5 Ways Your Mind Deceives You When Your Heart Is Broken

When your heart is broken, your mind wants you to remember the pain.

Posted Dec 16, 2017

PKpix/Shutterstock
Source: PKpix/Shutterstock

The emotional pain that heartbreak evokes is excruciating. Nothing else matters, no one else matters. We can barely function, think, or move. We feel removed from everyone and alone in a haze of unreality, trapped in our shattered world. All we can see is the person who broke our heart, and all we can feel is terrible pain.

What we want most is for the pain to ease, to stop hurting so badly — but that is not what our mind wants.

When our heart is broken, our mind has a very different agenda than we do. As a result, it ends up deceiving us and making things worse. If we want to stop hurting and move on, we need to know when NOT to trust what our mind tells us.

Why We Cannot Trust Our Mind When We Have a Broken Heart

To stop hurting, we need to accept the reality of the breakup and make efforts to move on. We need to reduce the amount of time we spend thinking about the person who broke our heart. We need to diminish their presence in our thoughts and our lives, slowly but surely.

Our mind wants to do the opposite. Our mind wants us to think about the person all the time, to hold on to the pain and never forget who and what caused it. Our mind wants this, because it is trying to "protect" us in the manner in which it typically does. If something causes us pain, like a hot stove, our mind’s job is to remind us not to touch that hot stove again, to make sure we remember how painful it was the first time. The more painful the experience, the more our mind will labor to make sure we don’t forget it, so we never make that "mistake" again. Given how excruciating heartbreak is, our mind will do everything it can to keep that pain fresh in our thoughts. As a result, our mind will trick us into thinking that ...:

1. Our ex was the best, the one, the only one. 

Our mind will try to remind us of our ex’s best qualities. Images of them at their best will pop into our head unbidden. However, this unbalanced, unrealistic, and idealized portrayal of the person who broke our heart will only make the pain we feel worse.

2. The relationship made us happy all the time. 

No, it didn’t; no relationship does. There were plenty of frustrating, annoying, or hurtful moments, and we should recall those as well.

3. If we just text them or contact them, we will feel better.

The urge to text, message, call, or email will be very strong. But doing those things will only make us feel more desperate and needy, and hurt our self-esteem.

4. Talking about the breakup with all our friends will ease our pain.

No, it won’t. Talking about emotionally painful events is natural — even useful, if we do it in a problem-solving way, or if we do it to get emotional validation. But just going over the same details again and again will only make us feel worse.

5. We have to know exactly why the breakup occurred.

Having a clear understanding of why a breakup occurred is actually useful. However, few of us ever get a clear and honest explanation for such things. Trying to get into our ex’s head to understand why things didn’t work out is a rabbit hole. Better to settle on "they weren’t in love enough" or "we were not the right match."

For more about healing from heartbreak, look for my upcoming Ted Talk and book, How to Fix a Broken Heart.

Copyright 2017 Guy Winch

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