Everyone has been through a bad breakup — it can seem like you will never get over the relationship. Today’s guest, Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, is the author of “Getting to Good Riddance: A No Bullsh*t Breakup Survival Guide.” Join us as Dr. Hunt tells us how to get over the bad feelings and move on.
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt is a recovering people pleaser, control freak, worrier, and motherf*cker. One thing she knows is that life sometimes hurts, and we can’t run from that. We have a choice of whether to deny it or go with it. She’s learned that going with it is a better investment, but we need to laugh while doing it. After more than 20 years of providing counseling services, Eckleberry-Hunt developed the idea of combining cognitive behavioral techniques, mindfulness techniques, and profanity to help people get over themselves with a good belly laugh. She has a PhD in Counseling Psychology and is board certified in health psychology. She has a psychology practice in Michigan where she lives with her husband, two teenage sons, and the dog prince, Bacon. She is a human being and a work in progress — just like you. Find out more at jodieeckleberryhunt.com.
Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, “Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations,” available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author.
Gabe makes his home in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. He lives with his supportive wife, Kendall, and a Miniature Schnauzer dog that he never wanted, but now can’t imagine life without.
To book Gabe for your next event or learn more about him, please visit gabehoward.com.
Producer’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.
Announcer: You’re listening to Inside Mental Health: A Psych Central Podcast where experts share experiences and the latest thinking on mental health and psychology. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard.
Gabe Howard: Hello, everyone. I’m your host, Gabe Howard and calling in to the show today we have Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D. One thing Jodie knows is that life sometimes hurts and we can’t run from that. And she’s learned that going with it is a better investment. But we need to laugh while doing it. She’s the author of the new book “Getting to Good Riddance: A No Bullsh*t Breakup Survival Guide.” Jodi, welcome to the show.
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: Hey, it’s great to be here.
Gabe Howard: It’s great to have you. I want to share that during one of the meetings when we evaluate guests for the show, the staff here at Healthline Media said to me, Gabe, we can’t just book people on the show because their books have swear words in the title. And, my response as the author of “Mental Illness Is an Asshole” was, Well, why not?
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: Well, it got your attention, didn’t it?
Gabe Howard: It absolutely got my attention. Jody, let’s talk about love for a minute, though. I mean, this whole thing is about breaking up. But let’s just talk about love. It’s supposed to be so easy. Love stories are everywhere. It’s beautiful. I think the Hallmark Channel has literally made an entire network on falling in love during different holidays, during different seasons, in different cities or in rural areas. There’s a lot of flannel, axes. You meet the one. You’re from the big city, you’re the career woman and you need to slow down. Aren’t love stories aren’t they just supposed to be beautiful and it will just occur naturally, like breathing?
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: Well, I am glad that you mentioned that. I think that all of those sappy love stories and romance novels that we read have sort of ruined reality for us, because the fact of the matter is, humans are messy. And there is an idea that really undermines healthy relationships. And that is the idea of if it’s meant to be or if it’s it’s a great love of my life. It should just be easy. And I make the joke of I always take the fun out of things. And it’s called being a mother. And I explain to people that, no, actually love and healthy relationship takes a lot of work to keep going. Early on, you’re sort of high on each other. The hormones and everything is cute, but after that wears off, things aren’t so cute anymore and it takes a lot of effort. But the problem and in fact, I had somebody come into my office who he was sure that his his marriage was on the rocks because it wasn’t amazing anymore. It was it was just sort of mundane. And I had to explain to him that every day is not going to be amazing. And he was really relieved by that because that’s not what you see on social media. That’s not what you see in the movies. The research shows you’re not always going to be in passionate love where you are just hanging on the person’s every word and just ready to jump into bed all the time. Love develops over time, typically from a passionate love into more companionate. The safety and security and our friendship. And there still should be joy and times of passion. It’s just every day isn’t passionate.
Gabe Howard: That is a very fair answer. And I, I really just dislike those love stories and romantic comedies because they take one sliver of a relationship and they just really amplify it. And they amplify it to the point where people believe that that’s the bulk of a relationship when in actuality the bulk of a relationship seems to be, What are we having for dinner? Who’s going to do the chores? And do I have to see your parents this weekend? And I don’t think that that gets enough discussion. And when people get involved in relationships and they see that stark reality that the thing that they thought was going to be the large part is actually the sliver. I think that they stop enjoying the sliver. And the sliver is there that that part that is amplified on television does exist. And we lose it. Do you find that people are losing the magic because it’s just, it’s just not as big as they thought it would be? And it’s sort of sad, though, because that magic is there.
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: Oh, 100%. And you can imagine if that is your gold standard, the what you think of a relationship should be and yours isn’t living up to that. It’s incredibly disappointing. It’s the same sort of mindset I tell people is when you watch the holiday movies that come out every year, that everybody has a messed up family, but then they get together and there’s some sort of catharsis and then they’re all happily connected and love each other. And that that leads to every year people being disappointed at holiday gatherings because they think that this year is going to be better. Well, there’s a reality. We’re not going to love everything about our partner. That’s a reality. And you’re not going to find the perfect person. It is finding the person whose baggage, however you want to put it, lines up with yours. And that’s a great thing.
Gabe Howard: One of the things that I like about your book and your writing style is it’s it’s called Getting to Good Riddance. It’s not called learning the lessons or be well-adjusted and prepared for your next relationship. It’s good riddance. It’s bad garbage out the door. I’m ready to move on. I don’t want to think about you anymore. Now, that’s sort of fallen out of favor in recent time. We believe that everything has a lesson and we want to take positivity away from things. And I’m I’m not dismissing that. I really do think that is mentally healthy advice. But in the moment, I think that we have lost the fact that anger and venting and saying good riddance to bad garbage is also mentally healthy.
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: Well, I do tell people who come into my office I am not the typical therapist. Meaning that I do tend to be a little bit more bossy or challenging. And I. I love, like you, the anger stage, because I feel like that’s when people are activated, like they’re going to really channel their energy into feeling better. And that’s sort of where the title came from. I wanted to connect with people around that feeling, but I do have people who come in and say, my goal is just to be really good friends with the person who broke my heart. Like I. I don’t want to get rid of them. I, I just want to be able to be friends with them. And that’s where I push back a bit. And I’m challenging. Not that I really care if in the end that’s what they decide to do. The lesson again is down the road, but in the moment it’s it’s feeling better. But my pushback is really you want to be friends with somebody who did this to you or who contributed to your feeling this way? Really? Again, I do find people who think that, but I, I poke a little bit at it.
Gabe Howard: I personally often feel that that anger is just an emotion that we have decided to demonize, that we’ve decided that it no longer has a place. And I appreciated your pushback there. Like, are you sure you want to be friends with that person? And I think the standard response to that is, well, I don’t want to be angry. And again, not a therapist, just a podcast host. I always kind of push back with, well, why not? Isn’t it healthy to be angry? Isn’t it okay to be angry?
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: Absolutely. And I do find people who maybe are a little bit negative negativity phobic. And I think that it’s because they’re afraid of getting stuck there. But again, I use science and I explain the stages of grief, which aren’t necessarily stages one after the other. But the experiences of grief and anger is 100% part of the process. And I as I say in the book, there is a line I’m paraphrasing from Martin Seligman’s book on happiness, Authentic Happiness. And he essentially says in order to have a good hello, you must have had a good goodbye. And part of goodbye is working through the anger so that you don’t carry it with you. So I acknowledge what people’s fear is, but we’ve got to get that out. And I really talked to them about channeling it to propel oneself forward into feeling better.
Gabe Howard: Let’s talk about that moving forward piece for a moment. Somebody once told me that the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. How do people get to that point?
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: It is a journey and the first part of the journey is soothing oneself, taking care of oneself, getting through the crisis and not making it worse. Like drinking and and, butt dialing and all of that. Making sure that you have friends around you who are helping you make the right decisions when you don’t always feel in the best state of mind. But once that has happened, I do think that there is a role for identifying the red flags and identifying not only what they are, but why you miss them or why you didn’t listen to them. Why didn’t you listen to your gut? And oftentimes that has to do with baggage, things that we were exposed to early in life and other relationships and triggers that we have that we all have. But once you’ve reflected on that and identified it, though, the one strategy that I just truly love is to get out a piece of paper and make three columns. One column is I must have these things in a relationship. Another column is I must not have these things. And that might be like if somebody is a gambler or somebody has a drinking problem or something that is not, they don’t consider healthy. And then the middle column is I don’t care. And the reason why I talk about that at the front end is because if you have a very clear idea of what you want when you’re in a good emotional spot, it helps you stick to that. When you meet somebody who has some of the same qualities that gets you into bad relationship ruts.
Gabe Howard: I’ll be the first to admit that I know every bad thing that happened in every previous relationship, both romantic and friendship. I know all the mistakes I made. I know all the mistakes that I perceived them for making. And I get bogged down in this very, very quickly. I also know that if I’m not aware of what those things are, I don’t know how to set appropriate boundaries to avoid that it happening again. So so I get sort of caught in this this loop right where I don’t know how to move forward, I don’t know how to look backwards and everything seems like I’m heading in the wrong direction. How does somebody separate that out so that they can be both mentally healthy and avoid the mistakes from the past?
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: One of the very first things I learned in grad school was the saying that in most situations people are doing the best they have with what they have at that time. It’s really not a fair fight to go back and judge yourself with new knowledge that you didn’t have at the time. And so all you can really do is recognize that your mind tends to do that and call it out. So that’s the cognitive behavioral stuff. You identify that the things that you’re saying to yourself and you call it out, sometimes you can let it go, sometimes you can’t. So you distract yourself. You make sure that you have people in your life that you can call when you’re spiraling. I tell people it’s like having a tool kit, and sometimes strategies work and sometimes they don’t. But remembering in the end that each experience you have makes you a deeper person. And we’d like to avoid the errors, but sadly, then we would never, would never grow.
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Gabe Howard: And we’re back with the author of Getting to Good Riddance: A No Bullsh*t Breakup Survival Guide, Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D. One of the things I think about is the phrase won the breakup. I am I am very guilty of this. I like to make sure that when the breakup happens, I win, right? I achieve more. Everything they said I would never do, I do. Just I know. It’s, it’s not mentally healthy, but I fall into this trap. And with social media, it’s super easy because all I have to do is stay connected on social media and I can watch what they do over the next five, ten, 15 years. And I find myself doing that. I find myself competing with a relationship that’s literally 20 years old, like back from high school. How do people avoid that trap, especially considering how easy it is to follow your exes forever with social media?
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: Yeah. And that is a true challenge. I try to convince people at the front end that they need to sever ties because it’s sort of like bringing your garbage into your present and into your future. And I also use this term, it’s allowing the cancer to spread in your mind as long as you hang on to even a little piece of it. It can spread it any time. And there are triggers. So like, for example, I do say if you have not blocked your ex and you could be having a really good day, like one really good day out of the week and then you get a text, Hey, just wanted to see how you are and it feels like it is ruined because you can’t unsee that text. I find that some people do say they want to remain connected. And I that’s where I picked my finger out. And I poke again like, why? What’s the point of that? I don’t know that I always convince them, but I kind of explain what I’m saying. That do you really want to bring that piece with you into your future? And if somebody says that they do, they have to own that. So I just say, well, that’s again, up to you. But just realize there are risks associated with that. If you want to own those risks, that’s your choice.
Gabe Howard: In order to be fair, I think that we should acknowledge that some people do maintain healthy boundaries and relationships with their exes. And I’m one of those people. My best friend is my ex-wife. We were married for about five years. We were together romantically for about eight, and we have been friends for well over 15 years. And the question that always comes up is, well, you did it for the children, right? Nope. Zero children. We just realized that we never should have been married. So it certainly is possible to maintain healthy boundaries in a previously romantic relationship.
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: Yes, I agree with everything that you said that you can. But I guess it’s I believe down the road you can have a healthy relationship. My concern when folks come into my office in pain is I don’t know that they’re in a good state of mind to make that decision then. What I usually say is, how about we disconnect for now so that you can really focus on you and focus on healing and you can figure that out later. The community that I tend to see where that’s the biggest issue is lesbians. Around where I live, it’s not a huge community and so they know each other and they don’t want to cut each other off. They know that they’re going to run into each other. So that is typically an issue that we also see in closed communities. But I think in the answer to your question is can we table the issue for now?
Gabe Howard: One of the questions that I want to segue into is how can people avoid making the same mistakes over and over and over and over again? Because it it seems like, again, I’m going to use myself as as the ever present bad example. I just made the same mistakes over and over again, and I didn’t even realize that I was doing it for the longest time.
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: I do tell people it is a good idea to give yourself 6 to 8 months after a breakup to sort yourself out. What in the fresh hell just happened? Kind of inventory before you start dating. And I think that is something I trap. I see people fall into pretty regularly as, okay, I’m just going to start dating again because that will distract me or I’ll feel good or I’ll have something else to think about. But that again, raises the risk that you’re going to repeat the mistakes. I think the answer to your question is really being clear with those. This is what I really want. This is what I really can’t do again. And and even if you feel like you can’t stick to that on your own, you get a friend and say, look, if I start bringing this kind of person around, remind me. And sometimes people have to repeat it a few times to get it.
Gabe Howard: I do like that acknowledgment that even if you’ve made the same mistake multiple times, you can still get it, you can still move forward. You’re not trapped in this cycle for life. And and I guess I’m kind of curious about that. Are there common traps that the average person falls into?
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: Yeah, I think, the one that I probably see the most, is again, wanting to jump right back into dating. Either it’s to avoid pain or the thing that most people tell me about is a fear of being alone. The pain either of knowing that somebody has rejected them or the pain of being alone. That tends to be the biggest mistake I see is people just wanting to jump back into dating because they don’t want to feel that way.
Gabe Howard: This is kind of a curiosity question on my part, Jody, but why do people repeat unhealthy relationship patterns even when they say they want to be different? Because we see it all the time, I’m going to change, I’m going to change. I’m not going to do that again. And then lo and behold, they do it again.
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: So I think that when we notice those repeated behavioral patterns, oftentimes it goes back to stuff we learned in childhood that maybe we weren’t aware of. For example, if a person is in an abusive relationship and they swore they were never going to be an abusive relationship, oftentimes they go back and they can connect to experiences they had in childhood. And I guess I the way I look at it is there’s a maybe a dysfunctional level of comfort with unhealthy patterns that we may or may not be aware of that drive our behavior. For example, let’s say that you have somebody who’s a fixer and they’re always finding problems in somebody else to fix. They don’t like it, but they keep finding themselves there. It’s not that that tendency would go away once you identify it, but you have to be able to notice when it’s bubbling up and not react to it.
Gabe Howard: Your book is Getting to Good Riddance. If there was one point that you want everybody who just broke up to know and do, what is step one of that survival guide?
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: You will feel better, but you will feel better sooner if you do some really simple things to take care of yourself so that you’re in a good mindset to make the right choices.
Gabe Howard: Do you have an example of a couple of those things? What’s like a takeaway that a listener can do right now? They tuned in because they just broke up with their significant other and they’re like, okay, I like the title. Gabe is all right and Jodie is going to fix this for me. What do I do as soon as this podcast ends and I hit like and subscribe?
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: It’s so hard to pick just one thing, but I think making sure that you surround yourself with people who are supportive. You don’t need judgment. You don’t need well, you should have or criticism. Having people who will sit with you, encourage you and help you think things through. That’s probably the key element. And stay off social media.
Gabe Howard: Jodi, thank you so, so much for being here and helping to guide folks who have gone through a breakup to to get to good riddance. Where can people find you and your book online?
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: Well, my book is available wherever you buy books, from Amazon to independent bookstores. And my website is JodieEckleberryHunt.com.
Gabe Howard: Thank you so much for being here.
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D.: Thank you.
Gabe Howard: Well, you are very welcome and a big thank you to all of our listeners.
Gabe Howard: My name is Gabe Howard and I am the author of “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations.” I’m also an award-winning public speaker who could be available for your next event. My book is on Amazon, but you can get a signed copy with free show swag or learn more about me just by heading over to my website at gabehoward.com. Wherever you downloaded this episode, please follow or subscribe to the show. It is absolutely free. And hey, can you do me a favor? Recommend the show to a friend, family member or colleague. Sharing the show is how we grow. I will see everybody next Thursday on Inside Mental Health.
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