Of all the questions I get as a relationship coach, the top 3 are: why do breakups hurt so bad, how long does it take to get over someone, and how do I get over an ex?
Everyone wants answers to these questions and there may be different reasons for each person. But when you’re in the throes of heartache, the only thing you want is to feel better. While there is no secret formula to expedite the process, there are certainly a number of things you can do to begin your journey to healing.
Along with understanding why breakups hurt so bad, these are my recommendations for getting over a breakup.
Commit to letting go.
This is the first step to moving forward. In my 12-week online course, The Breakup Space Recovery Program, you will be asked to sign a self-oath to declare your willingness to commit to your healing by letting go of your past. Email me if you’d like me to send you a copy of the oath.
Letting go means saying goodbye to the pain, the negative energy and thoughts of getting your ex back. It means facing the fear of being alone, whether short-term or for a longer period of time. It may even mean that you have to change your ideas around “getting closure” or understanding why it happened. The ultimate idea of letting go is imagining the worst case scenario and coming to peace with it. What is the worst case scenario of your breakup? For months after my breakup, my biggest fear was seeing my ex with someone else. These thoughts consumed me until I decided to sit with the possibility of this as a reality. I concluded that I had no control over my ex moving on. Furthermore, if he was happy with that decision, then I could be at peace because I loved him and ultimately wanted him happy. When you let go of the fear, you open yourself up to receive love again, in due time.
Cut off communication.
The rules of disengagement or implementing No-Contact is also discussed in-depth in the second week of my program. Even though it may sound like a no-brainer, cutting off communication with your ex is critical for a few reasons. First, immediately following a breakup, your feelings are likely running too high to be rational in your decision making. Whether you choose to get back together or remain apart, you need space to decide what is in the best interest for the both of you. Creating distance is a way of setting boundaries for behavior you no longer wish to accept in your life. Another reason for creating distance is to discover what you really want. There’s a saying that not talking to someone will do one of two things: either it will make you realize how much you miss someone or it will teach you that you actually CAN live without them.
Cutting off communication will be difficult in the beginning, but the benefits that you’ll see are well worth it.
Learn something new.
One way to break negative patterns is by replacing them with something new. Our brain has the ability to create neural pathways that help us learn new behaviors and ways of thinking. For times sake, I’ll bypass the technicalities, that are explained in detail in my e-book, but to put it shortly, our brains are capable of turning our thoughts into action and actions into behaviors. Neurological studies show evidence of new connections that are formed every time you learn something new or have a new experience.
Creating new patterns can be easier than you think. While activities such as learning to play an instrument or taking a language class can be helpful, you can create a new experience simply by changing your commute to or from work. If this is too inconvenient, then try taking a drive to an area in your city that you don’t frequent, or plan a brunch with friends at a restaurant that you’ve never been to. You may not see the effects immediately, but these activities will start to imprint a new memory in your brain that you can associate with a new chapter in your life.
Allow yourself to grieve.
While there is a process for most people, thankfully, there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. The more we allow ourselves to express what we are feeling, the better. During a breakup, it’s important that we feel our way through the process rather than trying to suppress our emotions or replace them with temporary satisfactions that can lead to forming more negative behaviors. The bottom line is that breakups are hard. Even when you know it’s for the best, that doesn’t make it hurt any less. Grieving is just a part of healing so it’s important to get it out.
Other ways to grieve may be expressed through journaling, meditating or joining a community, such as a private Facebook group to help you cope.
Give yourself closure.
Most people associate closure as sending that one last text message or having one last conversation to ask or say something to their ex. What I encourage my clients to do the opposite of what I did, when I sent my ex one last text, but instead to create closure for themselves. In the moments of composing those words, I felt liberated and justified, but shortly after hitting send, I felt anxiety, regret, and shame. What most people don’t realize is that you don’t need your ex to get closure, and depending on the circumstances surrounding your breakup, for example if you were ghosted like me, you may never get it. Even if you are granted a face-to-face opportunity or conversation, that still doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the answers that you seek. And on some level, I can’t help but believe that in your heart, you know the truth of the situation anyway. Instead of forcing someone you care for to disclose the details of why they betrayed you, consider the fact that they care about you enough to not put you through that. Although their actions also hurt, understand that some people’s instincts are in best interest of themselves and what hurts them less which causes them to be dishonest with you. The realization of this can be hard to digest, but the best thing you can do is to be honest and forgiving with yourself.
As I stated before, there’s no immediate elixir for heartache, but with consistent effort, a supportive community, and positive communication practices, you’ll be on your way to becoming a better you and your ex will become…someone you used to know.
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