, we need to come up with excuses for why we feel this way so we say...
"I've just been really busy."
"Work is really stressful right now."
"My partner just has a lot on their plate."
"I'm haven't been feeling well."
"I don't have time for x, y, z."
We get mixed up that these are the results and not the cause of our action and inaction.
However, the more you learn, earn, and build emotional safety into your life, you begin to feel empowered to...
Speak up for yourself
Taking responsibility for your health
Create a vision for you life
Confront your compulsions/addictions
Invest in yourself
CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
But, you have to earn it. There are no shortcuts. No one will do it for you.
And, most of all...IT IS POSSIBLE.
Jeff and Mackenzie Bezo’s recently finalized their divorce just a few weeks ago. They are the wealthiest couple in the world....ever. Their net worth is said to be $157,000,000,000.
Even though we may never get to ask them, “What happened?”, there is little doubt that the growing apart, attempting to repair, deciding to separate, and going through a divorce, was painful.
Even the most wealthy people in the world are not immune from heartache. They may have worked with the best therapists in the world and they still were not able to make it work.
There’s a couple of things I gather from this...
#1 Money does not guarantee a happy marriage. It can buy stuff and the best therapists, but it can’t replace attention and safety.
#2 Money isn’t a good enough reason to stay together. Hats off to to them for taking care of themselves and navigating a very public separation.
#3 If money isn’t what it takes, than ANYONE is capable of creating a loving, empowered, lasting marriage. We don’t struggle from a lack of resources. We struggle from a lack of resourcefulness.
I know this may sound harsh, but it's true!
If you find yourself constantly people pleasing, enabling someone's unhealthy behavior, or getting run over in your relationships, than consider this for a moment.
What do you get from it?
"I don't get anything! It's terrible!"
What you get, if you remain in the victim seat, is attention, a placeholder for your blame, a shield from confrontation, a place to hide, and praise for being so dang "selfless".
But, it's not selfless to enable other's to stay in their addiction, depression, immaturity, and unawareness because you're doing it for you....not them.
It could be your kids, husband, wife, boss, family member, or friend.
You don't step up, speak up, hold boundaries, or get help for your own stuff because that would ruin the good thing you've got going.
And, I know it might not look good or feel good but, if you're still doing it, that means that your getting enough of a payoff to continue.
Personal growth is not all about self-care, reading books, and meditating.
Sometimes, it's about confronting some stuff that really stings.
This is a practice in Giving Attention.
Before you start, here are the Ground Rules:
1. You have to answer in 1 minute or less.
2. Questioner only gets to ask questions and listen.
3. Have fun! Don't take it too seriously. This is just to get to know your partner more.
Sit down together and ask them these 10 questions...
1. What am I most scared of?
2. What is my favorite thing about you?
3. If I had to be stranded on a desert island with only 3 people, who would they be?
4. If someone were to follow me around for 1 week, what would they realize about me?
5. Where do I like to spend most of my time?
6. If I could live anywhere, where would it be?
7. What does my perfect date night look like?
8. Where and how do I like to be touched the most?
9. What did I think about you on our first date?
10. How would you describe my level of love for you?
Feel free to dialogue afterwards!
A douchebag is a feminine hygiene product. But, according the Webster’s dictionary, the term Douchebag also refers to a person (usually a man) who is obnoxious, arrogant, oblivious, and irresponsible. Douchebags act this way because they are insecure, anxious, and angry. Underneath this, they are typically dealing with repressed sadness, trauma, and childhood wounds that they don’t know how to heal (I added that part).
The best place to find Douchebags is on social media. Usually, they can be found preaching dogmatic ideologies, attacking people, and complaining about life.
In real life, they are typically more difficult to identify, but one of the top indicators is how they talk about and treat women. They will objectify, blame, and manipulate. It’s common for Douchebags to hang out in groups, thus they won’t get called out for their behavior.
When dealing with a Douchebag, it’s important to have strong boundaries, use clear communication, and remember that they are hurt children, on the inside. This understanding will allow you to stay grounded and it may give them some space to connect with you on a deeper level then they are used to.
No guarantees though! Even if they are acting out, at least you can remain secure in yourself.
I believe that only a small fraction of men are the REAL DEAL when it comes to being a D-bag and those are the ones that have been hurt the most. Most men have the ability to be respectful, self-aware, and kind. They love and care for women, children, and their fellow man.
So, that’s what a Douchebag is…
And, even if we can’t change the weird assimilation of a feminine product into our informal discourse, we can still grow our understanding of what that title really means and learn how to love those guys that seem so difficult to love.
You don’t have to get smarter to work smarter, but if you don’t work smarter than you’re going to have to work harder to compensate for your lack of smart working.
Smart – I learn how to set boundaries so that I don’t give too much of my energy away to others.
Hard – I don’t learn how to set boundaries and I go around doing what other people want me to do.
Smart – I practice meditation so that I can relax into whatever is happening in my life.
Hard – I don’t practice self-care or mindfulness so I live in a state of negativity, doubt, and fear about the future.
Smart – My partner and I seek support so that we approach problems as a team and we both know how to work through hard stuff.
Hard – We have never received any guidance so we figure it out as we go, we fight, or we ignore things until they build up.
Smart – I make a schedule with commitments so that I have accountability from others.
Hard – I don’t make commitments so I have to generate energy and decide what I will do when situations arise.
Smart – I ask people how I can do things easier, smarter, and better.
Hard – I don’t ask for help and I try to figure out parenting, marriage, career moves, money decisions, and health choices out on my own.
I remember sitting in a hostel in Portugal on the last night of my 18-month round-the-world trip. As I was scrolling through FB and seeing all the happy faces of the people I knew, I began to feel emotional.
The last few months of my traveling had been exhausting, lonely, and at times, scary. I had gotten extremely lost on my scooter in Vietnam (I did not have a working phone), I had crashed a motorcycle in Turkey (got scraped up pretty bad), and constantly felt uneasy on my travels through rural Morocco.
Along the way, I had met all types of awesome and interesting people, but we always had to part ways. I got really good at approaching new people, and we would often go out and do fun things or talk about our travels.
However, on my last night of the trip in the beautiful city of Lisbon, I could not wait to leave! Why? I didn’t know. Even though I had made this miraculous dream happen, I mostly felt flat and confused. It was at this point that I began to wonder, “What’s the point?”
Fast forward a few months and I’m back again in my now-home of Salt Lake City, living with a couple of friends and joining in on a Men’s group call that I had been away from for a while.
For the first time, I got to share the lows of the trip and not just the highs that I had been documenting in my FB travel journal. It felt so relieving and inspiring to finally get real about the struggle! It was so refreshing to open up about my authentic feelings and thoughts, in the moment! It was like a part of me, that I didn’t know was there, was finally free to come out into the world.
So, what’s the point?
The point is that without feeling, exploring, and sharing the negative, the darkness, the struggle, we are not able to fully feel the positive, the light, and the ease. We short circuit if we begin to hold in our authentic experience and we feel stuck. This is where we often get confused.
Joy. I like joy. Uh oh. I’m not feeling joy anymore. I must try harder to feel joy. I can’t feel joy. Something’s wrong. I’m confused.
Long periods of time go by as we desperately try to cultivate brief moments of joy and happiness through whatever means necessary. We begin to lose touch with ourselves and the pain that we are avoiding, grows.
We are usually very unaware that the way back to authentic joy and happiness is to experience our authentic sadness, anger, hopelessness, etc. With practice, we begin to fear these feelings less, and we begin to live more in the flow of life. We build this underlying space of “okayness”, even when life seems very much, not okay.
If there’s one thing that this trip and the years that have followed have taught me, it’s that I have to be honest about my real experience if I want feel connected to the world around me. Pretending doesn’t work. Struggling is okay.
“Hey…can we talk?”
“Yeah, what’s up?”
“It seems like we’ve been busy lately and it would be nice if we could set some time aside to go out on a date.”
“Yeah, sure. Just let me know when you want to go and what you want to do.”
“Well…I have a few ideas but, what do you want to do?”
“It doesn’t matter to me. Just tell me what you want.”
Now, there are a few things to note about this conversation:
#1 Even though I didn’t tell you who the man is and who the woman is in this conversation, you instinctively knew.
#2 If you’re a man, you probably don’t see anything wrong with this conversation. If you’re a woman, this conversation might illicit a feeling of anxiety, flatness, frustration, or loneliness.
#3 One person is doing all the emotional work here.
Many couples have conversations like this on a regular basis.
Typically, when confronted with a lack of participation, the man becomes confused and frustrated because he doesn't know what he isn't doing. He may say something like, “Just tell me what you want.” At this point, many women tend to get frustrated and confused as well because they don’t know what they want.
This is where people get stuck.
If we go back to the conversation, I can see why both parties are stuck. First of all, the woman is the one who had to generate the energy and vulnerability to ask for something she wanted. She even voices her emotion and desire by saying that it would feel “nice” to go out together.
What she’s met with is his deferment back to her. He provides no emotional response, no vulnerability, and no ideas.
When met with this, she tries again. She acknowledges that she has some ideas, but she is also wanting more engagement from him.
At this point, he doubles down on his deferment and even adds that he doesn’t care.
Now, this may not mean that he doesn’t care about her or that he doesn’t care about the date but, this is where she is again burdened with doing all the work of remembering, deciding, planning, and holding the excitement of the conversation.
It would be completely normal for her to think:
“Does he even want to go?”
“Would he remember if I didn’t bring this up again?”
“How is he really feeling right now?”
All of this could be going on in the background, without her having much awareness of it. However, what she does know is that it doesn’t feel equal, engaging, fun, or exciting to be in dialogue like this.
This is the invisible work that creates a REAL struggle for both men AND women.