Truth is, no one teaches you how to get over heartbreak growing up. When your heart breaks, it’s easy to be irrational and in the moments you’re drowning in darkness, it’s hard to look beyond the pain. We can’t make sense of the loss we are suffering, but the best way to handle pain is to face it head on. In the process of coping, we create a space for understanding and ultimately healing. Unfortunately, many of us have been raised to survive, not necessarily thrive, and we just get back to the grind instead of taking the time to care for ourselves and heal. We’ve been taught that it’s a dog-eat-dog world and that “life isn’t fair.” While accepting life’s ups and downs is a crucial part of thriving, when painful events happen, it’s important to develop healthy coping mechanisms for overcoming anything thrown your way.
So to help a sister out, here are seven ways to get over heartbreak in a healthy way.
Stay productive, but don’t distract yourself.
I know it’s so hard to go back to everyday life while living with heartbreak. I know that what you really want to do is lay on your couch in sweats while eating donuts and ice-cream and bingeing Netflix. But the reality is that life goes on. Even when you want to cry like a baby, you have to #adult. Fortunately, drowning in work can help us productively express and release some of our frustrations. Work can help you recognize your personal contributions to a team and appreciate the overall efforts of something greater than yourself. It can help with confidence but unfortunately, it can also become dangerously distracting. If focus is dedicated solely to work, you can easily neglect your pain. This is not conducive towards healing. So take serious time to yourself everyday to check in and to make sure you’re not using work as a way to avoid your emotions.
See a therapist.
I can’t tell you enough how important it is to have an unbiased person to talk to. Before I began seeing my therapist, I felt that I could not talk about my heartbreak to anyone. I was afraid of being misinterpreted as a melodramatic millennial. Aside from my own insecurities with being vulnerable, I didn’t have anyone around me who spoke their feelings. I was raised around strong, single women who never seen shed a tear for a man. How to get over heartbreak was not a topic of conversation. But a therapist will help you recognize that every single emotion you feel is valid. Beyond that, therapy will help you understand the need for the break up without attaching yourself to guilt or shame. Identifying your own mistakes, forgiving yourself and releasing can help you grow and avoid the same mistakes and patterns in future relationships.
Write letters but DO NOT send them.
The break up happens long before we are done saying all that is still left to say. In the middle of our anguish, we say things we don’t mean. Sometimes, as the reality of what we are losing is sinking in, we realize we have so much more to say. The natural behavior would be to call up our exes and disclose everything. However, since a healthy break up requires no contact, this is actually counterproductive. To release what you want to say without interrupting your ex’s healing, write letters. Then save them and read them later. This is advice my own therapist recommends. She says “When you write how you feel, you are literally expressing heavy, life-altering emotions in a creative way. When you re-read those letters months later, you are also able to look back on your feelings and quite literally see what has changed—what understanding you have gained, and what you have let go of with peace.”
Take some time to yourself before you disclose the break up with your friends.
Naturally, we want to seek out a friend when going through pain so I recommend you reach out to your most trusted friend. But you should be very specific with who you reveal your break up to. If we share too much too quickly, the opinions and feedback we receive from others can cloud our judgment. We want friends to take care of us, without necessarily taking sides because this can keep us blind to our own feelings. Feeling loss is important. It gives us an opportunity to realize what hurts, why, and how we can get better.
Take yourself out on dates.
It’s important to love yourself, especially in the midst of pain. Allowing yourself to see yourself without you partners and completely independent can give you strength, confidence, and love. Take time to date yourself. Take yourself to a movie, to brunch, to the bookstore, to the beach and you will see how beautiful you are alone. It’s an opportunity for you to get to know yourself, fall in love with yourself and understand your worth. This will help you let go of your ex with love and understanding. The more you love yourself, the less space you have for anger, fear, insecurities, and pain. Additionally, when you do decide to start dating again, you will do so out of choice and not a necessity to fill a void.
Acknowledge unhealthy patterns.
This is a tough one but probably one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Take some time to think about what you could have improved on in your relationship. Make sure you approach this with gentleness and forgiveness for self because it will be hard to accept that the relationship didn’t work, in part, because of you as well. And that’s OK as long as lessons are learned. My therapist tells me that one of the best things we can do when we are experiencing a break-up is ask ourselves what we have learned about our behaviors and where they come from. A lot of what we learn about relationships come from childhood experiences. By acknowledging unhealthy patterns in relationships, you grant yourself an opportunity to break the cycle.
Journal, Paint, Create.
Turn your pain into art. Let it mirror your emotions and let it speak truth about who you are and who you can be. We all experience heartbreak and the healthiest coping mechanism is to express it. Whether through painting, words, or music- translating it into a universal language will allow you to express yourself while also connecting to others. You are not alone. Transforming pain into something beautiful can be a motivator and a reminder that good things can come from the worst places.
So allow yourself to feel all all the feels. Pay attention to your emotions and tend to your wounds. The magic is that in dealing with pain, you’re also embarking on a positive experience of growing, learning and even creating. You’re becoming a better YOU.