Breaking up is hard to do but you will survive it... with a break-up coach
Getting over heartbreak used to take a lot of time and involved a vat of wine or a bucket of ice cream - these days all you need is good friends, the odd cry and a break-up coach close to hand.
Anyone who's experienced a break-up knows all too well the shock, pain and grief that go with it, but most of us get through it, eventually.
Some turn to friends and family for support while others immerse themselves in work or busy social lives in an attempt to move on. However, a break-up can have a bigger affect on our lives and future relationships than we might think. There is even a service to help you get over heartbreak and move on. Step forward… the break-up coach.
The fact that such a service exists may seem crazy - when I initially became aware of break-up coaching I was sceptical to say the least. Perhaps this was a life-coaching step to far?
However, on further reflection it didn't seem that outlandish, given how big an impact relationships have on our lives and how much we invest in them - emotionally and financially.
It stands to reason that when such a large part of your life ends, moving forward may not be as easy or straightforward as you would like.
Break-ups are hard and, according to break-up coach Fionnuala Wall, they can be similar to dealing with the loss of a loved one.
"The emotions associated with a break-up are the same emotions people experience after the death of a loved one. People going through a break-up grieve for the life they once had, even though it might not necessarily have been the best life for them."
She also adds that, as creatures of habit, "our mind, body and heart will crave what we had before. Many think that they are not a complete person without having a partner. It's about completing yourself and, from here, meeting the partner that can match this."
So what prompted Wall, a qualified primary school teacher, to counsel people on how to get over heartbreak?
"I was always interested in human development and the huge potential of every individual. I read psychology books instead of history and politics books, which was what my course was on at the time in UCD!
"I worked as a primary teacher for eight years and, despite loving being around children, I knew that working in formal education was not my passion. So in my final two years of teaching I did a course in counselling and psychotherapy. After this I completed a course with international life coach Judymay Murphy. I knew I had found what I loved."
From here, Wall says she decided to specialise in break-up coaching because she saw friends and family experience the pain of break-ups, as well as having experienced a painful break-up herself in the past.
"I believe it is in moments of crisis that we discover what we want out of life and, from this, create a life that we want. A break-up presents as one of those moments. I knew that break-up coaching existed in America and Canada but not so much on this side of the Atlantic."
Wall insists there is no typical client. "My clients cover all ages, gender and situations - mainly 25-50 years.
Clients also present at different stages - sometimes within days of the break-up, weeks, months or even years after a break-up.
"Really every client's situation is different. The reasons for the break-up vary - commitment issues, wanting different things out of life, not being happy in the relationship..."
However one common obstacle that each client must overcome is being able to meet their own needs before they look for someone else to fulfil their happiness.
"The main overall aim of my work is to show my clients that we must meet our own needs first to be happy. When we do this, we are then going into a relationship to give rather than to get. Of course, through giving we do get back, but going in solely to get is not healthy and creates a series of problems once the 'honeymoon' phase passes.
"We must know our wants and needs - provide them for ourselves - and from this healthy place our relationship with a partner will be a healthy one too. This dispels the myth of 'other half' - we are complete before meeting another."
Wall says she works through three main areas with clients: acceptance, cutting contact, and creating a self-care plan "involving emotional, work-related, sexual, physical, intellectual and spiritual needs and how the client can provide these for themselves."
An important part of the break-up process is the person taking ownership of their part of why the relationship didn't work says Wall.
"Many say that with time people will feel better, but this won't stop them repeating the same behaviours they displayed, in their best thinking, while in their relationship, so taking ownership of their part is important."
She also works with clients to create 'non-negotiables' for their next relationship. "As people, we negotiate more than we realise. We don't normally start off this way but love can quickly distort lenses! Overall, break-up coaching is about the client and I working together so that we can turn their break-up into a breakthrough."
Here are Wall's six steps for getting over your ex and leading a more fulfilled life. 1. Cut contact
Difficult yes, but this is the only way the grieving process will begin. You are doing yourself a huge favour by staying away from social media at this time.
Put all photos, belongings, gifts from and reminders of your ex out of sight. Your brain will be triggered to go back into the past every time you see something that reminds you of your ex.
These will remind you of the 'happy times', which will have you doubting the break-up, overshadowing why the break-up actually came about in the first place.
If you're ready to actually throw them away then that's even better, as material objects hold energy.
2. Keep a journal
Journalling your feelings and thoughts is extremely helpful in working through the volume of emotions that you will go through during a break-up.
Sadness, anger, guilt… all of these feelings will surface at different stages, sometimes all at once, overwhelming you as you are dealing with the break-up. Get them on paper - it will help you to work through them.
Cry as many tears as you need to. You will feel like bursting into tears many times throughout the day - this is normal. Find a private place and let your tears flow, it's your body's natural way of dealing with the new void in your life. Holding them back creates an emotional block.
4. Surround yourself with supportive family and friends
Friends or family members may suggest going for nights out to 'help you' deal with your break-up - I would strongly recommend avoiding alcohol or drugs to numb your pain.
You are going through a rollercoaster of emotions, which your body is trying to process.
Drugs and alcohol are anti-depressants that will have you feeling worse off and will create a block in your emotions.
Also, suggestions that meeting someone else soon after your break-up is not helpful. You need to work through what happened in your relationship so that you can avoid experiencing heartbreak again.
5. Find your passion
Discover what hobbies and interests you would love to pursue. Right now your focus is solely on a void in your life.
Going through this crisis will have you questioning where your life is going and what you want out of your life now. This is a real treasure if pursued.
Going through a crisis gives you an opportunity to create a life that you never thought possible.
6. Look after yourself
On all four levels - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, your body is processing a lot, so it is important to look after yourself as best you can.
You may not be sleeping well or will experience interrupted sleep with the shock.
Try to get eight hours sleep, exercise (not too intense as your body is feeling more tired than you realise right now) and, importantly, eat a healthy diet.
The 'chocolate for break-ups' myth is not helpful; your body needs nutritious food.
For information on Fionnuala Wall's break-up coaching services, visit www.fionnualawall.com