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How to Fix a Broken Heart: Go THROUGH the pain, not around it

"Broken Objects" by Emily McDowell

In Japan, broken objects are often repaired with GOLD. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object's history, which adds to it's beauty. Consider this, when you feel broken.

In his Ted Talk, "How to Fix a Broken Heart," Dr. Guy Winch nails it:

A broken heart is unmistakable. We think of nothing else. We feel nothing else. We care about nothing else. And often, we can do nothing else except sit with the immense pain, guilt, and loss. Heartbreak can last days, weeks, months, even years.

Heartbreak hurts both our brains and our bodies

A study at the University of Michigan found that the exact same areas of the brain were activated when subjects relived their heartbreak as when they experienced a high level of physical pain. Similar studies have demonstrated that just the thought of being without a significant other was enough to temporarily lower participants' IQ and harm their performance on logic and reasoning tasks.

Going through a break up is a lot like going through cocaine or heroine withdrawal

When our heart is broken, our brain responds similarly to the brains of addicts going through withdrawal. Focusing on our ex feeds the addiction and we feel intense urge to see them, stalk their social media profiles and relive our memories of them. The lack of contact with the person heightens all our emotions and make us unable to focus, to sleep, to eat and we yearn to see that person again (to get our "fix.")

It is during these moments that we often do things that make our pain worse: We stalk their profiles on social media, we look at old photos of them or read old texts. While you think you really want this fix, it ends causing you more pain as you see them having fun, doing things without and creating thier life - with out you.

You must resist this urge. You must consciously stop yourself from attempting to get this fix.

Get started on fixing your broken heart by requesting a full 60 days of No Contact

That means no contact- no texts, no calls, no "spontanous run-ins" or drop-bys.  Unfriend them on social media (yes!), unfollow them on Insta and even unfriend her friends. If you feel awkward about this, send a quick DM to the person explaining your situation.  You might say: Hi [Name}: I wish I was sending you this message under better circumstances - I'm certain you've heard the news by now and if you haven't: [Name] and I broke up. While I know time will ease the pain, in an effort to preserve my self, I am choosing to unfriend/remove contact with anyone closely connected to [name]. Obviously, it has no reflection on my friendship with you. You’ve always been so welcoming and loving, it is simply an action I must take during my recovery. In the future, you can reach me at [contact info].

If you have children together, you can still do 60 days of no contact

As the awesome parent that you are, you can do what is right for your kids. Keep interactions with your Ex simple, to the point and with drama. If she/he is unable to do that, request the help of a friend who can go with you. You need to start the "extraction" process and 60 days of no contact is what you need to jump start this.

The most difficult task for a person with a broken heart is to stand still and feel the crack...

Let The Recovery begin

As a psychologist, I often say to grieving clients, "You need to go THROUGH the pain, not around it." We are programmed to make our pain stop, but in order to fix your broken heart and grieve properly, you need to feel your pain.  Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a Swiss-American psychiatrist, author of the internationally best-selling book, On Death and Dying, first discussed her theory of the five stages of grief, also known as the "Kübler-Ross model"

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

These five stages are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. And they are NOT linear.

Your grief will hit you at a moment's notice and instead of fearing it, you must embrace it.

You may hear a song, see a photo, remember an important date or any number of things and next thing you know, you're sobbing in public. In these moments, you need to take a deep breathe and KNOW this will pass. Feel it, let yourself cry in public (no one is looking) and just be present.

You WILL feel better.

Employ Distraction Techniques

distraction technique is simply any activity that you engage in to redirect your mind off your current emotions. Instead of putting all your energy into the upsetting emotion, you reset your attention on something else.

Distraction requires a fierce drive to feel better

When that pit in your stomach starts, go for a distraction. The distraction could be:

  • Playing a favorite song
  • Strapping on your running shoes and going for a quick 5 min run
  • Playing a movie
  • Playing a video game
  • Reading a book

Starting an unpleasant task - Need to research new car insurance? Or find a new job? Do it now. Set a timer. Give yourself 10 minutes. When the timer goes off and you're still distracted, continue.

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You will still feel sad, but for small amounts of distracted time, you won't remember

Recovery: If you're not actively working on recovering from your traumas, you're not recovering

Recovery from previous trauma is CRUCIAL to your dating success. You must recover from the pain you're endured before you can successfully date. And that's MORE than simply acknowledging your pain and moving on. It means actively engaging in recovery activities.

For example, a lot of people have substance abuse issues, of one form or another. There's a REASON you're using a substance it most likely involves escaping pain, feeling bored, feeling like you "need it" and any other excuses. In order to recover, you need to dissect your relationship toward that substance. Deciding to live sober is a choice that can bring you extreme happiness, but takes a solid recovery plan. Attending 12-Step meetings or a consistent support group can help you develop that plan. Other types of traumas like co-dependency, emotional abuse or other issues that have always bothered you, are things you can take steps to recovering from.

My favorite recovery activities include:

  • Get into therapy
  • Yoga or other form of exercise (even just 1 hour a day)
  • Listen to Podcasts
  • Read quality Self Help Books
  • Engage in Mindfulness
  • Get quiet, listen and develop self-respect
  • Meditation

A few of my favorite self-help books include:

REcovery2

Exercise

Six years ago, I went through my own break up after being with my partner for 12 years. While we attempted to make it more of a Conscious Uncoupling, the breakup was still difficult. I started going to daily Crossfit classes.

When I first started Crossfit, I was exhausted. I didn't like how sore I felt, I didn't enjoy getting my ass kicked during every session, and the workouts were way beyond my comfort zone. It was not fun. I hated it.

But I wasn't there to be happy. I was there to distract myself, in a healthy way.   And this should be your focus too.

Now that you have more time on your hands, go out and explore fitness options

How to Get out of Bed and Exercise When You Don't Want to

Sign up for a class that makes you pay ahead of time

  • OrangeTheory offers a $109/month membership that makes you sign up (via their app) for the specific class you want to attend that day. If you're a no-show, you'll get charged $25.
  • ClassPass: You can pay as little as $10/month for a certain number of "credits" that allow you access to a variety of fitness options all over town, without having a membership or contract. Again, you sign up for the class you want to attend and are charged if you don't show.

Call a friend with a car and ask her to come pick you up and the two of you go for a walk or a hike

It doesn't have to be long, it just has to happen and you have to commit to getting in her car when she arrives

Borrow someone's dog who needs exercise

Lots of dog owners pay dog walkers, everyday, to come by while they're at work and walk their restless dogs. See if you can join in. You'll get love from the pooch, they'll get you out of the house and you both will get some exercise.

By this point in your recovery from your broken heart, you should be taking one day at a time and coming back to the person you were before you coupled up

You were an individual before you part of a couple. And while your relationship was very important to you and you loved being with that person, he/she decided that she no longer wants to be with you. And that hurts. But it's by no means the end of the world.

Being single has it's charms: You can sleep in the middle of the bed, you don't have to negotiate dinner and you can come/go as you please. In fact, I wrote an entire piece on the charms of being single

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You are foxy. You are intelligent. You are fun.

There are ALOT of women in the world who be happy to be with you. I know you don't feel that way, but I talk to hundreds of women everyday and they all tell me they're looking for that great relationship.

There are SO MANY fish in the sea!

Don't be fooled into thinking there's only like 5 single lesbians in the world -that's a lie. There are many. And they all have their stuff together - professional, fun, athletic and full of interesting stories. They WANT to meet you.

 

So, when you're ready, dip a toe into the dating waters. I have A TON of blog posts on just how to do that (here are just a few):

Your heart hurts right now, and you will feel better. It may take 2 months, 2 quarters or 2 years

Like any loss, you will learn to navigate the feelings and how to move on without that person. It will be very challenging and there will be some dark moments. Do not let them take you down. Go THROUGH the pain, not around it.

Everyday is a new opportunity to move to a better place. Feel your feelings, notice them and move on. The key to it is sometimes called "Mindfulness" and while that's a subject for another post, I encourage you to look it up. Mindfulness practice teaches us to not judge our thoughts, the notice the present moment and to become more centered.

I am sorry your heart is broken and I wish you so much healing and love in the future

Spend time with friends/family who love you, take time to read, exercise and regain your individuality and when you're ready to date again (when your broken heart is fixed), all the single folks will be ready for you 🙂

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