There are few things in life as painful as healing a past relationship, especially one that you didn’t want to have end. There is no magic fix that will make the pain go away. How long it takes to mend a broken heart is different for everyone. And “quick rebound relationships" are not necessarily the answer if your goal is true healing. So while there is nothing easy about this process, there are some strategies that will point you in the direction of healing.
The first step in healing a past relationship is to recognize what stage you are at in terms of accepting that the relationship is over. In other words, do you really get it that this relationship is over? Or are you secretly (or not so secretly) hoping and wishing it could work again? If it’s over – but you haven’t accepted that – your energy is divided. Part of you wants to walk away, and toward your future, and another part of you is busy thinking thoughts, planning crazy actions to get your partner back. This is like riding a chariot with the two horses desperately pulling in opposite directions.
If you are in this mode and going backwards and forwards in your mind, you don’t need to judge yourself or make yourself wrong. You are suffering enough from the loss without becoming your worst critic. But you do need to recognize that as long as you are investing thoughts, energy, plans and emotions in trying to get back together, you are spinning your wheels. You won’t be able to move forward if part of you is trying to go backwards.
Letting Go and Moving Forward: Forgive yourself for wanting to go back, but re-direct your thoughts and energy away from this activity when you find yourself doing it. It may sound hard to do at first, but thoughts are habits, and if you keep deliberately moving away from what you don’t want, and put your attention on what you do want, such as the feeling of freedom, joy, new love, sanity, and so on, you will eventually reach new ground. It is important to stop obsessing about the past and your ex. The more you think about your past, the more trapped in it you are. And the more you get your horses (your thoughts and actions) moving in the same forward direction, the more progress you will make towards healing a past relationship.
How Much Crying is Too Much? If you experienced a painful break-up, especially a difficult or recent one, you need to give yourself time to mourn. It is like a death, especially if the circumstances involved complex issues such as betrayal, infidelity, abuse, or abandonment. You need time to process your feelings. For some people this means sobbing. For others, they cry in different ways – not through tears. Releasing the emotions is important, and critical to moving forward. If you have suffered a great loss, it is going to take time to heal.
You need to find a way to empty your emotional cache. How to do this is different for everyone. Some people need a lot of solo time to process emotions. Others need friends and family around to keep them sane. You do need to cry! Crying is good. Crying is healthy. Especially if you are in the first six weeks of healing a past relationship, since the break-up.
But if it’s been several months, and you are still weeping every day, you may need to get some help to move forward. You definitely need to get help if you are doing self destructive behaviors, or thinking about hurting yourself, or killing yourself. If these are more than just passing thoughts, you need to reach out to a trained professional that you trust.
Avoiding pain does not work. Neither does indulging in it. The trick is balance: allowing yourself to feel the pain fully, and then move on. Do something else. Don’t stay stuck in the purging phase, you also need to balance with things that bring energy, such as doing productive work, connecting with people, and animals you care about, exercising, as well as making sure you get good sleep.
Finding Balance Again If you are in the acute phase of a break-up (less than six weeks) you need to be very deliberate about self-care. You need to eat extra healthily. You need to look for balance in everything you do. You need exercise, but not obsessive exercise. You need to sleep, but not hide.
A break-up causes tremendous imbalance to our sense of safety and to our identity. When you are evaluating a new activity, or friends suggest one to you, ask yourself if this idea feels like it will bring you more equilibrium and balance. If it feels that way, then say Yes! Even if you don’t feel like doing it. You need to challenge your avoidance of people, places and things that can help you in healing a past relationship.
You may not believe us right now, but you will heal. You will mend your heart. You will love again. As soon as you take your healing journey seriously, and begin moving forward, you will be on your way to new life and new love. Be gentle but firm in your decision to get on with your life.
We offer a brief 15 minute counseling session for $25, and longer times, for those who need a little guidance along the way.