How to Heal from Heartbreak
While we all enter into romantic relationships, and even platonic friendships, with great hopes and positivity, the reality is that many relationships not only go through hard times, but they fall apart completely. Many, if not most of us, are no stranger to heartbreak. Perhaps you have even recently been part of a “bad break-up”. Teyhou Smyth, the Centre’s London-based therapist, examines this all too human condition and gives some advice for those of use who may be heartsore today.
Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.Alfred Lord Tennyson
These wise old words may be true in the grand scheme of things, but in the aftermath of a heartbreak, they seem trite and overused.
What is a heartbreak?
Heartbreak is a natural side effect of taking a chance on love. Few things in life make us as emotionally vulnerable as loving, intimate relationships. This becomes even more pronounced when love is lost.
What are examples of Bad Advice from Well Intentioned Loved Ones
In this vulnerable emotional place, family and friends will offer all sorts of advice to try and pull you out of your funk. You may have heard a few of these doozies before.
“Go get drunk and sleep with other people.”
Your buddies may advise this as a way to kick-start your healing process from heartbreak. The problem is, it doesn’t actually work. You’ll just have more complicated feelings and the sadness will still be waiting for you after the fling.
“Fight for it, even if you have to beg.”
There’s nothing wrong with fighting for a relationship if both of you are wanting it to work, but to push the issue if the other person is certain that they want it to end is crossing the line into Stalkerville.
Take no for an answer and respect your ex’s decision. Whatever you do, don’t beg. Begging will only illicit disrespect and it’s difficult to recover from that level of power inequity.
“Burn their stuff in the yard!”
Um, no. Not only does this incite more discord, it also lets the other person know how much you disrespect them and feel entitled to destroy their belongings. Plus, you could get sued. That’d certainly not help you feel any better.
“Get right back up on that horse! Sign up for online dating! Let me set you up with my friend.”
Even if your loved ones aren’t telling you to jump into bed with other people, suggesting that you date too soon after heartbreak is also unhealthy. You need time to heal.
Distracting yourself from your pain will not lessen it; it only brings another person into a situation that could cause them heartbreak if you’re not ready.
As well-intentioned as these friends and relatives may be, resist the urge to get even or drown out feelings with alcohol, sex or other relationships.
Trust yourself to heal in the timeframe that your heart and mind require, without an arbitrary time frame.
You’ll know when you’re ready to move on. Trust the healing process.
How to Help Yourself Heal?
Healing from heartbreak is highly individualized. There are some things that may help as you journey through the difficult days.
Take an inventory of blessings:
Explore the varying things you have learned in this relationship, including what you want for a future relationship based on what you learned about yourself.
Use some expressive outlets:
Some thoughts and feelings are difficult to translate into words. Instead express them through music, drawing or another creative outlet. Don’t worry about whether your creation makes sense to anyone else, as long as it resonates with how you feel it is healing.
Balance time alone and time with others:
Try to strike a balance between spending time with friends and being alone with your thoughts and feelings. If you get stuck in one mode or the other it can set you up for avoidance of others or avoidance of time alone.
Why Talk to a counsellor after a heartbreak:
Talking to a professional can feel like a big step, but once you realize how cathartic it is to confide in someone who will maintain your confidentiality, it is empowering and meaningful.
When you are facing heartbreak, it may feel like a never-ending emotional spiral.
Remember that feelings have a short shelf-life. In time you will begin to feel better and will be able to reflect back on this as a growth experience.
[This blog post originally appeared on Teyhou’s website www.livingwithfinesse.com]