A slap across the face, a bucket of tears, possibly even a few curse words thrown my way. These are all components of past breakups. Breakups are infrequently mutual, so at least one person feels like they are on the losing end. I’ve been dumped and I’ve been the dumper. Neither is particularly easy unless you have no soul. Despite the fact that it is hard, there are times when it is completely justified. Some people just don’t know how to treat another human being and it is time to say goodbye.
A breakup can be complicated by factors that make the connection linger. I once dated a coworker and that breakup made work difficult. Living together is probably the most complicated because someone has got to go. No matter what that sitcom with Pam from the Office might try to sell to you, living together after a breakup is no joke. However most people tend to live with the person who is most critical of them. Even worse, they can’t get away from them because that person is inside of their head.
It’s no surprise that the harshest critic is usually inside of our own head. That voice is usually a mismatched combination of different voices from our past mixed with our own self-judgement. Being self-critical is not difficult because we know our every shortcoming, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, etc. The issue is that neither party can leave. This is a true “til death do we part” scenario. As with any relationship, it’s possible to make it better but it requires the right communication.
Since each of us has our own preferred way of communicating, it’s possible that one strategy will work better for someone than it does for another. My suggestion would be do them all and maybe increase the dose on your preferred way.
- Write to yourself everyday. This doesn’t need to be a love letter (or maybe that’s a good idea) but it should be a positive narrative to you about yourself. Give the positive reinforcement that you would extend to someone that you care about. Also give thanks for all that you are and all that you will become. That’s right! Give thanks for things that have not happened yet. Keep it in the near future but still project outward from where you stand.
- Tell yourself positive things. Again, this is a difficult thing to do when you’re on autopilot. So use that technology in your pocket for a better outcome. Record yourself talking to yourself in a positive manner about where you are and where you’re going. You may need a script and summon your inner actor to say these things with some emotion. Don’t say it monotone, like you don’t believe it. Put some feeling behind it. Once you’ve recorded listen to it twice or more per day. Ideally the two times would be right before bed and as soon as you wake up. However you may be embarrassed doing this with a roommate etc. Put in your earbuds and hear what you have to say.
- Break the cycle of abuse. If you have a habit of using abusive language with yourself, inside of your head or out-loud. The first step is to get that voice to stop or at least detour it. Pay attention to the common phrases and when they come up. Practice thinking the negative thing and attach the inverse. For example if the habit saying is “I’m so stupid.” Flip the script by thinking the “I’m so stupid” and saying “when I’m not being brilliant.” Saying something out-loud gives it more power. The mixed message should scramble your brain a bit. If you’re also doing the other work, it shouldn’t be long until you’re talking to yourself differently.
I suppose I lied to you a bit with the title. You’re not truly breaking up with yourself. More than anything you’re training yourself on how to be a good roommate. If you want to stay in that abusive relationship for the rest of your life, then by all means stick with it. My guess is that if you’ve bothered to read one of my blogposts this far, you’re not going to stand still. You see the potential inside of yourself but also see the ways that you’ve held yourself back. Take off the anchor and propel yourself forward.
You can do it! I believe in you! And you should too!