A break-up can leave deep imprints on our souls. Breakups can be excruciatingly painful, and you may even lose your will to live. But I’m here to tell you that this doesn’t have to be the case. No matter what your situation is, no matter how bad your break-up was, how traumatic the experience was, or how painful it is for you right now, I am confident that if you follow the steps in this article, you will be able to heal your heart (how to heal a broken heart and the science behind it).
How to Heal a Broken Heart
Breakups of any kind are heartbreaking. If you’re going through heartbreak, know that it will get better with time. However, there is no hard and fast rule for how long it takes to recover from a breakup. It may take a few months for some, while it may take years for others. People heal and grieve in their own unique ways and at their own pace. As a result, don’t compare yourself to others. Taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to overcoming heartbreak.
1. Avoid contact for at least 60 to 90 days.
It’s critical to avoid seeing your ex for at least four to six weeks, according to Greg Behrendt, the brains behind He’s Just Not That Into You. This no-contact rule will give you time to reflect and focus on yourself and your own needs. It also provides the necessary distance to sever the bond between you in a genuine way. It will be painful and difficult, but attempting to be friends or stay in touch in any way will only make moving on impossible.
2. Avoid romanticizing the past.
It’s easy to play those happy memories over and over again, especially if you didn’t want the relationship to end. However, in order to gain a more balanced perspective, you must make an effort to see the big picture
3. Allow yourself to fall in love with your life.
Now is the ideal time to respond to you. What is something you’ve always wanted to do? What hobbies can you reintroduce? Spend some time showing up for yourself and falling in love with your life. That is how you become the person you’ve always wanted to be and how you become unstoppable to others.
4. You must forgive them.
Forgiveness is difficult to achieve. However, you do not have to believe that what someone did was wrong in order to forgive them. The purpose of forgiveness is to relieve you of the emotional burden of anger. Forgive them and yourself to let go of your bitterness, anger, and hurt.
5. Concentrate on what you want.
Don’t keep reliving the bad times. And don’t get caught up in what isn’t working. In my life coaching practice, I have discovered that single women tend to focus on what they don’t want: “I don’t want to be cheated on again,” “I don’t want to be single forever,” and so on.
6. Be kind to yourself.
Your inner critic will take advantage of the breakup to try to bring you down. Don’t let that little voice get in the way. Instead of fighting against yourself, start fighting for yourself. Be gentle with yourself.
7. Don’t speak ill of your ex.
Using your best friends as a sounding board for your emotions may feel therapeutic, but it is not productive. Concentrate on sharing the things you enjoy. Discuss the aspects of your life that are going well, as well as your dreams and desires. You never know what will happen in the future, so sowing seeds of kindness is always a good idea.
8. Avoid stalking on social media.
It might be best to simply unfollow your ex on social media. Without unfriending them, Facebook’s “take a break” feature allows you to avoid seeing their pictures, etc.
Social media stalking is the worst thing you can do, especially if you’re still confused about the breakup or pining for your lost love. It only fosters speculation and suspicion, and it keeps you stuck in the past.
9. Quit overthinking it.
You did the best you could with the information you had at the time. Be gentle with yourself and stop overthinking and replaying every detail thought and the conversation that went wrong. It is what it is, and it happened exactly as it should.
10. Have faith in the process.
Your life is a process, a beautiful, graceful unfolding of possibilities and potential. Relationships are an important part of our mission to love and be loved. Some love relationships are not meant to last a lifetime. Be grateful for the opportunity. Every experience helps you become the person you were born to be.
11. Have faith in love.
Don’t shut your heart down. Don’t put yourself away from the world. Never let the pain get the best of you. Love yourself and believe in yourself. When you’re ready, it’ll be there for you.
12. Make self-care a priority.
Make sure you look after yourself. Concentrate on your health and what makes your body happy. Spend time outside in nature. Prioritizing self-care entails learning to be your own best friend and cherishing your beautiful self; after all, when you love yourself, you will attract someone who loves themselves as well.
13. Listen to your heart.
We live in a lovely world. Take care of it, protect it, and have fun with it. If you want to go to Machu Picchu, run a half-marathon, or adopt a child, go ahead and do it. Life is fleeting. Only those dreams that you pursue will come true.
Related articles: HOW TO GET OVER A BREAKUP: Practical Guide and Tips
How to heal a broken heart and Move on
Before we get into the tools and techniques for moving forward, I hope that anyone reading this will take a moment to acknowledge how difficult this is. No matter how many people have gone before us, the moment we are in is likely to be painful. Compassion is one of the best ways to deal with the reality of that pain.
When people are hurting after a relationship ends, their first thought is usually, “How long will this last?” There is, of course, no magic formula for answering this question.
Steps for How to Move On
1. Consider your life to be a journey.
It’s important to remember that everyone who’s doing well now has had times when they thought they’d never be fine. A breakup may feel like the end of the world at the time, but in years to come, a current struggle will feel like a lesson from the past. The more we can see our lives as fluid and not fixed, the more we will be able to put our experiences into context. Our story does not end with the end of a relationship.
No one else can own our story or our identity, whether we are with someone or alone. We may leave a relationship feeling as if we have left a piece of ourselves behind, unsure of how to move on without them, but the truth is that we are still whole, evolving, and growing all the time.
2. Quiet your inner critic
Dr. Robert Firestone coined the phrase “critical inner voice” to describe a negative thought process that we all have, similar to an internalized nemesis. This cruel “voice” criticizes, coaches, and even pities us (and others) in ways that undermine us when we’re on top and kick us when we’re on the bottom. This inner critic is responsible for a lot of the pain and suffering we feel after a breakup. Following a breakup, common “voices” include:
- “I told you she was going to leave you.”
- “You now have nothing.”
- “You will never be loved by anyone.”
- “You’ll never be alone.”
- “You can’t put your trust in people.”
- “You should just give up on relationships.”
- “Please have a drink. You’ll feel better as a result.”
- “Simply be alone. Right now, no one wants to see you.”
Getting caught up in this internal dialogue makes deciding how to proceed much more difficult. However, by reading about the steps to overcome the critical inner voice, we can get to know this voice as the enemy it is and learn to separate it from our true point of view.
3. Think about it realistically.
There is always a real loss when a relationship ends, but we also have a tendency to look back on our relationships with a zoom lens on the good and blinders on the bad. Refrain from idealizing the relationship, which is a common tendency. It’s very common to only remember and focus on the positive aspects of a relationship. This makes accepting the reality that it is over even more difficult, and is the equivalent of ‘denial’ in the stages of grief. Remembering the struggles and issues in the relationship, as well as the real reasons we are no longer together, can help us feel more resilient and determined to move on.
4. Give up on fantasy
Idealizing our partner or the relationship isn’t something that happens after the relationship has ended. Dr. Firestone refers to this as a “fantasy bond,” an illusion of connection that replaces real relating and genuine acts of love and intimacy. A fantasy bond can manifest as relating as a unit, valuing the form of being a couple over the substance of making contact, falling into a routine, lacking independence, engaging in less affection, entering dynamics of control and submission rather than equality, and so on. As real love is replaced by a fantasy bond, the quality of the relationship often deteriorates. The couple may stay together because they believe their partner will “save” them. Or they may split up because the factors that initially drew them together are no longer active.
5. Feel the emotions
It’s normal to feel emotionally shattered after a breakup. Although these emotions can be overwhelming, we must remember that they come in waves. It arrives, peaks, and then recedes. Accepting our emotions is a necessary step in the healing process. Give yourself a break and treat yourself as you would a friend. We can acknowledge our sadness, anger, or fear without giving these feelings to our inner critic. Remember that our feelings are fine, but our thoughts about them, such as “you’ll never find anyone else” or “you can’t live without him or her,” are not.
6. Discuss it
Some people believe that the best way to move on is to simply stop talking about it. Even if it is difficult for you to talk about your feelings with others, it is critical that you do so when you are grieving. Knowing that others are aware of your emotions will make you feel less alone in your suffering and will aid in your healing. It’s a good idea to share our experience with someone who’s been through it, someone we trust and who can offer sympathy or someone who can help put us in a good mood. People want to support one another. Seeking the assistance of a therapist and having a safe and specific outlet for what we’re going through emotionally may also be beneficial.
7. Investigate your attachment style
According to a recent Pace University study, how people react to breakups is heavily influenced by their attachment style. According to the study, “individuals who reported higher self-esteem, lower rejection sensitivity, and lower levels of attachment anxiety reported less adverse effects to break-up.” Understanding how our attachment style affects our relationships may help us make sense of our own intense reactions to breakups. It can also help us understand how we function and why we feel the way we do in relationships. For example, based on our early attachment patterns, we may have felt more insecure and clingy toward our partner. Understanding our attachment history can also help us form more secure attachments in the future.
8. Have faith in yourself
According to Stanford researchers, a person’s “basic beliefs about personality can contribute to whether [they] recover from, or remain mired in, the pain of rejection.” They discovered that people who believed their personality was fixed were more likely to blame themselves and their “toxic personalities” for the breakup. They were more likely to doubt and criticize themselves, and to be pessimistic about their romantic prospects. Individuals with “changeable” personalities, on the other hand, were more likely to see their breakup as an opportunity to grow, develop, and change. They were optimistic about their future relationships and were able to move on with greater ease. We can actually figure out how to move on more successfully if we can stand up to our inner critic and believe in our own adaptability.
9. Practice self-compassion.
Self-compassion can be an important component of healing after a breakup. Picking all of the variables that predict how people will do after their marriage ends, self-compassion wins hands down. According to research, “those with high self-compassion reported fewer intrusive negative thoughts, fewer nightmares about the divorce, and less negative rumination.” Self-compassion outperformed other characteristics, habits, or even practical details.”
According to Dr. Kristin Neff, a leading researcher on self-compassion, it “involves acting the same way towards yourself; when you are having a difficult time, failing, or noticing something you don’t like about yourself.” Instead of simply ignoring your pain with a stiff upper lip, you pause to ask yourself, “This is really difficult right now. How can I comfort and care for myself at this moment?” She categorizes self-compassion as having three main components:
- Kindness to oneself as opposed to self-judgment
- As opposed to isolation, there is a common humanity.
- Over-identification versus mindfulness
Embracing each of these elements can assist us on our journey as we figure out how to move forward.
10. Mindfulness practice
According to Dr. Lisa Firestone, mindfulness is an “incredible tool for helping people understand, tolerate, and deal with their emotions in healthy ways.” Mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce stress by teaching us to accept our thoughts and feelings without becoming overwhelmed by them or harshly judging ourselves.
Headspace is an app that walks users through simple mindfulness exercises, allowing them to easily incorporate the practice into their daily lives. Their suggestions for using mindfulness to get through a breakup include paying attention to the stories our minds tell us, acknowledging but not necessarily believing them – allowing ourselves to feel our emotions, focusing on gratitude, and scheduling time each day for a mindfulness exercise.
11. Refrain from ruminating
One of the primary advantages of mindfulness is that it assists us in avoiding rumination. A recent UK study of over 30,000 people found that dwelling on negative life events was detrimental (particularly through rumination and self-blame). It has the potential to be the best predictor of some of the most common mental health issues. So, while we should certainly talk openly about our struggles and express our feelings about a breakup, we should also be wary of obsessive or sinking thoughts that lead us down a dark path. When we notice our critical inner voices creeping in or our mood shifting for the worse, we can help ourselves catch on to when we start ruminating.
12. Form a support group.
When it comes to figuring out how to move on, our friends can be the most useful tool we have. Whenever we are going through a difficult or transitional period in our lives. It’s beneficial to put together a support group, a group of people we know we can turn to when we’re feeling down. This list can be as long as you want it to be or as short as you want it to be. It could consist of family, friends, counselors, or coworkers.
The only requirement is that we choose people who make us feel more positive and like ourselves. Seeking the company of someone who ruminates or commiserates with us is not the most effective way to help us move on. People on our support team should be people with whom we can be open, honest, and emotional, but who also help us steer our thoughts away from our inner critic.
13. Take care of yourself
When we’re in the throes of a breakup, it’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves. Sleep deprivation or oversleeping, eating too much or too little, drinking alcohol, or engaging in less activity can all exacerbate negative emotions. No matter how low we feel, we should remember to treat ourselves like friends and take care of them. We must remember the fundamentals: exercise, rest and eat. Even light exercise or simply spending time outside can improve our mood by releasing endorphins. We can become more stressed, anxious, and disoriented if we don’t get enough sleep. We can become groggy or lethargic if we get too much sleep. To be of sound mind, we should strive for balance and allow ourselves enough time to rest.
14. Experiment with new and old things.
“In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself,” Deepak Chopra said. Finding ways to connect to yourself as an individual is one of the healthiest ways to move forward. If many of our favorite activities are linked to our partner, we should seek out new activities and create new memories that are uniquely ours.
We can try taking a class, visiting a new city, volunteering, going out with a new friend, learning a new hobby, or eating at different restaurants – anything that feels exploratory and unique to us.
On the other hand, we can do things we used to enjoy.
Perhaps there is an activity that we stopped doing when we got into a relationship that we can resume – perhaps a sport or a creative endeavor. Contrary to popular belief, when we break up with someone, we do not have to give up friends, activities, or entire sections of a city. However, if certain things emotionally trigger us and we’d prefer to avoid them, that’s fine, too.
15. Exercise generosity
When we are in pain, it is easy to become engrossed in our own worlds and minds. The more we connect with others, the easier it is to forget about (or at least stop catastrophizing) our own problems. Surprisingly, being generous has healing properties. Volunteering can be both a welcome distraction and beneficial use of our time. Even small acts of generosity performed throughout the day can assist us in moving forward.
Smiling at the person who serves us coffee, striking up a friendly conversation with someone at work, taking the time to ask friends about their lives, and assisting someone who is lost on a street corner. These are all small, positive ways to get us out of our heads, make us feel good about ourselves, and broaden our perspective on the world around us.
How to Heal a Broken Heart from Cheating
It is possible to heal from an affair if both you and your partner are willing to take the necessary steps, but it will be a long road. Here are a few important steps you can take together to help repair your relationship.
1. Ensure that there is remorse.
“A sufficient level of remorse is required. So, if you’re the cheating partner, you owe it to yourself to feel deeply sorry. It can’t be something that comes across as casual. “There has to be a strong sense of regret and remorse for what happened,” Elmquist says. And if your partner has cheated on you and you aren’t feeling remorse from them, that’s something you’ll want to look for as a starting point for you to get back on track.”
2. Be open and honest about what happened.
This is the most difficult step, and it will largely determine whether or not you will both be able to proceed. “People can make bad decisions at times,” Mahoney says. “The question then becomes: does that poor decision and/or symptom(s) now have to determine the future of a relationship? The answer is heavily influenced by the factors that led to the affair.”
Unmet needs in the relationship, poor communication, attachment difficulties, and antiquated gender roles can all be catalysts for an affair, which Mahoney has assisted couples within her practice.
“Infidelity is very complex; there is a lot of depth and complexity to why people cheat and how you can find a way back to each other,” Elmquist adds, emphasizing the importance of insight.
However, if the person who cheated is unwilling to be open about why it happened — or begins pointing fingers — repairing things may be impossible.
“[The reason] cannot be oversimplified, such as ‘I’m a man’ or ‘it just happened,'” says Lesli Doares, a marriage coach and author. “The only way to rebuild trust is to understand exactly what happened so that if a similar situation arises in the future, a different decision will be made.”
3. Remove all temptations to rekindle the affair.
Taking physical steps to cut off contact with the person if the affair is truly over. Setting boundaries is also critical to your partner’s healing process.” It will be necessary to delete contact information, block phone numbers, and remove social media contacts.
This was made more difficult because Grant’s husband worked with the woman with whom he had cheated. “I think ‘no contact’ is important, but it’s not always possible,” she says. “In that case, any interactions must be made transparent.”
4. Proceed with brutal honesty and care.
Being cheated on is harmful to a variety of reasons, but one major factor that must be addressed in order to move on is a lack of honesty. “‘Lying is a big part of betrayal,’ Doares says. As a result, she encourages the person who cheated to be brutally honest about all aspects of the affair, not just the ones that will hurt his or her partner the least. The cheater must be completely honest and answer all questions.
This level of transparency must continue for as long as it takes to re-establish trust; something Elle says was critical to her healing process. “My husband gave up anything that made me feel uneasy (like going out with the boys after work). I had access to all electronics, emails, passwords, and so on. He told me where he was going and who he was going to be with. In the short term, it appears humiliating, but he understood that this was the only way he could rebuild trust “she claims.
5. Be picky about who you tell.
Your first instinct may be to broadcast your partner’s indiscretions on social media for all to see, which is a common coping mechanism. I’ve seen people in this situation go to great lengths to humiliate their spouses in public. Often, this is done out of rage and a lack of clarity, which makes the person who has been cheated on look bad or insane by how they react. “It’s beneficial to talk to someone about your problems, especially a therapist. However, telling everyone in your inner circle may backfire.
“The more people who know about it, the more people who will have their opinions based solely on trying to protect you from getting hurt,” McNulty explains. This is the therapist’s worst nightmare because coalitions and allegiances among friends and family members make progress extremely difficult. Especially if you and your partner decide to work through this. “The person who was cheated on may be able to forgive and move on,” McNulty says, “but the family usually holds an intense grudge that usually adds more pressure to an already vulnerable relationship that is trying to rebuild and move on.”
6. Think about working with a licensed therapist.
It can be difficult to know what to do or even where to begin after an affair. If you feel like your conversations with your partner aren’t getting anywhere, consider working with a licensed therapist who can help guide the process.
“The ability of the therapist to be a neutral party in the conversation helps identify what underlying unmet needs can be recognized and processed within the couple’s relationship,” Mahoney explains. “Couples often have the ability to seek understanding, find compassion, and have a greater potential to problem solve and move forward during this investigative stage of therapy.
“Once you’ve figured out why someone cheated, how do you apply what you’ve learned and turn it into actionable change? Because the relationship will have to change,” Elmquist explains. “I frequently tell couples that they must bury their first relationship and consider starting a new one with each other.
And in that new relationship, you will put in the same amount of effort as you did at the beginning of your relationship; that same amount of effort in learning about each other, caring for each other, and being intentional with each other.”
How to heal a broken heart and the science behind it
Broken hearts are an unfortunate part of the human experience, and they really, really stink. We’ve all been there, and it’s safe to say we all want to avoid experiencing heartbreak again. We are heartbroken when we lose someone or something we care deeply about, such as a romantic relationship or a friendship, a family member, a pet, or a job or opportunity.
Heartbreak can be extremely stressful, especially if the loss is unexpected. This stress can have an emotional and physical impact on us, and it can take weeks, months, or even years to recover from.
While there is still much to learn about how and why we experience love and heartbreak, and the effects these have on our bodies, scientific research has provided us with some clues about why heartbreak makes you feel so bad, as well as some coping strategies.
Why is it so painful?
According to research, your brain registers the emotional pain of heartbreak in the same way that it registers physical pain. As a result, you may believe that your heartbreak is causing physical pain. The language we use to describe heartbreak – “I feel like my heart has been ripped out,” “it was gut-wrenching,” “like a slap in the face” – all hint at how we associate physical pain with emotional pain.
Hormones of heartbreak
Hormones aren’t just for rambunctious teenagers; our bodies produce a slew of hormones on a daily basis for a variety of reasons, including falling in and out of love.
Because of the hormones released by our brain when we become overly attached to someone or something, love can be addictive, much like a drug. Dopamine and oxytocin, in particular, are hormones that make us feel good and want to repeat behaviors, and they are released in large quantities when we are in love.
When a person experiences heartbreak, these hormone levels drop and are replaced by the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is designed to support your body’s fight-or-flight response; however, too much cortisol over time can contribute to anxiety, nausea, acne, and weight gain – all of the unpleasant mental and physical symptoms associated with heartbreak.
A medically broken heart
Have you ever wondered if emotional heartbreak can physically break your heart?
Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy is the medical term for a syndrome caused by heartbreak, or more precisely, the stress of a heartbreaking situation.
Acute emotional stress, whether positive or negative, can cause the left ventricle of the heart to become ‘stunned’ or paralyzed, resulting in heart attack-like symptoms such as the sharp chest, arm, or shoulder pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of consciousness, nausea, and vomiting.
The good news is that, unlike a heart attack, the condition rarely causes permanent damage and often resolves on its own. The bad news is that it can be stressful and painful, with people frequently believing they are having a heart attack. Because it is impossible to tell what is causing your symptoms without performing tests.
Books on how to heal a broken heart
Time may heal all wounds, but nothing heals a broken heart like a good book. Set aside time to read one (or all!) of these seven books, each of which addresses the despair of lost love in its own unique and healing way.
Here are a few books that may assist you in healing from a broken heart.
1. The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants has just arrived for her freshman year at Harvard and she’s slowly making friends – one, Svetlana, her Siberian classmate, and another, Ivan, an older mathematics student from Hungary. As Selin’s story spans cultures and continents, it brings together the joys, fears, insecurities, and unknowns of discovering one’s self amid life and love.
2. Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera
Juliet just came out to her parents and left the Bronx to “find herself” in Portland. The trouble is, she’s found a great internship with her favorite author and feminist mentor, but she’s low on confidence and questioning that she can pull her life together this summer. Humorous and inspiring, readers will fall in love with the heroine in Juliet Takes A Breath.
3. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
No. 1 New York Times bestseller Milk and Honey is a four-part collection of poetry and prose, each part dealing with heartache and pain. Author Rupi Kaur gracefully explores the bitter moments in life while never failing to find the healing sweetness that is hidden among the heartache.
4. Heartburn by Nora Ephron
The writer of Sleepless in Seattle expertly weaves hilarity into the breakup of a perfect marriage as the very pregnant Rachel Samstat discovers that her husband, Mark, is in love with another woman. She’s a cookbook author, so naturally, she turns to food as she processes her confusing emotions. She just needs to decide whether she wants Mark back, or dead.
5. The Pisces by Melissa Broder
Lucy’s been so focused on her dissertation that she hardly realized that her relationship with her boyfriend was crumbling. When the flame finally goes out, Lucy heads to her sisters’ in L.A. to pick up the pieces. Instead, she finds herself anxious, jaded, and frankly unlovable. Then she spots a swimmer – and it’s nearly love at first sight until she finds out his identity.
6. The Wisdom of a Broken Heart: How to Turn the Pain of a Breakup Into Healing, Insight, and New Love by Susan Piver
Author Susan Piver recognizes that when a relationship ends, the anguish and disappointment can be crippling. She lovingly encourages readers to forget the typical advice about staying busy and moving on, and instead, pushes them to take this opportunity to self-transform. Throughout the book, she shares her own story of heartbreak and delivers a strong dose of hope to those who need it most.
7. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön
Pema Chödrön’s is the perfect addition to one’s spiritual library as she shows that moving toward painful situations – rather than away from them – can open up our hearts to growth, healing and love. She draws from traditional Buddhist wisdom as she offers life-changing tools to readers suffering from heartbreak and sadness.
In the end, the only true cure for a broken heart is time. And there’s no denying the pain until you’ve moved on from your loss. Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true ways to cope with heartbreak.
If you notice that grief is interfering with your daily life or that you are experiencing symptoms of depression, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. They can be the compassionate ear you need, especially when others are at a loss for words.
Whether you’re going through a difficult breakup or mourning the loss of a loved one, keep these core tenets in mind to help your heart recover: honesty about your experience and emotions, compassion for yourself, social support, and self-care. After a while, you’ll begin to feel more like yourself.
Why does heartbreak hurt so much?
Image for how to mend a broken heart
Why does it hurt so much? According to research, your brain registers the emotional pain of heartbreak in the same way it registers physical pain, which is why you may believe your heartbreak is causing physical pain.
Do you ever fully recover from a broken heart?
You’ll probably wonder if your heart will ever heal from the breakup at some point. Your heart will eventually heal, that is the answer. Anyone who has been through a breakup understands this. But if you’re currently in the grip of a devastating heartbreak, that’s not exactly reassuring.