Life can throw many challenges our way and in my experience, there are very few that are as trying and agonizing as mending a broken heart. Be it the drawn out, painful end to a long term relationship or the abrupt collapse of a relationship that was just getting off the ground, the aftermath leaves you hurting in places you didn’t even know could feel pain.
I’ve been there, you’ve probably been there, and no matter how many times you go through it, it doesn’t get easier.
We’ve covered a bevy of relationship topics on ANM over the years, but we haven’t really gone into the nitty gritty of how to heal a broken heart. It is a very important step in the finding-love equation….the sooner you can put yourself back together, the sooner you can move on and find the right relationship.
And with that, here are my tried and true steps to heal a broken heart:
Step 1. Let It Out
There’s no way around this one, you gotta cry, you gotta feel awful, and you gotta let it out. Burn his pictures, listen to Alanis Morisette’s ‘You Outta Know’ on repeat (follow by Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares’ when the anger morphs to despair), vent to your girlfriends, scream, cry, yell— do what you have to do to let the feelings out.
When faced with such ugly emotions, most of us try to run away from the feelings. We’ll stay busy doing anything and everything: partying, drinking, finding a new guy to serve as a quick fix, lapsing into a Ben & Jerry’s induced coma. While doing these things can temporarily alleviate the pain, it will come back with a vengence. And it will continue to resurface until you deal with it.
Step 2: Stay Busy
Once you’ve acknowledged and processed your hurt/anger/sadness/pain you can throw yourself into other things to keep from obsessing. Spend time with your girlfriends, go on a shopping spree, do a Homeland marathon, try a new exercise class, do some volunteer work (this will really help with the healing process by getting you out of your own head), take an art class……you get the point.
The more you dwell, the worse it will be, so do whatever you have to in order to keep your mind busy and on anything other than him!
Step 3. Stop Rewinding the Clock
Staying busy is a good offensive move to keep thoughts of him away, but it’s not fool-proof. The second there’s a lull, he’ll pop right in and your mind and before you know it you’ll be going back in time, trying to figure out where it all went wrong and what you could have or should have done differently.
Let me ask you: can you actually press a rewind button, go back, and do things differently? No! So what the heck is the point of figuring out exactly what you would have done if you could do it over? Learning lessons through the pain is one thing, torturing yourself over all the ways you fell short is agony.
It won’t be easy, but the second he pops into your head, pluck him out and stick something else in there!
Step 4: Make a List
As perfect as you think this guy is, you broke up for a reason so the relationship couldn’t have been an ideal one. It’s far too easy for things to look all rosy and ideal through the rear-view mirror, even when you know deep down that things were far from perfect. If you catch yourself idealizing and obsessing, it’s time to go down the cliche route and make a list of his faults.
Take the time to really think about each one, consider the implications and how that behavior impacted the relationship. When you’re done with this, make a list of the qualities you want in a guy. When you see the disparities, you’ll realize that the ex is not the one for you.
Step 5: Visualize Your Next Relationship
Once you’ve gone through the other steps (the time it takes varies per person), it’s time for my favorite heartbreak-healing exercise. Get yourself relaxed, turn off all electronic devices, and spend a minute or two breathing in and out. Once you’re in a place of calm and focus, visualize what you want your next relationship to be like. Picture the way your guy will treat you and how it makes you feel. Picture yourself having that amazing, fun, fulfilling relationship you’ve always wanted. And let yourself feel those amazing, mushy, lovey feelings.
“Seeing” this future relationship will get you excited about what’s up ahead for you and will make the future look much brighter than the past. Do this exercise as many times as needed to get you psyched for a future that doesn’t include him.
Here are a few more key things to remember:
-You’re not alone. I know it can feel like you’re the only one who has ever experience pain so intense and consuming, but many others have been there before you and emerged triumphant on the other side and soon, you will too.
-You’re not really upset about him. The sadness you feel is largely coming from your inherent desire to be loved, a desire shared by all humans. The trouble is you’ve come to associate a person with love and feel that he’s the only one who can give it to you. The need for love and approval creates a deep feeling of lack within that can seriously delay you from moving on. Focus on working on your self-confidence to keep from falling into that trap. It is only when you feel happy on your own that you can experience true happiness with someone else.
- Take a more objective perspective. There are three sides to every story: your side, his side, and the truth. We are all biased by our emotions which serve as the lens through which we interpret reality. Everything looks different depending on the context. If a guy treated you terribly or broke your heart, he probably doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt, but it will make you feel better so who cares what he deserves? Holding onto anger is restrictive. Try to see it from a more objective angle and you’ll be in much better shape.
As a parting gift, here are some of my favorite quotes on love lost:
“We always believe our first love is our last, and our last love our first”- George John Whyte-Melville
“Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it’s better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together” ~Unknown
“When you meet that special someone you’ll understand why it didn’t work out with anyone else” Unknown
“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together”- Marilyn Monroe
“We are all here for some special reason. Stop being a prisoner of your past. Become the architect of your future” – Robin Sharma
What are your steps to healing a broken heart? Tell us in comments!
- SABRINA ALEXIS