Have you ever been through a breakup?
We’re sure most of us have experienced a breakup more than once. It’s an awful feeling. One moment you are in love and the next moment your world is torn apart.
You don’t know what to do with yourself and try to numb the pain in some way. Over time, your heart heals and you start taking back control of your life, but the harm has already been done.
Control After a Breakup
Relationships instill a perception of control. People believe they can control what the other person is doing, what they are doing themselves, and how it affects their relationships.
During a breakup, this sense of control diminishes.
Losing a Relationship
Researchers in Germany conducted a study to understand how perceptions of control affected individuals after different types of breakups.
They focused on normal relationships between two partners, as well as relationships ending in separation, divorce, or the death of a partner.
Over a period of three years, researchers studied 1,235 individuals, from various age groups, that had lost a partner. They wanted to see what level of control participants felt they had after a relationship ended.
Perceived control is defined as a person’s capability to influence their own mental state and behaviors. This sense of control also extends to a person’s ability to influence their external environment.
In relationships, that means regulating your own emotions and how you feel toward the other person. Perceived control also considers how you influence your partner and the relationship in general.
When perceived control is high, you may experience improved relationship satisfaction, better health, and increased well-being. However, a decreased sense of perceived control may result in uncertainty, anxiety, feeling distracted, and poor mental performance.
Less Control to More
In general, researchers found that directly after a breakup, participants felt they didn’t have as much control as during the relationship although this wasn’t the case for all participants.
As the years progressed, participants regained their sense of control. For some, this happened quickly, while others took longer to do better.
Female participants experienced a greater sense of decreased control in comparison to men. Similarly, older individuals also felt a decrease in control following relationship loss.
When a participant’s partner passed away, they showed increased signs of perceived control. This growth was faster for older individuals; younger participants who experience partner death struggled more with the consequences.
Interestingly, researchers uncovered no change in perceived control when participants separated from or divorced their partners.
Researchers concluded that decreased perceived control followed by gradual increases shows that people can grow after stressful events. However, more research is needed to understand these effects when it’s the first time that a person experiences relationship loss.
Relationships Are Scary
Breakups are hard, but so are relationships. It’s normal to be scared of both starting a relationship and the potential of breaking up with someone.
Fear can prevent you from having fulfilling relationships. Take back control and welcome relationships without being fearful by changing the way you think about them. Learn how to do this during our training on Winning the Game of Fear.
The results from the study could be familiar to you too. After a breakup, you may have felt like you don’t want to be in a relationship ever again or that you no longer know who you are. These are normal feelings.
After a while, you start building yourself up again. You may realize you no longer need external validation to be happy or that you are content being single. That is when your perceived control improves.
If it’s possible to regain control after a relationship, it’s also possible to change other areas of your life.
Control relates to what you believe about yourself. Similarly, you have beliefs about relationships and breakups. Every part of your life is built on beliefs.
Your beliefs are central to everything you do and think.
Beliefs refer to fundamental ideas you have about yourself, other people, the world around you, and even the future. You might believe that you are hardworking, deserve only the best in life, or that you don’t deserve love. (The last one is quite popular after a breakup.)
Negative beliefs are frequently referred to as limiting beliefs because they place limits on your life. Luckily, it’s possible to change these beliefs.
A Different Mindset
If it’s possible to overcome limiting beliefs, then it’s also possible to change your belief system.
Just think about your post-breakup mental state. There are a bunch of negative things you will initially believe. After a while, you realize they are lies, and you’ll start repairing your self-esteem.
You rebuild yourself in a new way, and that’s growth. You are changing your beliefs about relationships. In reality, you can change entire belief systems even if you have held them for a long time.
You cannot live your life in fear as it will prevent you from doing what you truly love. How you think about fear is part of your belief system so it can definitely change.
Attend the Winning the Game of Fear event and go from being scared to courageous.
Change Your Belief Systems
If beliefs can change then you have the power to change them whenever you want to. You can ‘breakup’ with one belief system and create an entirely new one that works better for you.
Identify Your Core Beliefs
Start by identifying a belief that you think could be problematic. Let’s use the example of feeling out of control after a breakup.
Thoughts usually trigger these beliefs. You might think that if you had been a better partner, then your ex-partner wouldn’t have cheated, or that you don’t deserve to be loved.
Beliefs tend to begin with the words “I am” so whenever thoughts like these come up, identify them as beliefs.
Once you recognize a belief, question yourself about it: Is this belief constructive or limiting? What consequences does this belief have? Where does this belief come from?
The last question is especially important. Understanding the origins of beliefs can help you determine whether they are useful or destructive.
For instance, negative thoughts like “I am unworthy of love” could come from childhood experiences because your parents didn’t display love toward you. It’s a valid experience but it shouldn’t have a hold over your future relationships; someone else will find you worthy of love.
Similarly, the culture or community you grew up in, your education, and your friends and family can all impact what you believe. These beliefs are inherited since you didn’t come to these conclusions yourself, and if that’s the case, why do you believe them?
Questioning core beliefs is only the start. You need to create experiments that help you determine if your belief is true or false.
Think about ways to test your belief. Let’s continue with the breakup example and the belief that “I am not worthy of love”.
Some experiments to see if this is true could include:
- Write down a list of all the people in your life that love you. (Friends, children, family members.)
- Identify the reasons why previous partners loved you. (Being present, supporting your partner, making compromises.)
- Make a list of your good qualities. (Kindness, intelligence, empathy.)
This simple experiment—with potential answers in brackets—shows that you are lovable. It reveals the truth: Your belief was wrong.
Change Your Perspective
Another great way to investigate your beliefs is by considering them from other perspectives.
The most basic perspective is to flip the script and consider how your life could be if the opposite of the belief was true. In the previous example, this would become “I am worthy of love.” What would that look like? How would you feel about it?
It’s also a good idea to use entirely different perspectives. For instance, imagine how your current situation (a breakup) will affect your life when you are retired, or how your three-year-old self would view this situation.
Trying out different perspectives may reveal that what you believe isn’t factually sound or that it’s just a temporary situation.
Create a New Belief
Finally, decide on what you want the belief to be. It should be something that makes sense and works for the greater good.
After a breakup, it could be that “I love myself” or “I will find someone that loves me wholeheartedly.” These kinds of beliefs are constructive and focus on the life you want instead of your current situation.
Write down your new belief and repeat it to yourself daily. The more you do this, the more the new belief will become ingrained in your brain.
Take Back Control
You are in control of your life. You decide if you are making progress toward your goals or whether you let other things, like fear, stand in your way.
When you address one aspect of your thinking, you gain the power to also change other elements of it. Let’s start with how to Win the Game of Fear.
Once you see the powerful effects it has on your life, you will want to use similar strategies in other areas. It’s an exciting prospect!