You already know you need to move on with your life.
That much is clear.
But how are you meant to “move on” when your life feels completely destroyed?
And how are you supposed to “put the past behind you” like it was no big deal?
Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to share with you in today’s post.
Because over the last few months I’ve successfully moved on from a relationship I thought was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I’m going to describe exactly what worked for me.
Here we go…
1) This won’t be a quick, or easy process
This won’t be an easy process.
According to research published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, it takes 11 weeks to feel better after a relationship ends.
Most advice you usually read about “getting over someone” will advise you to “go out with your friends” or “meet new people”.
While this can be good advice, it isn’t the first thing you should do.
It certainly didn’t help me. I’d go out with my friends and be a total drainer. I wasn’t interested in meeting new people and drinking only made me feel worse the next day.
So instead of forcing yourself to “get out there” when your heart’s not in it, it’s important to accept that it’s not going to take a day to get over them. It will take time.
2) It’s perfectly okay to be hurting
Relationships are the foundation of everyone’s life. We’re all social creatures and we rely on each other to get by.
Furthermore, we develop meaning through our relationships.
In fact, in the second part of Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl listed 3 different ways we can find meaning in life, and number 2 was “by experiencing something or encountering someone.”
Yet, when a relationship has ended, particularly one that was so important to your life, you lose a significant amount of meaning. You lose a part of yourself.
That’s why you might feel “empty” or “lost”. You even might feel that there isn’t a purpose to life anymore.
I honestly felt that I would never meet someone as good. My life practically revolved around my girlfriend for 5 years. So when it disappears from you in an instant, it’s soul crashing.
It’s 5 years wasted for building what?
But that’s exactly what needs to be accepted. Yes, you’ve lost a part of “you”, but it also means that you can build a better “you” once you’ve acknowledged that it’s gone.
So while it’s hurtful to accept that part of you is gone, once you’re able to accept it, you’ve opened up opportunities to find new meaning in life.
You’ve also learned a lot from this experience. That’s guaranteed to hold you in good stead.
3) Feel the negative emotions and get them out of your system
This is the worst part. Facing your emotions and accepting that you’re feeling them.
But it’s important that you take the time to face those thoughts and feelings so they can get out of your system and they don’t drag you down when you ARE ready to get on with your life.
According to Buddhist Madter Pema Chodron, negative emotions are excellent teachers when we have the courage to face them:
“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.” – Pema Chodron
4) What was the relationship really like?
If you’re feeling really depressed, you’re probably telling yourself things like, “he/she was perfect”, or “I’ll never find someone as good.”
The truth is, nobody’s perfect. And if the relationship ended, then the relationship wasn’t perfect either.
It’s time to look at the relationship objectively, rather than being biased about how “great” it was.
Ask yourself these 4 questions:
1) Were you really happy 100% of the time?
2) Did the relationship hinder your life in anyway?
3) Were you happy before the relationship?
4) What annoyed you most about your partner?
Answer these questions truthfully and you’ll begin to realize that the relationship ending isn’t as bad as you thought it was.
In fact, you might even start to see that your life has opened up in many ways that weren’t previously possible.
Marilyn Monroe said it best:
“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” – Marilyn Monroe
5) Talk it out with someone who sees it from your perspective
When you have had your heart broken, the last thing you need is someone standing in front of you telling you all the reasons why the failed relationship is your fault.
Sure, some or all of the blame can fall to you another day, but for right now, you just need someone who is on your side and who won’t try to get you to make meaning of the experience or how you can learn from it just yet.
I had a friend who reminded me about all the things that I did wrong in the relationship. While some of it made sense, it isn’t what I needed to hear at that time. It just made me feel worse.
So be careful with who you decide to talk it over with. Make sure they’re emotionally intelligent, positive and on your side.
6) Write down what you’re thinking and feeling
This is something that I’ve never done before, but I found that it really helped.
I grabbed myself a notebook and started writing down my thoughts and feelings.
For the first time since the relationship ended, I felt like I had clarity on what I was thinking and feeling.
Writing helps your mind slow down and structure the information in your head.
It also felt therapeutic, like I was releasing my emotions by expressing them and understanding them.
7) Don’t go back to your partner, even if you have the choice
Now this only my opinion and it might not apply to every single case, but I believe that the best thing for you to do is to not go crawling back to them.
Considering that you’re probably feeling depressed, an easy fix would be to try and get them back.
But what happens when you break up again in 6 months time? It might hit you harder.
The relationship ended for a reason, and unless it’s very clear that this reason has been resolved or it definitely won’t happen again, then I think it’s better to move on with your life.
8) Now you need to find new sources of meaning
I’m sure people have told you to “go out with your friends” and “have fun”. Solid advice, but it’s not going to help you restore new meaning in your life.
Right now you’ll just go out with your usual friends, have a good time, and then go home and sleep by yourself and be reminded that you don’t have your ex-lover by your side.
Instead, you need to find hobbies and interests that you can get yourself involved to develop new sources of meaning.
Keep reading for tips on how to find new sources of meaning.
9) Find your joy
Now it’s time to consider what really makes you happy in life.
What makes you feel free? When are you at your best? When you’re traveling? With family? Working? Helping others?
Write down everything. These are the areas you can find new meaning.
For example, if you’re passionate about traveling, start to organize solo trips (or with friends) to places that you’ve always wanted to see.
If you haven’t got the budget for it, plan your money so that eventually you do have the finances to travel there.
And viola, already you have a purpose you’re working towards.
If you enjoy helping others, consider new ways you can do that.
If you’re skilled at Maths, perhaps you could offer to teach kids Maths.
Be creative with how you can help others.
Whatever it is, find new activities that give yourself purpose. Purpose is an important cog in feeling happy.
10) Appreciate yourself
When you’re in a long-term relationship, you don’t spend much time alone.
So much so that you can forget who you truly are.
Now is the perfect time to get to know yourself again. Be positive and optimistic about what an incredible opportunity this is.
You might think that this is lame but what really helped me was sitting down and writing down a list of my greatest strengths.
Self-doubt was creeping into my consciousness with thoughts like, “what am I without my ex-partner?”.
Understanding where my strengths and values reside made me believe in myself and realize that many girls would be lucky to date me.
Also, another “list” that helped me was writing down things I’m appreciative for. This was important in understanding that there’s a lot in my life that I’m lucky to have.
Once you finish these 2 lists, you’ll understand that you have a lot to give and a lot to be grateful for.
Whenever you’re feeling down, read them again.
11) Get out of your comfort zone
Let’s be honest, there’s not a lot of room for adventure and excitement in your comfort zone.
Understandably your zest for life might be experiencing a downturn after he/she left you.
But if you want to get that zest for life back, you need to do some new and scary things. Stretch your limits!
It doesn’t have to be extreme. Even doing something that makes you a little nervous can be awesome for you.
So consider what makes you a little nervous and go about doing it.
For example, I’ve always been terrified of going up to groups of girls and starting a conversation.
So you know what I did? I went out with my friends and did exactly that.
By asking lame questions like, “Where are the best bars around here?” to a group of strangers, I was able to get my zest back by challenging myself and striking up a conversation with a bunch of randoms.
It was a great way of meeting new people as well.
And hey, when I approached groups of girls, I’m sure I was awkward. But in the end, I did it, and I felt nothing but excitement afterwards.
Getting over someone is never easy, but it’s important to realize that you’ll eventually get over them and you’ll be stronger for it.
By changing up your perspective and understanding that being single isn’t really as bad as you thought, you’ll be able to participate in activities that expand your comfort zone and make you realize that there are a lot of possibilities and excitement ahead in your life, even without your partner.
And if you find yourself still struggling and you can’t control your urge to contact them, check my latest post on why you should adopt the “no contact rule“.
A quick message from Lachlan Brown, the founder of Hack Spirit
In 2018, the third year of Hack Spirit, I poured thousands of hours and considerable resources into creating these articles. It's a labor of love and remains free thanks to your patronage. If you found any value in these articles, please consider supporting what I do with a donation. Your support is what helps me to continue creating more Hack Spirits articles. To make a donation, click the "donate" button below and choose between a single donation or monthly.
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