How To Heal A Broken Heart
I am no relationship expert… HOWEVER, I am an expert in breakups. lol 😉 Yes, I have had my fair share of breakups over the years… Breakups from long term relationships, and breakups from brief love affairs. Some of them were my decision to end the relationship, and some of them were not. I’ve experienced heartbreak on multiple levels, for multiple reasons. Because of this, I have experience on both sides of the fence when it comes to healing a broken heart… which can occur to either party involved.
Recently, I have had quite a few friends come to me for advice on this subject. I don’t know what that says about me personally, lol… other than I apparently display a resilient spirit, despite going through my share of heartbreaks in my lifetime. Experiencing heartbreak has changed me as a person. It’s made me grow, and it has changed how I handle most things in my life. I’ve developed new attitudes, new outlooks, new behaviors, and strength I never knew I had. The person I am today would not exist had I not gone through the hurts of my past… I’ve done the work necessary to heal. So, I thought I would share the practices I have cultivated over the years to help me heal myself, and move forward with life, without completely losing faith in love. 😉
- The first thing I do when a breakup occurs is allow myself to feel ALL the emotions. Breakups can occur for a multitude of reasons, and with those reasons comes a whole range of emotions… everything from sadness to anger to anxiety… really, it’s all of the stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Which makes sense… we often associate grief with someone dying, but the reality is, a breakup is the death of a relationship… the end of a life you were experiencing with another person. So, it makes complete sense to feel these emotions. I used to try and bypass certain emotions, or tell myself I “shouldn’t” feel a certain way because the relationship wasn’t that serious, or I because I was better off without them, or whatever… but, now… I allow myself to feel what my body needs to feel when it needs to feel it. I accept it. I sit with it as long as I need to… then, when I’m ready… I let it go. There is no timeline on healing, so stop putting pressure on yourself to feel a certain way by a certain date. Doing this will cause you to “bury” those emotions, and if you bury those emotions, they will stay with you… they will cause you to try to numb – with booze, with food, with sex, with exercise, with shopping, with whatever your vice is…. and they will resurface later in life (possibly in your next relationship), and they will cause you to act in ways that don’t make sense.
- Stop making contact with the other party. I know it sounds cruel, but it’s necessary. A wound will not heal if you keep touching it, and by constantly contacting your ex, or stalking their social media you are constantly opening up that wound. Often times we justify this contact as a way to have “closure” from a situation, but the reality is… there was a reason why you broke up. No matter what the reason was it wasn’t a healthy environment for one or both of you at the end. You cannot get better in the same environment that hurt you…. so, remove yourself from the situation. Then, and only then, will you heal. After time has passed, and your heart has healed, you can then interact, follow each other on social media, or even be friends…. IF you BOTH choose to. If the other person has not healed their wounds yet, then be respectful of their needs… their timeline may not be as short as yours.
- Make a list of Pros and Cons. Romantic – no. Practical – yes. I am a list person. It helps me to write things out… whether it’s a “to do” list, or a list of things I liked and didn’t like about my ex and our relationship… lists help me process things. Often times when a relationship ends we look back at that time together with rose colored glasses. What seemed tumultuous at the time to live through, suddenly looks like what we’ve always dreamed of… all our brains want to remember are the good times. A list helps me jump back to reality pretty quickly. When I write my list I do 2 columns – a positive and negative…. I list every quality about the other person, good and bad. I list all the things they did that made me feel loved and secure, and I list all the things that pissed me off about them or how they treated me. I don’t do this to make myself feel better than them, or to say that they are a bad person… no, it’s simply to remind my brain that they weren’t perfect, our relationship wasn’t perfect, and life with them wasn’t perfect. On the “good” list I ask myself if those things/behaviors are still true for that person… often times a person’s true behavior reveals itself after the initial courting period has ended. For the most part, the guys I’ve dated have been good guys, but for whatever reason they couldn’t love me the way I needed, and I couldn’t love them the way they needed… it doesn’t mean we’re bad people, it simply means we are not compatible. That’s it.
- Talk it out. Whether it’s with a counselor, or a close friend, don’t hold that shit in… confide in someone who will listen to you without judgment, who will sit with you in your pain, and will lift you up. By talking about it with another person they can give you an outside perspective… they can remind you that you are whole on your own.
- Write about it. If no one is available to talk, and your thoughts won’t shut off… write it out. My brain is constantly going a mile a minute… especially when I’m experiencing heartbreak. This causes me anxiety, and I’m unable to focus on things that are important in that moment. I find that writing helps me clear my mind. Often times I’ll write what I’m feeling on whatever I have handy – a journal, my laptop, or my phone notes. I write anything that pops into my head… it doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t have be nice, it doesn’t have to be perfect – just any thought that comes to mind about the situation, I write it down. Sometimes it’s in a letter format to the other person telling them everything that I want to say to them, and sometimes it’s just ramblings that don’t make sense… it’s whatever I need to get those thoughts out of my brain and onto “paper” at the time. Then, after I’m done, I feel better… my mind calms down, and I am able to focus on life again. You can save these writings to reflect on, or you can delete/toss them (which is what I usually do)… just be sure to dispose of them completely… to have these very intimate thoughts read by someone you don’t trust, is devastating and traumatic on a whole other level… trust me, I know.
- Invest in yourself. This doesn’t mean go out and “treat yo self” with a new wardrobe or any other material possession… It simply means do the things necessary to take care of yourself. Invest in healthy food that will make you feel better physically. Invest in a counselor to make your mind healthier. Invest in yoga classes or a personal trainer or something to motivate you to move your body. Endorphins released from exercise are anti-depressive in how they affect the body, but often times when we’re depressed or going through a breakup, our desire to get up off the couch is non-existent. So, spending that nominal amount of money may be enough to get you to the gym or yoga studio. Also, having the accountability will help you continue to get up and go… even on days when the heartbreak is hitting you hard. Spending money on things makes them more valuable to us. The reason I don’t train anybody for free isn’t because I’m money hungry… it’s because I know from experience that the people who pay for my services put in more effort than people whom I have helped for free in the past. The ones who pay value the help more, because it is worth more to them. Value yourself enough to do the things necessary to make you healthy physically and mentally.
- Realize you are enough. Just as you are – with or without a significant other. Realize that your value doesn’t decrease because of someone else’s inability to see your worth. You are whole on your own.
Going through heartbreak can be overwhelming. It can consume you, and cause you to act irrationally at times. So, give yourself some grace, and realize that you are human… just like the rest of us. You are not alone in your hurt. Often times I think we expect ourselves to get over things at lighting speed to prove that we’re strong or whatever… but, the reality is the strongest people I know have experienced failures and heartbreaks throughout their lives. What makes them “strong” is not how quickly they got over it, it’s that they were brave enough to face it and do the work to heal, grow, and move forward… instead of letting those heartbreaks define them or keep them from living their best life.
Life can be happy and fulfilling solo or in a relationship… it’s simply up to you to make it that way. You are the only person responsible for your happiness – in a relationship or not. If you are unhappy, it is up to you to figure out why and how to rectify it. You decide every day whether you are happy with your life or not… if your life doesn’t look the way you want it to look, realize that it is because of the decisions you’ve made in the past. You can’t go back and change those decisions, so all you can do is decide right now that you will make better decisions… and do it. That is how you change your future.
The heartbreaks I’ve experienced in my life have left various scars on my heart… some big, and some small… but, despite those scars, it continues to beat everyday… proving that my life is not dependent on another human being or their presence in my life… it’s simply dependent on how I love and care for myself each day…. I am grateful for everyday I am given the opportunity to do so. Gratitude leads to joy… so I experience joy – everyday… even the “bad’ ones. Having gratitude for everything good and bad has changed how I function… instead of viewing everything as “Why is this happening to me?!” now I view things as “This happening ‘for’ me, so I can learn and grown from this experience” Every heartbreak has peeled back a layer of beliefs that were holding me back from showing up in the world as my true self… I went from needing someone else in my life to validate my worth, to knowing my own worth. This change has made me resilient when experiencing heart break… Yes, it still hurts. Yes, I still miss them at times. No, I’m not always strong. No, I don’t always follow my own advice 100% of the time… I’m human. 😉 But knowing my worth has been a game changer for everything… including my relationships. 🙂 It has also helped me get through heartbreak a lot faster and a lot easier than I used to.
I hope that you realize your worth as well… because even if I don’t know you personally, I do know that you are valuable…. because we all are.
If you are experiencing heartbreak right now, I am sorry… whether it’s a fresh breakup, or one of the past… it will get better, I promise. Healing comes in waves… some days are better than others. On the bad days just remember that you have survived 100% of your bad days up to this point in your life, and you will survive this one too. 😉
To your health,