21 Days to mend your broken heart

It takes only 21 days to get over a break up. Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty tells you how

There are many lovers worth living for, but none worth dying for. If you don't have somebody you can call your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife, you are still good.
Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty conducts workshops with students to teach them how to deal with break ups without much harm to self-esteem.

In the era of speed dating, you cannot be down and out for months or years because of a break-up. If you need to move on fast, here is some wisdom, which can help you get functional in just 21 days.

"Love has birth, growth, death and re-birth. People say that they love from their heart, but I say that it's also important to involve brain and logic in love," Shetty says. "Before you fall in love you have to see whether he or she respects your culture or the language you speak. Does he or she accept you with the kind of job you do and the financial status you hold. Gone are the days when people used to make sacrifices in love. Modern love is all about wants and needs on both sides. These factors decide your compatibility level. If sorted early, they cause less heart burn later on."

Week one:
Scream it out loud
Take a break-up as a normal event in your life. Be cool about it and say it aloud: 'I broke-up'. "No need to be a Guru Dutt," Shetty says. "Or feel ashamed. When you acknowledge that you have broken up, you open up doors to learning from your mistakes."

Within one week of acceptance, you start feeling all the emotions that are important to feel at that time, such as pain, sadness, anger, bitterness or jealousy. Be with your feelings, and you will see how you exhaust them. If you happen to cross a restaurant or theatre where you often spent time with your ex, don't block old memories from surfacing. Instead remember them vividly to complete the exhaustion process. Expending unpleasant feelings will put you on a recovery path. It will become easier for others to be comfortable around you.

Resolve and dissolve
If you hate the person you broke-up with, it will make you remember him or her for a long time to come. It will be natural for you to get bouts of anger and sadness from time to time.
"Anger and sadness have a tendency to get locked into your brain. They turn into hatred and depression respectively," says Shetty. Go for a long drive, sing, listen to music or read a funny book. Taking up exercising is a good choice during this phase because it releases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone in bloodstream. It will keep you from slipping into depression mode.

Week two:

Do feel-good activities
Happy early memories are anchored inside your brain. They can act as installed software to lift you out of your misery. Continuing what you have been doing in the first week, you can choose a mood buster from the past and recreate it in the present. Shetty says. "It will divert your attention and create a much needed happy memory." For instance, if you loved drawing, buy some water colours or crayons and put it out on a blank sheet of paper. Or go for a trek with a group of trekkers and make new friends.
Actor Shahana Goswami believes that taking up a new hobby within the first few weeks of a break-up can do wonders. "Learn a new instrument, it will require a lot of focus and attention from you," she says. "As you progress from one step to another, you get a sense of achievement which is so important at the moment of time."

Company matters
"Solitude is a good place to visit and a bad place to stay," says Shetty. If you have been on your own for the first week, it's time to mingle with friends. Choose friends who talk less and are easy to be with. Identify counsellors among your friends who understand the situation and can offer you support. Chilling with friends will help you clear your head.
Their support will make you feel worthy of who you are. When you experience ups or downs in your mood, don't be lonely, it will only make the situation worse. Involve a friend or parent you can contact immediately.

Week three:

As the break-up starts sinking in, analyse your past relationship with one of your close friends and identify patterns which brought down the relationship. If you don't want to confide in a friend, you can write down your mistakes. The act of writing always has a deep impact on your subconscious and you are likely to remember what you learn. "In majority of the cases where people have appraised their actions, they were quick to start repair work," says Shetty. "Whether they were overly possessive, nagging or controlling, they were less likely to repeat."

Work on the self-esteem
Shetty talks about a 21-yearold girl whose boyfriend had fallen for her best friend. She was in a bad state and had stopped attending college because she would have to confront her boyfriend and her best friend. During therapy it was found that she suffered from low self-esteem because she was constantly told by her grandmother during childhood that she was dark-skinned. "The girl thought that her boyfriend left her because of the colour of her skin," says Shetty. "She needed to be told that it's not a bad thing to be dark-skinned and she had to learn that. We made her feel good about her body and accept it the way it was.

We did role play exercises which taught her to tackle the situation if she bumped into her boyfriend or friend. She recovered gradually and has started going to college again."

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