By Dr. Dayal Mirchandani
Rejection in love is a potential health risk. It requires more than guts to get over it
‘Sometimes I wonder, sweetest love,
if you Were a mere dream in a long winter night,
A dream of spring-days, and of golden light
Which sheds its rays upon a frozen heart;
A dream of wine that fills the drunken eye’.
The Greek philosopher Zeno (356 – 264 B.C.) who founded Stoicism, considered pain to be one of the nine forms of grief. Being abandoned by a lover can be one of the most painful experiences. Incidentally in many cultures a person is not considered to be an adult until he has experienced the pain of a broken heart.
Scientific research aided by functional MRI scans concluded that ‘hear break’ sparks off a specific activity in our brain. Studies revealed how significantly blood flow changes in certain localised areas of the brain in response to loss and social exclusion.
One normally reacts to loss with a feeling of shock and denial. It is as if one cannot believe what has happened and expects the beloved to return any minute. Over the time reality sinks in and then begins the spell of anger and bargaining, which can last for weeks or months, especially if the loss is combined with rejection. It is only after a few months that things gradually return to normal and one reconciles to the reality of things.
Finding relief from such agonising loss can be very difficult, particularly if one tries to interfere with the natural process of grief. It is natural to grieve after a loss and research has established that inhibited grieving can lead to physical and psychosomatic symptoms, often months or years after the event. This is especially true if the person takes tranquillisers or sleeping pills with the notion that this will numb the pain and make things easier.
After one is sure that a relationship is over, it is important to accept this fact. Otherwise one remains in limbo and cannot come to terms with the loss. During this phase it is important to be gentle with oneself and to accept that one will feel upset. This is of essential as many people feel they must be strong. Often others will subtly pressurise you not to show any upset by making remarks such as ‘he’s not worth wasting a minute on?’ Or? ‘Can’t understand how you can miss her?’
Writing about one’s disturbing emotions for around 20 minutes a day has been shown to help move forward the process of grieving and thus lead to an early recovery. In a study in 1994 the psychologist Dr James Pennebaker found that men who had lost their jobs found work significantly faster if they wrote about their experience for 30 minutes a day for five consecutive days. Opening up and expressing your feelings is very therapeutic. For this reason, it is important to surround yourself with supportive friends and not become a recluse. This is necessary because by discussing troubles with others one moves closer to healing.
If you find that you are not able to cope with your work after a week or two of the break up, or if you are not able to get over the loss in a reasonable amount of time (three to six months), then it might be worth consulting a psychotherapist who uses NLP or hypnotherapy. There are some very effective NLP techniques developed by Steve Andreas that help people to get over the loss rapidly and forgive those who they believe have wronged them. In case someone cannot forget an ex-lover, certain hypnotic techniques can facilitate this. However, one must be careful about whom you consult as most of the dangers of hypnosis are related to poor therapeutic techniques. I have seen too many people who have been damaged by ill-trained hypnotists.
I have found certain non-judgmental spiritual practices to be helpful in this regard. For people who are mildly upset the Buddhist meditation practices aimed at developing compassion and forgiveness are particularly useful. Finally one must not forget that a broken heart is one way of entering the spiritual path. The Sufi mystic Jalaluddin Rumi wisely observes: ‘‘The agony of lovers burns with the fire of passion; they leave traces; broken hearts are the doorway to God?’’
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