Getting your heart broken is a bit of a rite of passage. Many of us experience it for the first time when we are young, and it seems as though we may never recover. Yet, somehow, the world keeps turning and life goes on. Unfortunately, with age come more serious relationships and even more serious heartbreak. “It belongs in the category of trauma,” says Fran Walfish, Psy.D., Beverly Hills psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent, and former co-star of WE TV’s Sex Box.
There are so many questions we ask ourselves after this kind of trauma. What did I do wrong? Will I find love again? Is it normal to still love my ex? While this kind of thinking is only natural after dealing with the end of a relationship, Walfish explains, dwelling on these internal obsessions can keep you “held hostage to your own compulsive thinking.” There are no simple answers to the questions that torment you post-breakup, but there are steps you can take to move on in a healthy way. Take it from a relationship expert: These are the steps to help you heal after a breakup.
Use Your Imagination
Walfish suggests playing out a scenario in your mind that you never had the chance to actualize during the relationship; this will help you work through unresolved feelings with an ex. The simplest way to do this is to imagine the ex you’re not quite over sitting in an imaginary chair and have a conversation with them. “Say all the things you wish you could’ve said if they were there in person,” says Walfish. This is especially helpful if your former significant other had difficulty expressing feelings or communicating problems with you.
Punch Out Your Anger
Along with the need to express your feelings verbally comes the need to express anger in a physical way. “It’s very important for people to have a physical expulsion of the aggressive impulses,” Walfish says. Instead of acting out or holding a grudge, take up boxing and release your aggression on a punching bag or even simply punch a pillow or your mattress. Walfish also suggests going somewhere private or secluded and allowing yourself to scream. Moving through these feelings of anger in a healthy way can be incredibly healing and cathartic.
Write a Letter (but Don't Mail It!)
Similar to having an imaginary conversation with your ex, it can be beneficial to write down your feelings in a well-thought-out letter. But don’t send it, Walfish warns. The point of this practice is to simply put your emotions into words, even if you know you won’t be able to express them in person. “You want a chance to purge all of the feelings you’re holding in,” she says.
Meditation is an excellent way to clear your mind and calm yourself down when you’re in the thick of a serious heartbreak. When it feels like you’ll always love your ex, try imagining yourself with a new person in a beautiful, peaceful setting. Walfish suggests thinking of a beach in Hawaii. This will help ease your anxiety about the potential of dating again and allow you to visualize a harmonious future. If sitting with yourself alone feels like too big a step, try taking just one yoga class to start. You’ll be with a group of people, and it will be a more active environment.
Get Out of Your Head
To rid yourself of the obsessive thoughts that wear on you during a breakup, it is crucial to be present and get out of your head. Otherwise, you could spend a whole day wondering if what you’re thinking, feeling, and doing is normal. Walfish suggests simple activities like taking a walk around the block, listening to music, and spending time with friends to avoid isolation. So immerse yourself in activities you love, sing your favorite song, and call your friends for a much-needed girls’ night.
“To all those who are dealing with loss and grieving the end of a relationship, I promise you, as much as it hurts now, it is a temporary phase. It will get better, I promise.”
Need some more support? Find solace by reading these quotes that will make you feel good about being single.