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Recovering from a Breakup: Proven Ways to Heal (From Science)

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Even if your heart tries to pull its broken self together to tell you it’s for the best, and your head – foggy and sad – tells you the pain will pass, the agony of a breakup can be relentless. When you’re recovering from a breakup, it’s important not to hurry things along – it’s your time to reset, recharge and draw wisdom from the experience – but what if your healing could be strong and complete … and quicker?  Science may have just found the way. 

New research has found that broken-hearted ones who reflected more on their relationships over a nine week period had a stronger overall recovery from their breakup. 

An important part of the healing is a process called ‘self-concept reorganisation’, which involves rebuilding and strengthening the sense of who you are, independent of the relationship.

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Relationships have a profound impact on the beliefs we have about ourselves, whether we realise it or not. During the course of a relationship, it’s very normal to ‘intertwine’ with a partner. Goals and directions change, as well as wants and needs for now and the future.

This isn’t because you lose yourself, though certainly that can happen, but because intimacy involves opening up to another person – opening up to their love, wants, needs, feelings, opinions, love, goals, dreams. When that happens, you can’t help but be influenced and eventually move in the same direction. Sometimes that involves adjusting your own sails. It’s all a healthy part of being with someone fully, and part of the unpredictable magic of relationships.

A breakup means the undoing of this merging, which is painful to go through. However strong and independent a person may be, the fracturing of a relationship can also mean the fracturing of the self-concept. One of the most painful parts of a breakup is that it up-ends things as you’ve come to know them. The familiar is gone, plans are changed and the future all of a sudden has too many blank spaces where happy things used to be.

 

Part of the healing is re-establishing who you are without your partner. Anything that can repair and re-strengthen the self-concept, will accelerate healing.

So, to get you back to strong, based on science …

  1. Talk. Go on. Go for it.

    There are a couple of ways that talking about a breakup might help to facilitate healing. The first is that talking about the relationship will help to bring a different perspective to things. It’s not called a ‘breakup’ because it’s working well. Being in love or being in like-a-lot can blur things, hide things and dress things up, sometimes at the cost of clarity. There will be a level of insight that will throw itself at your feet when you talk about the relationship from a more distant perspective.

  2. Find your story.

    Talking helps to construct a story of the relationship that gives meaning to the experience – including the experience of the relationship, the breakup, and perhaps most importantly for healing, the recovery. Let me explain …

    If you tell the story of your breakup as one of rejection and a lost happy ever after, recovery will be slow, kind of like ‘walking through quicksand’ type of slow. It’s really easy to get stuck in this narrative when the thoughts are locked in your head and want to be with you at 2am. On the other hand, talking to people in your tribe will help you find a way to understand your story from a position of strength. This might involve finding the lessons, the learning and reframing the experience as, say, an ending, rather than a rejection.

  3. An emotional release – journalling.

    Having an emotional release is an important part of healing. Journalling is one way to do this as it allows you to capture and give definition to the thoughts and feelings that are swirling around inside. Journalling doesn’t have to be done every day to have an effect. Even a few times a week will help the healing. 

  4. Write – as though you’re talking to a stranger.

    Writing repeatedly about the process of the breakup as though speaking with a stranger about it, is another way to move towards healing. As well as being an emotional release, it also encourages a fresh perspective and new insights.

  5. Reclaim yourself – what’s been neglected?

    Reclaiming a strong self-concept – establishing who you are outside of the relationship – is critical and will be enormously supportive of a recovery. Think about the parts of yourself that might have been pushed aside during the relationship. When you’ve found these, find ways to build them and nurture them. 

  6. And expand them.

    Find new ways to expand your self concept. When you feel ready, (or maybe a little before then) take up new interests, establish new goals or re-establish your direction. Given that your need to connect has been messed with, anything that will give you the opportunity to connect with others who will also see you as your own, unique person will really help the healing process.

A breakup is an ending, not a rejection. It might not feel like that initially, but it’s an important thing to remember. When your heart has been broken, it can take a while to find your way back to whole but you will get there. Healing from a broken heart is as much a physical process as it is an emotional one. It’s very similar to recovering from an addiction, which is why it feels so hard and so damn painful.

Above all else, remember that there were things about you that were beautiful, strong, vibrant and extraordinary before the relationship. Nothing has changed.

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240 Comments

Mi

We were living a wonderful life with my boyfriend almost for four months but because my brother threatened him he told me to break up. What’s killing me most is that we’re getting separated not because of our problems but someone else. I have never been sad, vulnerable and so down I can’t eat I feel like I hate my life and my self. Every day I try to make my self busy during the day and at night I sleep when I’m really tired and then at in the middle of the night I find myself thinking about him and all the stories. This is happening everyday I don’t know what to do.

Reply
Sheldon

I just broke up with ex one week ago, we had wonderful times througth the year, but our values differ, especialy when it comes to gifts from others, she took them as a habbit and refuse to talk about it when I brought things up. We were engaged, I thought we can discuss whether or which gift you can take, she said it is her own business and it makes no sense talking to me, at that moment, I can not see the future of us. After three days of silence, she wanted to break up and gave back the ring. Even though she told me she does not want a breakup, I feel like I can not trust her anymore, I did not feel the urge to say or do anything, I just accept the outcome in peace. Now I kept thinking about the wonderful time we had and worry whether her next boyfriend would love her as the way I did. I can`t sleep and I am ab out break down…

Reply
Varun

hi. i also brokeup after 2 years of very close relationship and the problem with me is also same like you as i cant concentrate anything else but her only. my appeptite is decreased. i dont know what to do. i just want my mind to stop thinking of her

Reply
Jon

Howdy Gentlemen,
My fiance and I of 3 years have just recently broken up. Thankfully we were able to talk about a lot of things, and I have documented the process pretty well. My world is shattered, my life revolved around her. The habits, the routines, the support, the feeling of being loved. Everything is gone. Every day is like being stabbed through the heart, and every night is like losing my soul.
I feel yall for sure, and here is what I believe we should do.
For one, we need to look at what we are doing and think about why we are doing it. Then we need to determine what the result of it will be.

Not sleeping, not eating, constantly thinking about her. Why are we doing those things?
For me, I could not eat because I was so upset by the situation that it blocked out my other needs. It also brought back memories of us eating together. I could not sleep because I was so used to her being by my side to talk, touch, or just share the space. I still cant stop thinking about her, because I choose to associate every aspect of life with her and the future I fully believed we would have.
The result of these behaviors will dish us out more pain, more loss, and continue to hurt our futures. We will lose energy. We will lose strength. We will break ourselves…
Now I know we cant just stop these behaviors. ( I consider myself very rational, but my mind simply cant defeat my heart ) However, telling yourself every day that not only will this hurt US, but it also hurts EVERYONE ELSE. Your friends, your family, even your ex would never wish this on us.
We need to let go. We need to determine exactly what kind of future we envision for ourselves. Even if that future is ” I want my ex back “. Then, we need to build ourselves into someone who is capable of that future.
DO NOT BREAK
DO NOT GIVE UP
LOVE YOURSELF, SO THAT YOU MAY LOVE OTHERS IN PEACE.
I’m not there yet, but hopefully some of my words ring true to you. We will recover my friends. We will learn from what has happened. We will be grateful for the good times we had. We will not hold resentment in our hearts, because we are smart enough to know that everything happens for a reason. Believe with unwavering conviction that you will succeed, and make it happen. You never know where we will be further down the road.
I wish yall the best, and a speedy recovery.
Regards,
Jon

Reply
Crisis

There are many outlets to release your pain.
Try chatting with a crisis counselor at Crisis Text Line. They literally helped me every night while I was alone and depressed. Breaking up was terrible for me.

Reply
Ro

5 years. I was doing my best being patient. There was something that I saw in her, when I wanted to date her. I knew from the first look, that she had the same feeling about life inside as I did. I was sure of that. But half year ago, I got tired of not being taken for granted. My strength was put in my patience, and I was thriving for celebrations. I always knew that there was more of me inside, still, my patience became a picture of me for her, and she did not believe me of who I was. It was stressful. I wanted to give her something. In the end she told me : I am thankful for the gifts, that you gave me. But there are no more feelings.
for me it is painful. I should not have taken a teachers role here, but what love is ? I taught her, she taught me about things that come from inside. That is lovely. We can not cope together. She picks at me when I express what I am capable of, and after a day we both agree, that we could be together : I pull you on the nose, you pull me on my nerves – she says. we love one another, but we cannot cope with arguments no more. And she got medical issues, when I stopped putting my strength on keeping myself patient. This showed her that she was egoistic.
She got messed over that, and I see her. Still, she does not want to hear anything about that from me. well, sometimes she does. She is pushing that away from her.

I love her. She is a beautiful soul. Good luck for her.
I need to rearrange myself now. Make something for myself.

And I think that if there was a beautiful time – do not delete it after it gets nasty. Remember the beauty you had. Do not put a cross over it.

Reply

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