You already know that you need to move with your life.
That much is clear.
But how are you supposed to move on when you feel emotionally destroyed?
And how are you supposed to “meet new people” when you simply don’t have the motivation?
Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to cover in this guide.
Because I’ve recently got over a girl I thought was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I’m going to describe what worked for me.
We have a lot to cover so let’s get started.
1) It won’t be a quick or easy process
It sucks. I get it. And you want this pain to be over as quickly as possible.
But by “wanting” this pain to go away, it’s going to hang around longer. You need to acknowledge how you’re feeling for those feelings to dissipate.
And you also need to acknowledge that it’s going to take time before you fully move on.
According to research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, it takes 11 weeks to feel better after a relationship ends.
Another study found that it takes about 19 months to heal after the end of a marriage.
The fact of the matter is this:
Love is a messy emotion and heartbreak is a grieving process. You’re not going to get over them in a day. It will take time.
For me, it took at least 3 months. But if I knew what I know now, I’m sure it could be quicker.
The good news?
Millions of people have been through the pain of a break-up before, and they’ve successfully moved on to be a better, stronger human being. I can vouch for that.
It’s natural for every human to go through these emotions at least once in their life.
Now, here’s what you need to keep in mind:
Your friends are going to tell you to go out and meet new people and get drunk.
Solid advice for later on but that’s not what you need right now.
You need to acknowledge that it’s not going to take a day to get over them. It will take time.You need to process your feelings first, which takes us to our next point…
2) It’s okay to feel down and hurt
It’s natural to grieve when you’ve lost a relationship that’s been so significant to your life.
It’s also natural to shy away from these emotions in an attempt to ignore them.
But the only way you’ll be able to move on with your life is through acceptance.
If I’m being honest, this is what really held me back. I’ve never been able to deal with negative emotions.
Generally, I just ignore them and get on with my life, which is helpful in some situations, but for something as big as a break-up, it wasn’t particularly useful.
After all, breakups can extremely disorientating.
This is particularly the case if you’ve incorporated your relationship with your self-concept – as if you were a “pair”.
Now that half of you is gone, who are you now?
I honestly felt that I lost a part of myself and that I’d struggle to meet someone as good ever again – basically, I was a downer on myself and didn’t know where to turn.
My life revolved around my girlfriend for 5 years. So when she left (she ended it), it’s practically soul-crushing.
But that’s precisely what needs to be accepted. It’s only by accepting that you’ve lost a part of yourself that you’ll be able to rebuild a better you.
So while it’s painful to acknowledge that you part of you is gone, once you do, you’ll be able to find new meaning in life that will help you rebuild a better you.
3) Getting rid of the negative emotions
This is a tough one, but essential.
As men (assuming you’re a man reading this) we tend to deny our emotions.
But when you’re experiencing something as significant as a breakup with someone you loved, these negative emotions will fester in the background, and the end result won’t be pretty.
So it’s vital that we take the time to face the thoughts and feelings so we can get them out of our system.
Now if you’re like me, you’re trying to avoid how you’re feeling, but deep down you’re hurt.
And I can tell you now that it wasn’t until I came to grips with how I was feeling that I began the process of moving on.
Research suggests that avoiding emotions causes more pain in the long-term than acknowledging them.
Emotional stress has been linked to mental illness, heart disease, insomnia, and autoimmune disorders.
I was certainly more stressed than usual and I hardly slept. It was almost like a pressure cooker in my body that was waiting to explode.
The question is: How do you actually accept your emotions?
A technique that helped me was something I got from a book on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
I implemented a simple 4 step process you can do anytime. I’ve summarized the four key steps here.
If you want to learn more about it, google Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Here are the 4 steps:
Step one: Identify the emotion
If you have more than one emotion, just pick one. If you don’t know what the emotion is, sit for a moment and pay attention to your physical sensations and thoughts. Give it a name and write it down on a piece of paper.
Step two: Give it some space
Close your eyes and imagine putting that emotion five feet in front of you. You’re going to put it outside of yourself and observe it.
Step three: Now that the emotion is outside of you, close your eyes and answer the following questions.
If your emotion had a size, what size would it be? If your emotion had a shape, what shape would it be? If your emotion had a color, what color would it be?
Once you’ve answered these questions, imagine putting the emotion out in front of you with the size, shape, and color. Just observe it and acknowledge it for what it is. When you’re ready, you can let the emotion return to its original place inside you.
Step four: Reflection
Once you’ve completed the exercise, you can take a moment to reflect on what you’ve noticed. Did you notice a change in your emotion when you got a little distance from it? Did the emotion feel different in some way once the exercise was finished?
This exercise may seem weird, but it helped me in understanding what I was feeling after the breakup.
Understanding my emotions made it easier for me to accept them, and eventually, let go of them.
4) Was the relationship really that good?
After the relationship ended, there’s no doubt you’re probably being a bit biased with how good they really were.
For however long you were an item, your mind has built up an idea about how good they are for you.
That’s part of the reason you’re hurting so much now. You might be telling yourself things like “I’ll never find someone as good” or “he/she was perfect”.
I know because I did exactly the same.
Now that I can look back, I can’t believe how ridiculous it sounds.
Now that I can see the truth objectively, I can safely safe that no matter how you’ve built them up in your mind, nobody’s perfect.
And the fact that your relationship ended means that the relationship wasn’t perfect, either.
So you know what you need to do now? Look at the relationship objectively and stop being biased about how great you thought she was.
Ask yourself these 4 questions:
1) Were you really happy 100% of the time?
2) Did the relationship hinder your life in any way?
3) Were you happy before the relationship?
4) What annoyed you most about your partner?
If you’re honest when you answer these questions, you’ll see that they’re clearly not as good as you thought they were.
In fact, you might even find some relief. You’re done with them and can build a new life that isn’t limited by someone else.
There’s plenty of women out there for you to meet and many of them will make you just as happy.
Trust me, I’m finding that out as a single man right now 😉
5) Write down what you’re thinking and feeling
This is another strategy to structure your thoughts and understand what you’re feeling.
Writing slows your mind down and gets your head clear. It’s something I’ve used regularly in the past and I’ve found that it always helps no matter what situation I’m dealing with.
Remember, one of the most crucial aspects of getting over someone you loved is to delve deep into your emotions, understand them and release them.
Journaling helps you express your painful feelings, making it easier to let go of them. All it takes is a notepad (or laptop), a pen and 30 minutes of free time to write down everything that you’re thinking and feeling.
If you’re finding it hard to start, ask yourself these 3 questions:
1) How am I feeling?
2) What am I doing?
3) What am I trying to change about my life?
You’ll begin to understand more about your emotions and where your life is headed. And writing down what you are going to change gives you the ultimate responsibility to change your life.
You might want to also include action steps you can take to achieve these goals.
Knowing that you hold the cards to change your life is empowering. You just need to have a clear idea of where you’re headed.
6) Avoid contact and increase your distance
If you have the choice, avoid seeing her. Nothing soothes the pain more than simply not being with her.
You don’t have to cease all contact, but it does mean seeing her less.
If you see her constantly, it’s just going to remind you that you’re no longer with her.
I also think that you shouldn’t go back to her if you have the chance. The relationship ended for a reason, and unless that reason has been resolved, who is to say that you won’t break up again in 6 months?
Your life has opened in many ways now and if you embrace that you’ll be better off.
7) Now the fun bit: Finding new meaning in life
As we mentioned before, when you break up with someone who has been so significant to your life, you lose a source of meaning. You lose a part of yourself.
So to fully get over someone, the most crucial thing is that you find new sources of meaning to build what you’ve lost.
So while most people will be telling you to “go out with your friends”, and “get drunk with the boys”, it’s not going to help you restore new meaning in your life. I’m willing to bet you already do those things.
Instead, you need to find new hobbies and interests.
Here are some ideas on how to find new meaning in life:
1) Follow your gifts and talents: Think about what you’re good at naturally and when you feel at your best.
2) Make connections around what you’re passionate about and interested in. These are the kind of friends you want to make.
3) Goal setting: Find new meaning in life means having a plan. So set some goals and make a plan. Then, most importantly, take action.
4) Help others: Helping other people makes you feel good and gives you purpose. Think about different ways you can help people. It could be small things like helping an old lady cross the street, or more significant time-intensive ways like tutoring students maths.
5) Do something different: You’re probably stuck in a routine, so start to add some new habits in life. Meditation, running, gym, getting a massage, eat at a fancy restaurant. Whatever it is, start building your experiences. The more experience you have, the more mature you’ll become.
8) Appreciate yourself
When you’ve been in a long-term relationship, you can forget what it’s like to be alone.
You’re probably not used to meeting new people and making an attractive first impression. It just hasn’t been on your mind.
So now is the time to scruff up and get to know yourself again. Build your confidence and get back out there in the dating field.
So if you’re lacking self-worth because a girl dumped you, try this:
Sit down and write down a list of your top 10 biggest strengths. As lame as it sounds, it helped me.
By understanding where my strengths are and what I have to offer, I was to believe in myself (at least intellectually at first).
It gave me the much-needed confidence I needed to realize that I was a prize when it came to dating, rather than always thinking the girl was.
Another list that can help you out is a list of things you’re grateful for. Sometimes we can wallow in our own self-pity that we can forget just how lucky we are.
In the end, concentrating on what you don’t have will only make you unhappy.
Once you’ve finished these 2 lists, you’ll realize that you have a lot to give and a lot to be grateful for.
9) Get out of your comfort zone
There’s not much room for growth when you’re stuck in your comfort zone.
And now that you’re dealing with a breakup, your zest for life might have shrunk.
But if you want to get that back, then you need to stretch your limits and get out of your comfort zone.
“The comfort zone is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure. You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Roy T. Bennett
It doesn’t have to be extreme. Even something that gets you a little nervous will benefit you.
For example, I’ve always been terrified of approaching a group of girls in an attempt to pick them up. So you know what I did? I went out with my friends and performed some “game”.
Was I good at it? No, but it gave me a huge thrill. I forgot about the painful break-up I’d been experiencing pretty damn quickly.
Approaching girls has been a great way to meet new people as well. In the end, there isn’t really a better skill to learn than talking to new people.
It’s also been great to realize that there are plenty of girls out there to meet.
To get over a girl:
1) Understand that it won’t be a quick or easy process. It will take time. Trying to fight this will only prolong your pain.
2) Be okay with your emotional pain. Once you’re able to acknowledge that part of you is gone, it will give you space to build new meaning.
3) Accept your negative emotions and let go of them. This can be done using acceptance and commitment therapy.
4) Write down what you’re thinking and feeling. This will help you understand your emotions and release them. You’ll also be able to think about the future and plan for it.
5) Ask yourself, was the relationship really that good? Understanding that there are plenty of females out there for you to date will make you realize that they weren’t really that perfect.
6) Avoid contacting and going back to your ex. It will only serve to increase your pain.
7) Find new sources of meaning in life. Think about what you’re good at and how you can help others. Set some goals and make a plan.
8) Appreciate yourself and build your self-worth. Understanding that you have a lot to give will build your confidence and help you appreciate your life more.
9) Get out of your comfort zone. Find new experiences, grow and enjoy life!
For more inspirational articles on mindfulness and self-improvement, like Hack Spirit on Facebook.
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