When something terrible happens, human beings do one of two things. One is to fight and resist it, the other is to run away from it. In the case of a relationship ending, the pain is the terrible thing. And from the fact that you’re reading this, I conclude you have/are experiencing deep hurt, and maybe you’re running away. This is evident through certain behaviors you might display- like the 3 we’re discussing today. Keep reading to find out what those 3 unhealthy coping mechanisms are and why you should never use them to heal after your break-up.
What is a coping mechanism?
Simple. A coping mechanism is any kind of behavior, thoughts and decisions we engage in, that helps you cope with a problem, or a stressful situation. A coping mechanism is a mechanism that helps you cope.
But here’s the thing with coping mechanisms:
They are always employed with the best self-interest. We do it almost unknowingly because our body automatically works towards avoiding pain and running towards more pleasant experiences. But sometimes, these coping mechanisms can become unhealthy (and you might not even know it)
Keep reading to see the 3 unhealthy coping mechanisms used by most women going through a painful break-up (and why you should avoid them)
Unhealthy coping mechanism 1- Overworking yourself
Almost every breakup movie lines along this ridiculous trope- a girl gets her heart broken and then goes on to achieves gigantic financial, corporate success, proceeds to shop at Gucci or something, and counts herself into the community of “hustlers”.
Common breakup advice on the internet is also part of the same principle: “keep yourself busy, distract yourself, do things that make you feel happy” aka do whatever it takes to avoid FEELING the pain.
Why do we follow this?
Because you are scared of the painful feelings. It makes you feel uncomfortable and ashamed, guilty, angry and doomed, pathetic and broken. And you want to avoid that, don’t you?
Becoming an overworked heartbroken woman couldn’t get more pathetic. Turning into a workaholic is not just bad for your physical wellbeing, but also your emotional and mental state.
It causes less sleep and less time to eat so you are depriving yourself of the 2 major things that keep you healthy and sane. That means, you’re going to turn into a cranky adult with a pantry full of Cheetos and “Diet Coke”.
Becoming an office freak will also make you lose the free time, the rest you could have. It takes away the time you’d spend with your family or friends- you lose the moral support and social interaction, and it could lead to further isolation.
One more question:
Did your breakup leave you feeling unworthy, lacking value, unloved or stupid? Did you feel like your worth was not seen- and it needed to be proven?
There’s a chance you are trying to restore and repair these wounds and voids by working. Because working harder might lead to appreciation, rewards or validation. You might be holding onto this to get your attention, seek and prove your worth, boost your self-confidence and be loved by others.
You’re seeking all these things in the wrong place, and nobody can guarantee that you will find what you’re seeking at the workplace, which can become frustrating.
Don’t fill your need for love and appreciation with promotions or ‘best-worker-of-the-year’ awards. You’ve got Jesus to do that for you.
Unhealthy coping mechanism 2- Giving in to victimhood
- Ya know what a victim do? A victim convinces herself that
- “Her life is over”
- “It’s just not worth it holding on to hope anymore, so just give up”
- “Why do these things always happen only to me?”
- *sits in bed all day crying and thinking of how sad her destiny is*
Victimhood is characterized by a sense of self-pity (not self-compassion), a lack of proactive action towards where she wants to go, constant negative thoughts, and feeling overwhelmed because of her uncontrolled feelings.
Some people prefer to stay here since it keeps them from going into the unknown, scary world of healing. Plus the self-pity is very comforting.
Are you choosing to halt at this stage?
Or do you want to be healed?
A victim feels her feelings, but in the most unhealthy and damaging way. She is filling her mind with negative thoughts and then rolling in the emotions that come with that. It becomes a terribly vicious cycle.
The scary part is- you could be stuck here for a long time. It’s important to get past this stage, or you’ll just spend your 20’s and 30’s whining about a guy who left you about 62 years ago… and then wonder where the time went. Cue “Remember when” by Alan Jackson.
Unhealthy coping mechanism 3- camouflaging into an angry Girl boss & feminist
This one’s so old school. And close to my heart. Because I used to be this pathetic lady back in the day. Ahh, how embarrassing.
After my breakup, I started hating all men, immersing myself into feminist philosophy, and developing deep bitterness about all things warm and homey. I was angry, bitter. But deep within, I was just scared- afraid of being vulnerable because then I could be hurt again.
I never wanted to spend family time. I became extra career oriented. Importantly, I hated the idea of getting married- I hated babies and though it was the stupidest thing to do.
“Wouldn’t you rather be getting your 3rd PhD in I don’t know, robotic brain quantum physics quantum mechanics, instead of having a baby?– an angry person on Instagram (personal experience)
How God lovingly led me out into the light is a story for another day. And for the record, feminism and Christianity don’t mix. READ THIS to find out WHY
If you are a Christian woman and you know you are called to the vocation of marriage (and you ARE being called… that is the reason you’re dating!??) then nursing bitterness and anger towards everything that exists is not going to work. Becoming rigid and cold is not taking you anywhere.
You are allowing a temporary guy to stand in the way of your vocation. Don’t do that, gorgeous. God never intended for you to be a hairy, angry boss babe. God wants you to be a gentle woman who reflects the love and character of Jesus.
Allow God to work in your heart.
Have you used one of these coping mechanisms before? Now that you know, fix your gaze on Jesus. Let him become your coping mechanism. Leave a comment if you found this helpful. Thank you for reading, sis. Know that you are in my prayers.
Take the FREE Breakup Bible Study Quiz. Answer a few questions and get a Bible study passage sure to give you just what you need in your season! (comes with a FREE printable Bible Study guide)