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My Heart Has Been Broken, Now What?

12 tips for healing a broken heart.

Key points

  • Heartbreak is a part of the human experience.
  • Time does not heal all.
  • Healing is an active, instead of passive, process.

Unfortunately, heartbreak is a part of the human experience. I like the book title authored by Mary LoVerde, “I Used to Have a Handle on Life but It Broke,” as a fitting description for heartbreak. Heart break often occurs at the least suspecting and inconvenient times in our lives. Whether it follows the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship, an unrealized dream, the discovery of relationship betrayal, heart break can be incredibly difficult to overcome, especially when life’s obligations expect you to carry on, as if your internal world is not in total chaos.

As a practicing therapist and a participant of the human experience, I have come to understand a thing or two about heart break. One is that having your heart broken is often viewed as a private matter. While viewing the experience of heart break this way might be valid due it being riddled with psychological and emotional vulnerability, this belief can also be harmful, creating barriers to support that could help you navigate healing.

In my experience, those who view heart break as private are less likely to seek external support, even when experiencing a great deal of emotional distress. Furthermore, even if external support is sought out, for these individuals, actually following through and receiving help is not likely.

In spite of the convenience and sense of safety embedded in the long-held adage, “time heals all”, this belief encourages faulty expectations that could lead to more harm than healing.

Instead, I suggest that it is not simply time that heals all, but it is what you do during that time that cultivates healing. This means that healing is an active process rather than passive, and in order to heal, you must intentionally do the work that will help you move toward a healthier version of yourself.

For those seeking guidance on how to heal after a heartbreak but are not quite ready to disclose this to a friend or mental health professional, I have included 12 tips to consider, once you are ready to become an active player in your healing:

1. Explore the impact that the heartbreak had on who you are. Consider how your thoughts, feelings, behavior, and belief about yourself, others, and love might have changed.

2. Remove yourself from triggering environments/connections/people.

3. Delete painful paper trails of the past. This is especially true for heartbreak surrounding discoveries of relationship infidelity. Don’t get stuck re-visiting painful evidence (e.g., text messages, etc.)

4. Schedule time to process your heartbreak and set boundaries around how long you talk about it.

5. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that arise, such as sadness and anger. Acknowledge your emotions and let them go. Remember that all feelings are valid. We must let them come but we must also remember to let them go.

6. Recognize that a person’s choice to wrong you is never your fault, no matter your shortcomings or flaws. Engaging in harmful behavior is a choice, even if provoked to do so.

7. Check-in with your degree of sadness. If sadness is heavier than usual engage in uplifting activities to help enhance your mood.

8. Explore the impact of your heartbreak on:

a. Self-confidence

b. Sense of self

c. Personal identity

d. Beliefs on relationships

If any areas are shattered, explore ways to strengthen and restore them via journaling or talking with a trusted friend, sound council, or mental health professional.

9. Shift your mind’s preoccupation away from the heart break by keeping yourself busy as you heal. Do things that you enjoy and things you are good at. This will help enhance your mood.

10. Engage in lots of self-love and self-care. Nurse the wound — be kind, gentle, compassionate, and patient with yourself as you heal.

11. Consider what strengths might have come from heartbreak event. What possible benefit might have come out of this experience?

12. Start to create a new vision for your life that excites you. What can you do or who can you become, now that you have the chance to start over again?

More from Cortnie S. Baity Ph.D., LMFT
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