Breakups are hard. While this isn’t a profound statement, it still brings me a peaceful reminder that the depth of emotions I feel proceeding any breakup are valid.
I’ve had my fair share of breakups and there’s something I’ve learned as a result. You don’t get OVER a breakup, you get THROUGH it. To truly move on from a broken heart, you must feel the emotions or transmute them so that the energy doesn’t stay stuck in your body, coming back to haunt you years later.
We all know the situation where someone is emotionally unavailable because of a bad breakup. The relationship was very important to them and the broken heart still remains, months or years later. The reason the person can’t move on is because they haven’t moved through their pain.
Below are seven tips on how to move through a breakup.
1. Listen to sad music and cry it out.
I know this sounds counterintuitive because after a breakup the last thing we want is to get lost in an abyss of pain—unless you’re addicted to misery. But the pain is there even if you pretend it’s not. You must face off with the hurt and the truth of the situation—your relationship is over.
It hurts. So give yourself the time and space to feel those emotions fully. Listen to a playlist of sad love songs and cry over what you’ve lost. The loss of a relationship is something that must be grieved, for your future with this person has died. And until you’ve allowed yourself the grieving time to process the truth, you may continue on with hope in the back of your heart or close yourself off from feeling deeply again.
Breakups are hard. Yes, I’ve said it again. To remind you that it’s okay that you’re struggling. In fact, it’s normal. If you weren’t having a hard time it would mean you didn’t allow yourself to love someone else. And how beautiful that you were able to experience the beauty that love has to offer.
2. Remember the good, but don’t forget the bad.
There’s a reason you broke up. Obviously something wasn’t working, whether it be on your side or theirs. Try to remember the good you shared without glamorizing it, because that will keep you hanging on rather than letting go and moving on.
By remembering the good times, you can allow your heart some comfort. Feel the love you shared without getting lost in your fantasy. It can feel good to remember the moments of love as long as you don’t lose the memories of why it didn’t work. And don’t allow yourself to think that you’ll never find love again. That can prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy or keep you from moving through your breakup.
Reflect on past relationships and notice how they no longer hold the same amount of charge they used to. Keeping a journal is incredibly helpful to write down your feelings now and also come back to in a few weeks, months, or years. You’ll discover that you got through your last breakup even if you thought you never would at the time, proving you can get through another.
3. Have compassion for yourself.
Moving through a breakup takes time. Don’t rush the process or else your reconstruction of a broken heart will have a shaky foundation. You want to make sure you are rebuilding your heart properly so you’ll be able to open it again to the next relationship.
We often criticize ourselves for staying hurt too long or not moving on fast enough, as if a test of strength is how quickly you can bounce from partner to partner. In fact, it takes more strength and courage to endure the pain without jumping into a new relationship and running away from the emotions.
Let the tears fall, it’s okay. Pretending the pain doesn’t exist is an unhealthy skill that will only repress the emotions that will inevitably arise later. Understanding that grieving takes time and having compassion for yourself throughout the process will allow you to freely welcome what comes.
4. Find healthy distractions.
While you need time to grieve and allow the emotions to come, it’s unhealthy to get stuck in that state of being. One of the hardest things about leaving a relationship is that there’s a lot more time on your hands. You need to learn how to fill that free time with things that will allow you to feel positive.
When I was mourning my most recent breakup, I had a full month of distractions. I believe Spirit was working to make sure I stayed stable and didn’t fall into a depression by keeping me busy. New opportunities kept presenting themselves and I kept saying yes.
My favorite “yes” of the time was a commitment to start regularly exercising again. I joined a fitness studio and started stretching more and exercising on a daily basis. Not only did this help my energy and mood, but I felt good knowing that I was doing good for myself.
5. Create a daily self-love practice.
When we lose a love, we often feel empty. There’s a hole where the external love used to be. We no longer receive the external praise or affection. It’s our job to fill that hole with love.
Self-love is a daily practice that works to create a healthy mental environment. After breakups, especially if we’re the ones who are being left, we may suffer from feeling unworthy—unworthy of love, affection, or time. Thoughts of not being good enough infiltrate and can bring us down into a depression if we don’t fight them with love, self-love.
It’s important to always practice self-love, even when in a relationship. Because we all know, that relationships are not forever—high divorce rates continue to prove this point. To ensure the breakup pain doesn’t suffocate you, make sure you know that you are still loved, if not by your former lover, but by yourself. And also, by your friends.
6. Strengthen your connections with others.
Often, people will dedicate so much time and effort into their relationships that they lose track of their friendships. This is true of longterm relationships where you and your partner have built a life together. But after the breakup, it’s friends and a support system that will help you to recover a new life.
Biologically, we are wired for connection. When your main connection is severed after a breakup, you will need to strengthen your other wires. Leaning on your friends and loved ones during a time of distress can be incredibly comforting, but remember no one knows what you need, so you must ask for help.
Strengthening old connections, or making new ones, will allow you to realize that you’re not alone—an affliction often felt after a breakup. The loneliness will set in from no longer being in a relationship, but you have the opportunity to dive into vulnerability and reach out and ask for help from others. Utilize your support system to help you through the breakup process.
7. Transmute the pain through creativity.
One of the magical things about heartbreak is that it makes delicious fuel for art. Ask any poet or musician. There’s a reason creativity is linked with madness. When we create from our emotions, and not our heads, we can create beauty and the truth of the human experience.
Whatever your chosen medium, you can use your pain and transmute it into art. And no, I’m not saying your art needs to be something you share or sell at a gallery, so don’t let any false expectations stop you from expressing. Do it for you. But if you want, you can always share it and use your pain to connect and help someone else.
The energy of pain can be used to propel you forward in another avenue. For me, I used it to start working out again and to write a song (see below). There are gifts in the darkest moments, it’s up to you to find them and shine your light.
You’ll get through this.
Moving through a breakup hurts. You have a fragile broken heart that needs repairing. Rather than hastily taping it back together, leaving room for shoddy craftsmanship, forgotten pieces, and protruding shards, give yourself the time to find all the shattered parts and slowly connect the puzzle while reinforcing it with superglue. You’ll experience intense amounts of pain now, but you’ll thank yourself in the future.
Brittany Noelle Roa is an interdisciplinary artist with an MFA in Physical Theatre who uses her art and creativity to heal herself and others. She loves learning about health and wellness so she can optimize her human potential to live a full and happy life.