Breakups without a doubt leave an effect on the way we view ourselves. This is because there needs to be some sort of re-adjustment to the self post-breakup. The ‘self’ is determined by how others react to us, and how we perceive ourselves. When our self concept is threatened, the individual experiences anxiety and attempts to defend itself against the threat. However this is a process within itself and the anxiety that the individual experiences can interfere with one’s day to day functioning.
This re-adjustment phase takes on different forms however initially the individual tends to feel down in the dumps. This is due to many pervasive thoughts that revolve around the concept of being ‘unloved’ or ‘unwanted’. These thoughts influence the way we feel and behave, thus in this context an example may develop in this manner – thoughts of being unwanted lead to feelings of anxiety which could lead to behaviours such as; rapid heart rate, avoidance behaviours, and staying inside on a weekend amongst others.
So why does this occur? If an individual has been in a relationship for a long period of time, their sense of self is very much intertwined with their partner’s. Once the other individual is removed from the picture the individual is left with a hypothetical gap in their self, which was once occupied by their partner. A process of readjustment needs to occur in which one would need to fill with new activities or new people in order to for the self to learn that one still has purpose. This helps mend the thought that they are still desired by others. Thus, by understanding how others perceive the individual, one begins to understand that the relationship taught them something about themselves. This would then lead the individual towards their process of re-establishing their ‘self’ once again.
Karl Grech is a counsellor. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples within Willingness. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.