Recovering a broken heartEven when you know that splitting up with your partner will leave you better off in the long term, ending a relationship can be deeply painful and traumatic.

Long term relationships are filled with comfortable routines and carefully constructed plans, but now that you are single once again you will be forced to re-evaluate your priorities and make new decisions about where your life is heading.

Moving on from a relationship can be devastating to your self-confidence, as well as confusing to your sense of identity. Read on to discover the six main steps on the journey to fully healing after a difficult breakup, and learn how you can work to let go of the past and look forward to the future.

After you break up with someone who was at the center of your world, it is extremely easy to feel isolated and lonely.

1) Acknowledge and accept why your relationship failed:

When a long term relationship comes to an end, it is all too easy to spend hours obsessing over questions about why things did not work out.

If you ended the relationship, you might feel guilt and uncertainty about your choice and ask yourself if you really tried hard enough. On the other hand, if your partner was the one to end the relationship then you may ask yourself why you weren’t ‘good enough’ or whether you deserved to be treated badly.

If your heart is to mend after a difficult breakup, you need to spend your time focusing on questions that will actually help you move on (instead of encouraging you to dwell on your misery).

Reflect on the relationship and be honest with yourself about what was missing. What did you want and never get? Where were the major incompatibilities between you and your partner? What expectations were you unable to meet? As you discover the answers to these questions, you will gain a better understanding of exactly why the relationship failed.

When you do, it will be easier to accept that the two of you are better suited to being apart. In addition, you will have a clearer picture of what sort of relationship would make you happy and will be more likely to find someone more suitable once you are ready to date again.

2) Be patient:

When a serious relationship ends, something that used to be precious has been lost. You will need to grieve, and it is vital that you do not ridicule yourself or feel ashamed if moving past your break up is taking longer than you would like.

Hiding from the way you feel will not get rid of your feelings; all it will do is ensure that they bubble back to the surface at some unexpected point in the future.

It is also extremely important to realize that there will be hiccups on your road to recovery. On some days, you may feel as though you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and will feel confident that you will indeed be happy again.

On other days, you may struggle to even get out of bed. Be patient, and do not repress your feelings. Hiding from the way you feel will not get rid of your feelings; all it will do is ensure that they bubble back to the surface at some unexpected point in the future.

3) Start imagining (and planning for) your future:

Make a conscious effort to pull your mind away from the past and start thinking about how things are going to be. Grab a pen and a piece of paper, and make a list of what you want to accomplish in the future.

In addition, once you have the list then you can easily pick it up and focus on it whenever you feel yourself slipping back into an unproductively melancholy frame of mind.

Allow yourself to write down tiny ideas, huge goals and everything in between. This will help you to build up a picture of what your life will look like once your breakup is truly behind you. It might be particularly helpful to list things that you would never have been able to do if you were still in a serious relationship.

Do you want to retrain in order to start a new career? Is there a new place in the world that you would love to live for a while? Do you finally have time to take up that musical instrument or learn that new language? Your list of future goals will help you to fully engage with the idea that your life will be better now that your relationship has come to an end.

In addition, once you have the list then you can easily pick it up and focus on it whenever you feel yourself slipping back into an unproductively melancholy frame of mind. Your written goals constitute proof that your life is not over, and provide evidence that you have excitement and happiness still ahead of you.

4) Rely on your support network:

Breakups are messy affairs that are hard to view objectively when you are at the epicenter. This is why you need to have a solid support network of people who will help you to see the truth of your situation and who will give you thoughtful and helpful advice (instead of platitudes such as ‘There are plenty of other fish in the sea!’).

Surround yourself with smart people who care for you and are always willing to listen. In addition to helping you analyze what happened and develop a plan for how to move on, a support network will ensure that you never feel alone.

After you break up with someone who was at the center of your world, it is extremely easy to feel isolated and lonely. It will be much easier to find the courage and fortitude to move on from your relationship if you can count on loved ones to offer a shoulder to cry on when you are struggling.

5) Let go of your anger

Very few breakups involve parting in a truly amicable and friendly way. Even if you parted on relatively good terms, there is probably something that you are angry about.

Perhaps you are angry at how you let your partner treat you, or maybe you are angry at yourself for something that you did (such as cheating or not trying very hard to fix the relationship before it was beyond repair). It is most likely that you are angry at yourself and your partner at the same time.

Holding on to feelings of rage will delay your ability to heal after a breakup, as it will keep your mind regularly focused on the past. However, it isn’t easy to let go of feelings of anger.

One thing you can do to help is to set aside time every day to do particularly distracting things that leave you feeling calmer and more at peace. Good examples include exercising, reading, watching a movie, or practicing a hobby.

In addition, a great antidote to anger is to spend time doing something that makes you laugh out loud (whether this comes in the form of enjoying comedy or spending time with your most hilarious friend).

It does not matter how you chose to let go of your anger, but you must find a way to do it. You need to forgive yourself for any wrongs that you did your partner, and understand why you behaved the way you did (so that it does not happen in any other relationship).

If you are the one who was wronged, focus on the fact that living well is the best revenge. If your partner treated you badly, they do not deserve to dominate your life and your thoughts.

6) Be kind to yourself:

It is important to take care of your body, as your heartache will heal more quickly if your general health is good.

Many people let their physical health suffer when their emotional health is poor. A difficult breakup can prompt problems with food, whether you are tempted to avoid eating or to eat far too much.

It is important to take care of your body, as your heartache will heal more quickly if your general health is good. Try to eat healthy food, exercise regularly, and do not stay up all night looking at old photographs or reading old correspondence.

If you keep the above advice in mind, you should slowly begin to heal after going through your difficult breakup. However, it is important to realize that these steps will not be sufficient for everyone.

Sometimes, only some form of counseling will allow you to properly move on. If your relationship has been over for months and you feel like things are getting worse rather than better (or are simply staying the same), consider seeing a relationship counselor.

Relationship counselors are specially trained to help you explore and deal with the complicated feelings that you are experiencing, and their objectivity can encourage you to look at your past in a helpful new light.

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