Getting over a break up is hard. And unfortunately, common. If you’re actively participating in the dating game, chances are good that you’re going to experience a break up sooner or later.
Of course, not all break ups are created equal. While some break ups might be cured by a night out with friends and a new date, others are much more significant and painful.
This is for that painful kind of break up. It’s a How To guide for moving on after a serious break up. How to heal a broken heart, essentially.
It’s a few steps that—in the midst of suffering—will help you begin the healing process. They’re not an instant cure. As you’ll see, the ‘cure’ involves time and some degree of effort on your part. But these steps can point you in the right direction.
1. Feel your Feelings, Grieve the Loss
The end of a relationship brings loads of emotions; most of them not so fun. Getting past the pain requires experiencing and feeling the emotions as they come up.
Feeling your Feelings vs. Expressing your Feelings
There’s an important distinction between feeling your feelings and expressing your feelings. Often when you express your feelings (e.g., when you talk about them, tell the tale of what happened), you end up feeling worse. This is because you’re simply telling your version of your painful story over and over. Nothing is being resolved; in fact, you’re usually becoming even more engrossed in your version of the story and how awful it is that you begin to give it a lot of energy and attention and you hold on to it more tightly than ever. So while you may be expressing your anger, frustration, and hurt, those feelings don't seem to be going away. If anything, they’re magnified.
How do I feel my feelings?
Moving on after a break up requires feeling your feelings. How does one feel their feelings, you ask?
You can become like a scientist, carefully studying their exact nature. For example, when you notice loneliness, identify where it is in your body. Do you feel it in your heart, in your stomach, or in your head? Describe it in detail. Is it like a dull aching or a sharp burning? Is it moving, staying still, hot, cold, etc.?
All emotions are physical sensations in the body. Sit with the feeling you’ve identified and revel in the way it feels. Feel it in detail.
When you experience your emotion in detail in this way, it starts to fade. All emotions have a beginning, middle, and an end. We’re often afraid to feel our emotions because we think if we let ourselves really dive in and feel them, we’ll get stuck. We think they’ll hurt us, or we’ll never escape, or they’ll somehow damage us irreparably.
I promise you, this isn’t possible. In fact, the opposite is true. As soon as you sit with your feelings and really feel them, they become processed and can pass through and away from you.
You’ll feel the emotion begin, hit its peak, and then begin to dissipate. This process is typically much faster than we expect. When you sit with your emotion and feel it in detail, you let it run its course.
This is a process of feeling, not thinking. While you’re feeling your emotions, you’re not judging them or commenting on them. You’re simply experiencing them as objectively as possible, just like the scientist would.
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