A broken heart is universal, but oh, so personal. It can take the form of being full on dumped, a crush being unrequited or a new love interest not texting back. Any way it happens, it can feel excruciating and bottomless. Rejection hurts.
Moving through the pain can be difficult but finding your way out of the hurt is related to your ability to tolerate and manage what you are feeling. Here are ten healthy coping skills to help you move on with your life.
1. Recognize it for the trial it is.
You have gone through a rite of passage – an event signifying a transition from one stage to another. You have gone from being a couple to a single or from feeling hopeful and connected to disappointed and alone. Being alone is very hard in our culture of constant text contact and Facebook’s public displays of relationship status. You will be different after this.
Crying is exhausting. Holding it in is exhausting. Find something each day that feels good – that replenishes you. Everything might remind you of your ex right now, but try to notice the small pleasures of your day. Tune into the present moment. Try to interrupt obsessive thoughts by engaging your five senses (seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting and touching).
3. Express the sadness/anger/grief/confusion.
Write it out. Doodle your state of mind. Curse at your ex in your journal. Make collages or music. Do something to give form to your intense emotions. Let them speak.
Try writing affirmations…”I am loveable. I will find the one for me. I will get through this.” You can repeat these to yourself. Even if you don’t think it works, the positive messages get in – anything to counter the self-blame and fear of being inadequate or unlovable. Another technique is to develop a mantra that feels hopeful such as repeating: “May I be free of suffering. May I be well in mind and body. May I find and give love.”
5. Remind yourself: it may not be about you.
Once rejected, it’s easy to replay a loop of what you could have done to keep the other person interested in you. But the rejection may not be due to anything you did or didn’t do, even if it gets presented that way to you. It may not even be something you could have fixed. The other person has their own issues that have nothing to do with you that may have interfered in their ability to remain connected.
6. Seek support.
Reach out to friends and family who can support you in your pain. Reach out for professional advice, like on Relationup, if your friends are tired of hearing about your ex or you want another perspective.
7. Feel the emotions.
Don’t fight them. They are valid and normal in response to rejection. Tune into the nuances of sadness, anger, and grief. Don’t push them away and don’t hold onto them. Notice where they are in your body. By giving the feelings attention, they often transform.
8. Remember that emotions pass.
There’s a reason for the expression “waves of grief.” The emotions come in and then recede. There’s a natural cycle. Notice how it plays out for you. If you feel so overwhelmed that you want to end it or hurt yourself, get immediate help.
9. Envision Your Next Relationship.
Use this time to gain insight about what type of relationship you want in the future. From the unique vantage of a broken heart, you can recognize what is important to you. What was missing from this relationship? What worked well? See what you can learn about what you want in your next relationship.
10. Be gentle with yourself.
You have suffered a blow. Treat yourself with the compassion you would a hurt friend or child. Your wound is open and needs time to heal. Trust your psyche to guide you in that process.