“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
The first thing most of us want to do after a break up is hit the bars and dating websites in a mad attempt to fill the void that has now been created.
We mistakenly think that the relationship ended solely because we were with the wrong person and if we can find the right person all will be well. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is incorrect.
The best thing we can do after heart break is take time to heal.
Unless or until we do the work to heal our hearts – current and past relationship pain – we will continue to attract relationships of the same caliber and continue on our path to unhappiness.
No person “out there” will ever fix, complete us or heal our pain.
We must be willing to do this for ourselves.
After a series of unsuccessful relationships, I made a dedicated decision to heal whatever wound was inside of me that kept attracting men who did not value me.
I had no idea how long it would take or what I would discover. All I knew is this… had… to… stop! The pain of another potential heartbreak outweighed the fear of being alone and I embarked on my journey to heal my heart once and for all.
In academic college, we choose a degree (or outcome) and we take courses that will lead us to our destination. So I decided to use the same concept.
I refer to my healing time as The College of Kristen because it was a time of concentrated focus, study and growth. I knew the outcome I desired so I assigned myself work to achieve my goal.
My first assignment was to take a radically honest look at my combined relationships and recognize any repeating themes or behaviors. Frankly, I was a little mortified by what I saw, but I also knew that if I didn’t recognize and take responsibility for my part of the equation, I would repeat the pattern.
I began to research and study any self-help or spiritual topic that piqued my interest and most importantly, I began to apply all that I was learning.
The change was subtle at first, but as time went on I couldn’t help but notice that my studies had led to:
An improved self-worth
Better decision making
Setting and maintaining appropriate boundaries
No longer accepting disrespect from others
More peace, patience and compassion
Less judgment of self and others
And the cherry on top … drumroll please…
A reciprocally loving and respectful relationship.
Sisters, I’m cannot stress enough how important healing time is. I invite you to give yourself permission to be alone… for now. Be willing to do the work to heal your inner world and watch as miracles begin to appear.
It will be the best thing you’ve ever done!
Kristen Brown, Author & Certified Empowerment Coach – www.sweetempowerment.com
If you want to gain the most benefit from your break up, then connect with your wounded parts as a means to facilitate the healing process. Instead of pushing the pain away or suppressing the pain, take a moment to really listen to what your psyche has to tell you.
Try this exercise.
- Sit down in a quiet place where you feel safe
- Connect with the part of you that feels wounded. What is the feeling? Maybe it is disappointment, betrayal or grief.
- Where do you feel it in your body? Maybe it is your head, heart or stomach.
- Take a deep breath to that part of your body and ask if there is a thought, belief or message for you.
- Stay still and listen for the answer.
- Once you receive the answer, check if it makes sense. Does it sound like pain or wisdom? If it is pain, send compassion to yourself.
- Thank yourself, and decide on one positive action you can take to heal the pain. Maybe you need to journal your experience, talk with a caring friend, or spend some time alone to recover from the pain.
This exercise can give you great clarity about why the relationship ended, or what you could do differently in the next one. When I look back at my own life, some relationships ended because I ignored or dismissed my own needs.
I learned the importance of being clear about what I need in a relationship, identify non-negotiables and how to take a stand on them early in a relationship. The other benefit of connecting with your wounded parts is that you can have a better sense when you are ready for a relationship again.
My friend starting dating a lot after her divorce ended, but the relationships never worked out. She later realized it was because she was still hurt from the divorce, and needed to work through her feelings of failure and disappointment before starting another relationship. You can often tell when a person is not healed from a broken heart.
The person keeps talking about the past relationship or the negative impact it had on him or her. You will know when you heart is healed from the break up when you can look back on the relationship, and see the lesson that it gave you without anger or resentment. You will feel free and open again.
Dr. Shannon Tran – www.shannontranphd.com
Practicing love consciousness, or the heightened level of awareness through loving eyes, allows us to not only heal from a broken heart, but also evolve beyond our previous understanding of relationship dynamics overall. Most people become mired in the emotional pain of a break-up without taking the time to understand how this relationship likely wouldn’t have worked in the long-run anyway.
Everything happens for a reason, and all of these events occur for the sake of our evolution. When it comes to relationships, we tend to overlook cues that a relationship is unhealthy, paying more attention to how good it feels to have someone in our lives. The problem with this is that we often repeat patterns that only lead us down the same unfortunate path: a broken heart.
Steps to Love Consciousness for healing a broken heart:
1. Practice gratitude that the breakup will allow you to learn and evolve, which is a gift and not a punishment. This can be very difficult when the tendency is to lash out at the other person, but it is imperative in healing the heart in a healthy manner.
2. Examine the cues you likely received that the relationship was not a fit. These often occur very early in a relationship, but most people ignore them as part of the honeymoon phase.
3. Explore whether these are familiar patterns, ones you have repeated before and ones that you have regretted in the past. This is often the case.
4. If you remain mired in anger or hurt, examine what you are angry at yourself about (example: for repeating an old pattern or for missing a sign that you should have heeded) or how you have hurt yourself by not honoring your needs (example: not setting a boundary or speaking your truth). It is much easier to point fingers at someone else when we are wounded than to take responsibility for your own participation in a faulty relationship.
5. Once you have extracted the “golden nuggets” of growth, thank yourself for doing the difficult work of examining the relationship and recommit to not repeating the pattern.
6. It may seem silly, but you can further heal by saying to yourself, “I’m sorry”, “Forgive me”, “I now release this pain”, and “Thank You”. This can be a very powerful series of statements to yourself, so take it seriously and repeat it until you feel yourself release the pain.
Love consciousness is a powerful healer of all wounds, especially a broken heart. We cannot heal as long as we harbor anger, resentment, or hurt. However, by actively working through the pain with loving consciousness, you can heal and evolve beyond even the most difficult of breakups.
Dr. Katherine Kelly – www.drkatherinetkelly.com
Strange as it sounds, thinking negatively after a break up can truly help speed the healing of a broken heart. When caught in moments of pain and loneliness, our minds tend to revert to the happy times and memories, in order to soothe our immediate pain. The problem with this tendency lies in the prolonging of the recovery process because it keeps us stuck and questioning the end of the relationship.
Whether you or your partner initiated the split, there are definitive reasons that led to it and when you focus on those, it helps keep perspective and move you to the other side.
Try journaling a list of all of the reasons the partnership didn't thrive; the things that bothered, hurt, frustrated and confounded you; the things that you didn't like about yourself as a result of the negative aspects of being with your mate. Tough as it may seem at the jump, the more you reflect upon the struggles, the easier it will become to develop a clearer picture as to why the relationship couldn't be sustained.
As a result, you will gain confidence in your ability to not only move on but to find someone that will be a better fit!
Allison Cohen, M.A., MFT – www.lifeissuespsychotherapy.com
Thinking you have a “broken heart” is actually a misnomer and points you in the wrong direction for healing. Here’s why that is and a better direction to go in.
When a relationship ends, you feel broken, but you are not.
Focusing on what didn’t go right, you may not trust yourself or others as much as you used to, dwell on all the things you or your partner did wrong, feel as if the life force has been sucked out of you (never to return), and blame yourself, the other person or your usual bad luck that the relationship didn’t last or work out as you’d wished. Worse, you may feel not merely unloved, but also unlovable.
You may recall in vivid detail every slight, insult, rejection or abandonment you’ve ever experienced. You may forget or minimize all the love you ever received. You may ignore the fact that you are no less lovable now than you were when someone was showering you with devotion and affection. The truth is that you were lovable before the break-up and you’re lovable after it. Your worth hasn’t changed a whit. It’s your view of yourself that’s become distorted.
Feeling unlovable is caused by mistakenly believing that being loved is proof of your lovability.
In reality, we need no proof of lovability because we are lovable all the time, whether we’re in a romantic relationship or not, whether people embrace or reject us, whether we feel valuable or not. When relationships end, we tend to put our behavior and that of our former lovers under a microscope. This is all well and good if we do so in order to learn from what happened and, if possible, prevent it from happening again. Examining what went wrong (and right) is a necessary exercise in healing and growth.
If, however, you believe that you’re lovable only because someone loves you, you’re giving them a power that doesn’t belong to them, that’s not theirs to take or use. This dependence on others for love only exacerbates the misery of a break-up: not only is someone disappearing from your love life, but your beloved is taking belief in your lovability away with him or her. The only way out of this situation is to claim and proclaim your love of self 24/7.
The truth is that you are always lovable.
Your lovability belongs only to you and never changes. When you feel lovable all the time, if someone asks if you’re lovable, you respond, “Of course, I’m lovable” without hesitation and wonder why they asked. When you know this so deeply and automatically that it’s like breathing, break-ups become less painful and more tolerable. That’s what abiding self-love can do for you.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
Break-ups can be nasty. They can be dramatic and end with a broken heart. The key to healing your heart is to stay focused on your integrity. Don’t let what happened to you change your heart. Don’t let him win by changing the core of who you are because you are wounded and angry. Being angry is valid, especially when the break-up involved infidelity or other violations of trust. Remember that what happens to you does not define who you are. What you do with what happens to you defines who you are.
Do not let this break-up be what defines you.
Don’t become petty because you are bitter. Don’t stoop to his level of anything. Don’t gossip or tell others his dirt just because you can. Don’t cyber stalk and post nasty things about him on Facebook. Don’t engage in self-destructive or self-defeating behaviors because you are the only one that loses if you do this. If you slip, do your best to forgive yourself and let yourself be human. Just be aware of where your anger takes you and what the cost of your anger is to you.
Once done with the relationship, don’t keep arguing with him trying to prove a point.
This is wasted energy and it keeps you engaged in a negative cycle with him. When you walk away, do it with dignity. Process the break-up and work through it. Stay engaged with friends. Focus on your own self care. Go out and enjoy a concert or movie alone. Spend time doing things that keep you positive and motivated. If the relationship was unhealthy, try to view the break-up as a good thing. It is better to know now than to spend years with him and find out the hard way later on that he is not the one for you.
Talk to a therapist to help you process your feelings and let it all out in a safe setting.
Process the things you regret and reframe this as a learning experience. Work on soothing and healing your wounds. Focus on keeping your sense of self intact. This means that you work on getting back to a place where you let who you really are shine through. Remember who you are and what you are about. This is not going to take you down. You have survived so much worse and something better always comes along. If you stay in your integrity, the vision of who you truly are will show you the way.
Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net
“Sadness flies away on the wings of time.” Jean De La Fontaine
He loves me, he loves me not; he loves me, he loves me not… Your heart is dropping to the pit of your stomach, and you don’t know how to pick it back up. The tears are surfacing; you feel an immense sense of sadness. You can’t eat or sleep, constantly replaying the breakup in your mind. Instead of being in the moment, you try to push your emotions deep down, so that they will go away, and you don’t have to be bothered with them. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Actually, when it comes to emotions, no. Ignoring your emotions doesn’t make them go away, but rather fester. We all know what happens when your emotions fester, they eventually keep building up, until you explode.
So, how can you avoid having a big explosion?
Well, first, you must acknowledge the heart break. You were hurt, and the pain sucks. It is alright to feel sad, angry, whatever the emotion is. The loss of a relationship can be devastating, causing a person to grieve what they have lost. If you deny yourself the chance to grieve, you will never truly heal. Allow yourself to cry, scream, whatever it may be.
Not good at expressing or dealing with emotion?
Well, start by listening to a song that matches the way you feel. Music has a way in making a person feel understood; it is like they are singing your story. Feel the emotion behind the words. Recognize their emotion in yourself. In addition, talking and/or journaling can be beneficial in acknowledging your emotions because it is putting them in spoken or written words. It is allowing you to process what is happening inside of you.
The other part in acknowledging a heart break, is not only acknowledging your pain, but accepting it. As humans, we have feelings, which are impacted by life circumstances. It is ok, rather expected that a person will react to a heart break. Therefore, it is not if, but how you react that impacts your future. Some people believe showing emotion shows weakness, thus they feel guilt and embarrassment when they allow themselves to feel what is going on around them. The truth is, as I said earlier, whether you express it or not, the emotions are there. Therefore, the next time you are feeling heart broken, remember, acknowledge and accept the pain because it will always be there, unless you confront it. Don’t let the pain control you, you control it, by taking action.
Robin Ennis, LMSW, CPC – www.prominentpathways.org
There are many times that people stay in unhealthy relationships simply for the fact that they don’t want them to end, when they end the grieving process begins! In our culture we are told we are not doing it right if we grieve. WE are told that if we grieve we are “breaking down”, being “weak”, “wearing our heart on our sleeve”, etc. And in this process of judgment and criticism, we learn to stuff away our feelings; we learn to believe something is wrong with us when we feel. In fact, nothing is wrong with us, we are human beings who are wired to feel a wide range of emotions, all of which are equally important.
There are two reasons we have tears, one is to experience life through an emotion called sadness. The other is to cleanse.
When we cry we release emotional toxins; the tears actually heal the wound, not time. So the hardest and most essential part of mending a broken heart is feeling the uncomfortable feelings.
Most people don’t do nearly enough crying. When we cut short the grieving process, we then drag the unresolved baggage into the next relationship leaving us a little more guarded, less trusting, or more cynical. So to give the new relationship a chance we must fully grieve the old.
I don’t agree that there is a formula for length of time per year for grieving; it is until you are done.
A good rule of thumb is: the longer and more intense the relationship, the longer and more intense the grieving.
When you can think about all aspects of the relationship and be emotionally neutral then you are done with the healing process. The neutrality means healed with any emotional issue you are working on; it means you are no longer carrying it around with you like a noose around the neck. If shedding the past wasn’t enough of an incentive to feel the uncomfortable feelings, grieving a broken heart fully is also how we change the patterns of whom we attract as partners. So if you find yourself attracting the same types of partners, you have unfinished grief work to do somewhere. It is never easy crying and feeling the emotion but once you do, you will soon feel the wonderful results.
Cynthia Pickett, LCSW – www.cynthiapickett.com
The human mind is so creative that we have come to rule the planet so-to-speak. However, there are two tendencies of our minds that often cause us a lot of trouble.
1. We tend to focus on the negative in the present moment and in our speculations about the future.
2. We tend to remember the past with rose-colored glasses.
Usually, I write about the ways that the first point affects us. But here I want to focus on the second point and the ways that it skews our reality during a breakup.
Think about physical pain and how quickly we forget how much it hurt. People joke about how our world’s population would be much smaller if women didn’t so quickly forget the pain of childbirth.
Think about how many people like to tell the exasperated parents of young children how “it goes so quickly” and “enjoy every minute because they grow up so fast!” These people have forgotten how frustrating and exhausting it was to change diaper after diaper or handle tantrums and spoon applesauce.
It’s good, in some ways, to let go of the negative in our past and move forward into the future. But in a painful breakup, this tendency can really hurt us. We feel the immediacy of the pain and look back longingly at the moments our lover held us in the night…the ways we laughed together…the ways he or she made us great spaghetti or traveled with us to New York or Paris.
There’s nothing wrong with mucking about in the longing for a lost love—for a limited period of time. It soothes something inside to go over those sweet memories and release the tears of loss. But then, come back. Remember that the sweet times were true, but no human, no relationship is only sweet.
Ponder, too, the farts. Remember the times he was late. The way she always used up the last of the juice and didn’t buy more. Remember that he or she didn’t always understand you. Didn’t always respect your needs. Didn’t always listen. Not necessarily because he was unkind (though maybe he was) but because he was human. This is a human loss. Keep it at human scale. It hurts and it will heal. Remembering to remove the rose-colored glasses of romantic loss helps.
Rachel Weinstein, MA, LCPC – www.theopenheartspace.com
“Under the pain of a broken heart lives a much younger part of us needing our attention.”
When our heart is broken, it can seem as though the pain will last forever and that we won’t survive. When the object of our loving is no longer physically with us, there is a void. On this physical level, we have all experienced disappointments, rejection, and betrayal. We’ve had our heart broken in many ways. We often respond to these situations by losing trust, not fully engaging in life and shutting down our heart.
There may be parts of us that counted on this person for safety, for loving, for support, validation, etc. And, if he or she is no longer there, part of the devastation we feel may be due to us believing that has been taken from us as well. Questions arise such as, how can I be safe, how can I go on, who will love me now, how can I ever trust?
There are many ways of moving through the grieving process and mending your heart. The process I am focusing on is loving yourself through it all. And, by loving yourself, I mean all those parts of you that are afraid, that are judging yourself, that are vengeful, confused, etc. Often these are much younger parts of us that never quite healed from a previous situation or period of time growing up. These are the parts that often depend on something or someone outside of themselves to validate their worth. In reality, what they are actually seeking is loving and reassurance from you. All parts of us need to know that they are safe, no matter who is in our lives. The message needs to go to each part of us, into every cell, that loving is here and available. Our true essence is one of loving and joy. When our heart is closed, it creates a void that can only be filled from within.
If you are dealing with a broken heart, from whatever source, the following process is a way to bring reassurance and loving to the deepest level of yourself.
1. Get in to a quiet place, and set your intention to have a better relationship with all parts of you.
2. Scan your body inwardly, and find the place where you feel the sadness, despair, longing, etc. Put your hand on that place or just focus your attention there.
3. Begin sending your loving to that part of you. Silently say, “I love you. And, I’m sorry it got set up this way for you. But, I’m here now and your safe.”
4. Silently ask that part what it wants from you or needs from you. Listen inwardly without judgment. If you don't hear anything, just keep sending your loving and reassurance.
5. Do this as often as you need. Even if you don’t actually communicate with this part of you, you will be sending the loving or safety or reassurance that it is seeking.
Keep loving yourself and taking care of yourself during this time. In the midst of things in this world that are out of our control, we always have the choice to bring our loving forward to ourselves.
Dixie Clark, MS, DSS - www.dixieclark.com
When we have our heart broken, we need healthy grieving and self-care. But here’s the thing: Break-ups feel worse - and keep us down longer - when we have unresolved loss in the background. If you’ve experienced any of the following as a child, your current heartbreak will probably feel more intense than it would otherwise.
*the divorce of your parents
*having parents who fought a lot or couldn’t be close to each other
*feeling lonely or left out of your peer group
*being taught not to cry or show sadness
*not being understood or validated by your parents; being told you shouldn’t be upset
*feeling lonely in your family
*the early death of - or abandonment by - a parent, a sibling, or another close relative
*abuse or neglect in your family
These events make up early trauma. And early trauma impairs our ability to self-soothe, especially if we’re not able to get the TLC we need as kids to deal with it. Early trauma also leads to negative self-beliefs, like:
*It’s my fault.
*There’s something wrong with me.
So a traumatized child grows up to be an adult who has a vague feeling they’re not worthy or deserving of love – and who has no idea how to calm down and get refocused when a lover exits their life.
What We Need When our Heart Hurts
When our heart gets broken, we all need the skills to center and calm ourselves and the ability to refocus our thoughts on what’s healing and positive. We need to know that we can cry for hours and then get out for a walk. We need to know that we can call someone we trust and talk – and that we can wait until morning to do so. We need to know that we’re safe and lovable. We need to know that breakups are a part of life and loving. We need to know which activities will bring us at least a moment of joy or healthy distraction. And we need to have a sense that, while we’re feeling horrid at the moment, everything will ultimately be okay.
Here’s where trauma recovery comes in. If that list sounds unreachable for you, consider trauma recovery therapy. In my twenty-five years of clinical work, EMDR is the most useful tool I’ve found. It cuts therapy time in half (for most people, big changes happen within six sessions). It clears out old trauma locked in the body and creates fresh neural pathways through which new and different thoughts blend with old ones to create a whole different perspective and sense of self. It erases anxiety and replaces it with calm. It’s like noninvasive brain surgery for a broken heart.
Even for breakups? Even though I want to die right now? Even though I can’t get up and fix my hair because I only want to lie here and drink vodka martinis?
Even though I can’t imagine my life without him?
Things get better. Things change. You heal. You look back and file away this agonizing loss as just another memory. You move on.
Dr. Deborah Cox – www.deborahlcox.com
Self Care and the act of loving yourself is key to healing and recovery from a broken heart. Take time and give yourself the space to feel the emotions, perhaps anger, negativeness and bitterness, sadness and hopelessness which is part of the healing process. Journaling your feelings, crying is part of the healing, being angry and having time for your feelings of being betrayed or let down, is also important. A therapist or someone objective to talk to can help, or a reconnection to a spiritual path if that is something you are open to can ease the pain and help with healing.
Your environment is essential for healing, buying a new bedroom linen set, redoing your bathroom with candles and aroma therapy, flowers, soft lighting and music, a cozy robe and pajamas, healthy foods and living are key to healing. Exercise is essential and getting your rest is also important. Avoid substances, social media and interactions with friends that are also bitter and angry, these things may appear to be helpful, but ultimately exacerbate and prevent healing more often than not.
Keep in mind, healing is a time sensitive process and deserves patience, practice patience and be willing to do what it takes to take care of yourself. Creating a self care plan that is structured and responsible is essential. A plan for each day will help with avoiding overly depressive states of mind to creep in and get you stuck. A balance of the Being and Doing states of mind are important and learning how to maintain your centeredness is an essential healing tool to recovery. Giving yourself affirmations daily of how well you are doing and how beautiful you are will make those tougher moments easier to endure.
Lisa Bahar, MA, LMFT - www.lcbahar.wix.com
Break-ups come in all varieties from quick-and-simple to lengthy-and-complicated. Whether you have done the dumping or have just been dumped, almost always, a painful healing process ensues. However, just how intense or drawn-out that repair process will be heavily depends on how you deal with your former lover.
What’s the secret to getting through your emotional heartache as quickly as possible? The number one rule: Don’t contact your ex, no matter what! Even if your toilet is overflowing and he has historically been you ever-available handyman, don’t text, don’t call, or reach out in any other way. “Why,” you might ask? Because our minds often play funny tricks on us. And contacting your ex will merely give you the illusion you are still in a relationship with him and, hence, prolong fully realizing and accepting the end of it. In fact, each time you contact him, you set yourself back two steps.
Whether or not you believe me- you have considerable control over how quickly you can bounce back and return to the game of love. But you need to take back your heart and recognize that he is an empty well for water! So what do you do instead to keep the forward momentum going?
If you want to heal like the speed of lightening rather than wallow in sorrow and self-pity, practice the following 3 tips.
1. Keep yourself busy. Spend time with supportive family members and friends. Finish a project you’ve been putting on hold or volunteer for your favorite charity.
2. Reflect on what went wrong in the relationship. Don’t shame or blame yourself. Rather do an inventory of your own responsibility for the demise of the relationship. When you take accountability of your own actions you enable yourself to have a better relationship in the future.
3. Practice self-soothing. One of the reasons why most of us love being in a relationship involves the pleasure we receive from being cuddled by our lover. But his arms no longer reach out for you. So you must learn to give yourself the love and comfort you desire and not turn to him.
Of course, refraining from contact with your ex is no easy task, especially if you are still in love with the dude. Even harder will be those days when you feel so desperate to hear his voice and believe that he is the only one who can make your pain disappear. But no matter how strong the urge becomes, you simply must say “no” to the impulse to contact him. And remember, there are plenty of good guys out there and love will come again!
Dr. Debra Mandel – www.drdebraonline.com
After a break up, it’s hard to get off the couch and feel like doing anything worthwhile at all. It’s also hard to remember what it is, exactly, that you enjoy doing. Nothing seems right, feels right, tastes right. It’s also hard to even think about wanting to go on a date again. But after a while, you get cabin fever and really just want to get out and be where there are other people.
I recommend that you start dating yourself. We talk about loving yourself and taking care of yourself, and this is an extension of that. Take yourself out on dates. It’s that simple. Act as if you were planning a date with someone else, and do it just for you.
If you were in a long-term relationship, you and your beau probably did things together that you both enjoyed, and I hope you were doing things all along that were just for you, too. But often we decide not to try new things our partner won’t like or we don’t feel we have the time for new adventures. Now is your time!
Take that painting class you were interested in months ago but never did follow up on. Try out that new restaurant you’ve driven past and always wanted to try. Join a kickball team or a book club. Pick up a new hobby or craft that you would enjoy. Go to a museum, and take all the time you want to see the exhibits. Take your favorite magazine to a coffee shop and just sit and read and watch people. Go walk around at a local art fair. Maybe even take a vacation by yourself. Seek out new opportunities that you have entertained but never have had the time to do.
It’s important that you put your dates on your schedule so that other things won’t get in the way and so you don’t push them off until a better time. Act just as if you were dating someone else, and make yourself a priority. Set aside time for your own date every week, and plan something fun. Tell your friends about the fun things you are doing (they might be jealous).
Dating yourself is a great way to get to know yourself again. Get to know what you love about life and what you love about being you. You aren’t the same person you were a year ago or three years ago or whenever you started the relationship that you’re trying to heal from. Take the time to get to know who that person is. And, as you may know, the best way to get to know someone new is to date them for a while.
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.org
When our heart is broken, it can feel like there is no way out. It is true, there is no way out, but there is always a way through. That way through is the present moment. There is great power in the now if we have the courage to face it and feel through the pain of a broken heart. It’s so easy to get busy in our lives and begin to focus on the future, looking ahead to tasks and planning in order to avoid feeling the deeper emotions related to loss. When we are so busy moving from task to task, we have trouble slowing down for long enough to even feel anything. The busy-ness brings about a numbness to the present moment itself.
Mindfulness is about using the present moment as a tool for slowing down and healing the pain of loss.
Jon Kabat-Zin, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, defines mindfulness simply as “paying attention, on purpose in the present moment, without judgement.” This practice allows us to slow down long enough to notice what is actually happening in the moment and to feel our emotions while staying more objective and seeing the bigger picture.
When we live in the present moment, we allow ourselves to be wherever we are.
Whatever you are feeling, it is valid no matter what. Give yourself a chance to feel it, while staying aware of the present moment. Try to feel a difficult feeling for 30 seconds, notice what the feeling actually feels like, and take 5 deep breaths to relax. Pay attention to what your thoughts say about the experience vs. what you actually experience.
Remember that we all are master distractors. Just because you invite yourself to heal by exploring your thoughts and feelings with mindfulness does not mean that you will fall into a great chasm or be overwhelmed by a huge tidal wave of emotion. With mindful awareness, we learn that we can pay attention to our inner world and not become consumed by it. You may need to use your coping and distracting skills while grieving for a time. Validate your inner thoughts and feelings with love and compassion.
When going through painful heartbreak, there will be inevitable grieving.
Grief is not just one emotion, it is a mix of many emotions occurring all at once. This is why it can feel so overwhelming. You may feel sadness, guilt, resentment, denial, joy, longing, desire, shame, loss, etc. When using mindfulness as a tool, you work to identify what it is you are feeling and why. The key is that you are not judging or devaluing anything that you are experiencing, you are just paying attention, noticing and allowing each present moment to pass without self-criticism or blame. Practice staying mindful to empower yourself with the life-giving energy of the present moment.
Dr. Lisa M. Templeton, Phd - www.interpersonalhealing.com
Meditation is an effective way to clear the mind, gain control over your thoughts, and release excess anxiety.
Most people assume you need 30 minutes or even an hour to meditate to be effective – though the therapeutic level can be as little as 9 minutes. It is then hard to justify skipping meditation that can help you so much, so quickly. Meditation can be as simple as clearing your mind and having only 1 thought. Though, I said simple, not easy. When you have a broken heart, it is easy to have thoughts of your ex, the relationship, your loss, and other changes that are going on (moving, being single to events, the challenges of dating again). The key is not to focus so much on being perfect, but gaining control.
So, as you clear your mind, you WILL have thoughts that try to intrude, simply tell the thoughts that you do not need them right now and envision pushing them aside. If you know that you will have many thoughts about a current stressful event or lists of things to do, then take the time before you meditate to write a list of these things so that your mind is not worrying about forgetting them during the meditation. It is even ok to stop in the meditation to write more on the list. TO not add to the list can make your brain have to repeat the thought I order to remember, thus interrupting the meditation over and over, not just once.
One of my favorite meditations is to simply envision an escape.
Choose your escape of a beach, cabin, or other beautiful, comforting place. Start by allowing your mind to rest and clear, envision only black or your favorite color. Now add to the scene by going through your senses. All of your senses are on your face to help you remember. See (eyes), think(brain), hear (ear), touch (cheek), taste (mouth), and smell (nose). Go through the circle on your face and pause to really experience that scene in your mind. A beach scene may encompass seeing the blue water and white sand with a pale blue sky, thinking of how relaxing it is and how nothing is expected of you, hearing the waves crash and some birds in the distance, touching the warn sand between your toes, tasting the salty air on your lips, and smelling that sweet salty fresh air.
Take a coffee break, stay in your car a moment more when you get home, or get comfy in a quiet room to add meditation to your day. Daily meditation can help with an overall decrease in anxiety and overall sense of stability and control in your life. You are worth the 9 minutes – AT LEAST – to care for yourself.
Dr. Chelsie Reed, PhD, LPC - www.drchelsie.com
Your heart is broken and now everyone is telling you to move on, get over it, just be fine, but if only it was that easy. We all process sadness, hurt, anger and our overall broken heart differently. You can be creative in how you process your broken heart so you can feel better and truly move on.
1. Have a pity party- Seriously, sometimes we are so busy pushing ourselves to not think or feel the sad things that we actually make them worse. So truly have a pity party. Time yourself for up to 10 minutes and truly allow yourself to feel as pitiful and sad as you need to for that specific amount of time. Let all the sad thoughts come into your head and heart and be aware of what they are and when the time is up then the pity party is over, at least for the time being.
2. Focus on your positive- Now that you have let yourself truly feel sad and pitiful, focus on the all of the things in your life that are amazing; make you happy or simply allow yourself to feel grateful. Be it friends, family, work, school, coworkers, beauty, alone time etc.
3. Group or alone ice cream or chocolate party- Get some of your favorite indulgent desserts that you have not had for some time and let yourself relax and enjoy the decadence as you sit and think about how much you have missed this. Not to mention if it is dark chocolate it is a little good for you too.
4. Get your workout groove on- Put on your favorite most pumping up music and dance, run, or do any workout you can to get sweaty and build up some endorphins in your brain to make you feel better. As you do this regularly you will have days after days feeling better little by little. Added side effect you burn off some of those ice cream party calories.
5. Have your favorite friends over and have a movie night- Pick one of the classic movies that either makes you cry or laugh and have your favorite friends over to watch and enjoy with you. It makes you feel loved and you have fun on top of it. Plus, the tears you shed are for the movie, but cathartic just the same.
6. Anything that makes the hurt a little less- Whether you go for a drive, hike, outing with friends or family or anything else. Do something that makes you feel better and diminishes the hurt even the littlest bit.
No matter what you do to heal your broken heart, be kind to yourself, give yourself the time you need to process and move on and do it on your schedule. You know you, and you will be able to get through this and possibly learn something about yourself in the process.
Neesha Lenzini, MS - www.relationshipsinneed.com
The emotional upheaval of a broken heart, can feel like the ocean is swallowing you. You want to ease the pain, silence the suffering, and get back to happier days. Broken hearts can be catalysts for growth and change.
Take time to mend your broken heart, by honoring it, hearing it and releasing it.
Your broken heart, though it might not feel like it, is here to assist you in your life’s journey. By taking the time to sit with it, listen to it and honor it. You help free and release the pain and hurt.
Journaling is a fabulous way to mend your hurt.
Set aside time each day or week to journal. Make this time sacred. Create a ritual around it. Create a warm space that feels nurturing. Light candles, play your favorite music, make a cup a tea, get your favorite snack. Give yourself permission to connect to your pain, your suffering and your hurt. Set the intention to take this time to heal.
Journaling is more than just writing.
It is a way to express yourself. Your deep self. Your soul. Your truth. Journaling is an outlet where you can be vulnerable, seen and heard. Where you can explore your thoughts, feelings, ideas, curiosities. Anything. Journaling is an unlimited portal of self-expression and healing.
You can journal on your computer, your phone, ipad or a paper journal. I love paper journals, the ability to allow my hands to freely write, is in itself cathartic. Try both. Experiment. See which feels the best to you. Don’t feel like you have to pick one or the other. You can have computer and paper journals. It’s what works for you and your life.
So you’ve got your journal. Give yourself permission to free write. Don’t censor yourself. Set a timer 5, 10, 15 or more minutes to just write. Let whatever come up, come up and if nothing comes up that perfect okay too. Just write.
Oh but let’s not stop at writing. Use your journal to create collages. Collage your hurt, your pain, your suffering, your anger, your hope, your joys, your dreams. Anything and everything. All your emotions. Your life. Draw, paint, color, doddle. This is your space to freely express you.
When you create a safe sacred place to explore your emotions, your life and experiences, you set yourself free. You allow yourself to heal. Remember, don’t censor yourself, let whatever come up come up. Because this is your expression, your healing.
Margaret Bell, MA, NCC – www.forwardkindheart.com
Heartbreak can be devastating, especially if guilt or regret creeps in. There are ways to mitigate the pain, however. One of the most beneficial things to do while healing a broken heart is to devote time and energy to a project, preferably one that allows you to channel love into something or someone who is worthy to receive a slice of your magnificent beauty.
When I was still in the suffering stage of my most difficult break-up to date, one of my closest friends announced her engagement, and subsequently asked me to be her maid of honor. I was honored, and had no idea at the time just how significant the distraction would be. It allowed me an opportunity to find strength by stepping out of my current zone, connecting consistently with my friend and pouring love into planning events that would ultimately bring a beautiful person joy.
When one of my best friends encountered her most difficult break-up, she turned to me for advice. I had a list of healthy ways to try to manage the process – journaling, therapy, hiking/being in nature, physical activity. It’s important to move and keep your mind occupied while processing some of the intense emotions that accompany a break-up. She had been wanting to plan a girls’ trip for a while. Now was the perfect time to research locations and reach out to the girls.
Not only does planning an event help open a wounded heart, it keeps a flow of loving energy moving, allowing you to give and receive. One of the most challenging aspects of a break-up is the void you’re left with.
Here are healthy ways to fill the void and build yourself back up without losing yourself in the process:
· Plan a trip (with or without friends)
· Plan a birthday party for yourself or a friend
· Take up a new hobby or sport (this helps develop / strengthen neural pathways and gets you moving)
· Get crafty (babysit for a friend’s child and make a craft together, or make a cool craft with friends)
· Volunteer (lending service helps get you out of your own head and into other peoples’ hearts)
Whatever calls out to you, have fun with it. It’s important to keep a lightness during the heavier times of healing. Shifting your mindset, even temporarily, is one of the healthiest things you can do.
Kelly Hart, Certified Reflexologist and Empowerment Coach - www.renewalwellness.org
There is nothing quite like waking up with a broken heart. The obligations that the alarm clock may fill your mind with can be overwhelming and maybe even annoying. The thought process can lead us to self-talk involving more phrases and words that leave us unmotivated.
Instead of reaching for your cell phone first thing in the morning, what about stepping outdoors and connecting with nature?
I have three sisters and my father has had the same response each time one of us was heartbroken: “Wait two weeks and you will feel that much better; and then wait another two weeks and so on.” From my own experience and perspective, he was correct in the sense that healing does occur over time. What if, however, you could feel better in two minutes? No, not completely healed in two minutes, but the ability to notice a slight improvement in your mood, sense of well-being, and maybe even briefly forget about your broken heart all by simply connecting with nature.
I use the word simply because most of us are lucky enough to live in a place where even if we cannot be on a beach or in the mountains, we can open a window or step out our front door and take a big inhale and deep exhale of fresh air. There are a number of advantages when it comes to being in nature. Exposing yourself to just ten minutes of sunshine gives you a boost of Vitamin D which is connected to all kinds of health benefits. Standing in the dirt, grass, or even sidewalk out in fresh air has the possibility to be a grounding experience. I share this from personal experience since I often find solace and connection with nature. My own psychotherapy practice is named after a trail near our home in Colorado where I go to run, walk, meditate, etc. and believe in the power of connecting with nature with all of being.
Regardless of how you choose to heal, or how long it takes, take comfort in knowing that Mother Nature is not going anywhere and is here to support you through it all.
Adeline Holter, LCSW - www.viewpointtherapy.com
It may take time, awareness, insight and forgiveness to get the job done. Forgiveness is a decision to let go of the resentment, pain, hurt as well as thoughts of revenge. Forgiving doesn’t mean you are forgetting or denying the pain and hurt. It means you are releasing the grip it has over your life and focusing on more positive facets of life for your own well-being. Forgiving does not mean you deny the other person’s responsibility in hurting you, nor does it minimize it. We don’t forgive for the other person. We forgive because of the value it brings to us.
Through forgiveness you can better understand that no one is perfect -- that we all make mistakes. Forgiveness enables you to come to terms with your inner turmoil by letting go of the destructive thoughts you may be harboring inside – thoughts that cause you distress and discomfort. To forgive means you take back control of your life and dissolve the negative thoughts that follow you wherever you go.
Here are some key points to understand about forgiveness and why all mental health practitioners consider it a major step forward in coping with life’s harshest experiences:
1. You forgive for its value to you – regardless of whether the other person “deserves” to be forgiven. It is about regaining your personal power.
2. You forgive because it feels good inside. It also makes you “a bigger, better” person.
3. You experience a kind of emotional and spiritual peace and healing when you forgive. The offense loses its power over you and stops being the object of all your thoughts.
4. Forgiveness begins with a decision to stop harboring resentment and enables you to finally move on with your own life.
5. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. It is not something you do for someone else. It is ultimately an internal decision and inner process.
6. With forgiveness, you give up playing the powerless role of victim.
7. An important step in the process of forgiveness is remembering the experience and seeking deeper understanding of its emotional impact on you. Then you decide to end the impact from a position of personal power!
8. The sense of personal power enables you to rise above the painful event and move it into your personal history, not part of your future life.
9. Through forgiveness, you become your own ally -- an agent of change in your own life. It introduces you to a new way of experiencing hurtful events without holding on to the pain.
10. The conscious act of forgiving will increase your self-esteem, reduce your anger and inhibit your anxiety.
Forgiveness starts by making a decision to forgive. That decision frees you to let go of the old hurts. You give yourself permission to release the negative emotions associated with that other person and choose to not let their past actions hurt you anymore. The healing choice is yours to make.
Unless you forgive others, your feelings of resentment, hurt and humiliation will continue being an active part of your life. Unless you forgive yourself, your feelings of guilt and shame will continue to entrap you!
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
“When those you love deeply reject you, leave you, or die, your heart will be broken. But that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love ever more fruitful.” Henri Nouwen
When you meet someone who sweeps you off your feet, who makes you feel so special and loved, you may fall head-over-heels in love with him. You can’t wait to see him; you savor every word that he speaks. As time goes by, you become more and more invested in the emotional aspects of this relationship. Relationships take a lot of time and work to nurture them. Your hopes for the future with this man permeate your mind. Then something happens that you didn’t expect and your relationship ends; your expectations for a life of happily-ever-after are pulled away from you. What you are left with is the loss of love and a very broken heart. Feelings of shame, pain, anger, bitterness, betrayal, regret, guilt and other negative feelings may be aroused because you had opened your heart to its most vulnerable place and it became hurt by someone you loved.
The question comes: How can I get past this heartache and love again? My heart is broken. Letting go of the relationship is one way of healing your broken heart. The more attached you are to this man, the harder it is to detach and move on but it can be done a little at a time. This is a tremendous loss to you and you must go through, not around, and experience the intense emotional pain that you feel by way of a grieving process described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. Here, she identifies five stages of this mourning process that helps one cope with the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a relationship.
Five Stages of Grief
It may be hard to believe that an important relationship has ended. You may believe that the breakup is temporary and he’ll come back to you. You may avoid the pain by busying yourself with others things. You don’t want to believe the reality of the situation. This, however, is a temporary phase that helps you deal with the initial shock of the loss of your man.
As the effects of denial wear off, pain re-emerges and you may experience a lot of emotion aimed at your former partner and resent him for all the pain he causing you.
In your moments of helplessness, you may try control the situation by trying to be a better partner to your man. You may try to make a deal with God in order to have the relationship back.
Sadness and regret may permeate you as you come to terms with the reality of your lost love. You may feel that you don’t want to fall in love again because of the potential possibility of further pain.
This end stage of mourning consists of forgiving your man of any wrongdoing and realizing the relationship was not meant to be. You will resist placing blame on anyone and withdraw from the relationship in a state of calm acceptance.
Feeling your feelings, no matter how painful, is essential to letting go of your relationship. It’s an ongoing process that takes time and is not necessarily straightforward. You will come to forgive yourself and your partner and no resentment will be held. Nelson Mandela once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies.” This peaceful acceptance will help you let go and move on in your life. Your heart will be healed and you will emerge as a stronger person because of what you have learned about yourself in this relationship. You will be able to love again but in a much healthier way.
Dr. Joanne Wendt – www.drjoannewendt.com
Let's face it. When your heart is broken, your head and body might as well be broken too. You find it hard to think at all, and you are immobilized or walking through rituals in a state of numbness. Plans have been shattered and life is vastly different from how you imagined. If your arm was broken, you would naturally give it time before tackling any heavy lifting, but healing it would definitely be a priority. The grief from your broken heart also needs time, but there will be a new time, a new day, when you will reenter and fully enjoy the world around you, though you may not be able to see it just yet.
You will recover and outlive this place in time.
You have the strength, power, and even responsibility to keep going. Action -- all you can, as soon as you can, will help avoid negative effects of stress hormones. That leaden, aching feeling in your torso is largely caused by cortisol, and cortisol is not your friend if it is allowed to build up.
Acknowledge grief and let it flow through you.
Right now it takes strength to note the sensations in your body. Notice your breath. Notice where you are carrying sadness or stress. Notice the movement of thoughts in your mind. Notice your fears. Notice your pain. Be with it and acknowledge it fully. It is only by accepting the presence of pain, by being present with it, that pain can be dealt with, and it can only be dealt with in the present, for that matter.
You have permission to be human, permission to be honest, and permission to claim strength for yourself. Sources for healing energy are all around. You get to pick which strengthen you today as the grief continues to flow through you. Tomorrow you will approach this from a different place because growth will have transported you, even if only a little.
Now is the time to express, not impress.
Your body's stress response will be much healthier if you allow yourself to cry, talk, write, and otherwise release emotional pain. Know that you have deep wisdom that is always within you. This knowledge is there for you to access. It is empowering you to discover the hope in new wakefulness that you will be different now. The way you will be different is in your power. You may be bitter still, at times, but with compassion, your new awareness can free you to be vulnerable perhaps, to reach out and talk to others who can help. There is strength in that, as well.
There is a famous quote from the Sufi poet, Rumi ~ "You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens."
Your body and mind are made for recovery and the growth that leads to it. Strength may be the last thing you feel right now, but it is happening to you because stress, followed by recovery, makes you stronger.
Laurie Curtis, CPPC, CiPP – www.curtisease.com
Self-awareness is having a clear understanding of your personality, your strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, emotions and motivation. A broken heart is an opportunity to really get to know yourself on a deeper level. It forces you to confront your self-doubts and insecurities. It can enable you to take a serious look at the choices you make and put them to question.
Self-awareness requires conscious effort. This is an unpredictable endeavor that requires your willingness. In order to confront how you are living your life you need to take a serious inventory. What is it that you want from your life, and what is it that you need to do to achieve it? Becoming aware of your needs and acting on them will enlighten and strengthen you. You may not realize how often what you do doesn’t accomplish what you want.
It is possible to find purpose, meaning, and value in emotional pain. Pain is a signal that something needs attention. Can you step back from a painful situation and view it objectively? To attain peace you must be able to study the problem objectively instead of being lost in it. You cannot control the other, but you can learn to control yourself—your thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and actions. Learning to manage your feelings and calm yourself when you are upset is a characteristic of emotional intelligence. You cannot think clearly and move forward until you are calm. This unbearable sadness is an opportunity to understand. No pain is ever wasted.
Dr. Mary Ella Viehe, PhD, LMFT - www.makingloveinmarriage.com
Whether a breakup is planned or unexpected the feelings of loss are unavoidable. When the heart begins to hurt the mind often kicks in remembering past events with varied emotions (fondness, anger, hurt, clarity…etc.) or thinking of future hopes and dreams that are now fading.
Dr. Hanson who wrote, “Buddha’s Brain,” presents the concept of 1st and 2nd arrow. The 1st arrow is the event - in this case, the loss, the breakup. The 2nd arrow is what we do with the event - how we react or respond to the flood of emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations. Therefore, to think one can glide gracefully through a breakup is most likely unrealistic; if one is mindfully attending to all that arises. The flood of emotions, thoughts, and sensations can feel like a turbulent sea one moment and in the next moment feel calm and serene.
The challenge is to not give into the desire to react.
To create “drama” (for lack of a better word). The desire to lash out, to push away, to attempt rekindling is most likely from a place deep inside that feels so vulnerable and alone. A place we seek to fill and when feeling abandoned. Then simultaneously a voice inside may be triggered where once again we are less than, not enough, and where we might feel that we messed up somewhere along the line. For women, we tend to internalize this loss.
The first step is acknowledging the desire to create drama. Not that you consciously want to create drama, but there is something inside that will only feel relief once drama is created. However, this relief is short lived and sometimes replaced by shame. Therefore, I would like to propose the following suggestions for healing from a breakup mindfully by learning to respond versus react.
- Take time to be with the loss. Turn toward the aloneness and vulnerability. We often are afraid of being with what is inside, but truly these internal feelings are the alarm system that can alert us to take time for rest. Time to be with instead of running from. Allow yourself to feel the loss. Cry. Mourn. Acknowledge that this is painful.
- Find self-soothing words. Replace the something is wrong with me - with new phrases. This is deeply personally. For me, I place my hand on my heart and say to myself, “my love this is so painful, you are okay, you are enough.”
- Move. Walk. Yoga. Hike. Bring your full attention to whatever activity you are engaged in. Your mind will wander as you process the loss; however, it can get stuck in rumination. Therefore, when your mind has wandered into rumination and you notice that you are getting stuck in the storyline; gently, but firmly bring your attention back to the activity of movement.
- Be gentle and kind with yourself and others. There is no right or wrong way to heal from a loss; a significant life change. Honor your own healing process.
Kim Bundy-Fazioli, Ph.D., LCSW – www.mindfulnessmattersinstitute.com
Heartbreak is, unfortunately, a universal experience. It may have different causes, such as the death of a loved one or the ending of a relationship, but all the forms have one thing in common: loss. We feel broken and lost, and we hurt. The pain is intense and in many cases constant, at least for a while. Coping with that loss and the pain that goes with it means allowing yourself to feel it and the other emotions that go with it.
I stay away from telling people they’ll “get over it;” when the loss is great we don’t really “get over it.” We come to terms with it. One of my favorite psychologists, Marsha Linehan, famously said that pain is a part of life, but that suffering is optional. Suffering comes from non-acceptance and intensifies pain. We don’t like pain and we try to avoid it or at times, refuse to deal with it. Those actions create suffering and potentially make heartbreak and pain worse.
So, how do we begin this process of coming to terms with heartbreak?
In short, we learn to accept. Acceptance is a really, truly hard thing to do, and it’s important. One important thing to know is that “acceptance” doesn’t mean you think what happened was right or fair, or that you approve of it or like it. You don’t have to like something or think it’s fair in order to accept it. Acceptance in this sense means truly and deeply acknowledging the truth – that your heart is broken and that you are suffering from the pain. Acknowledging the truth is necessary for healing – it’s impossible to move toward healing if you’re stuck. We humans tend to get stuck in suffering because life isn’t fair, and that painful and sometimes horrible things happen.
Acceptance is choosing to let go of the “shoulds,” what’s fair, what’s right, and what we want reality to be. Acceptance means acknowledging reality as it is, not the way we think it should be. And that’s a very, very hard thing to do.
At its core, acceptance is a choice.
Whether it’s a gradual process or a “light-bulb moment” that happens quickly, at some point we choose to acknowledge reality. The stages of grief are a process of moving toward acceptance. That’s why you’ll hear that the only way out of grief is to go through it. Through the grief process, we come to terms with the reality that truly exists and let go of the reality we wish existed. When you choose acceptance, you’re better able to see the options you have. Choosing acceptance leads to being able to choose options to help you cope with the pain and begin healing from the hurt.
So, while heartbreak and grief are painful and a universal part of life, we can come to terms with it by acknowledging the pain and loss. That acceptance allows us to make choices about how we handle heartbreak and eventually leads to healing.
Dr. Laura Burlingame-Lee - www.drlaurablee.com
My father went into the hospital on a Monday afternoon and died on Friday night. It was impossible for my brain to process the sequence of events that took place in those 5 days. How did we go from making plans to have my Dad evaluated to making plans for his cremation? Then my mother was in a car accident on her way home from the hospital that night. It took months for her to heal. I can look back on it now and see that it was the car accident that helped get her through the painful grief. After 55 years of marriage we couldn’t imagine her being able to be in this world without him. But for many reasons, the car accident caused a chain of events that promoted the healing she would need.
A couple of months after my father’s death, my sister was going through a painful and unwanted breakup with her boyfriend of 6 years. I woke up one night with the words “Everything is as it should be” going through my head, over and over. I looked at the time and it was only 1:26AM so I went back to sleep. When my alarm went off at 6:00AM, the words were immediately back in my head, repeating over and over again. I decided to just google it and the first thing that came up was a quote from Anne Frank’s diary. It took my breath away because my Dad’s name is Frank. I then put the pieces together and called up my sister. I told her “I have a message for you from Dad. He says “Everything is as it should be.” She asked how did I know it was for her and I told her because it woke me up at 1:26! (Her birthday is Jan. 26th). We both found comfort in it and she moved in with Mom and took care of her. It wasn’t long until she met a man who truly loved her exactly as she is and she found love and happiness like she had never experienced in all the years she was with her ex.
After an impromptu visit to my boyfriend’s house, I found him in the shower with another woman. It was the most devastating day of my young life. I spent the next hour thinking of ways to kill myself. I know at that moment I would not have liked being told “Everything is as it should be”, but I can look at the life I have now and be SO thankful that things went the way they did.
I’ve had so many of these experiences that I’ve learned to relax when things don’t go the way I want. I even smile now (after I’m done crying and wiped away the tears) and think to myself “Hmmm, I wonder what’s next?!
Diane Wall, LPC - www.westdenvercounseling.com
The first thing we are confronted with after a breakup is the plain old shock of it. We are literally gobsmacked. We find ourselves standing with our mouth open and arms hanging limply by our sides wondering what in the world just happened? Heartbreak can occur after 6 months in a relationship or many years! Breaking up hurts – and it hurts bad. And there is just no way of getting around that fact.
After a breakup we can feel like we have failed. We feel unworthy and unlovable. We can worry that we’ll never be with anyone. Our worst fear is that there is no one out there for us. But I would counter that you just haven’t found each other yet.
There is a game that we played as kids that we called “Warmer, Warmer,” where one person hides an object while the other one has to find it. As the seeker gets closer to the object you say, “Warmer, warmer! As they get farther from it, you say, “Cooler, cooler.” If they start moving farther from it you say “Cold as ice! Cold as the arctic! Frozen as the freezer!” But, if they are standing right next to it, you yell, “You are hot! You are on fire! You’re burning up!” until finally the seeker touches the hidden object.
Breaking up can be like that. When we meet someone and we fall in love, it’s definitely a warmer, warmer moment. It might not be the exact right person yet, but we are getting closer. These relationships along the way help us grow and learn. So even though it does hurt, this different way of looking at it will help you let go more easily, and not look at the breakup as a mistake, but rather a step along the path.
As the old adage says, when one door closes another one opens. This is important to remember, because in those first days and weeks while you are reeling and re-finding your balance again, you can hang on to that phrase like a lifeline. It may not give much solace at first, but it is a spiritual truth, and remembering this will steady you in time. Natural law says: nature abhors a vacuum. So once you are truly able to release the old relationship, new love can find you again.
Finally, every relationship defines better and better what you do and don’t want in a partner. Every time you engage with someone – even just one date – you learn a little more about yourself and what matters to you. All of this will help you recognize your true partner when you meet them.
By following these steps you can heal your heart and begin to call in your true soul partner.
1. FEEL IT As John Gray says, “What you feel you can heal.” The first thing you need to do in order to heal your heart is feel the pain of the loss. Unfortunately, there is no way around this either. You have to feel the experience in order to gain the wisdom from it. Let yourself go through this mourning period. It will pass soon enough.
2. LET GO During this time start the process of releasing all old relationships, as consciously as possible. This can be done as a little ritual. For instance, lighting a little candle and writing their name on it. When you light the candle imagine the relationship being released for the highest good for both of you. This symbolic act is a conscious way to let go. Wish him well. Wish yourself well.
3. VISUALIZE After a while, your heart will start to mend. This is when you begin to call in your soul partner. Write a list down of all the traits of what your ideal partner has. Make it long; make it detailed. Is he funny? Is he smart? Does he love music? Does he have an accent? Is he a good dancer? Keep writing until you can’t think of anything more. Don’t forget to put feelings in. He makes me feel _________ (safe, loved, adored, etc.) Let this process form over a period of time. Keep adding to it until it starts to feel energized. See it happening in your mind’s eye. Know that he is coming.
Learn from the past. You have understood a hundred things from this past relationship, about yourself and also the nature of relationship. All of this will serve you in your next one.
Diana Lang, Counselor and Author of Opening to Meditation – www.dianalang.com
Everyone knows what it feels like to have a broken heart, but the broken heart syndrome is merely a myth. It is more about a wounded heart that needs to heal. to learn and grow from the experience. What makes the separation more difficult is that many women badger, attack and blame themselves and relentlessly obsess. “What could I have done, should I have done, why did I do this or that!?” In psychological terms this is known as negative and destructive thinking. Yes, or course we need to reflect look into ourselves but not to persecute and obsess.
It is one of the most life shattering experiences to feel madly in love and suddenly it is gone especially if you were the one working on the relationship and wanting it to last. Either you have been dumped, you have dumped or it is a mutual breakup. Some women cannot understand after a man who has been emotionally and or physically abusive can still love, miss and desire him. “How can I miss a man who abused me made me feel invisible as though didn’t exist” Am I crazy? Am I a masochist? The answer lies in the bonding and attachment experience. The abuser who can be cruel and sadistic can also be loving and kind. This creates confusion and ambivalence. In many of my books I stress the importance of going through the period of mourning and loss and sadness (not to be confused with depression). Another life-shattering experience is “the affair.” There is not only the revelation of the affair but the problem what to do after the revelation. I have listed a few basic “reasons”
· The person falls madly in love
· A one night stand
· The person feels something is missing in the relationship
· The person needs others for attention and adulation
· The person acts out of revenge pent up anger
· The person looks for excitement in lien of intimacy and love
· Take time to mourn and deal with the loss
· Keep busy go to groups allow yourself to feel the pain
· Learn from the experience
· Know that the state of loss and mourning are normal and NOT to be confused with depression
· If you find yourself obsessing ask yourself what are you avoiding
· Try not to obsess or persecute yourself
· Allow yourself to love again and not bring old baggage
· Keep yourself beautiful in shape just as if every day you are going on date
Beware of these Personality Types
· Narcissist (loves and thinks only about himself)
· Borderline (initially charming, but later betrays and attacks)
· Obsessive (order and structure more important than emotions and feeling)s
· Passive Aggressive (promises! Promises they never happen
· Depressive (self-hatred turned inward)
· Schizoid (Disconnected from all feelings and emotions)
Remember, don’t avoid the pain, stay with the feelings and work it through. This will build inner strength. Be careful not to attack and blame yourself. The most important thing is to learn from the experience so that you will not repeat the same mistakes in another relationship.
Dr. Joan Jutta Lachkar - www.joanlachkarphd.com
Everyone knows that breaking up is tough, life-changing and heart-breaking. But did you know that break-ups just might be the most overlooked form of trauma in our society?
Trauma is anything that disrupts your world view and sense of safety in a way that doesn’t resolve immediately.
Trauma signals the brain to go into the survival mode of fight-flight-freeze, causing anxiety, stress, depression and physical symptoms. Trauma is particularly pervasive when the event affects the relationship part of your brain, such as in a break-up.
When you enter into a committed romantic relationship, a deep, primitive part of your brain is activated in connection to that other person.
You can think of this part of the brain as the midbrain or mammal brain, where your “attachment system” is situated. We all have an attachment system that acts like an internal hard drive, having been “programmed” by our early life experiences with love, connection and relationships. We operate in our daily lives, unconsciously managed by how our attachment system is wired.
When you are in a relationship with someone, your attachment system is activated, generally soothed when things are good, and reactive when things aren’t so good.
Each time you repair a fight or a break in the attachment system, you are healing some negative programming from childhood. When you break up, it’s a traumatic break in the attachment system and can have lasting effects.
When you are healing from a broken heart, it helps to be kind and easy on yourself, and understand that in the beginning you are in a post-traumatic state. To heal, your system needs to understand that you are safe and that you can come out of survival mode. The first thing to do is to tell yourself, “This hurts but I am safe.”
The next step is positive resourcing.
Reach out to your support system and use the tools you already have for relational connection and self-care. Once you understand that you are safe and that you have resources, you can access some trauma healing tools. Deep breathing exercises and meditation (using an app like Simply Being or Stop, Breathe and Think) can be very helpful in activating the soothing effects of the parasympathetic nervous system. If you feel anxious, slow down your body and your breathing. If you feel depressed, try some gentle movement like a yin yoga class or even just standing up and stretching toward your toes. Grounding exercises like feeling your toes touching each other or imagining that your feet are growing roots into the ground can help.
Amy Lynn, LCPC, ATR-BC - www.rootwellnessstudio.com
Sitting alone on the couch longingly wishing your life looked like the chick flick on the screen while downing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, you suddenly become aware of how stuck you feel. The realization hits that the only thing you stand to gain from this approach is weight. And that’s not helping.
Take stock of what has and hasn’t worked. We tend to repeat the same thing over and over expecting a different result. If that’s you, get help to head in a different direction.
Talk to supportive friends and family. You may be tempted to tell everyone who will listen about your horrible, crazy ex, or wallow in self-pity over your loss. However, that method will make you feel worse and keep you stuck in the ditch.
Instead, review with them how the relationship ended. Talk about what was going on inside of you. What worked and what didn’t? Ask listeners to reflect emotions they can tell you are feeling but haven’t voiced. Severed relationships evoke a wide range of feelings, sometimes conflicting. Frequently, we give the ‘I love him because…’ story in one setting, and ‘I hate him for….’ in another. Both can be true. That is why it’s important to express both positive and negative feelings during the same conversation, to get the whole picture. Also review it from your lost love’s perspective.
What motivated you to do what you did? Identify what you were afraid of and consider how your actions may have unwittingly contributed to fears manifesting. Seek positive advice to help figure out what you can do differently next time, not what you should have done.
Go to therapy. I didn’t deal with my lost love for many years. Unaware of the ongoing impact, bad decisions were made because those experiences kept me locked in grief. A good therapist was the catalyst for the transformation of my life. He/she can offer great guidance.
Get a referral from someone who knows a skilled therapist. Select a counselor who matches your style, helps you see what you can’t see on your own, and challenges you. Seek one trained in EMDR, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), psychodrama, or art therapy, all powerful healing modalities.
Join a group. Yes. They are out there. Hearts heal in healthy relationships.
What may seem like an unlikely place to get help could actually be a game changer. Any group that uses the AA 12-step model works. Why? Because it is a safe place to share thoughts and feelings without judgment or someone trying to fix you. There you will find others able to identify with your pain and discover you are not alone. Following are websites you may find helpful.
Many churches organize small groups. Discover what local churches offer in your area.
In community healing happens. A broken heart tended, gets mended.
Charlene Benson, LPC, NCC - www.bensontherapist.com
I am a practicing psychotherapist who specializes in relationships. I have spent over 20 years counseling, witnessing, and supporting individuals and couples through the pain of heartbreak.
And while no one has actually died, to most people a divorce or a breakup feels like a death—because in a way it is. Someone who was an integral part of your life, who you loved and cared about, is no longer a part of your life.
People in the throes of heartbreak experience many of the typical symptoms of grief including depression, despair, sadness, crying, loss of appetite, and difficulty sleeping. In fact, much of the work that I do with these clients is very similar to what I might do with someone who has lost a loved one.
One of the biggest difficulties that many people suffer with at this time is intense hopelessness.
They not only have to grapple with painful feelings of loss, rejection, and sadness, but they often say that the feeling of hopelessness is the worst part. During these dark days of grieving it is very difficult to believe that you will ever feel better and happy again. Clients need to be able to muster up some feelings of hope: hope that they will get over this relationship, feel attractive and desired, and at some point in the future, meet someone else.
In my experience, the secret to coping with heartbreak is knowing that after a death there is always a rebirth.
It’s the natural order of life—but for someone dealing with the pain of separation or divorce it can be almost impossible not to feel mired in the darkness of death and loss.
One of the most healing things to be able to feel and believe during these times is that it is “always darkest before the dawn.” You might not have wanted this breakup, and the circumstances of breakups are generally painful and messy. Yet, remembering that the seeds of rebirth are always found within the pain and loss of death is extremely therapeutic.
Invariably, all my clients who had noted that they experienced the breakup as a very painful dark time also later noted that they had changed and grown in ways that they never could have anticipated. It won’t happen overnight, but a new understanding and rebirth of one’s self, one’s relationship, and one’s future is a built in part of the actual breakup.
If you are aware and you keep your eyes open you will eventually see hints of these seeds of renewal. You will feel excited about a class you never would have taken if you and your ex were still together; you will find yourself enjoying a friendship that has grown closer because of what you have been going through; you will discover a new resilience within yourself as you are able to do things that you never thought you could.
I’m not going to pretend that breakups aren’t tough, painful times - they are. But just when it seems the darkest, remember that rebirth of a new self and a new life awaits you.
Aimee Hartstein, LCSW – www.aimeehartstein.com