How to Get Over a Breakup Faster Using Neuroscience and Psychology
Let’s face it breaking up is hard.
You get told the same advice.
Give it time. You’ll get over it eventually.
Eventually can’t come soon enough.
It hurts so much now.
What is advice to help you get over the breakup faster?
If you’ve been through or are going through a breakup, you probably tried to be normal.
You’re sitting at work pretending everything’s fine.
But all you can do is feel empty inside because you keep replaying the heart-wrenching images of the breakup.
Every little memory and detail reminds you of your ex. Suddenly you’re filled with the painful realization that they are no longer in your life.
Or you’re still silently suffering in the aftermath of the breakup.
And all you want to know is how to make it stop so you can get on with your life.
The biggest heartbreak of my life…
I understand it all too vividly. I wanted the pain to end. I wanted to just move on. I wanted to feel normal again.
Eventually, I became tired and reached a crossroads. I had a choice. I could wallow and waste my life by feeling sorry and bad for myself.
Or I could use the pain to figure out how to change my life.
Let’s flash back several years ago.
I have a clear, vivid memory of me at work, sloughed in my chair and staring off into the distance.
My heart ached.
I felt a lump stuck in my throat as I tried not to reminisce and dwell on all the past, happy moments with her.
The irony is that those same happy moments could also make you feel so… sad and alone.
It didn’t help that I was listening to depressing rainy-day indie music… but it made me feel better.
All I need is time. And I’ll get over it.
But I still couldn’t help think the worst pessimistic thoughts:
f*ck, there goes 6-and-a-half-year relationship.
You were supposed to marry this girl.
What happens if I don’t find another girl as amazing as her?
These thoughts my mind was playing on repeat.
Still, one thought stood out from the rest.
It’s really over…
I leaned back on my work chair to stare back at the empty ceiling and proceed to close my eyes as tears streamed down my cheeks.
That was the first time I really felt the breakup. It was my first realization that it was over.
But what happened next, lead me to this new journey and transformation to where I am now.
It was the awake-up call I needed to look at my life and say, “Is this what I really want?”
But if I didn’t learn how to recover from this breakup, things would’ve been vastly different. I wouldn’t be speaking in front of you.
I would have been living a life of quiet desperation.
Unhappy, unsure of what I want.
But I learned how to bounce back from this devastating moment. And not only bounce back, but use it as a turning point for my life and confidence today.
But sadly, many people don’t.
Without what I learned, I would have never had the courage to start my own personal hero’s journey.
Where I went from being unmotivated, stagnant, and broken to driven, confident, and feeling more alive than I ever have.
This path led me to a loving relationship with a woman I absolutely adore.
What most breakup recovery advice is missing…
Most advice you’ll find online or from well-meaning friends talks about the common things to help you get through a breakup.
It can be summed up in these 3 basic categories.
Take your time.
There’s nothing wrong with this approach because it works and it works consistently. That’s why people still give this advice.
But what will help speed up the recovery process?
As I studied under the best in the world, I learned why it took me so long to initially recover from my breakup.
And I learned how to help people to recover significantly faster.
Instead of taking a year to feel ready, I could have brought that it down to months or even weeks with what I’m sharing with you today.
Step 1: Come to terms with the breakup…
Don’t pretend that you aren’t hurt or that it’s not completely eating you up.
Of course, you have to be strong and maintain composure while at work in front of customers.
But what I mean is don’t lie to yourself.
The more that you try to fight the emotions, hold them back, or completely delude yourself to thinking everything is fine… when that is further thing from the truth is just delaying your recovery.
Or it’s setting yourself up to break down when you no longer have the energy to fake it.
Fighting those emotions is like putting a lid on a volcano. The pressure is bound to explode… It’s only a matter of time.
This is one of the things that held me back from recovering sooner. Resisting the emotions and sadness instead of accepting them and understanding the situation I was in.
Use healthy ways of accepting the pain and being able to channel all the strong emotions that come with it.
In several therapy methods, the acceptance of the issue or problem has been clinically shown to reduce the impact.
Step 2: Create your new identity without your ex…
The agonizing pain we feel during a breakup also lights up the same areas of our brain as physical pain we feel. No wonder why it hurts so much.
The biggest reason for the pain we’re going through is because our identity becomes so ingrained and entangled with our ex’s. It’s so intertwined we lose sight of who we are without our ex.
We form so many memories and future memories inside our brains.
Our identity becomes interlinked with our ex through experience and is strengthen over time.
When we lose that person and the relationship, we are losing a piece of our self since we’ve linked our identity with our ex.
Our self and who we are without our ex is questioned.
This is called self-concept clarity: it’s the sense of knowing who we are and that our values and beliefs align consistently with our identity.
When we go through a breakup, we basically are less sure of who we are without that person.
A good predictor of how much the breakup will affect you and can be tied in portion to how much your self-concept clarity decreases.
Or simply put, how confused who you are without your ex.
Luckily, this also works in the reverse.
The less confused of who you are without your ex… the greater your emotional recovery.
A lot of people will just throw out the phrase, I’m working on myself… WITHOUT real action or intention.
There are actionable ways to achieve faster recovery when you work on yourself after a breakup. You need to focus on becoming more sure of you are.
And who you can become now that you aren’t in a relationship.
Get back into touch with the other areas of your life that make you happy.
Maybe you love surfing. Or You love playing the guitar. Or love playing tennis.
Get back to being around the people and the activities that bring you joy and happiness.
Step 3: Use your brain’s neural plasticity to speed up the recover process…
As everyone says and will probably tell you, “Just give it time…” or “time heals all wounds.”
Which is true because your brain is naturally rewiring itself to help you move on.
Brain plasticity or neural plasticity is the term neuroscientists use for the brain’s ability to change for the better or worse at any age.
Neural plasticity is kind of like a spider’s ability to create new webs. A spider can change and recreate a web when needed. Being able to create new webs or connections is like our brain forms connections.
Our brains cells transmit and process information to and from the brain. The pathway where the information travels through our brains cells or neurons is called a neural pathway.
Every time we experience something new, we create a new neural pathway. If it’s not new, then we’ll strengthen the existing ones.
The longer you’ve been in a relationship with someone, the more neural pathways you’ll have.
There’s a lot that will remind you of your ex because it’s been linked and strengthen in your brain over the course of your relationship.
Just know neurologically your brain wants you to be able to move on and recover. So, it’s already rewiring itself and towards your fast recovery.
But what are ways to use our own brain plasticity to help with breakup recovery?
If you noticed, the earlier step was already using brain plasticity.
Because increasing self-concept clarity is actually helping you create new neural pathways of your identity without your ex. You’re rewiring your brain with your new identity.
We can tackle memories and other things that trigger for powerful emotions of your ex that make it hard for you to move on.
When you find memories that bring up painful emotions and thoughts, you can use 3 powerful psychological-recovery tools to build new neural pathways.
These 3 psychological-recovery tools are:
The power of daily self-reflection…
Science has shown those who are the most self-reflective while recovering after the breakup are shown to feel better and recover faster.
Self-reflecting on the positive learning from the breakup will help speed up your recovery.
When you can reflect on the memory or the relationship and find the positive learning, you’ll help rewire your brain.
Now, you’ll begin to associate that previous memory with the positive learning.
Look back on your relationship and previous memories, and no matter how small, what is a positive thing you’ve learned?
Again this will take a lot of repetition since that memory has been associated to your ex for a long time.
Writing is an effective way for helping to get over a breakup. You can use a daily journal to record the memories that trigger powerful, painful emotions, and write down the positive takeaways for each.
The many benefits of expressing gratitude…
Science has found gratitude is associated with increased happiness, greater self-esteem, and improved optimism and positive emotions.
Yes, it’s hard to be grateful to an ex for didn’t value you, treated you like shit, or cheated on you. Again, no matter how small, what can you be grateful for?
And again, you can use a daily journal to write down why you are grateful.
It’s simple, but not easy.
Let’s talk about possibility next…
When you stumble on a thought like your previous future plans to go to Hawaii with your ex, these have the potential to continuously cause pain, hurt, and grief.
All because it’s a constant reminder that you are no longer with your ex. And you no longer have those future plans.
These thoughts don’t have to be painful reminders if you explore the new possibilities you have now.
Possibility is empowering. It’s what dreams are made of.
Going back to the Hawaii example, you would think of all the new possibilities you can now do since you don’t have to go to Hawaii.
The goal is to realize you have new possibilities and experiences since your ex isn’t holding you back.
Allow your mind to explore, be creative, and don’t put a limit on your imagination.
Here’s my favorite and the most powerful possibility exercise, which I learned from Psychology Hacker, Adam Lyons.
You want get a sheet of paper or open a computer document.
Make a line down the middle. Write on top left side, “what I can’t do because I’m not with my ex.” On the top right side, “what I can do now that I’m not with my ex.”
In the left section, you’re writing all the things you can’t do since the breakup. In the right section, you’re writing everything you CAN do now.
Write, bullet, or list it all out.
Write down EVERYTHING. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING.
The beauty and the hack of behind this technique is to make the right list BIGGER.
Write all the new goals CAN have now. Write everything you CAN do now. Write all the possibilities you CAN have now.
As you write each new item, you’re creating a new neutral pathway. Each new goal will reduce your cortisol levels, which is the hormone causing your stress.
According to Adam and in my own experience using this technique, removing cortisol is one of the fastest ways to recover from a breakup.
Make a note of your favorite possibilities and keep that in your back pocket or save it on your phone.
Read and refer back to them when your mind brings back memories, thoughts and emotions about your ex.
This is a good way to strengthen your new neural pathways.
Potential Breakup Recovery Setbacks…
Yes, everything is going to be hard at first because you’re battling what’s been ingrained and reinforced in your brain during your relationship.
Studies have shown the brains’ of people going through a breakup are similar to the brains’ of drug addicts trying to quit cold turkey.
Both are similarly addicted and going through withdrawals. But for those going through a breakup, your brain is looking for the high of the emotional feelings when you were with your ex.
If a person is trying to kick their habit of using cocaine, would you allow them to take a small hit?
No, that’s absurd right?!
The same is true if you are recovering from a breakup. Being friends with your ex too early, following them on social media, or having makeup sex will just prolong your recovery.
You can still be friends with your ex once the emotional charge of seeing them or thinking of them is gone.
Give yourself time to recover.
Your ex should understand. A real friend will understand that you are going through a hard time and will need space. If they are serious about being friends, they can wait until both of you are ready.
What if you need closure?
Your ex was a dick and forever walked out on you. All ties have been severed, but you never got the closure you wanted.
You never got to tell them what was on your mind. You never got to ask the questions you wanted.
Now, you feel like you can’t move on because of it…
What do you do? You’re going to write them a letter…
In this letter, you unload everything you want to say to them. Be as graphic as you want.
No filter. Don’t hold back.
When you finish, don’t send the letter. Writing the letter was never about your ex, but for you and for getting closure.
The practice of just writing all your thoughts down is enough closure for people to move on.
All the advice people tell you about getting over a breakup will still help you recover.
But remember you can use science and your own psychology to dramatically speed up the entire process.
Time does heal all wounds.
But time is the only resource we can never get back.
Breaking up doesn’t have to be any harder than it needs to be.
Nor does it need to take longer than it needs to be.
It can be shorter.
Now I want to turn it over to you…
What is one new thing you can do because of your breakup or previous breakup?
Let me know by leaving a comment right now.