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For over a decade, David Tian, Ph.D. — a uniquely qualified therapist, life coach, and former university professor — has coached tens of thousands of people from over 87 countries to achieve happiness and success in their relationships, dating, psychology, and lifestyle.
Dr. Tian has been featured in international media, as well as co-hosting a radio show on national radio and a weekly dating advice column in a national newspaper in Singapore.
The show, “Man Up: Masculinity for the Intelligent Man” (https://www.davidtianphd.com/blog/), is David’s way of helping as many people as possible enjoy empowering and fulfilling lives, while contributing to the global understanding of masculinity in modern times. In the show, he takes your questions posed in the Man Up private Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/manupcommunity/) and answers based on his experience coaching tens of thousands of students around the world for over a decade.
Connect with David Tian here:
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How To Get Over A Breakup
David Tian Ph.D. explains why you need to change up your entire routine or the way you used to live your life to get over a break up.
David Tian Ph.D. recommends you change your anchors or break the old ones after a relationship.
In this Man Up episode, David Tian Ph.D. tells us about the the importance of meditation when dealing with a break up.
David Tian: Boom! Listen up. I’m David Tian, Ph.D. and in this video I address how to get over a breakup. Welcome to Man Up Episode 143.
Hey! This is David Tian, Ph.D. and welcome to Episode 143 of Man Up. For over the past ten years, I’ve been helping hundreds of thousands of people in over 87 countries attain success, happiness and fulfillment in love and life, through the application of ancient wisdom and cutting-edge research. Here I am in Bangkok, answering a question here from the private Facebook group, for the private Man Up Facebook group, and it’s on break-ups.
So, I’ll read out the questions from Noah. “So, my girlfriend of three years and I decided to break up last week. When I say that, I mean that she finally ended a relationship that was not healthy and needed to end. We both knew that when we said we were done, but my god, the pain I feel now that we are done is unbearable. It’s an empty pit in my stomach and it comes in waves. At its best, I’m not hungry, at its worst, I barf. I’m a freshman in college. She attends the same school, but it’s large enough that I haven’t seen her since the break-up.”
“I guess my question is: how do I get rid of this feeling? I’ve tried to get drunk, that helps for a while, but I ended up bursting into tears with friends. I’m trying to talk to other girls, but in a friendly way. The girlfriend wouldn’t let me talk to other girls. And honestly, it’s been such a struggle. What do I do? Who do I talk to? Should I try to talk to her again? I’ve been trying my best to not check her Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, anything, but I have this urge. Tell me how to cure the disease I have.”
Okay, Noah. So, lots of things to say. Lots of things to say about how to get over a break-up and how to get over your ex. In fact, a few months ago, I had sat down to record two courses. One was on how to get your ex back, and also to decide whether that’s the right thing to do. And then the other one’s how to get over your ex, or how to get over a break-up. So, I’ve prepared these notes and slides, and then I had set aside two hours to record it. Three hours in, I’d only gotten through about a quarter of the way through one of those courses.
So, I was like, “I do not have time for this. I wanted to give a fuller answer.” You know, I’m an academic by training and it’s hard for me to give trite or quick, easy path answers. I want to give the full answer every time. And you know, in a 10 to 20 minute video, that’s a big challenge. I originally always aim for 10 minutes, turned out to be like 20+ minutes because I was generally going into fuller answers, and I learned that to get it under 10, I have to give just one part of the bigger answer.
So anyway, I set that all aside, shelved it, and hoped that all the people who were asking for them – because I was flooded with requests on ex questions. Literally, it seemed like it was more than half of the questions that were coming in at that time. And then, I was hoping that they wouldn’t notice, that I hadn’t yet fulfilled this video course yet. And then I got a bunch of emails saying, “Hey, where’s the course?”
But for like a month or so, I stopped getting so many ex questions. I thought, “Oh, okay. Maybe that was just a wave or a fad or something.” But it’s September now, and man, my inbox, the groups and the Facebook messengers have been flooded with people asking ex questions again. So, I hypothesized that it was a summer. Like, the summer high, or the summer love, and then the reality of the end of summer hits people. And a lot of these people going back to school, and that kind of brings you back down to reality.
And I think now, the ex questions are coming back. So, I’ve chosen some of these that have been sitting them for a little while, to address, and I will be creating the video courses now that there’s this much pressure to do so. So, look out for those, the video courses on a fuller answer, much more than I can give here in this short video, but a much fuller answer in how to get over your ex, how to get over a break-up.
So, let’s answer this question first, though. A few things to point out: he is a freshman in college now. So, that’s pretty young. This is going to be one of your first loves. It’s three years of relationship, which means through most of high school. Normally, I don’t answer questions that are from people this young, because it’s often just a matter of, “Hey, just grow up”, but I can see Noah has been working pretty hard here at trying to get over it; doing the best he can, which is great.
He’s trying to talk to other girls, he says, tries to get drunk. I mean, these are self-destructive habits that was the reason why I chose this one, plus he’s checking her social media. So, one of the biggest things you can do for yourself is to break all of the anchors. Anchor is a very important word for you to understand in this context. So, the anchor means that whenever you have strong emotions, your unconscious mind is going to attach whatever your senses take in to that strong emotion.
And that’s an important thing to understand in terms of conditioning yourself. So, you’ve conditioned yourself unknowingly to attach feelings of her, associations to her, and your relationship to your ex-girlfriend, to certain things, certain stimuli. And you need to destroy the old anchors and create new anchors. The fact that you’re going to college now if you’re a freshman – oh, but you’re on the same campus, so you have to stop going to the places that you guys used to go to and start going to brand new places and doing brand new things.
You have to change up your entire routine of the way you used to live your life. I know this is going to be hard, if you have a lot of obligations. As a college student, you don’t really have any obligations, let’s be honest here, except for certain classes. But in college, you only need ten hours of class. The rest of the time is pretty fucking free. I know at this moment, it doesn’t feel like that, it’s a lot of stress for you, but you probably heard this from people, adults, who tell you college can be the best time of your life.
And it’s true for a reason. You have a pretty open schedule, so start taking up new hobbies, walking home in a different route, walking to classes in a different route. Get a new wardrobe, get a new haircut, start working out or change up your workout, workout at a different time. Go to new restaurants – I think I mentioned that – restaurants, bars, cafes, clubs, you want to go to new ones, new places. Get some new friends and do some new experiences.
If you can – I know you’re in college now, so you’re not going to be able to. But for people who are not in college, if you can, take a week off work and go travel somewhere exotic. If you’re in Asia, I highly recommend more spiritual places like Siem Reap if you’re in Cambodia, if you’re in Southeast Asia. Kyoto is a great place if you’re in East Asia. These are places that I know from personal experience are really, really good; more spiritual places.
And there are many places like that in the West. So, look for those. The kind of places that you would have a lot to do if you’re by yourself, and then you wouldn’t feel lonely. So, going to a big city like Tokyo and New York is probably not a good post-breakup vacation. It’ll just amplify your loneliness. But instead, if you were to go to a place that’s contemplative and reflective, and historical, and spiritual in a way, that gets you to think about deeper things, about the meaning of life and so on, love and happiness and all that, that’s a good way to go.
You can also do a detox retreat, like a yoga kind of retreat, detoxing, or meditation retreat. Those are all really good. So, I’m going to just raise that point: change your anchors. Break the old ones, stop going to the old places. And then all the other – it’s not just places of course, it’s not just activities and places, it’s all of these little physical thing. So, it could be something that she left at your place, some item of clothing, or an accessory, or a book, or songs. Songs are incredibly powerful anchors. You want to change up your playlist, actually change the genre if you can. If you used to listen to top 40 kind of stuff, go into hip-hop thing, or maybe heavy metal, or something more masculine.
Stop watching certain genres of movies. Don’t watch any of the old movies you used to watch with her, replace them with new ones. And there’s a systematic way to do this and a much more comprehensive way, and I’m going to go over that in the video course. But for now, just the basic principle is, you want to break the old anchors and establish new anchors. Don’t dive into relationships.
I know you might hear this on online pick-up artist stuff, which they’re advice is like go fuck 10 girls or something. I recommend that you don’t do that. If it does work at all, it’s like a distraction or a way of callusing yourself, and it actually doesn’t solve the underlying pain, the issue there. If you need an activity to just numb yourself, go to the gym instead. Push yourself with fitness and your physical body. Don’t put yourself out there in terms of your ego and just trying to bang a lot of girls. Actually, that would be more harmful in the long run because it will feed a kind of narcissism and co-dependency that maybe is not even natural to you but you end up taking on as a result.
Obviously, don’t check her social media. I recommend that for social media, that you unfollow all of her stuff. You don’t have to block or unfriend her if you don’t want to, though that’s not a bad idea either. But at the very least, you want to unfollow all of her accounts. Drinking to get drunk to numb yourself, very self-destructive. So, I’d go with fitness. If you have to just stay in the gym some more. Sometimes, for the first week or so, obviously you’re going to be weak and whatever, and you’re going to drink, but you want to get control over that.
Now, there’s something else I wanted to point out here. Drinking, Tumblr… Oh, yes. You’re never too young – well, okay. So, at the age of 18, you’re mature enough now that you can start a practice of meditation, and I highly, highly recommend that. I’ve actually recorded another Man Up episode about meditation and masculinity with my own meditation teacher, and you can just Google that or search through the playlist for it. “Meditation: Can it Make You More Masculine?” So, that was an earlier Man Up episode. We talked a lot about meditation. Obviously, the whole thing’s about meditation.
I highly, highly recommend. In fact, that is probably the best, number one best thing. In terms of ROI on time for getting over a break-up, meditation’s probably going to give you the highest return, especially immediately. So, I do that. I do that. If you’re on university campus, there are often – there should be – a meditation center or community, and you want to join that, and get the training in it.
And then at the very least, for those of you listening or watching who don’t have a meditation trainer in that immediate vicinity where you live, you can always download the Headspace app, which is super popular these days, and get started with that. But it’s really important that you get that sort of emotional awareness, and a kind of facility. I wouldn’t say control, but a facility with the mind, with your mind, to be able to have facility over your thoughts, which then gives you facility over your feelings; to be more aware of what’s happening. And that, in itself, the awareness in itself of the mind gives you the kind of control.
Though, you don’t want to be actively controlling it, because that’s obviously counterproductive. It may not be obvious to you unless you’ve taken meditation training. So, meditation and breaking the anchors and replacing them with new, positive anchors to your new, positive life. Especially on your first relationship, I know it’s going to be incredibly difficult. Over time, these get easier, though that probably gives you no consolation whatsoever, but that first break-up is always the hardest, or is always one of the hardest.
And that first relationship is one that – especially for three years, man, it’s going to be one of those you’ll remember and that will actually shape your character and your personality. So, it’s important that we – myself – as an older adult, respect that and try to remember what that was like. So, meditation and replacing the anchors. I’ll leave you with that for now, but look out for the video course I’ve created. It’s going to be a lot more in-depth, comprehensive and a lot more systematic.
Alright, anyway, so join the private Facebook group. And by the way, once that video course is up, it’ll be in the pinned post. You’ll be able to find it through the pinned post in the private Facebook group. Join the private Facebook group. We approve requests every day, and I’ll see you in there. You can interact with me in there, as well as there’s a great community of other guys, other people commenting to answer other guys’ questions. Very, very helpful. And I’ll see you inside the private Facebook group. Until then, Man Up!