Maybe it came out of nowhere and hit you like a ton of bricks, or, perhaps, you feared the day would come but tried to avoid the conversation. The words that made you feel that your heart had stopped beating: “We need to talk,” “It’s not you; it’s me,” or “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” You may have felt you had found The One, but with the announcement of a few words the future you planned together is now gone. There’s a part of you that feels lost, your heart is broken and there’s a huge hole in your life.
Breakups are usually one-sided–one person walks off into the horizon while the other is left confused, angry, and sad. At this point, pretty much anything feels better than the pain you are feeling. When you’re heartbroken, the hurt, loneliness and vulnerability are acute.
So, go ahead and block the person from all of your social media, delete them from your contacts on your cell phone, and rip up all of those heartfelt letters where you still reigned supreme.
There are many people who, instead, become obsessed with their ex and do things that cause further pain to themselves and don’t help in the very important healing process. They include:
- Finding any desperate excuse to contact them—picking up something they left at their ex’s house or returning an item of theirs.
- Thinking of any reason—or none at all—to call or text the person.
- Driving past their house or work.
- Running into the ex’s best friend to casually bring up their name and find out what they’re up to.
Mending a broken heart is hard, and there is no fool-proof way to stop your heart from hurting. Unfortunately, you can’t go under, over or around the pain—you have to go through it. How do you get beyond the pain? The following are tips on how to patch up your heart and move on.
1) Focus on the positive.
You may ask how there can be a positive in this situation, but when you see clearer it may actually be a time to be thankful. Suppose the ex hadn’t walked out of your life now and, instead, broke up with you when you were one, two or three decades into the relationship? The journey to find your soulmate may be a long one no matter how old you are or how many breakups you have experienced along the way. But, it will be well worth it once you have found that person.
2) Fully experience your emotions.
It is healthy to express your emotions after a breakup. Some people can’t help but “wear their emotions on their sleeves,” but others keep their emotions private. While others ask how you are doing after a breakup, you may feel they don’t really want to hear the truth and just give the response that you’re doing fine. However, it doesn’t give the person the opportunity to help you or “walk with you” on the journey.
If you feel that you don’t have anybody you can really trust or feel comfortable sharing your feelings with, consider writing your thoughts. Writing is an ideal way to get your emotions out, and it takes effort to write thoughts out coherently and physically put them on paper. In addition, reading through your thoughts is great therapy and can help you to get a handle on the emotions you are experiencing.
Cry all you want, because it’s healthy to release grief and pain. You might be afraid to start crying, because you think you’ll never stop—but you will. Accept whatever you feel: feelings aren’t good or bad, they just are. Realize that the breakup is like a “withdrawal” you are going through, and practice kindness and compassion to yourself.
3) Focus on your goals in life.
Rather than beating yourself up after having your heart broken, focus on making yourself happy. You were happy prior to this relationship, so get back to setting goals for yourself. When you are more active in your life, the better your chances are to meet people who share the same types of interests as you. Get your calendar out, and start filling it in with different activities, especially on the weekends. You may not enjoy it initially, but now is the time to keep busy and be with your friends.
One of the main points of surviving the heartbreak is to make yourself a better individual than before—and you leave the heartbreak with your former self rather than the new, improved version of you.
4) Connect with others during your heartbreak.
When somebody asks you how you’re doing, let them know. One of the best things to do when you are experiencing heartbreak is to vent to a friend. When you speak your thoughts out loud, you start to realize how you really feel. The more you vent to somebody, the more able you are to fully explore and understand how you are feeling.
The bonus with a friend who has been around during your relationship is that they can help you remember the difficulties and the faults in the relationship. When a relationship ends, we tend to remember either the good or the bad. A friend can be more objective and help you see clearly the reality of the relationship.
5) Make a change.
This is a great time to do something as easy as change your daily routine. Perhaps you have always wanted to travel or move to another part of the country—this is your opportunity to do something different. Maybe you always wanted to join a club in your community, but you procrastinated because you were comfortable staying home with your ex or did the things they wanted to do instead. Now is your chance to make a positive change, and it will give you less energy to focus on the heartbreak.
6) Do something every day to help yourself heal.
Exercise, read, meditate. If you wake up early, take a walk or treat yourself to breakfast. Enjoy a shopping trip and buy yourself something, or go to a movie in the middle of the day. If you are unable to sleep, do a crossword puzzle, read or watch television. Don’t sit in the house, thinking about and replaying the relationship—free your mind so your heart can heal.
7) Don’t be a doormat.
If your ex continues to call or won’t go away, assertively tell them you can’t heal with them around. Ask them to keep their distance.
8) Don’t mask the pain by finding a replacement.
A “rebound relationship” happens when you unconsciously use another person to fill the gap that was created by the ending of a relationship. While these relationships can seem healing in the short-term, you won’t truly process your pain appropriately and be able to be in a fully committed partnership in the long-term.
9) Don’t spend too much time alone.
Visit with friends or make new ones, have coffee with somebody you can talk to or volunteer in your community. It’s healthy to have alone time, but by isolating yourself you won’t be able to fully process your feelings or get the support you need to heal.
10) Take your time.
This is not the time to hurry out and buy a brand-new car or purchase a new home in another city. Major changes like those are a way to avoid your feelings.
11) Find out what others did to survive.
How they were able to achieve a peace of mind and, ultimately, thrived after a breakup. There are books on surviving a breakup, such as “How to Survive the Loss of Love,” by Peter McWilliams.
12) Get rid of relationship reminders.
Don’t keep the pictures, cards, letters and gifts from your ex. If you don’t want to throw them out, ask a friend to hold them for you.
13) Break away completely.
This means not to see each other or their family members. No phone calls, emails, text messages, Facebook or Instant Messages. Keep apart until you feel that you can speak with your ex on a platonic level—without an ulterior motive like getting back together.
14) Stay away from the places you used to go to.
Don’t go back to the café, bookstore or park that reminds you of the times you spent with your ex. Don’t listen to the love songs that defined your relationship. Instead, listen to songs about surviving and feeling strong.
15) Remind yourself that happiness doesn’t depend on your ex.
Focus on the happiness you find in other areas of your life. Whatever your preferences are, such as spending time with friends and family, taking courses at the community center or trying new adventures, now is your time to take advantage of the opportunities waiting for you.
16) Embark on a new beginning.
Clean and declutter your house or apartment. As you get rid of the old, you are creating space for the new things in life.
17) Focus on the present.
When you start to obsess about the ex, stop and get yourself back to the present. You can do this by listening to your breathing and being aware of the sights, smells and sounds around you. Start by doing this for 30 seconds and slowly build up the amount of time you can do it. You will start feeling more in control of your life when you take the reins of your thoughts. It will become evident that you are healing when your thoughts, behaviors and actions are more focused on you and less on the ex–and when you are living more in the present and less in the past.
18) Consider counseling.
If the sadness of the breakup is overwhelming, and you find that you are unable to complete your daily tasks, are sleeping too much, avoiding friends and family and generally having a hard time functioning, you may want to consider professional counseling. A Thriveworks therapist or counselor can help you to understand your true feelings and how to overcome the fears, pain and possible depression you are undergoing. In addition, speaking with a counselor or therapist may be what you need to help answer the questions that you were afraid to ask elsewhere.
There is no magic pill or checklist that will make everything better after a breakup. It usually takes some time. Being honest with yourself and others about your emotions and feelings during this time is important. The above tips are positive ways you can make the best of an unexpected and painful situation. It may feel like your world has shattered, but you now have the chance to create a new reality, a new you and find a new love when the time is right. The world is filled with adventure and opportunity, and this is just the next step in the journey.