For those of you who read my blog, you know I rarely get very personal on here. I keep my personal life private, however, I have recently experienced life-altering heartbreak that has taught me so much about myself. I want to share those lessons with you to help and encourage anybody else going through heartbreak of any sort. Whether it’s a breakup, an affair, a death of a loved one, addiction, a fight with your best friend, anything; you are not alone.
1. Keep yourself as busy as possible
When your heart is broken, one of the hardest parts is getting up every morning and going about daily life. Your brain screams at you to shut down completely. I guarantee you will feel so much better once you get up, dress up, and do life. Keep yourself on-track with assignments and work. Take care of those little things that are actually within your control. While you’re occupied with all of these other tasks and activities, your brain won’t focus on the pain.
2. It is also perfectly okay to cry for a whole day and eat an obscene amount of ice cream in one sitting
Although staying busy is crucial, you’re allowed to feel sorrow and grief. It is critical to take that time to just feel it all and let it out. Cry until you can’t cry anymore. Scream. Watch a sappy chick-flick. Eat an entire tub of ice cream. Indulge yourself in those physical comforts for a little while. You can’t keep all your emotions inside all the time – you have to let them out.
3. You are allowed to be angry
Bad things happen to good people. It sucks. Life does not seem fair a lot of the time – get angry about it. If your boyfriend dumped you, listen to some angry breakup music. Feeling anger for brief amounts of time will help you feel empowered. Be careful though, do not let anger create resentment and bitterness. Let it swell up inside of you, let it out in a constructive manner, and then be done with it.
4. Find a constructive activity that brings you comfort
Sometimes you need an outlet during these hard times. Let your anger or stress out by hitting the gym. Write down your feelings in a journal. Find comfort in your faith. Whatever it is, find something that brings you peace and healing and do that frequently. For me, it’s prayer, worship music, and blogging. Find your happy place that brings you clarity and stick with it.
5. Although alone time can be restoring, it can also lead to a downward spiral
When you are alone with your thoughts, it is extremely easy to get caught up in them. Like I said earlier, it’s healthy to have a good cry every once in a while. However, when you are experiencing grief, it’s incredibly difficult to stay composed when you are alone which makes it hard to get anything done. Surround yourself with people. For example, do your homework in the library or at Starbucks. Go somewhere where you can be around other people even if you don’t want to interact with them.
6. Your friends and family will save your life
The great thing about life is that we never have to do it alone. In order to heal and process, you need to surround yourself with people who love you and care for you. Talking through your heartache and pain is the most healing thing you can do. It’s so easy to feel alone in times of hardship. Take the time to reach out to people and fill them in on what’s going on with you. Whether you want advice or just need to vent, find someone to confide in. Their kindness and generosity will surprise you. You cannot go through these things alone no matter how strong you think you are – you need people helping you and checking up on you.
7. Focus on the future – do not dwell on the “what ifs”
If you focus on the past, it will eat you up inside. You absolutely cannot dwell on the past and wonder how you could have changed things. Sometimes heartbreak can be self-inflicted – you messed up. Take responsibility for your actions. If you were a victim, work towards forgiving those who wronged you. Regardless of how a situation happened or who’s to blame, the important thing is to learn from it and to move on. What happened, happened and you have to deal with that reality. Your energy will be much better spent focusing on the future and moving forward.
8. Time will heal you
It sounds cheesy to say, but ultimately, time heals all wounds. Emotional pain can be all-consuming at times and those wounds will feel like they’ll never heal. But there is this funny thing life tends to do: it goes on. You will grow stronger by the day even if you don’t feel like it. Slowly, that pain will subside and you will find happiness again.
9. Don’t make any big decisions when highly emotional
Don’t get a tattoo. Don’t close the door on a failed relationship immediately. Don’t give up hope on a friendship. Don’t go on a Facebook un-friending spree. Don’t decide to move. Don’t quit your job. Breathe. When you’re angry or blinded by grief, you may want to make dramatic life-changing decisions. However, this could make your heartbreak so much worse. Wait until you are calm and in a better place to make any definitive choices.
10. Sometimes you have to fake it ’till you make it
Yep, some days are going to SUCK! Like I said, getting out of bed is going to be rough. But I promise you, if you slap a smile on your face (even if it’s 150% fake), you will end up genuinely smiling. It’s the weirdest thing, but it really works.
11. Do not neglect your health
I cannot stress this enough. Sleepless nights, an overdose of comfort food, and headaches from crying can make you feel so much more miserable than is necessary. Make sure you are eating healthy food, getting enough sleep, and listening to your body. Sometimes working out or even going for a walk will help clear your mind. If you need to call in sick to work for a mental health day or to just get stuff around the house done, do that. Another little thing that will help you feel better is dressing up – slap on some bright lipstick and throw on your favorite outfit. It may seem silly, but it will ultimately help boost your confidence which will help you feel better!
12. Know that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Pain is temporary. Although the grief or heartache you are experiencing now may seem permanent, it will eventually fade. The lessons you will take away from this experience will mold you into a stronger individual. The reasons behind this pain may not seem clear right now, but I promise they will eventually. You come out of this time wiser and stronger than you ever imagined. Have faith when all hope seems lost that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
13. Do something totally random and fun
Go to an outdoor concert, spend the day at a theme park, have a girls night, whatever – just do something that gets you out of the house and laughing. Do something that will completely take your mind off of the situation and remind you of all the happiness and joy that is possible in the world.
14. Remember that you deserve the absolute best
You deserve to be happy. Whatever is happening right now to cause you pain in your life is temporary and will ultimately lead to your success. You deserve to feel joy and to feel full of life. When somebody hurts you deeply, remember that you are better than that. Demand respect and don’t settle for anything less than you deserve – get rid of those people who treat you otherwise. If something doesn’t bring you happiness or make you a better person, then it has no place in your life. Invest time in the people who support you through this hardship.
15. If you can change your thoughts, you can change your life.
You can’t change what happened in the past, but you absolutely can control your future. The first step towards doing that is controlling your own thoughts. If you think the world is over and that you will never find happiness again, your actions will reflect that. If you think that you are strong and can survive anything, your actions will likewise reflect that. Think happy thoughts and they will impact your life. Think positively about negative situations. Try to find the good in the bad. This is probably the most important lesson I’ve learned. It’s so easy to feel hopeless, to dwell on the past, to hold onto resentment or anger. But when you change your attitude for the better, your quality of life will improve dramatically. Don’t let heartbreak have the power to destroy your life. You are in control. Let go of anger, use your sorrow as your fuel, and when one door closes, know there is another one opening. Go find it.
What have you learned from heartbreak? What advice do you have for others going through a difficult time?
Disclaimer: Sometimes these steps don’t work for everybody. If you are going through a hard time and feel like there is no hope and you can’t seem to shake the sadness, there is help for you. Talk to a doctor or counselor about what you are feeling or visit the National Institute for Mental Health website to learn more. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.