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    Hi Rebecca,

    It sounds like you’re going through a hard time at the moment and I’m sorry to hear that.
    I replied to your last post about the anxiety you’ve been experiencing and I’m happy to reiterate some of the things I said 🙂 I understand the need for reassurance when your mind seems to be doing its own thing and causing you pain.

    First of all, don’t be afraid of your thoughts; they’re just a symptom of your current anxiety. You’re not going crazy!

    Obsessive thoughts are very common in people with anxiety – something which someone else may think about only momentarily becomes your absolute focus. This is because anxiety forces you to think in a very narrow dimension – it stimulates your adrenal system, which produces stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol) and puts you in a constant ‘fight or flight’ state. This means your attention is narrowly focused on a perceived threat, and escaping it dominates your mind until you find a way to make yourself safe again.

    At the moment, it’s your thoughts that you perceive as a threat because they make you feel so afraid – hence your attempts to ‘escape’ them. Of course, you can’t do that because your thoughts are always with you; trying to think your way out of an emotional reaction to your thoughts doesn’t work. All that happens is your anxiety increases, because there’s no release for it which would normally be found in a successful escape from whatever threat you’re facing. Looking for that release, you refocus your attention on your obsessive thoughts – the ‘threat’ – further increasing your anxiety, and so the cycle continues.

    Fear of death is felt my many people, myself included, but it’s quite possible that your current anxiety is what’s causing you to think about it nonstop. And that’s OK – there’s no need to judge yourself for it, or for any of the other unpleasant thoughts you’re experiencing at the moment.

    What I think you do need to do, though, is not try to escape your thoughts. Trying not to think about something is the best way to ensure it stays in your mind! It’s also exhausting, depleting and upsetting – it seems to be causing you a lot of distress, as it did me!

    I would really recommend you look into mindfulness to help you. I’m reading a book about it now (co-authored by Jon Kabat-Zinn) which details one of the main ideas of the concept: cultivating a ‘being mode’ rather than a ‘doing mode’ when you’re feeling anxious or depressed etc. I’d definitely suggest you look it up for a proper explanation! It includes the idea of accepting what it going on right now rather than trying to make things as they ‘should be’, or trying to use your thinking powers to feel different or avoid certain emotions. It also entails looking at your thoughts as passing ‘mental events’ and observing them curiously and without judgement.

    It’s OK to have the thoughts you’re having; getting caught up in them it distressing, I know, but the thoughts themselves are nothing to be afraid of. The way to move beyond them isn’t to try to banish them, but turn towards them willingly – this will take away the fear. At the moment you’re most likely bracing yourself against them and are probably constantly scanning yourself for signs of anxiety. I know that feeling so well!!

    Whenever I have that feeling now, which I still sometimes do, I’ve started taking slow breaths from my diaphragm (breathing from the chest also stimulates the adrenal system incidentally, so diaphragmatic breathing is good for relaxation in general!) and saying to myself ‘just be’ on the out breath a few times. It’s like a mantra in a way I suppose – it does work to bring me back to the present moment if my mind is running away with itself!

    Learning a new way to relate to your anxiety is a process, so don’t be disheartened if you feel you’ve relapsed – you will make progress and find peace.

    All the best for now and good luck with your exams (as Moongal said, exams are not the most important thing in the world – do your best, but don’t put more pressure on yourself than you need to!)




    It is hard! I also had the experience of finding out my ex was seeing someone else and it was really devastating. I felt like I was expendable and he’d found someone ‘better’ than me. I still feel pain about it, but I have to remind myself that he’s not trying to hurt me, the new person isn’t better or worse than me, we obviously weren’t right for each other (or we would naturally still be together!) – and the hurt I feel will fade and go away eventually.

    It’s very hard to accept the feelings associated with this type of situation, so remind yourself as much as need that you’re doing a great job, because you are! And even if you do things you end up regretting to try to forget about your pain for a while, don’t beat yourself up about it; you’re going through a process, and you have the right to allow yourself some ‘mistakes’ while this is happening.

    I’m glad I was able to respond to your post 🙂 It also helps me to know that other people feel what I feel – it’s part of our common humanity and it’s comforting to remember that.

    Take care of yourself there!


    Hi Dana,

    I’m so sorry for your suffering.

    Having a broken heart is brutal I know! It’s OK to accept that this is how you feel for now and give yourself time to grieve your relationship. You can’t immediately force yourself to feel better or think yourself out of experiencing the pain – and that’s fine and normal. It’s a process and you WILL start to move on.

    It may be that you need to have no contact with your ex – I found that to help me (I’m still getting over my broken heart too!) even though I didn’t want to do it. It was important, though, as it allowed me to start focusing on myself and not wonder how I’d feel next time we spoke, obsess over how he sounded or appeared etc – thinking about him held me back and kept me feeling awful. You have every right to stop contact with your ex if it’s stopping you from healing – which you say yourself is the case.

    I think trying to foster new habits is a good thing to do too – get into things that you don’t associate with your ex. Think of stuff you can do for yourself that will help you feel a bit better – even if it’s just relaxing in the bath or making a smoothie or going out on your bike.

    Although there’s nothing wrong with being on your own, try not to isolate yourself – keep going to work/uni and see your family and friends. They’ll hopefully support you, and will also provide a distraction if being alone leads you to constantly ruminating about your ex.

    It’s great that you’ve found something that works for you in Buddhism! Mindfulness would probably be useful to you too – an important aspect of this is self-compassion which is so important when you’re feeling crushed. Don’t judge or berate yourself for feeling how you do; accept your emotions as part of the human experience.

    Your intrinsic worth isn’t tied to how this man feels about you. I totally understand that feeling though! I felt like a massive unlovable failure for my relationship ending; I still have that feeling from time to time, but I know that it’s not the truth and is only borne out of my current experience (i.e. getting over a break up).

    It’s also important to keep in mind that your ex must not have been the man for you and this is why the relationship ended – it’s not because there is anything wrong with you. You’re a unique person who deserves happiness as much as anyone, and you will be happy again, even if it doesn’t seem like it now.

    The main thing is time – time will pass and you’ll start to gradually see a life beyond your ex; more time will pass and this vision will become stronger. You will be OK!

    Peace and warm thoughts to you 🙂



    (PS I meant to say, I do still have some spells of anxiety because it became such a habit, but they’re completely manageable and become less important each time.)


    Hi Rebecca,

    I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through such bad times at the moment.

    I’ve actually experienced similar feelings – I’d call it a kind of existential anxiety – and it was very hard at the time. I was afraid of living, because I never thought I’d get better. Everything seemed pointless, scary, bizarre and arbitrary. I was afraid because I was in charge of a life – i.e. my own! – and felt completely ill-equipped to deal with this responsibility. I remember feeling utterly claustrophobic in my own body and mind too.

    I don’t have these feelings any more, and I really do believe you can get past them too! 🙂

    I did a lot of searching for answers and managed to find helpful resources; one was a book by Claire Weekes called Essential Help for Your Nerves (the language is a bit old fashioned, but that’s OK!). Another book was by a guy called Paul David called A Life at Last (this is actually referenced in one of the articles on TinyBuddha).

    These books were extremely helpful to me. The basically advise accepting your feelings completely, because trying to fight anxious thoughts will only make them stronger. The constant stress this puts your body under makes you more susceptible to anxiety, and you find yourself in a vicious circle.

    It’s also important not to be afraid of what you’re thinking. Allow yourself to think whatever you want – it’s only a thought! – and then try to continue with your daily life as best you can. It really does help to engage in activity because it pulls your mind away from constant ruminating, and ruminating is the least helpful thing you can do!
    Trying to stop your thoughts is hard, but you can replace them with other thoughts to take up your focus.

    I’d also recommend looking into mindfulness; in addition to acceptance, this includes an element of approaching your thoughts and feelings with curiosity and open-mindedness instead of shrinking from them. This is useful as it helps take the fear out of what you’re experiencing.

    Trying to stay in the present moment is also a great help – maybe finding some guided meditations online would be an idea.

    At the moment, you’ll be sensitive to anxiety so be patient with yourself too. It took me time to get over my worst period of anxiety because it became a habit; I was so used to feeling anxious that peace was unfamiliar and took time to accept and get used to again – but it did happen!

    My anxiety came about because of life events and, I think, suppressing certain feelings over a long time. Acknowledging and addressing this also helped me. Trying to cultivate the kind of life you want will help – I understand that this may be unimaginable at the moment given your fears, but writing some things down may help. Even if it’s just ‘I want to be at peace’, that’s a start!

    Again, I really believe that you can get past your current anxiety, so don’t give up!

    Peace and all the best 🙂


    Hi Adam,

    I’ve been in a similar position to you and understand the hurt.

    I think Owen offers good advice, especially about looking to yourself and being ‘master’ of your own feelings.

    On a practical level, when I learned that my ex (with whom I’d also been close friends for some years before we started a romantic relationship) had met someone else, the thing that helped me most initially was basically trying not to think about it! I did all I could to ensure that nothing would crop up in my face about their relationship because it caused me absolute anguish, visceral jealousy and all kinds of other emotions which were deeply unpleasant to go through. I ended up, for my own sanity, having no contact with my ex for a while; this was something I never thought would happen between us but it really helped.

    At the same time, I also had to consciously realise that I had to accept my feelings and live through them, believing that they would pass. I allowed myself to feel awful, furious, devastated etc, because these feelings are part of the process of getting over someone and it’s fine to have them.

    The two approaches may seem paradoxical! I’m not suggesting you suppress your feelings; just don’t focus on them all the time or keep imagining your ex with her new boyfriend – because it absolutely doesn’t help. You have a right to feel whatever you feel, but you also need to look after yourself and ensure you don’t get too dragged down or even used to feeling bad.

    Instead of lashing out at your ex, be good to yourself – make new habits, explore new interests, try to see other people, visit new places, keep exercising – these things will distract you and help you move forward.
    Also allow yourself to feel angry and sad because it will pass with time – honestly, time is the main thing that will make things better!

    There will come a day when you don’t mind what your ex is up to, and you’ll be happy again and living the life you want. It’s totally fine if that takes a while – it is for me! But trust the process – you’ll be OK 🙂


    Hi jdkm,

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this painful time.

    I just want to say that I completely understand! Especially the feeling of being in an unbearable situation which you just have to bear.
    You are bearing it though – you’re getting through as each moment passes, and you WILL be OK even if you can’t see it now.
    I’m also going through a heartbreak, although I think I’m ‘further along’ than you. I understand your loneliness and feeling like you can’t connect to any human being who isn’t your ex partner.

    My advice is to accept all your feelings and just carry on with your day – go to work, see people if you can, exercise, do your hobbies or take up a new one. I know the feeling of not wanting to do anything like this, of just wishing you weren’t in this situation and not believing you’ll be able to get through it – not being able to imagine feeling OK. But getting on with day-to-day activities is important to help you move forward. You don’t need to focus on ‘getting over’ your ex boyfriend; it’s normal to feel like the world has ended when you break up with someone you deeply loved. Many people have gone through it and come out the other side, moved on and been happy again.

    Don’t deny your feelings – they’re completely legitimate; but try not to let them swamp you. Do nice things for yourself. For example, I found that making smoothies each morning helped me – it was a new habit that wasn’t related to my ex, it made eating easier when my appetite was zero, and it gave me something to focus on that wasn’t related to emotions. I also took up the guitar in earnest; this was something I’d wanted to do for ages and it also served as a distraction for if I started getting caught up thinking, thinking and thinking about my ex.

    I also found that writing things down, journalling I suppose, helped me stop ruminating. It also allowed me to recount the things that were wrong in my relationship which helped me remember that we’d broken up for valid reasons.

    Even now I have days when I can’t believe that I’ll be that happy again, but they happen less often than they did a few months ago. When you have a bad day, remember that it will pass. Accept how you feel and just get on with your day as best you can. (Cry when you need to too, of course!) With time, you’ll start to feel more connected to other people and you’ll start to be able to imagine a future without your ex partner.

    It sounds like you’re very sensible and are doing all the right things to help you heal. With time, the pain will lessen. I understand the feeling of not believing this, but I promise you it will start to happen, no matter how gradually.

    Take care of yourself, and remember that you will be OK! 🙂


    Hi Catherine,

    First off, well done for moving on from your ex and giving yourself the time to gain some objectivity and perspective 🙂 That’s very hard to do!
    I’ve been in a comparable situation and also found that having no contact was the best way to detach. I too hope for friendship with my ex-partner in future, but realise that I’m not ready and can’t rush it. In my case, I still go back and forth about wishing we could get back together and remembering that despite the love, it didn’t work and we didn’t meet each other’s needs as a romantic couple (and that that’s OK).

    It’s probably been a shock to hear from your ex, and of course that churns up all kinds of feelings and memories. You’re not back to square one though – it sounds like you’ve done a lot of work and come a long way in the past 6 months. You’ve gained fundamental strength and that hasn’t been undone.

    Remeber you don’t owe him anything – he’s a grown man and he’ll be fine. Your priority needs to remain you! The fact that his message is causing such a strong reaction in you may suggest that you’re still quite vulnerable where he is concerned and are still grieving – I can understand that! From my own experience, when I spoke to my ex during the first 6 months after we broke up, I would be heartbroken all over again, start to feel better, speak to him again, feel heartbroken – etc etc. I finally realised that the only way to go was to have no contact. We have spoken a couple of times since for various reasons, and I find I still become very emotional afterwards. However, after a few days it fades as I re-engage with my current life in which I am my priority. I know that I’m not over him, but I can see a life now which doesn’t include him and me as a couple.

    I would advise trying not to think too much about your ex and his message just now. See how you feel in week or two – you may find that the intesity of your emotional reaction lessens and you find it easier to get back into your new life. You may realise that you have, in fact, outgrown the relationship and that rekindling it would be a step backwards in terms of your life story / personal development. There are no rules, or ‘shoulds’, of course! You may in a week or so decide that you do want to reply to him and let him know that you want to be friends. The important thing there is not to try to have a friendship before you’re ready because it may cause you more pain (at least, that’s what I’ve found with my ex!). If he understands this, that’s great – if not, that’s fine too: he can look after his own feelings, like you are yours 🙂

    It’s a confusing situation to be in. Giving yourself time will allow you to come to a more level-headed decision about what to do – one based on what YOU want rather than on extreme emotions or believing you ‘should’ do something. Don’t judge yourself harshly for whatever decision you make. And remember there’s no shame in not being completely over your ex or having mixed feelings about him after 6 months of not speaking.

    Have a bath, do something you enjoy, see one of your friends – you are the most important person to you at this time!!

    I hope this may help. Good luck! 🙂

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