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People Can Get Used to Anything

“It is simple and brutal: a person can get used to anything, even killing.” – Life of Pi by Yann Martel

life of pi

When you break up it might feel like you’ve lost a part of you. It might feel extraordinarily painful. It can feel horribly sad. But it won’t be like this forever. You may not believe it but in time, you’ll start to feel good again.

Take for example people who have lost an arm or leg. Although it’s a bit dramatic, it’s similar to a difficult break up. Here are the symptoms:

Denial and isolation: “I can’t believe this is happening.”
Anger: “Why me?” “I can’t stand this.”
Bargaining: “If I do this, will I get well?”
Depression: “What’s the use?”
Acceptance: “Nothing I can do about it, may as well make the best of it.”

The crucial stage is acceptance. Although the other stages are necessary and important as well, the place where you’ll start seeing glipses of hope and joy is during acceptance.

A teenager named Jana lost one of her legs to cancer and experienced an incredible sense of loss. She felt incomplete and freaky, so much that she had a hard time looking in the mirror. After a few weeks, she realised she would never have two legs again and that acceptance allowed her to start taking action to better her life and find enjoyment in her life. “It was a big mind shift for me to say, ‘Okay, I’m a one-legged person, let’s get on with life.’ ” Still it wasn’t easy but it started her off in the right direction.

In the book Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz, the author describes a type of adaptation. He draws from a famous study by Brickman, Coates, and Janoff-Bulman (1978) that asked lottery winners and recent accident victoms to rate their happiness on a 5-point scale. The lottery winners had won between $50,000 and $1 million in state lotteries within the last year, while the accident victims had become paraplegic or disabled.

Not surprisingly, the lottery winners were happier than those who had become paralyzed. But the interesting part is several years after the event, when asked again, the lottery winners and accident victims reported roughly the same level of happiness. This means people get used to what they have whether it’s good or bad.

When you get something you want you’re happy for a while. Remember how happy you were when you got that toy on Christmas? How long did that last? Remember how happy you were when you got into college? Even if you reach your dream, that doesn’t mean you’ll be happy forever. Look at all the suicides by people who seemingly have everything.

Hedonic adaptation is the term for positive experiences becoming more disappointing over time. Given this inevitable disappointment, people will be driven to seek novelty, to seek out new experiences and things that can provide pleasure undiminished by repeated exposure. Yet even these new experiences will lose their intensity over time. Still people will keep chasing new pleasures like hamsters on a treadmill.

Likewise, the pain of losing someone will dissipate over time. In time, you’ll naturally be ready to start doing what you enjoy and feeling happy again, maybe even having grown a little bit stronger emotionally. All you have to do is keep breathing until that day.

This weekend, cycling home from a house party at 1AM I passed a man sleeping on a vent on the sidewalk. He was lying in a fetal position. A grown man, not old, middle aged, dressed in a grey jacket and khakis, he could be anyone but here he was. All alone in the dark night. My heart sank. Like a knife had stabbed it and it was weeping. Who was he? Why was he there? That could be me. How does someone end up like that? To not have a place to sleep at night, to not have a friend in the world, what a cruel world this is. I wanted to help him but I was scared. I imagined myself piling money at his back. I imagined him being startled. Instead I numbly got back on my bike and in a torpor started peddling.

I don’t know how he’d ever get his life on track. I was just grateful. Thankful I had a sane mind and at leas a few things going for me: A job, a place to live, a few friends, parents who love me, and relatively good health. That’s pretty good isn’t it?

Have faith you have a purpose in life. It probably isn’t to suck as much happiness out of life as possible. It’s probably bigger than yourself. Have faith you’ll find love. Hey even roaches have kids, right :) As long as you wake up another day, you’ll have another chance.

Sometimes life kicks you down. Calmly get up and say you hit like a bitch.

when life knocks you down

One of the best ways to get over a breakup is to take a trip with friends.

If you’re feeling down, just do it. Go here and book a flight now, literally. I’m not even joking. Believe me it’ll be the most therapeutic experience you can have. It is one of the best things you can do after a breakup. Sure shopping therapy, icecream, working out, or a wild night out might help you feel good for a moment. And you should totally do those things to improve your mood but there’s nothing like a trip with your friends to give you that powerful boost of a fresh start and effective mental kick to feel good and rejuvenated. And maybe even change your fate. Sometimes the universe works in mysterious ways.

And please don’t let money stop you. When have you ever said, boy I’m so glad I didn’t have that awesome experience in Europe! I’m going to go look at the $3000 in my bank account and feel good about that now. If looking at a number on your bank account makes you happier than a life changing experience, stay at home. But if an experience and adventure means more to you than a number on your computer screen, the choice is obvious.

Why you should take a trip to get over a relationship?

She used to drink water

So you can stop being reminded of your ex.

I don’t know about you but after a break up, everything reminds me of my ex; especially, places. The streets where you guys walked holding hands. The worst if you pass by your ex’s home. Sometimes you wish you could just move to a new city so you didn’t have to be reminded of those painful memories. Well, move if you’re able but just taking a trip can be a great life catalyst as well. Go somewhere new, somewhere you guys didn’t make any memories and where you won’t have associations of you and your ex. But even then, you might still occasionally (or frequently) get mental mental triggers that remind you of your ex. Like the fact she used to drink water :(

To be distracted and happy.

You’re going to a new place! You’re going to have the time of your life. Think of your happiest moments. I bet a lot of them involved people and somewhere new. Maybe on a trip? So let’s take your mood from being the lowest and just move it to being okay or even good. That relative change of going from bad to okay will feel amazing. Like a new day.

Your mind will be busy and distracted. It’ll be busy processing all of the new information the new location is feeding you. Imagine getting off a plane somewhere tropical. A different climate. A different world. What a difference several hours on a plane makes! Plus you’ll be busy with a packed itinerary. When a close family member dies, the best thing you can do is keep busy. It’s the same with break ups. Once you’ve had some time to reflect and come to terms, you need to be active and move so you can move on. No one really gets over their parents dying. Thoughts and memories will always pop into your head, but if you didn’t keep busy, all you’d do is think about those things and feel sad. And then you’ll turn into a potato. You don’t want to turn into a potato, do you?


So try to be excited by all the novelty and new shiny things!

To feel love and supported or independent

There’s nothing like taking a trip with your best friends. You’ll feel so much love and support you’ll wonder why you even needed a partner. In fact, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs says the need for love and belonging can come from many sources including: friendships, romantic attachments, family, social groups, community groups, and churches and religious organizations. Read more about basic human needs. Travelling with friends addresses all those fundamental needs such as protection, affection, understanding, participation, leisure, creativity, sense of belonging, and freedom. You’ll prove to yourself you can feel awesome without your ex and be independent.

And if you don’t have anyone to travel with, travelling alone is actually a wonderful experience as well. Although it’s scary and uncomfortable at first and you’ll probably even feel like going home in the beginning. But if you push on by the second or third day, you can really find yourself though self-reflection, discover you enjoy doing whatever you want without regard for anyone else, and end up meet many new friends.

If you really want to travel with someone, most online classifieds have a section for travel partners. For example, Gumtree travel partners. Alternatively, you can try a tour group such as G Adventures or Contiki.

If you don’t know where to go, try which will give you up to 40% discount on your flight if you don’t mind where you’re going.

Final words.

Whatever you do, go somewhere. And I promise you’ll feel better. You might even change something in the cosmos to change your destiny.

A Song About Forgiveness in a Breakup

The Heart Of The Matter by Don Henley of the Eagles is a great breakup song from 1989. It has a soothing melody and meaningful lyrics. It’s also covered by India.Arie.

I got the call today, I didn’t wanna hear
But I knew that it would come
An old true friend of ours was talkin’ on the phone
She said you found someone
And I thought of all the bad luck,
And the struggles we went through
And how I lost me and you lost you
What are these voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment
And beg for something more?

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

These times are so uncertain
There’s a yearning undefined
…People filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age
The trust and self-assurance that can lead to happiness
They’re the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us,
Doesn’t keep me warm

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you, Baby
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But everything changes
And my friends seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

There are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They let you down and hurt your pride
Better put it all behind you; life goes on
You keep carrin’ that anger, it’ll eat you inside

I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
Because the flesh will get weak
And the ashes will scatter
So I’m thinkin’ about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

No one’s perfect, until you fall in love with them.

If you’ve ever had a friend who had a girlfriend or boyfriend that you just knew wasn’t right for them, you know how hard it is to actually tell them that. They don’t listen to you. They couldn’t see the truth if it knee-kicked them in supraorbital foramen. So you’ve learned to keep your mouth closed until the day they break up and then you can say, she was a bitch anyways.

Why does this happen? Why is it when you’re in a relationship you can’t see straight? And why is that when relationships end, you actually really really really don’t like the person anymore? And then you ask yourself, why did I even like that person in the first place?

ever look at your ex and wonder was i drunk?

One of the most famous research papers on this topic (Seeing Virtues in Faults: Negativity and the Transformation of Interpersonal Narratives in Close Relationships) says that’s because we have distorted realities. They’re not as great as you first think they are nor as bad as you later think.

Murray and Holmes (1993) found that people are essentially able to create their own versions or stories about their partners to reduce insecurity and increase positive beliefs:

“We propose that individuals protect these convictions by weaving cogent stories that depict potential faults or imperfections in their partners in the best possible light.”

Anatomy of a Relationship

Stage 1 – Can’t get enough
In early-stage romantic relationships, partners generally experience strong positive feelings because they focus almost completely on positive qualities (Holmes & Boon 1990). Here couples perceive each other as ideal. This is why it feels the beginning of relationships feel so good.

liz phair breaking up
Isn’t this the best part of breaking up, finding someone you can’t get enough of

Stage 2 – Sure we fight sometimes
Later on as partners become more interdependent on each other, they start dealing with each other in more and different domains. When this happens, there are greater opportunities for conflicts to arise. At first these conflicts are attributed to the situation.

perceptions before and after breakup

This perception distortion happens when individuals restructure their stories in a way that downplay negative qualities. This process helps allow individuals to commit to their partners without fear and supports trust and feelings of love (Brehm 1988).

Some psychologists even say faults in the partners actually motivates them to do even more positive story-telling.

Stage 3 – That fasshole

If the relationship continues to develop where the faults are masked by positive story-telling and the troublesome issues are not dealt with, this can lead to catastrophe and a separation. The partners positive convictions may falter if negativity is frequent and exceeds their ability to change it into positive interpretations.

Once doubt begins to erode positive convictions, the same events previously supported by positive stories can be interpreted negatively. The same distortion that previous helped make the person seem amazing can now quickly make the person seem flawed.

2 breakup recovery packages

It hurts to be dumped doesn’t it? It even sounds bad.

Want to know a secret? You actually have an unfair advantage. Being dumped actually makes it easier to dislike your partner. And when you dislike your partner, moving on and recovering from the relationship is that much easier because you don’t feel like you’re losing something that great and you can open yourself up to liking someone else. It’s like losing that old phone you didn’t want anyways. Now you’re free, and guilt-free to upgrade.

Sure, you still might think the other person is great or there’s something wrong with you. That’s very natural. But like all things in life, there are different ways to interpret something.

One way is thinking you’re not good enough for this person, someone who you used to think had good judgement. Since you admire and want to please this person, their opinion counts a lot. What if I told you that is very subjective?

Someone once told me, “no one is perfect, unless you fall in love with them.” It’s very sweet but if you think about it, you only believe the person is perfect right now because you’re in love with them.

The other way to interpret this is that you are a good person and the other person is not. I bet you can think of a few reasons why your ex isn’t perfect.

The another reason you might feel bad is because you felt like you lost. You know what’s funny? When one person is dumped and then works to get the other person back just to dump them. It’s pretty silly. Sometimes it hurts that much that this actually make sense. It doesn’t. In the end, you have to think – is it worth the effort? Wouldn’t you rather spend your time on something productive like using that motivation improve yourself and dating someone amazing? Isn’t that a better way to show them anyways?

Okay, but what if you want to clear the air? Maybe you made a mistake and if you got a second chance it could all work out? It could. Sometimes what we think makes us happy doesn’t really make us happy once we get it. Prospect theory says we value what is lost more than what is gained. Having $1 taken away from us hurts more than the joy of getting $1. So it’s very natural you feel bad and want to get what you loss back.

I know it’s hard to believe but you probably would not have lasted forever anyways. Statistically speaking of course.

So stop feeling heartbroken, hit the gym, talk with your friends (if you don’t have any subscribe to this site and you can talk to people here), and stop thinking your partner is so amazing. Everything happens for a reason. Time for you to level up.

You're terrible for me

You’d think it’d be easy
Why does everyone make you out to be the bad one? You’re the rational one. You’re too young. You don’t feel the same about the person anymore. You are in love with someone else. You see no future.

Why is it so wrong to make a executive decision which will save everyone a lot of time and pain later on? You know you’re doing the right thing.

It’s funny you’d think if you were the person ending the relationship, you wouldn’t feel so bad but you do. That’s because people are social and emotional beings that are comprised of memories, associations, and attachments. It ties into our fundamental identity. Maybe that’s why choosing to leave someone is such a hard thing to do. In fact, some might even say it is “It’s the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do.”

If your ex did something wrong and you’ve determined they’re a bad person, they are easier to walk away from. However, even these breakups are hard is because not only have you grown attached to your partner but also you’ve invested a lot into it. Even worse is if you broke up amicably, meaning you still think the person is really good but just not suitable for you. Good things are not easy to walk away from.

Because of these reasons, “I’m going to hate you ’til I forget you” is a great strategy. In fact, this is what generally happens. That’s why remaining friends, especially right after a breakup can be devastating.

Most couples have a overly favourable opinion of their partners during the relationship and that same subjectively is reversed when they split. Although sad, this is actually a good thing for recovery.

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