Psychology of Breaking Up: The End


Click here to read part 1 and part 2:

If you have the habit of pondering about how your brain and heart influence your thoughts, you might have realized that sometimes our brain and heart are not good teammates. We would need less effort making a decision when they are both in sync. However, when they take two different stances, we will be stuck in a dilemma between what we think and how we intuitively feel.

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Many have been on this pendulum swing (at least in their head) of going back and forth into their past relationships, a normal dilemma being in a sticky hurdle of fresh break up.  Even though your very rational conscience reminds them repeatedly of all the reasons why you should not go back, your heart plays the role of the demon, luring you into considering all the possible positive outcomes. In the previous article, we have discussed some reasons why we struggle with this relationship dilemma and today, we would go about how to reframe it in a more positive light.

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1) Overconfidence is a cognitive bias.

Let’s admit that often time we overestimate our abilities, the ability to tolerate, the ability to forgive and forget, the ability to put up a strong front or to live a seemingly happy life.  However, it might be too ambitious to overestimate our ability to conquer a toxic relationship. Like the famous song “us against the world” by Coldplay, you would like to believe that love can conquer everything, and you are confident that this time is the time. After so many hardships and lessons, your partner should have learnt from it and you will live happily ever after. This overconfidence effect is a cognitive bias in which someone believes subjectively that his/her knowledge and judgment is more accurate or reliable than it objectively is (sounds like a bad news). Research showed that a one’s confidence level usually exceeds their objective accuracy, indicating that we can be overconfident of our abilities and decisions. This could be the reason why many chose to go back to their toxic relationship. After knowing that the overconfidence effect exists, you would be glad if you are courageous enough to choose the path less travelled, which open up a door to a new beginning.

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2) Life’s a circle, what goes around comes around.

Secondly, we need to understand the principle that life is cyclic. Five People You meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom is a good read which depicts this idea perfectly. In the book, the main character, Ed died after saving a girl and has the privilege to meet five people in heaven including a stranger who saved his life, to revisit their connections on earth. Each of them offered a lesson and eventually Ed understands the meaning of his “meaningless” life. Similarly, in a relationship, everyone appears in our life for a reason and their departure might also be a life lesson which meant to promote positive self-exploration or substantial growth. “These people are angels who carry with them a higher purpose, to teach us an important lesson —and once this is fulfilled, the halo lifts and the angel leaves.” Hence, instead of feeling discouraged or unfairly treated, you can choose to pass on what you have gained to empower and inspire the next beneficiary in upcoming encounters. Be an angel yourself, most importantly, let the circle of love be a never-ending one.

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3) Let go of the desire for closure

Many would agree that the most painful goodbyes are those that are never said and never explained. Without a proper closure, you will find yourselves re-reading the last chapter of your life refusing to turn to a new page. To be honest, we all crave and seek for closure. Those unfinished businesses will not cease to haunt us, they visit our dreams, creep into our thoughts, and violate our mental capacity. However, it is not always feasible to have closure as some relationships broke off abruptly due to a failure of communication or a deliberate disconnection. In this case, you might have to do yourself a favour, close the old chapter yourself—not everyone gets closure. The real closure will happen once you accept that letting go and moving on is more important than living in the fantasized world of how your past relationship could have been done better. Eventually, you will find yourself walking towards the “graceful” exit, not moving out from the past but moving upwards to a new “entry”.

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Annelise Ky
Annelise graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Master of Clinical Psychology. She is currently based in Singapore as a Clinical Psychologist. Apart from that, she has been a freelance actress/author with MY PSYCHOLOGY for the past several years. While she loves reading and writing as her favorite pass-time, she also has an undying passion for performing arts, though she may appear as an introvert.

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