How Do You Mend a Broken Heart? 5 Tips to Help You Move On

Grieving a relationship is a process. There are things that can help it along.

Posted Feb 14, 2019

Art by Alexi Berry. Used with permission.
Source: Art by Alexi Berry. Used with permission.

In 1971 the Bee Gees had their first hit song asking, "How do you mend a broken heart?" They compare the task to stopping rain from falling or the sun from shining. This post purports it’s a little easier than that, though it takes work. Here are five ways to mend your broken heart and move on.

  1. Feel the loss: As I wrote in “Emotions Are Important, But Not So Much,” there are times you need to lean into emotions and feel their full force. Initially in a break-up, I think this is important. There is a loss, and it must be felt. So, listen to those heart-wrenching melodies. Feel the pain. But remember, this is temporary and transient. 
  2. Change the story: People often let the story of their break-up become the centerpiece of their life. What really helps someone get over a break-up is changing the story. This person was the one you’d spend the rest of your life with? Nah. Not anymore. This is the perfect person for you? Nope. Erase that storyline. The story changed, and you can play a big part in changing it for the better. A better story isn’t pitiful. If you think it is, then perhaps you’re wallowing and find some reward in it. You created the story to begin with. Change it to something more palatable. For more on changing a story, see my post “The Words in Your Story.” 
  3. No past, no future, only the present: Remember though emotions need to be felt, they are just an experience, not truth. Emotions don’t have to run your life. I have seen (and have been guilty of) piling on the negative. Thoughts about why it hurts so badly multiply. (In all likelihood this is the logical brain’s way of trying to make sense of the pain.) Things that aren't so meaningful take on new, painful meaning. Mindfulness of the present moment and the beauty in it can be of great assistance here. Clear your mind for a few seconds and be present. Notice the world around you. 
  4. Savor the good things: You love a morning cup of coffee or a pint of your favorite ice cream? Really savor it. Be present and enjoy what there is in this life to enjoy. Make it a point to enjoy something every day. 
  5. Put the focus back on you: A relationship, though certainly worthwhile, takes some sacrifice. Take back your time, do the things you love doing. Focus on a creative project you neglected, or on working out and feeling better about you, or both! I once saw a TED Talk where the speaker discussed marrying yourself. The point was to treat yourself the way you would a cherished partner. 

Getting over a broken heart isn’t easy. It takes time, and it is a process. But like any process, there are things that speed it or impede it. Regardless, it is your process. Do what you need to do for you. The point of this post isn’t to rush through heartache.

In my opinion, these five suggestions can really help move one from grieving to happy in life again. And, as with most of what I write, it comes down to mindfulness and acceptance. Often what is painful is a feeling the past was a lie and the future is darkened. Remembering being in the moment can ease some of this rumination. Recognizing that everything is transient, and the pain you are experiencing is no exception, can bring about acceptance.

Everyone experiences heartbreak, in one form or another. It passes—if you don’t hold onto it with stories of what should have been. You created the story to begin with. Create a revised version that isn’t so painful. Then begin living for you again. 

Copyright William Berry, 2019


McMillan, T. 2016, The person you really need to marry, TEDx Talks.