Don’t take your love away from me. Don’t you leave my heart in misery. If you go then I’ll be blue. Cause breaking up is hard to do. – Neil Sedaka, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”
The very nature of giving your heart, mind and soul to somebody else is un-replicable. It only makes sense that, when – through the unfolding of unfortunate events – a breakup occurs, it can be incredibly damaging to that very heart, mind and soul.
Vikki Stark, MSW – a family therapist and author – states: “Initially, you feel like you’re never going to get through because you’re just so turned upside down. But the chaos won’t last forever.” While Stark was speaking of divorce following a long-term marriage, a similar sentiment can apply to anyone experiencing a breakup.
This quick intro segues into the topic of this article: how to heal after a breakup. While these tips are not intended to be expediters of the healing process, they may suffice as general guidance during a very confusing and hurtful time.
Here are 8 ways to heal after a major breakup:
1. Allow grieving time
Nothing else on this list will matter much if little to no time is allotted for the grieving process. In many ways, a breakup is similar (albeit, often less serious) than death of a close relative. In part, death of a loved one is hard because of the realization that expressing your immense love to that person is no longer possible. It is a forced suppression of love.
A breakup is similar in this respect. The accumulated feelings of love, admiration, curiousness – and a myriad of other feelings – can’t be expressed the same way. To this end, the soul must grieve to account for such a loss.
2. Lean on friends
As Bill Withers once sang: “Lean on me when you’re not strong I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on. For it won’t be long ‘til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.” (Sorry, I’m in a lyrical mood today!)
Aside from immediate family, perhaps nobody understands the intricacies of you better than close friends. Apart from being your emotional support, friends will also help to mitigate some of the impulsive behavior demonstrated after a breakup: “drunk texting,” social media wallowing, etc.
3. Expand your social circle
One of the unfortunate consequences of a breakup is the narrowing of one’s social circle. This often happens because couples tend to hang out with other couples. As such, friends that are eating/married/courting may not have the time and/or inclination to meet up with single friends (i.e. you).
Consider getting out and meeting new people. Many groups are out there that focus on relationship problems; even support groups that focus on breakups.
4. Consider professional support
Notice that we didn’t “mandate” the counsel of professionals. That’s because each person deals with grief in a different way.
That said, professional support can, at times, provide unique insight into the situation that friends and family cannot. Professionals (e.g. family therapists, psychologists, relationship counselors) will allow you to divulge some pent-up emotions, but they’ll also be much more proactive in seeking out constructive solutions to your problem.
5. Begin dating again
Even if you’re not trying to enter another serious relationship, dating can still be beneficial. First off, dating expands your social circle. Many people – men and women, included – will often meet up with no other intention than to discover a new friend.
Of course, if you’re ready to “get back in the saddle,” that is perfectly okay as well. You’re intelligent enough to understand that taking things slow at this stage is often the best course of action.
So have fun and do what feels right!
6. Seek self-improvement
The natural (and accepted) tendency to wallow in pity is commonplace following a breakup. One of the best ways to counteract this tendency is to focus on you; specifically, to focus on constructing a “better version” of yourself.
Prioritizing self-improvement is often successful at mitigating many of the negative thoughts and emotions that surface after a breakup.
7. Keep a journal
Emotions – especially powerful ones – build up within us. When this happens, we have a much higher propensity to visit and revisit such emotions. This is when writing things down in a journal can help.
First, journal writing can serve as a type of release. Where previously, thoughts and emotions resided mainly inside of your head, they are given some context and released onto a piece of paper.
Second, the benefits of journal writing are backed by loads of scientific research. In a 2008 study at Syracuse University, researchers discovered that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients demonstrated noticeable improvement after writing about their distressing experiences.
8. Enjoy being single!
Once the dark cloud that is a breakup has lifted, try reflecting on the freedoms allowed by not being attached, to which there are many. No more “checking in” with a significant other; no more “getting permission” before doing something that you want; no more fruitless worrying over how decisions that you’ve made will be perceived.
It’s often a long, dark back from a breakup. As such, once you’ve reached the other side, sometimes it may be a cause for celebration. Enjoy being you! Enjoy being single (at least for a while!)
Smyth, J. M., Hockemeyer, J. R., & Tulloch, H. (2008, February). Expressive writing and post-traumatic stress disorder: Effects on trauma symptoms, mood states, and cortisol reactivity. British Journal of Health Psychology, 13(1), 85-93. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1348/135910707X250866
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