Ask Dr. Tracy

When He/She's Left You -- Coping


Naturally, when someone leaves you, you feel as if you've been rejected. You have been. And it doesn't really matter what the reasons are, you're going to feel terrible. Broken-hearted.

The reason you feel so bad may actually have more to do with your future fantasies than with present day reality. When you lose someone, you aren't just losing that person for today, you're losing the fantasy of spending the rest of your life with that person.

You feel disoriented and generally awful because you've become used to having the other person in your life, to thinking about him or her, and futurizing about your future together. You've become addicted to the pleasure you got from them.

We all want to control the source of our pleasure, and when that source is taken away, our first instinct is to try to get it back. Don't. Instead, take steps to get over the person as soon as possible. Like grieving, it's a process which you work through in stages. Follow the steps in "Letting Go" to make the process go as fast and as painlessly as possible.

Meanwhile, your friends will probably urge you to keep busy and get involved in new activities. It's good advice, but you may feel too miserable to follow it. I'm going to give you two reasons to try, and then give you a secret for doing it.

First, don't give your ex the satisfaction of hearing that you're moping around so he or she can say, "See, who'd want to be stuck with that sad sack?" Second, although it would be admittedly terrible timing, Mr. or Ms. Right could pop into your life right now, and you wouldn't want to be so busy carrying a torch for your ex that you'd miss the opportunity of a lifetime.

So, how to rise above feeling miserable? Follow a well proven principle of behavioral pyschology which has been summarized most neatly by Tony Robbins: "Physiology leads psychology." What this means is that if you FORCE yourself to bounce around and act peppy, even if you feel wretched, you soon will feel peppy.

This may sound crazy, but bear with me and I'll try to make sense of it. Usually, our pyschology "leads" our physiology -- we feel depressed, so our shoulders slump. Everyone understands that. What psychologists have discovered, though, is that it also works in reverse: if we throw our shoulders back and stand up straight, we somehow feel less depressed. Method actors have used this for years to get into the emotional state they need for a scene.

Trust me. Try this. Force yourself to act peppy and get involved in new things, and your mood will change. (You still need to finish the "Letting Go" process, though, so read that article, too.)


Related Keywords: Letting Go, Dependency



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