Breaking up, as Neil Sedaka sang, is hard to do. There is just no sugar-coating the fact. And the truth is, it’s a process that even the strongest of individuals find difficult. It’s near impossible to escape that aching feeling you get in your stomach – like a knot twisting and turning, and the lump that forms in your throat when something meaningful ends.
The good news is, because people have been breaking up for centuries, there are now several scientifically-proven ways to help you get over your ex. Which is why we recommend you follow this step-by-step guide, supported by research, to heal your broken heart so that you can get back on that horse once again.
Step One: Think Negative Thoughts
Sure, the Law of Attraction will curse you for it, but this is actually a positive step in the right direction to healing a broken heart.
It’s been said that when you weigh up the negative things about your ex (their annoying quirks and unfavorable characteristics) as well as your relationship, you’ll be able to reduce the heart ache to a certain degree, softening the blow. It also helps decrease the level of attachment that you may feel for your ex, making you feel more independent and capable of moving on without them.
Step Two: Accept It
Oftentimes, a break up incurs feelings of guilt about leaving someone behind and moving on. But research shows that if you use affirmations proving that it’s OK to still love someone without being in a relationship with them, and that you’re allowed to see yourself thrive with someone new, you’ll be able to accept your break up with more ease.
This exercise encourages you to realise that your feelings are valid and that it is perfectly normal to find greener pastures.
Step Three: Think Positive Thoughts
This next step is all about thinking positively…about other things. What is your favorite food? Where have you been dying to visit? What goals do you have for the future that are totally attainable and what can you do to get there?
All of these things will not only be a distraction from your break up, but also give you a sense of hope for the future and the things that you can still do, despite suffering from a broken heart.
Step Four: Be Realistic
It’s fair to say that, in some shape or form, you’ll see a photograph or read/hear something about your ex (think social media) after your break up – this is almost inevitable. Which is why, after slowly going through the aforementioned steps, you should actually look at a photograph of your ex.
Seems like a step backwards doesn’t it? In actuality, the study, conducted on 24 test subjects suffering from a broken heart, proved that when they had slowly and intensely gone through one or all of the steps leading to this one, they showed less of an emotional response while looking at a photograph of their ex.
But how can one’s level of emotions be measured, you ask? Via an EEG (placing electrodes on the test subjects’ scalp) which accurately measures a person’s emotions and attention. Interesting, isn’t it?
Adversely, here are five things that you shouldn’t do while getting over a break up (and what to do if you find yourself doing them).
- Rack Your Brain
Problem: You may find yourself deep in thought, obsessing over what went wrong and what you could have done to fix it. By doing this, you’re simply adding to your feelings of guilt and self-pity (and pity parties are no fun).
Solution: Instead, realise that it takes two people to be in a relationship, and it takes two people to fail a relationship. Also, take some time (without being too hard on yourself) to critically decipher how you contributed to any problems in the relationship and or the break up, and how you could better handle a similar situation in the future. Every moment is a teachable one, even heartache.
- Keep In Contact
Problem: Perhaps you’re saving his or her number ‘for a rainy day’, or keeping them on social media because you’ve decided to be “friends”. Healing takes time, and if you’re constantly tempted to contact your ex after a few drinks or when you’re feeling lonely, the healing will never truly begin.
Solution: Delete the number and delete him or her off social media. This is not to say that you should always avoid your ex, but first you need to find a comfortable space in which to grieve without constantly having that temptation to see when last he or she was online (WhatsApp).
In time, you two may just be great friends without emotional baggage – when that time comes, feel free to invite them back into your virtual world.
- Grab Attention
Problem: It’s in our nature to want to win and that’s no different when it comes to a break up. For that reason, newly-single folk often want to appear as though they’re doing perfectly fine, if not fantastic, without their ex (you know, photos on Instagram of sunset drinks with tons of hot people). This, in no way, benefits you and is just a game that is pretty much pointless.
Solution: Take a break from social media. Or, alternatively, ditch the mind games and get on with your life. It’ll only show a sense of maturity and class on your end.
Also, take a leaf out of James Hablin’s book (an author for the Atlantic) when he said: “The only real winners are the people who don’t care how they look on social media, to their ex or anyone”.
- Ask About Him or Her
Problem: It’s natural to want to ask mutual friends about your ex. We’re inquisitive humans, after all. But by doing so, what can you gain? Would it comfort you to find out that he or she has taken two new partners to bed? Or that they’re crying themselves to sleep while shoving pizza down their throat? In any of those scenarios, you’ll just feel sad (for them).
Solution: Think about yourself! Don’t waste your mental energy on something that’s over, but rather focus on what’s possible for you in the future. The spotlight needs to be on you, not them.
- Date Too Soon
Problem: There’s an expression that says, “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.” And while sexy time is always fun, if you find yourself dating or sleeping around soon after a break up, you’ll just be swallowing your emotions and covering them up by involving new people in your life.
This will probably make you feel better in the short term, but in the long run, it’s just delaying the process of getting over your break up and providing you with instant gratification.
Solution: Again, think about yourself! You don’t need to find a new partner to fill the spaces of your life. You are more than capable of entertaining and loving yourself. Take time to breathe, grieve, and to build yourself up again so that you’re the best version of yourself for your next relationship.
You’ll find that all you really need to regain your emotional strength once again is to take your time and to engage in introspection. You’re cool enough as you are, make the effort to enjoy your own company and to love yourself as a single entity – you’ll be thankful you did.