How to heal a broken heart: 7 essential steps to moving forward

Trying to heal a broken heart is possibly one of the most difficult experiences you can ever encounter.

Of course, Bess Myerson has famously said, “To fall in love is awfully simple, but to fall out of love is simply awful.”

Indeed, they say love is meant to last forever. However, sometimes it doesn’t. When such is true, although the relationship may abruptly end, the pain isn’t going to fade as quickly.

So, how can you heal a broken heart?

The remainder of this article will explain exactly how to heal a broken heart with these 7 essential steps.

Here we go: 

1. Don’t Look for a Rational Explanation to Explain Why the Relationship Ended

Getting over a broken heart is not at all logical, but rather, completely emotional. As Psychologist, Guy Winch explains, “There is no rationale that can take away the pain you feel.”

Thus, you cannot expect some story that you either make or are told to suddenly make everything feel alright again.

Instead, you must put it to bed yourself. You must forget about the reasons and simply be willing to let it go. 

Of course, this is not going to be easy. However, the next point will be of help:

2. Don’t Idealize What You Used to Have 

One of the most common and deadly mistakes we often make when trying to mend a broken heart is idealizing the person who broke it. 

We remember the amazing times we’d spent together, the fantastic emotions they’d made us feel, or how they would bring us breakfast in the morning.

However, all this does is deepen the emotional pain and complicate your recovery. Sure, you can remember the times you’d spent together and express gratitude for those experiences.  

However, if you truly want to move on, that person should no longer have a role in the next chapter of your life. Moving on and letting people go is a completely normal process of life. 

As Benjamin P. Hardy has explained, 

“Life is a multiple act play. In each succeeding scene in the play of your life, you will act in different roles, have different supporting cast members, and take on new challenges.”

If you truly allow it, life will take you on a magical journey beyond anything you can currently imagine. However, you must be receptive to loss and newness. You must be open to transitioning from one scene to the next. 

Your new life absolutely can and should be better than the last. However, you’ll need to bear in mind the next few steps:

3. Remove all Contact 

As tempting as it may be, every text sent or every scroll through their social media is simply making the pain harder to heal. 

You do not want to give yourself any false hope of reigniting the relationship, and nor do you want to be constantly reminded of what they’re doing. Instead, you want to forget all about them and make your own life great again. 

Of course, the idea of “just being friends” doesn’t work either. When the feelings are no longer mutual, then one party is just left stringing along. This is no fun for anyone involved. 

Thus, it’s often best to just remove all contact. 

Of course, if there are also kids or other circumstances involved, then this idea may be a little more difficult. However, the general idea remains the same: you do not want to wish and hope for the relationship to reignite. 

Instead, you want to let it all go and move on with the rest of your life. 

In order to do so, you’ll need to understand the next point: 

4. Fill the Void

When someone leaves your life, you don’t just lose them. Instead, you also lose everything else they added to your world.  

For example, their friend group, the part of them that added to your identity, the Sunday morning walks you used to take together, or even just the breakfast they prepared for you in the morning. 

Thus, when you go through a breakup, you must also create a new life for yourself. You must find the holes left in your life and fill them with things you truly enjoy doing. 

Without doing so, an empty void will simply lead to distraction, misery, and self-destruction. You may resort to quick hook-ups, drugs, alcohol, or any other vice to fill the void.

However, this will only lead you down an even darker hole and leave you worse off than you were before.

So, what’s missing from your life since the breakup, and how can you fill those holes?

This a great opportunity to try out some things you’ve always wanted to do, like dancing classes or surfing. While these activities are also going to provide a great avenue to meet new people. Which actually links to the next point:

5. Find Social Support 

There’s a saying that 90% of good counseling is just talking about how you feel. 

Of course, it’s tempting to think that by talking about your feelings you’re just being a burden or that nobody else will understand. 

However, this is just like trying to pull yourself out of quicksand; you can’t do it. 

Thus, you need some social support around you. You need someone with whom you can speak your mind. Honestly, you may just be surprised at how much better it will make you feel.

When you open your mind and start talking about how you feel, it’s like having someone to lean on to help you through the tough times. So, why wouldn’t you? 

King Solomon, one of the wisest people from the Bible has said, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”

So, who can you talk to? Find some family or a friend.

6. Give Yourself Time to Heal

“Time and patience are the two most strongest warriors” -Leo Tolstoy

When your heart has been broken, it’s going to take some time to heal. Sure, these steps are going to help. However, this isn’t a process that you can or should expect to happen overnight. 

Related post (article continues below)

Loss and grief are very real feelings that can hurt you down to the core. 

Thus, you need not rush the healing process and attempt to bottle up your feelings. Instead, you need to be patient with yourself. You need to go with the flow and give yourself time to heal.

After a while, you will return to feeling fully alive again. You will be ready to love again. However, only this time you’ll be stronger than you were before. 

As Ryan Holiday has said, 

“The extent of the struggle determines the extent of the growth.”

7. Don’t Be Afraid of Being Alone

As a western society, most people are quite afraid of being alone. They’re afraid of sitting with their own thoughts and they’re afraid of being fully responsible for their own happiness. 

In short, you could say that they’re afraid of being the CEO of their own life.

However, no one else can guide you through your experience of the world. You are an individual, and it is up to you to navigate the world around you.

Equally, do you know what makes someone so attractive? When they do have their own life going on. When they have an individual drive for themselves and don’t need anyone else to make them happy. 

Speaker and author, Darren Hardy has said, “Build a life other people want to be a part of.” 

And that’s exactly the key. You must build a life that you love and then go thinking about what you want from a relationship. Many people do just the opposite and only end miserable.

As Tony Robbins has said, “Some people are in a relationship right now but they aren’t happy because their standard is that they must be in a relationship, not that they must have passion and excitement and pure joy and love.”

Why Are Breakups So Difficult?

By now, it should be fairly obvious that ending a relationship is never easy. Although, the question still remains as to why?

Why do we find ourselves in such a devastating state? Why do we feel such an intense emotional, mental, and even physical reaction?

Interestingly, these are the same questions that some researchers from Columbia University set out to answer.

What they found, is that when people were shown pictures of their ex, the very same sensations as experiencing physical pain would be triggered. 

Specifically, the researchers said, “We found that powerfully inducing feelings of social rejection activate regions of the brain that are involved in physical pain sensation, which are rarely activated in neuroimaging studies of emotion.”

“These findings suggest that the experience of social rejection, or social loss more generally, may represent a distinct emotional experience that is uniquely associated with physical pain.”

Hence, the feelings you may be feeling right now should not be ignored, but rather overcome. 

Further, another study found that your brain will process a breakup in the same way that it processes a drug addiction withdrawal.

In that, you will often go to extreme lengths in order to obtain your dopamine reward, as the study reports,

“Lovers, like addicts, often go to extremes, sometimes doing degrading or physically dangerous things to win back the beloved. And lovers relapse the way drug addicts do. Long after the relationship is over, events, people, places, songs, or other external cues associated with their abandoning sweetheart can trigger memories and renewed craving.”

In Conclusion 

Healing a broken heart involves the following 7 steps:

  1. Don’t Look for a Rational Explanation to Explain Why the Relationship Ended: Guy Winch has wisely said, “No relationship break up explanation is going to feel satisfying.” Thus, there’s no reason to even look for one. Accept the one you’re given or make up your own and then move on. 
  2. Don’t Idealize What You Used to Have: Dan Sullivan has a saying, Always make your future bigger than your past. Thus, you needn’t look at your past while designing your future. Indeed, no matter how good you might have believed that you had it in the past, you absolutely can make your future even better.
  3. Remove all Contact: The last thing you need is constant texts or images on your Facebook feed to remind you of what you used to have. Thus, removing all contact is your bet. Remove them from all your social media channels and don’t send any texts.
  4. Fill the Void: When someone leaves your life, you don’t just lose them. Instead, you also lose everything else they added to your world. Thus, you must fill that void. You must find the holes left in your life and fill them with things you truly enjoy doing.
  5. Find Social Support: To repeat the words of King Solomon: “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” To heal a broken heart, you need supportive people around you. You need someone with whom you can speak your mind and heart. Without doing so, it will be like trying to pull yourself out of quicksand. 
  6. Give Yourself Time to Heal: Trying to rush the healing process is likely only going to make things worse. Bottled up emotions always come back to haunt you. Thus, you must be patient with yourself and allow things to go with the flow. 
  7. Don’t Be Afraid of Being Alone: There is nothing wrong with being alone. The more you’re comfortable in your own presence, the more you’ll be prepared for an effective next relationship. 

Science is starting to show that a breakup has very real effects on the brain. For example, being shown pictures of your ex is much like experiencing physical pain.

Equally, being without your lover can easily trigger the same withdrawals as recovering from drug addiction. 

I hope these steps help to heal your broken heart, and all the best. 

Introducing my new book

To dive further into what I’ve discussed in this blog post, check out my book The Art of Breaking Up: How to Let Go of Someone You Loved.

In this book, I’ll show you exactly how to get over someone you loved as quickly and as successfully as possible.

First I’ll take you through the 5 different types of breakups – this gives you the chance to better understand why your relationship came to an end, and how the fallout is impacting you now.

Next, I’ll provide a path to help you figure out exactly why you’re feeling the way you are about your breakup.

I’ll show you how to truly see those feelings for what they really are, so you can accept them, and ultimately move on from them.

In the last stage of the book, I reveal to you why your best self is now waiting to be discovered.

I show you how to embrace being single, rediscover the profound meaning and simple joys in life, and ultimately find love again.

Now, this book is NOT a magic pill.

It’s a valuable tool to help you become one of those unique people who can accept, process and move on.

By implementing these practical tips and insights, you’ll not just free yourself from the mental chains of a distressing breakup, but you’ll most likely become a stronger, healthier, and happier person than ever before.

Check it out here.

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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