We all know that the pain that follows a breakup is pretty damn horrible. It is painful, it is uncomfortable, and it can shake us to our very core. And if the breakup came as a surprise, multiply these things by a factor of ten! When we are in the midst of heartache, the thought of letting go and moving forward without the one we love seems absurd.
We fight to hold on to what we know, and what we think we love and need. This is very human and therefore very normal. The good news is this: humans are actually pretty darn good at adapting. Although it may be hard to recognise whilst in the midst of heartache, there IS light at the end of the long dark tunnel of heartbreak and hurt.
What if we could teach ourselves to look at the situation a little differently? What if we open ourselves to the possibility that if we could let go just a little of both – the person we loved and our concrete ideas for our future life – we may in time find a BETTER life?
Here are FOUR things you can do to help you let go and move forward after a breakup:
1. Allow yourself to grieve
The end of a relationship is a death, of sorts. It is the end of the life you shared with your significant other AND the conclusion of shared hopes and dreams – this is no small thing! And the end of this life needs to be grieved, just as any death is grieved. This process should not be skipped. It can be painful, it can be uncomfortable – it can be a downright bloody agonising nuisance at times.
Make no mistake here – the temptation to simply block and numb the pain will strike! But for your own good, ignore this temptation. You will be doing yourself AND your future mental and emotional health a HUGE favour if you allow yourself the time and the energy to mourn your loss now, by allowing yourself to feel and process the emotions as they come along – however and whenever they come along. When a difficult feeling arises… sit with it, feel it, breathe into it, process it. Then let it go.
2. Cut contact with your ex
Whilst it may seem a lovely idea to ‘remain friends’ with your ex… it’s not a good idea, particularly in the early stages of your breakup when you’re needing to emotionally detach from him or her, and gain acceptance of your new situation. In order to fully separate emotionally and move through your grief in a healthy manner, you need physical space from your ex.
DON’T go to places you used to hang out together, and don’t call or text him or her when you’re feeling depressed, lonely or needing help – use your friends or even a trained therapist for this! Resist the urge to know what they’re up to, who they’re seeing, and where they’re going. Don’t stalk him or her on social media, and don’t ask others for details on his or her life.
If you do need to be in contact (for example, if you have children together) focus on keeping your interactions simple and business-like. Don’t share details of your personal lives. You certainly don’t need to despise your ex, but nor should you be relying on him or her for friendship or support. Maybe further down the line these rules can be eased, but for now, NO!
3. Adjust your thinking – be realistic about the state of your relationship
Grief is a funny thing. It can somehow distort your perception of reality and make you believe that your relationship was a whole lot better than it actually was. So, when you’re in the midst of heartbreak it is completely normal for your mind to ‘gloss’ over the harsher aspects of your ex and your relationship, and to focus on the positives – the good times – only.
In reality, no relationship is perfect. And chances are, if you’re going through a breakup, yours had its fair share of problems, even though it may be hard for you to believe right now! So, how do you get through this?
By very consciously telling yourself to be realistic. By reminding yourself that grief is perhaps doing funny things to your head. By telling yourself, OVER AND OVER, that the person – and the situation – that you are missing and pining for is long gone. That what you are missing and pining for is a fantasy – NOT the reality. It can help to put pen to paper here – make a list of five or ten things about your ex that you couldn’t stand, and won’t miss!
When someone walks away from you, it’s not the end of your story. It’s just the end of their time in your story.
4. Learn to love YOURSELF. Do what makes YOU feel good
It is now time to begin seeing yourself in a new light, to rediscover YOU – the YOU that may have been forgotten during your relationship. After a breakup it is completely normal to feel lost and wonder when you will feel ‘normal’ again. But here is the thing – your ‘normal’ does not have to be what it used to be. It’s time to create a new normal! To rediscover yourself and to LOVE yourself.
To really connect with who you are, spend some time alone. Go for walks, read, write in a journal, fill yourself with wholesome food, sleep. Think about what you would like the next chapter of your life to look like. Think of some things that you have always wanted to accomplish, but somehow never found the time, or perhaps courage to do whilst in your relationship. This is YOUR life, and now is the perfect opportunity to make it exactly how you want it to be!
No doubt about it – breakups are hard and at the time the pain can seem intolerable. But with a little self-care and the help of these four tips, you should find yourself well on the way to letting go and moving on. Remember always, nothing lasts forever – not even the debilitating pain of heartbreak.
Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.