Four smart things you can do to ease your heartache.
You’ve been dumped, and suddenly your world seems entirely different than it did just moments ago.
You want to begin the necessary business of creating a new normal, but you find yourself continuously over-analyzing as you replay scenes from the relationship in your head.
Your playlist is stuck on depressing music. Your friends are growing tired of your emotional roller coaster. You know you have to get a grip, but you feel powerless to control your thoughts and feelings — heartbroken and lonely one minute, then victimized, angry and humiliated the next.
The more you try to repress these thoughts, the more they rule your mind. You stalking social media sites to track his every move (and find out if he's moved on to another relationship). That thought in particular is sure to send panic coursing through your blood.
You’re not alone.
When we're in love, powerful chemicals flood our bodies. These chemicals are as addictive and powerful as cocaine. When we break up, it can seem as painful as quitting an addiction.
While there is no easy way out of heartbreak, and there are no short cuts through the pain, there are ways you can take control of your healing process in order to maximize your strength and minimize the amount of time you spend in such acute pain.
Making a decision persevere through the pain is key.
Here are 4 steps to take NOW in order to mindfully and deliberately shorten the intensity and the duration of the worst of your heartbreak:
1. Set down your ego.
Our egos protect us. Our egos give us courage, ambition and drive. Our egos, however, despise being bumped and bruised. Like cobras, when they sense trouble, our egos flare.
During a break up, the ego tries to protect us by saving our pride. In the name of pride, the ego creates all sorts of falsehoods that seem like the truth to break free of the powerful chemicals surging through our brains.
Thinking it's a good idea to share private photos online, drunk text or slander your ex? That's your pesky ego running the show. Misguided, ego-driven decisions create more drama and lengthen the time it takes to slog through the pain.
Give your ego some much needed time off. You're an adult. You control your actions. It might be uncomfortable, but no matter what your ego suggests, resist the temptation to act on feelings of pain or humiliation. Catch your breath and process the pain without an audience, especially on social media.
Your ego will likely protest and demand action, retribution or attention, but do NOT give in.
2. Take ownership for your own responsibility in what went wrong.
With the ego out of the way, you can quiet your mind and reflect on the relationship. Did you not speak up when something needed to be said? Did you ignore your gut feelings? Did you avoid confrontation in your relationship? Was there too much confrontation? Did you refuse to see the signs?
Blaming everything on another person only serves as a release valve to transfer the pain. Gift yourself with control.
Taking responsibility for your share of the breakdown doesn't mean excusing the other person’s behavior, it simply means you own what is rightly yours. Take what is yours, learn from it and move on.
3. Allow yourself time to grieve, but set a "timer."
Depending on the length and seriousness of the relationship, the amount of time you truly need will vary, but it's important to allow yourself time to mourn. Wallow in your misery and wear it like a dark, wet blanket. When time is up — even if you don’t feel ready — pick yourself up and move on.
You might still feel brittle. The pain might be searing. The humiliation may still feel unbearable. But the discomfort and pain won’t kill you.
4. Cut off the break up’s oxygen.
Stop talking about it. Don’t allow others to talk about it. Delete him from social media. Stop acting as if the break up is even a "thing." Tell people you are fine — because you are.
Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy asserts in her famous TED Talk that force-changing our body language in ways such as faking a smile can change not only our perceptions of ourselves, but also how others perceive us.
So get out there and fake confidence, fake composure, and fake fun — every single day if you have to. For weeks if you must.
Faking it is good for you. It signals to your brain that you are going to be okay. Faking it allows the ego to shine with enough space to do what it does best: build you back up. Instead of seeking revenge, now the ego says to itself, "I guess we're supposed to be happy and confident now! I’ll get to work on that!" And it does.
The ego rebuilds you slowly — this time, with your best interests in mind. No longer seeking revenge or plotting drama, the ego works double-time to make you whole again, as well as stronger, more confident, and happier.
Healing comes from deliberate actions.
When you make thoughtful and calm decisions toward recovery, your brain develops the muscle memory it needs to overcome hardship in the future.
A broken heart heals most efficiently when a you consciously decide you WILL heal well.