by: E.B. Johnson
We’ve all experienced heartbreak, but coming back from the loss of a long-lasting love can be truly unforgettable. Death and circumstance alike can separate us from the people that we love, and once they’re gone we can find ourselves directionless.
Overcoming heartache is hard and takes time and commitment. Though we now know that break-ups and grief can impact us in powerful ways, we still treat the loss of loved one much as we did a millennia ago; resorting to the same negative behaviors in a attempt to cope with it all.
The biggest mistake we can make in moving forward is going on autopilot. If you want to bounce back from a heartbreak you’ll never forget, then you need to get proactive about creating a new future.
The price of heartbreak.
While we often think of heartache being a strictly mental or emotional battle, losing someone you love suddenly can actually have some pretty surprising effects on your physical health too.
Emotional pain, when it comes to our advanced human brains, actually feels and reads like physical pain. According to several studies, which utilized fMRI technology, when we’re going through a bad break-up, it actually activates the same mechanisms in the brain as real-world, physical pain.
Heartache can also lead to withdrawal-like symptoms, activating the same processes in the brain as when someone stops taking cocaine or major opioids. These symptoms can impact the way we think, focus and make decisions; it can disrupt our very ability to function in our personal or professional lives.
The stress of break-ups has been known to cause not only anxiety and depression, the stress of the experience can drastically change your brain and lead to heart attack and stroke. Going through a bad separation can also lead to weight loss, overeating and other appetite changes.
This only stresses how closely tied our emotions are to our physical body, and also emphasis how careful we should be when rebuilding our psyche after a traumatic event.
Heartbreak is a lot more than hurt feelings and a “crush-gone-wrong”. It’s like a bomb being dropped on our lives, disruptive and destructive.
Allow. Accept. Move on.
There are concrete steps you can take to recover from a brutal breakdown in your relationship, but it takes time and it takes getting some basics right first.
Heartbreak is an emotionally complex process. One moment you’re sad, the next moment you’re angry. When we’re going through a major loss or rejection, our feelings are an endless rollercoaster ride and often all we can do is hang on tight. To move on, you have to allow yourself to feel these emotions and embrace them in whatever torrent they come in.
By allowing ourselves to feel the wide array of emotions that can come with a split, we can begin to allow ourselves to accept what’s happening and the part we played (and have still to play) in it.
While it might be tempting to numb those feelings with drugs, alcohol or reckless behavior, it’s more beneficial when we “pull off the bandaid” and just let the emotions come organically.
It is impossible to move on from a heartbreak until you can face your new reality honestly and openly.
This can take time, especially when you’ve been blindsided by the breakdown, but it’s imperative in formulating a plan for moving forward.
Strip down your emotions and let yourself be vulnerable. Feel sad, let yourself cry and remember that no matter how badly you want it to be differently — it just isn’t. Acceptance and allowance are the first steps recovery, but they start within and they start with a conscious choice.
It takes bravery to come back from the brink but you can move on. Build those foundations before moving on to the next steps: creating a new future.
How to Come Back from An Unforgettable Heartbreak
With a strong foundation of self-allowance and acceptance, you can begin the healing process and start rebuilding your future. It might be hard to swallow now, but things aren’t bad they’re just different. Change is unsettling but it helps us to grow.
1. Find your tribe.
Breakups can leave us isolated — but no man is an island.
When we’re going through a hard time, it can be critical to reconnect with the friends and family that matter most to us. Those people aside, breakups are the perfect excuse to find your tribe; discovering the people or communities that help you thrive.
Having good people to talk to can make us feel less alone and help us to put our heartbreak into perspective. Bad things have a funny way of forcing us to focus on them, and when this happens everything can seem hopeless.
It’s easy to become obsessed with our breakups and possessed by their misery. When this happens we get tunnel vision and it can be hard to see a way out.
The simple act of listening can be a godsend when you’re struggling and lost. While no one else can save you from your suffering, the people around us can be the make-or-break difference when it comes to finding the strength within ourselves, as it is usually these people who can most honestly see what we’re not brave enough to face.
If you’re struggling to find your air again after a nasty break up, start by finding your tribe again. Get back in touch with the people that matter most and you’ll get back in touch with the person you used to be.
2. Take care of yourself.
When we’re going through a bad heartbreak, self-care is often the first thing that goes out the window. This, unfortunately, does nothing more than make us feel even worse.
Being in relationships can put us into “Others Mode”, where we start to see the needs of others over the needs of ourselves. We become hyper focused on our partners during the spread of our relationships, and when they are gone it can leave us feeling empty.
Break-ups are the perfect time to get back in touch with the authentic you; rediscovering your true needs.
The things we need from our lives and our partners changes over time, but we can lose sight of that when we get stuck in the relationship rut. Having the space to focus on ourselves can reveal some surprising new truths and when we start to take care of ourselves, these truths become even more glaringly clear.
Stop saying yes to everyone else and start saying yes to yourself. Rather than looking for someone else to care for, take some time to start taking care of yourself. Get to know the person you are on the inside and do all those things you’ve been doubting or putting off.
Time alone isn’t time to sulk; it’s time to get back in touch with your passions and take care of the person you’ve worked hard to become.
3. Cut the contact.
Even when you’re no longer emotionally invested in someone, staying in constant contact with them can be toxic to our continued growth and mental wellbeing. In order to move forward, we have to let go of the past; holding on to any blocks — be they subconscious or otherwise — will do nothing but drag us down.
If we want to build a better tomorrow, we have to stop leaning on the hope of our former lives. Instead of investing our emotions in those who don’t want the burden, we have to look to ourselves for strength and cut off contact from the people that impede our growth.
It can be hard to end contact with someone who has been in your life for a long time. It’s necessary, though, to become our truest self.
Cut the contact and understand that it’s for the best. The past is a dead weight that’s holding you back. Don’t let it.
4. Stop the comparisons.
To learn how to be happy again, you have to stop comparing your recovery to the recovery or relationships of others. Rediscovering our single-hood has a funny way of making us feel insecure, but it’s important to remember that everyone has a different journey to take.
It make take you five years to recover from your breakup and find someone new. It might only take you a few months. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your initial relationship. Understand that your healing is the same way. It takes time.
Stop comparing yourself and your journey through heartbreak to others. Spend time with yourself and hit the reset button instead, you might just be surprised by what you find.
5. Give yourself time and space.
They same that time heals all wounds and that’s true — but so does space.
If you can get space from your heartbreak, do it. Move house. Change jobs. Change your name and move to another apartment on the other side of town.
Creating space between ourselves and our pain can help us deal with it from a detached and neutral place that makes us stronger emotional negotiators over time. When we give ourselves the time and space we need to heal, we also get in touch with who we are again, and come to realize who we are without the other person we’ve come to rely on.
You might be tempted to start dating again as soon as you find someone willing. That, too, is a mistake as you’ll lose yourself in someone else before you even have a chance to understand your new reality.
Take the time you need to feel whole again before jumping back into the deep end of life. Distractions are good but it takes the right distractions to help us grow. No one can save you from your pain, so don’t go looking for remedies in another relationship.
The pain will stop. It’s just going to take time.
6. Learn how to appreciate the silver lining.
Despite what our heads and our hearts might be telling us, there’s still beauty all around when we’re in the depths of a horrendous separation or loss.
By learning how to reengage with our surroundings we can learn how to get back in touch with all the natural beauty in our lives.
There is joy everywhere, but we sometimes have to look a little harder to find it. Getting back in touch with the things that we value will allow us to get back in touch with ourselves. When we learn how to be grateful for all the little gifts we receive each day, we soon find ourselves grateful for life itself again.
Learning to appreciate all the happiness that already exists in our lives can teach us a lot about ourselves and help us see the silver lining in the darkness. You can appreciate things as small as the smile of a stranger or the kindness of your barista. Beautiful acts are everywhere, but we have to open up our hearts to them.
7. Consider the possibility that everything happens for a reason.
Whether you’re a spiritual person or not, it’s not hard to consider the possibility that everything happens for a very specific and meaningful reason.
Relationships that fail do not do so because of mistakes or failures on any one side. Sometimes, relationships just fail. Life has a funny way of giving us the experiences that are most helpful to our growth and breakdowns in our relationships is just one of those ways.
Consider the possibility that everything happens for a reason and one door is shutting because you’re opening another one.
8. Remember: everything is temporary.
The only universal truth to this crazy life is that nothing is forever. Relationships come and go just like seasons and sometimes, no matter what we do, they end suddenly and without reason.
Realizing that everything in this life is temporary (including the feelings you might be having right now) will allow you to detach from your heartbreak in time and put it in perspective. While the experience is painful it’s also inevitable, in a way, as our lives are constantly in a state of flux and change, like the lives of the people around us.
Things come to pass in ages and stages and no matter how hard we try, there is very little we can do to control their passing. Rather than wasting our time and energy trying to change things we can’t control, we should embrace the temporary nature of life and look forward to the new, uncertain future with excited anticipation.
9. Stay present in the moment.
Focus on the past or brooding over the theft of your future will only leave you miserable and feeling empty and unfulfilled. To promote true healing from the ground-up, you have to stay present in the moment and stay focused on the here and now.
Staying in the moment promotes our health and healing while freeing us from the toxic hangover of our past. When we allow ourselves to just be in the moment, we give ourselves a respite from the constant longing, guilt and shame that is often associated with breaking up; allowing us to free ourselves of the emotions related to past events and future outcomes.
Focusing on the past or the future cuts you off from the possibilities all around you and leaves you unable to see the beauty and the joy of the things that already exist in your life. When we’re not present, our attention and our performance in interrupted, and so are the life-changing decisions that occurring every second of every day.
Recovering from anything — be it drugs, alcohol or heartache — takes time. It also takes focus and a conscious commitment to the here and now.
We can heal and we can grow, but we can only do it in the present moment. Everything else is a waste of energy. Take it as a learning lesson and move on.
10. Love yourself and realize that you are lovable.
Rejection is, perhaps, one of the most toxic exposures we ever have. It rings you from your head to your toes and can make you feel so worthless that it takes months or even years to bounce back.
Getting rejected is brutal to our confidence and deadly on our self-esteem. When it comes down to it, it’s the rejection of a break up that hurts us so bad, and it’s this rejection that we fight an uphill battle with in the aftermath.
To truly recover from an unforgettable breakup you have to relearn how to love yourself and realize that you are lovable.
Just because a relationship has ended does not mean that you are enough. Rather, it simply means that one more parties involved in the relationships have changed. People cannot always give us the love we want or need. We cannot always give others the love they want or need. When things don’t work out, it’s not an indication of your worth, it’s simply an indication of life moving on.
You have to recognize your masochistic behaviors and stop self-harming yourself mentally and emotionally. When the thoughts of worthlessness start seeping in, you have to come up with a dialogue that can counter it and turn it around. Tell yourself that you are as deserving of love as anyone else in the world and mean it. Take care of yourself and get to know the beautiful soul that you are inside and out.
An ending to one romance is often the beginning of a new one: a romance with yourself. So take advantage of it and fall in love with that amazing person that was once able to captivate someone else.
Putting it all together…
Heartbreak is grief and loss just like any other we suffer in our lives. Our bodies are unable to decipher the difference between emotional and physical pain, leaving us restless, hopeless and feeling lost when we find ourselves in the middle of a relationship breakdown.
By taking control of our emotions and allowing ourselves to heal organically over time, we can bounce back from heartbreak stronger and more empowered than ever before. When we stay present in the moment and surround ourselves with the people and passions that matter most, we can reconnect with the beauty of the world around us and learn how to appreciate the silver lining.
Heartbreak is hard, but by cutting contact and remembering that everything is temporary, we can get back in touch with our emotions and our true intentions. Break-up’s are hard but they’re beautiful, and in them we can find true beauty too — but it takes some courage to pursue it.
If you’re going through a major heartbreak remember: everything is temporary. This too shall pass if you just hold on a little longer. The pain won’t last forever, but it can shape you into a better person if you let it.