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Healing Heartbreak: 11 Reminders to Cope with A Breakup

By Shelley Collier

Overview: Entering into a new season after a breakup can feel like navigating uncharted territory, regardless of whether you initiated the split or not. The void left behind by the absence of the relationship can be palpable, leaving us grappling with a range of emotions. It's essential to recognize that grieving the loss of a relationship is a natural process, akin to mourning any other type of loss. As we journey through the stages of grief—denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance, and meaning-making—we must find healthy ways to cope and move forward.

Break ups hurt. Period. No dancing around it. It doesn’t matter if you were broken up with or did the breaking up, you both are entering a new season that is not only different than the last but missing something. Obviously, for the one doing the breaking up, it feels necessary— something else out weighs the needs for the other person in their life. I don’t need to review this with you, all of you have experienced it in one shape or form. What do we do after the break up, how do we handle the life in the aftermath of a relationship we once held dear?

Understanding that we are grieving a loss is important. Any form of grief takes time to process. The grief cycle—denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance and meaning making—still occur with loss just as they do with death. Those who are doing the breaking up also go through this, but sometimes while in the relationship. How do we handle all these feelings of grief?

Here are 11 steps to navigate the heartbreak of a breakup:

  1. Surround yourself with supportive friends: Seek out friends who understand the depth of your grief and can provide empathetic support without judgment. Surround yourself with friends that are for you—this can be tricky because even our best friends will invalidate our grief if they didn’t agree with the relationship or just simply do not know how to respond if you feel bad. Being careful who you discuss things with will allow for better navigation from extra hurt. Be mindful of whom you confide in, ensuring they validate your feelings and offer constructive support. However, ensure that you are not fully isolating.

  2. Reconnect with joy: Rediscover activities that bring you happiness and reinforce your sense of identity outside of the relationship. Doing the things that bring you joy—remind yourself who you are and what you love are like cuddling under a warm blanket. We need to remember our identity outside of who we are in relationship with. It feels like we lose ourselves in relationships and lose a piece of ourselves when it ends. Processing those thoughts and feelings help us move through the grief process. Journaling creates a safe place to clearly define and express yourself.

  3. Validate your emotions: Give yourself permission to feel and acknowledge your emotions without self-judgment. Ignoring your feelings or shoving them down may work in the moment but over time it will need to be processed and released for you to fully heal. When shame and doubt come up, process with an unbiased person, someone who will tell you the truth about your part but also validate when you did not cause the pain.

  4. Lean on spiritual support: This helps affirm our that just because we ended it with one person does not mean the world ends, it just changes as we know it. Draw strength from your faith and spiritual beliefs to find meaning and purpose in the midst of loss. Recognize that while the end of a relationship may mark the end of one chapter, it also signifies the beginning of a new journey.

  5. Engage in positive distractions: Fill your time with activities that bring fulfillment and growth, whether it's attending events, exploring new hobbies, or spending quality time with loved ones. Sign up for the class, take the trip. Find things you can do with yourself and with your friends. Filling up the time you used to give to your ex helps you move forward. Go to the High Museum, walk the BeltLine, go to that restaurant with some friends, drive up to Ellijay for the apple festival, attend Music Midtown (if it comes back), serve at a Passion Conference or attend an IF Gathering. Doing this keeps you from staying stuck in your feelings and can be a positive distraction if used in a healthy way. A non-healthy way is jumping back on the dating apps because you feel lonely. “Check yourself before you wreck yourself” comes to mind when trying to find what to do after a break up. Be cautious of using unhealthy distractions, such as rebound dating, to cope with loneliness.

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Fight back against what's holding you back.

6. Prioritize self-care: Take proactive steps to care for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Be mindful of furthering the blow of a breakup by not doing self-care. Go to the gym, eat well, be careful with alcohol and other substances, take a bubble bath, get a massage, spend time in nature and limit social media. This sounds like a to-do list that at some point you will need to cut yourself some slack if you don’t do it. But at some point, taking care of yourself as if your close friend was the one in the break up is the loving and kind thing to do. Focus on maintaining healthy habits, setting boundaries, and avoiding triggers that may exacerbate feelings of sadness or longing.

7. Avoid contact with your ex: Establish clear boundaries and minimize contact with your ex-partner, especially in the early stages of healing. Especially if you are the one who did the breaking up— this is confusing and actually mean and sends mixed messages. You do not have the right to check up on them anymore, you voided that option. If you were broken up with, you talking to your ex keeps you from moving on and keeps you from healing. *When is it okay to talk to them? Maybe they have changed? Maybe they were just upset? Ask yourself honestly how that would work. Lean on your trusted friends and family and talk to them about whether to reconnect with an ex.

8. Resist the temptation to check up on them through social media: Social media will often just make a break up feel worse. Social media can be triggering, and following your ex will not make you feel better—it will steal your focus from getting back to who you are and where you want to go. Maybe filter, block or hide accounts that are hard to look at during the healing season. Follow accounts that support mental health, that promote positive healing, and bring you joy. Following your ex won’t do that. It creates jealousy, FOMO, shame and regret.

9. Recognize your triggers: Identify situations or memories that evoke painful emotions and develop strategies to navigate them with compassion and grace. Triggers happen; It sucks to be in Target recalling a funny memory of you and your ex laughing about how long one of you spends there, but doing it together because its secretly fun (just me?). Grief is has no respect for persons, places, times or situations. You have spent time with any person repeatedly, memories were formed, and they will pop up and sting. When triggers happen repeatedly, they bring many emotions at once, hindering you from doing what you want or need to do. Give yourself grace for those moments as a loving way to move through grief. Giving yourself grace can look like ordering your Target run and having it delivered or driving to pick it up (this will also save you money...I digress). Try saying ‘no’ to a night out with the girls because they want to go to an old date spot, or saying ‘no’ to family because all they want to do is ask about how you are doing... And that's the last question you may want to answer truthfully if they don’t have your best interest at heart. Practice self-compassion and give yourself grace during these moments of vulnerability.

10. Set boundaries: Communicate your needs and boundaries to others, whether it's asking for space or seeking support. Boundaries are the root of most of these break-up tidbits. Knowing that your capacity is different after a breakup is important. Know where your limits are different than before. Kindly ask people not to ask about your ex or explain that advice from others is not wanted unless asked. People mean well, but they do not know what you need until you communicate it. Needs change after a breakup or during a loss. Respect your emotional capacity and prioritize activities and relationships that align with your healing journey.

11. Seek professional help: Consider seeking therapy or counseling to navigate the complexities of grief and loss in a safe and supportive environment. Therapy can be a safe place to navigate grief and loss, explore pain and navigate negative thoughts and beliefs in the aftermath of a breakup. Having an unbiased, objective and empathetic voice in during your break up that is not tired of hearing you talk about “them” is encouraging to the healing journey. Therapy can provide valuable insights, coping strategies, and emotional validation as you work through the aftermath of a breakup. Even taking trips away on retreats like Onsite help to wrap you in love and encourage focused time on healing.

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It is never too late to heal.

Conclusion: Take note of the thoughts and beliefs about yourself and your ex that you are forming. We need to look at a situation with an honest mind, but often when we are grieving and trying to make sense of the loss, we form new beliefs about ourselves that are not helpful to our healing and are likely untrue.

It is helpful to have trusted friends, mentors, family, and spiritual leaders around you helping you navigate grief without forming negative beliefs about the world, yourself or others. Often, a break up does give us revelation about what we should and should not tolerate in a relationship. These things are helpful for future relationships and how we value ourselves.

Give yourself space and time. You aren’t going to move on over night, and forcing yourself to do so will only cause more harm and create more stress and grief. Change forced on us by ourselves or another person takes time, like a new habit, to form and break. Instead of dreading the time, understanding that your future self will thank you for caring for will your future relationships.

“It is well with my soul…” H. Spafford from the song “It is well with my Soul”/”Peace like a River”

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes…” Revelation 21:4

As a faith-based counselor serving the Atlanta area, it brings me immense joy to walk alongside individuals who are committed to finishing the race of life well. Regardless of where you find yourself on this journey, know that you are not alone. Your desire for healing is both valid and achievable.

I encourage you to think about the things that hold you back in life. What stops you from showing up as the person you want to be? What hinders you from experiencing your relationships in a fulfilling way? When did you start to feel this way?

Once again, it is never too late to heal. It is NEVER too late for you. And God would never give up on you, so don't give up on yourself!

In conclusion, remember this: Your journey toward healing is a testament to your resilience and the unwavering love of a higher power. Embrace it, embrace yourself, and know that the best is yet to come.

Begin Working With A Therapist in Marietta, GA

Please consider reaching out to a qualified therapist. Our team of caring therapists would be honored to offer support with in-person and online services from our Marietta, GA-based practice. You can start your therapy journey by following these simple steps:

Other Services Offered at Remain Connected Counseling

Our team knows you may experience other issues in your life. This is why we are happy to offer a variety of services including teen therapyanxiety treatment, and EMDR therapy. In addition, we also offer life transitions therapy and depression counseling, and more all under a Christian counseling lens. By using online therapy, these services are available to anyone in Georgia. Learn more about our team of dedicated therapists and contact us for more information.

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