How To Heal Your Broken Heart And Move On? (10 Steps To Move On From A Relationship)
Virtually each one of us had our heart broken at some point in our lives, by romantic love or by loss.
However, our societal attitude toward heartbreak can be downright dismissive.
Heartbreaks are often associated to the young and inexperienced teenagers.
Real adults are supposed to handle their heartbreaks as they might other disappointments.
It is simply not someone to cry over.
That is until our heart gets broken.
Right then, we are reminded that heartbreaks can hurt as much later in life as it did when we were younger. It can evoke a paralyzing pain and impair our thinking and functioning. Not to mention that support is likely to be noticeably absent.
In this article, you’re going to discover how to mend your own heart and move on with your life.
Ready? Let’s get started!
- It’s Not Just Your Heart That Breaks
- How to Move On From Heartbreak?
- #1. Acknowledge Your Addiction to Love
- #2. Be Wary of Cyberstalking
- #3. Achieving Closure
- #4. Don’t Assume That You Are to Blame
- #5. Avoid Idealizing The Person Who Broke Your Heart
- #6. Create New Associations
- #7. Let Go of Reminders
- #8. Make a Decision
- #9. Practice Self-Compassion
- #10. Recognize the New Voids and Fill them
- Recovering Who We Are
It’s Not Just Your Heart That Breaks
Heartbreaks come in different forms, but today we’re going to explore romantic heartbreaks.
Romantic heartbreaks aren’t deemed as important by society as a divorce or the loss of a family member. They tend to be deprived of any recognition or support from those around us.
As a result, we start criticizing ourselves for hurting in the first place. We falsely believe that we should forget about it and carry on.
But studies tell us otherwise: heartbreaks can impact our brain and behavior in significant ways and regardless of our age.
Heartbreak affects more than our emotions. It affects our brain and body functions in surprising ways.
Kross and his colleagues at the University of Michigan compared the brain scans, of physical pain and emotional pain of volunteers and what they saw was remarkable.
The exact same areas of the brain became activated when subjects relived their heartbreak as when they experienced a level of physical pain that was only a little below “unbearable.”
This makes even more devastating. Not only are we in severe emotional pain, but also the effects can be severely debilitating on our brain and body functions.
How to Move On From Heartbreak?
Unfortunately, when it comes to moving on, our “natural” responses are doing us more harm than good. Many people adopt behaviors and habits that are likely to deepen our emotional pain and delay our recovery.
Recovering from heartbreak takes time, but there are several techniques that will make that time shorter.
#1. Acknowledge Your Addiction to Love
One of the reasons that make people unable to move on and constantly reviving their old memory with their former lover, is their addiction to love.
This is of course is done in an indirect way. You might find yourself hurt and confused about how things turned this way. So what you do is keep going back to your memories in an attempt to find explanations.
Since you can’t get the joy of being with your ex, at least, you could get the satisfaction that comes from reviving the memories you shared with him.
You might even find yourself coming up with sophisticated excuses to contact that person whether face-to-face or electronically.
Many people would skip the excuses all together and simply indulge these powerful cravings. They might call and send texts, or hang out where they hope to run into their ex.
But the most common way people satisfy their craving for their ex is to stalk them from the comfort of their phones.
#2. Be Wary of Cyberstalking
What makes cyberstalking so common is the ease with which we can satisfy our romantic cravings even when we don’t recognize them as such.
Whether it was through social media, Google searches, or personal blogs, cyberstalking can feel as real as having actual contact.
You need to realize that by cyberstalking someone, you’re playing with an old wound – or a fresh one.
If you want to avoid deepening your pain, you’ll have to eliminate your options to do so.
Try erasing your former lover’s contact information, blocking or deleting him from social media. Doing this will help you control your cravings and make it easier to prevent yourself from stalking them again.
#3. Achieving Closure
Without a proper closure, you might find yourself spending countless hours analyzing every conversation, convinced that something must have happened to cause the breakup, even when your ex already explained their reasons.
Despite the pain the breakup might have caused to you, you might even find yourself idealizing your former lover, believing that you won’t find someone as great as him.
Studies of romantic breakups have identified that one of the main factors that predict healthy emotional adjustment and timely psychological healing, is having certainty about why the breakup occurred.
Having a clear understanding of why the breakup happened helps us reach closure much sooner than we might otherwise.
This is why you need to simply accept your former lover’s reason, even if they don’t seem to you convincing enough. Doing this, will help you avoid months of needless mental analysis, and intense and prolonged emotional anguish.
#4. Don’t Assume That You Are to Blame
Assuming that you are somehow to blame for the breakup can delay your recovery and keep you stuck in debilitating feelings of loss.
These kind of negative beliefs and inaccurate thoughts might make your grieve complicated and prevent you from resuming your life in a productive way.
Self-blame in itself isn’t responsible for delaying your recovery. In fact, it is quite common for us to blame ourselves and focus on our shortcomings when our heart is broken. The problem is how long we allow these feelings to linger. Some of us struggle to let go of guilt and regret.
The key to move on is to acknowledge these false beliefs and inaccurate thoughts and question them.
A rule of thumb to live by is that if two different objective people make the same point (e.g., that people find us needy), about something we resist, we should pause and give it strong consideration. It could be indicative that our resistance is being fueled by an underlying issue (e.g., we have low self-esteem)
#5. Avoid Idealizing The Person Who Broke Your Heart
Our perceptions of the person who broke up with us can become distorted. Our “cravings” for them make us focus on their best qualities. We replay the wonderful moments we shared or daydream about those we would have shared.
At the same time, we don’t focus much, if at all, on their flaws, arguments, the times they treated us badly or made us feel terrible about ourselves.
The best way to avoid idealizing your former lover is to deliberately force a balanced image in your mind. Remind yourself of his flaws and the things you didn’t like about him, their different taste in books, sports, or entertainment, etc. The goal is not to hate him but to be able to see his flaws and those of the relationship and not focus exclusively on the good stuff.
Doing so will help you move on sooner and let go of your worries about never finding someone “as perfect” again.
#6. Create New Associations
In an attempt to spare ourselves pain in the short term and limit our emotional distress, we withdraw from people and activities that remind us of the person who broke our heart.
However, your list of people and places that remind you of your loss can be long and significant, especially if the relationship has lasted for years.
Some of these people and places could be meaningful and important aspects of our lives and avoiding them can have a huge impact, like quitting workout because you associate the gym with your ex, or refusing to go to restaurants you had been to with your ex, which might cover a huge swath of your city, especially if you frequently dined out with him.
Although it might seem wise to avoid that which evokes pain, avoiding things does not lessen their emotional impact on you – it supersizes it.
Instead, create new associations and reclaim the people and places you once shared with the one who broke your heart. Try revising these places under different circumstances with different people.
Be careful not to reinforce your old associations. Avoid mentioning your ex at the brunch place with your friends.
#7. Let Go of Reminders
It’s understandable that when we lose someone we might hold on to the objects we associate with him because removing them feels like we’re forgoing an important aspect of our lives.
But holding on to vivid reminders can make your loss feel perpetually fresh and painful. Living with your ex’s things around you will prevent your emotional wounds from healing.
Some people prefer to dispose of all reminders as soon as possible and erase every trace of their exes and of their time with them. But this isn’t the healthiest option either.
Reminders represent our emotional attachment to the person who broke our heart. As you move through your grief, this attachment should weaken and you should be willing to let go of the reminders and move on.
But if months later you find yourself keeping too many of them, it can be a sign that you feel stuck.
#8. Make a Decision
Healing starts in the mind.
There is a huge difference between wishing our emotional pain to stop and making a firm decision to make it stop. To move on, you have to look in the mirror – metaphorically or perhaps literally – and tell yourself it’s time to let go.
That can be tough.
What makes letting go extremely difficult is that there is more than mere emotional pain to let go of. You also need to let go of psychological presence of the person in your daily thoughts – and your life. You need to let go of a part of yourself – the person you were when you were in love.
This is why you need to be ready to deal with the powerful cravings that might break your resolve. Anticipate the excuses and justifications you mind would concoct to entice you back into your old habit and be ready to argue against them.
#9. Practice Self-Compassion
To heal and move on, you’ll have to be willing to let go of your self-criticism and adopt a new mental habit that will build your confidence – self-compassion.
Self-compassion requires from you developing a nonjudgmental inner voice that is going to respond to your suffering with kindness instead of self-blame.
Instead of criticizing yourself for your mistakes, recognize that your shortcomings are part of being human.
Numerous studies have proved that self-compassion helps increase self-esteem and confidence, lower depression and anxiety, and enhance emotional health.
Scientist also found that one way to cultivate self-compassion is to be compassionate toward others. In one study, participants who wrote a comforting message to a heartbroken stranger experienced increase in self-compassion when they regarded a negative incident from their past.
An excellent technique to practice self-compassion is to imagine yourself talking to a friend in distress. Usually people would try to comfort that friend and talk to him positively. Do the same for yourself.
#10. Recognize the New Voids and Fill them
Usually a breakup creates a void in our lives. But sometimes, it creates more than one. You might have spent most of your weekends with your ex, gone out with his friends, took on a hobby together, etc.
These voids need to be acknowledged and filled. When doing so, choose habits and activities that are healthy and will help you recover sooner.
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Recovering Who We Are
Coming out of a relationship, you’re going to have to recover who you are and change how you see yourself.
You’re going to substitute we and our with I and my. You’re going to give up your mutual interest and adopt individual ones. Some of your habits will change.
You’re going to readjust and reconnect to who you are as individual.
This is a crucial variable in your ability to recover from your heartbreak.
Coming to terms with the reality of a breakup can be quite different from the emotional process we go through for other forms of grief.
We do not necessarily move through a linear process of the five stages of grief (shock/denial, anger, bargaining, despair, and finally acceptance).
Instead, we often vacillate between denial and despair, bargaining and rage.
These emotional swings can make moving on even harder.
The key is to be aware that such moments are just incidents after which we regain our reason and keep moving.
Did I miss anything?
Now I’d like to hear from you.
Which techniques from today’s post are you going to try first?
Or maybe I didn’t mention one of your favorite techniques.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now!
Wondering what to read next?
- 7 Things You Should Do Before Getting Married
- 5 Love Languages Every Single Adult Needs to Learn
- Everything You Need to Know About Finding The Right Guy Fo You
- How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You?
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Portions of this article were adapted from the book How to Fix a Broken Heart, © 2018 by Guy Winch. All rights reserved.