Are you in the midst of heartbreak and feeling unable to move on? Are you consumed with thoughts of getting back with your ex (despite that unlikelihood) and feel your breakup is way more painful than anything your friends have ever experienced? If so then this article is for you. Mourning a loss takes time, but it is possible to grieve a loss and live productively. It’s time to rip off that Band-Aid and get on with your life. Follow these five steps and I guarantee that slowly but surely your heart will heal.
- Cease all contact: That’s right – no contact whatsoever. Zero. Impossible, you’re probably thinking, ready to click away from this screen. But no contact is absolutely essential to moving on as even the tiniest little bit of communication via any means – phone, email, text, in person – can trigger all the brain chemicals that fill you with all the old loving feelings and gear your body up to pursue a reward (your ex) all over again. But we’re best friends, you think. And he or she cares about me and wants to know how I’m doing. Your ex only asked you to keep in touch because it alleviates a bit of the guilt caused by hurting you and makes the breakup conversation less awkward than saying, “Let’s never talk again.” He or she does not want to be with you. If that were not true you’d still be together. You are kidding yourself if you actually believe you are capable of maintaining a genuine friendship at this stage of the game. If it were up to you you’d still be together so clinging to the idea of friendship is just another way to try and keep your ex in your life in hopes of reuniting. Do not contact this person. If you have children together or share a business only absolutely necessary information should be exchanged and at the most minimal level possible. Beyond that if your ex contacts you it is self-serving. He or she is either using you for the emotional support you’ve always provided, or may possibly be having a weak moment and needs to hear from someone they know still loves them. Don’t be there to provide that support and security. I would even suggest full disclosure and ask him or her not to contact you and make it clear that you will not be in contact either so that you can move on with your life.
- Electronic zap: Remove your ex from all of your contact lists. Sadly phones don’t come with breathalyzers so zap that phone number right out so you are not tempted to drunk text or drunk dial. Hopefully you are like me in that you don’t actually know anybody’s phone number as everyone is listed by contact name so once it’s out it’s gone. Remove your ex from Facebook and any email lists. When you go to type an email address with someone whose initials or name is similar, you don’t need your ex’s name popping up as a suggestion. While blocking all electronic portals can feel very final it is also very empowering.
- Remove all evidence: Get rid of anything belonging to your ex. Either throw it away or box it up and put it as far away as possible – in someone else’s garage or basement if you are able. Delete all text messages, emails and photos off your computer and Facebook page. Okay, fine – print them out to put in the box and then delete them all. If you lived together and there are special foods in the fridge, razors and other toiletries in the bathroom, or notes on the calendar get rid of all of it. You don’t want to flip up the calendar page and see doctor appointments for your ex. Any reminders can trigger those same brain chemicals that will set you back emotionally. Oh, and do not even think of using the purge as an excuse to contact the person to let them know what you have that they may need regardless of monetary or sentimental value. It was left behind so too bad – get rid of it.
- Consciously redirect your thought patterns: Naturally memories and thoughts of your ex are going to pop unbidden into your mind. Stop the thought in progress and mentally switch channels. It is a good idea to be prepared with a short list of ideas to which you can turn your attention when those unwanted thoughts creep in. Think of things that have made you laugh hysterically, a vacation you’re thinking of planning, something you’d like to save money to buy, lyrics to your favorite song or anything you can think of that is in no way connected to your ex. It is possible to change your thought patterns with conscious effort.
- Keep busy: Although you are feeling depressed and unmotivated, force yourself to get out and do things. Exercise is key as it triggers endorphins that naturally boost your spirits and you’ll be healthier as well. Explore an interest or enroll in a class. Get together with friends and be certain to assure them in advance that you’re not going to bend their ears examining what went wrong in your former relationship (they’re tired of hearing about it, trust me…). Find things to do that make you feel good.
If you follow those steps I promise that you will begin to slowly feel better. You have a finite amount of energy to use in any given day so why spend any of yours wallowing in sorrow? Indulging your sadness is a lot like a hamster running on a wheel – lots of energy is being expended and you’ve not moved forward one bit. Be kind to yourself and know that no matter how bleak things seem now, in time you absolutely will love again.