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Heartbreaks Do Hurt: How To Heal From A Painful Heartbreak

Heartbreaks Do Hurt: How To Heal From A Painful Heartbreak

Heartbreaks really hurt. It’s for real literally, not a mere metaphor.

Every time you choose to connect with someone deeply, you’re exposing the most vulnerable part of yourself to another person. It’s like taking your heart out and connect it with another person’s. When this bonding is broken, the connected parts will torn apart. When your heart’s tearing apart, of course it hurts. There’s no difference than any physical pain.

Heartbreaks are so intense that it feels the same as physical pain.

When we experience a heartbreak, we feel sad, disappointed, angry, stressful and fearful because we feel like being rejected. The mixed feelings even cause physical pain with our heart.

Scientists conducted an aforementioned fMRI study of heartbroken individuals,[1]

When the subjects looked at and discussed their rejecter, they trembled, cried, sighed, and got angry, and in their brains these emotions triggered activity in the same area associated with physical pain.

Another study showed that subjects who touched a hot probe and those who looked at a photo of an ex-partner had the same experience of rejection. The physical pain and social rejection are rooted in exactly the same brain regions.

But like any kind of physical injuries, a heartbreak will heal; it just takes time (including a period of emotion ups and downs).

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The six stages we go through during a heartbreak:

    Stage 1: Denial.
    When things are happening too fast, it’s hard to believe it really is happening. We’re not good at handling sudden rejections, and so we want to choose to believe that the bad things never happened. We want to lie to ourselves so as to feel better.

    Stage 2: Anger.
    When lying to ourselves doesn’t work any more, we start to feel mad about what happened. Why it has to happened on me? Why s/he has to leave me like that? Why life is so unfair? We blame others. We blame the world. We hate the fact that we’re the one losing something.

    Stage 3: Blaming yourself.
    And then, we start to blame ourselves. Did I do something wrong so this happened to me? I should have done better. I could have done more than that. It’s all my fault. Instead of blaming others, we start to hate ourselves for being ourselves and having messed things up.

    Stage 4: Bargaining.
    Until this stage, we still can’t really accept what happened. We’re willing to do anything just to revert the result. We want to go back in time to change our past. We want a better ending. If there’s anything we can do to get him/her back, we’ll do it no matter what it takes.

    Stage 5: Depressed.
    Now we’ve come to a stage where we feel so hopeless and tired after going through so many negative emotions. We don’t want to do anything. We simply want to hide ourselves somewhere to cry, and rest. We are too sad to do anything. Our hearts are crying. Our hearts still ache.

    Stage 6: Initial acceptance.
    Finally, after all the emotion ups and downs and all the difficult time, we’ve started to accept the truth. We’ve begun to manage to keep ourselves calm. Bit by bit, we realize that we’re not crying that much any more. We’re still sad, but we don’t look back to the past so often.

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    Reaching stage 6 of heartbreak is a great breakthrough because you’ve totally embraced your emotions, accepting yourself as a vulnerable person. Yet this just the beginning of getting back on track of your life.

    After going through the six stages of heartbreak, you’re ready to work on the real healing.

    To mend a broken heart, firstly, understand the primal nature of the wound.

    Whether it’s a breakup or a loved one passed away, we’re losing a part of our life that means a lot to us. Here’re two different approaches for different reasons of heartbreaks.

    If it’s because a relationship ends:
    Are you feeling sad reminiscing all the sweet memories you had with him/her, missing all the moments which are like dreams to you now?

    Do you feel like you guys are meant to be together that you simply want to hold on to the relationship?

    Or are you afraid that you won’t be able to find a partner who’s as sweet as him/her, or who understands you as much as he/she did?

    Maybe it’s not really the person you’re missing; maybe it’s the memories and the feeling of being with someone that you’re missing. Maybe it’s also your ego messing with you, having to face the rejection.

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    If it’s because of a loved one passes away:
    Is it the regret you have that makes you so uneasy? You wish you could have treated him/her better? Or you wish you could have spent more time with him/her?

    Or is it that you don’t think you can live without him/her because after all, you guys had been together for so long? Is that you think it’s really hard to get used to living without him/her?

    Maybe you do miss the person, but you’re more afraid of living on your own. Imagine yourself living the future without him/her is just painful. You also hold a lot of grudges against yourself.

    No matter why you’re experiencing a heartbreak, it all comes down to your fear — the fear of past failure and the fear of future uncertainty.

    To kick away the evil fear, try this way.

    We can’t change what happened in the past, but we can learn from it and make ourselves a better future.

    Now, take out a piece of paper and grab a pen, write down everything you’re sad about this heartbreak:

    • I regret not spending more time with her.
    • He used to cheer me up when I was sad, now I have no one.
    • I never changed my feelings for him but he changed his.
    • I was lost, it wasn’t the real me when I started to become so needy.
    • ……

    When you finish writing these, look at each of them and ask yourself these questions:

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    • I understand this is part of my life and there’s a lesson in it, what’s that?
      This question makes you think about something that you can take away from the experience, so you can fully accept what happened and take only the lesson with you.
    • How can I apply the lesson learned to my daily life?
      This question guides you to make changes in your life, so you can be more positive about the situation.
    • What can I do now to prevent this from happening again?
      This question forces you to learn from the experience and think again what you can do when coming across similar situations.
    • What (or who) do I have now that will make me feel better?
      This questions helps you to get out of your cave and look at all those people who love and care about you; so you have the motivation to move on.

    While writing down your thoughts helps relieve the burden in your heart, asking yourself the above questions reminds you the importance of focusing on the present moment. As you’re answering the questions, you’ll understand yourself a lot more and will soon realize your future becomes more certain, and your life is not that out of control.

    Your mind feels calmer, but there’re a few more simple actions to take.

    Call your friends and invite them for dinner or just any kind of activities. You need their support and you need a lot of laughters!

    Take up some new hobbies or just take back up your old hobbies, just anything you enjoy doing!

    Take a break and go traveling (or a staycation in somewhere you’ve never been to) alone. You need some alone time to quiet your mind.

    Make some new friends. If you’re too shy to join your friends’ house parties, take some interest classes and meet people with like-minded. Meeting new people can stimulate your brain and make you happier.

    Yes time heals, but only if you take actions to take good care of yourself.

    As time goes by, bit by bit, you’ll realize that you no longer miss him/her that much any more. You’ll be able to smile when you see the thing that used to remind you of him/her. You’ll be able to see the bright side of things again.

    And you’re getting back on track with your life, having good time with your friends and family, enjoying your work and hobbies.

    Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

    Reference

    [1] AsapSCIENCE: The Science of Heartbreak

    More by this author

    Anna Chui

    Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2020

    11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude Every Day

    11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude Every Day

    Maintaining a positive attitude is critical when you want to achieve anything or simply improve the quality of your life. Most success literature will talk about the power of positive thinking and how important it is, but it’s often easier said than done.

    In this article, you’ll find 11 tips for maintaining your positive attitude no matter what’s going on in your life.

    1. You Determine Your Reality

    It’s important to realize that you determine your reality by the way you react to the outside world. When something happens, you get to choose whether it’s a positive or negative situation and react accordingly.

    For example, if you lose your job, your first reaction will likely be one of anger, frustration, and hopelessness. However, what if you were able to turn those emotions around and look at that experience as an opportunity.

    You now have the chance to find a job where you will be able to learn new skills and perhaps even be happier. And in the meantime, you have some free time to analyze what direction you want the next stage of your life to go in.

    2. Start Your Day Strong

    Most people have to drag themselves out of bed, and this sets a negative state of mind for their entire day. Positive people create a long-term morning ritual that reinforces how great life is and how happy they are to be alive.

    I used to wake up and immediately turn on Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life to get me into a positive mood. Now I start my day by reading or listening to something positive. Whether you have 1 minute, 15 minutes, or an hour to dedicate to your ritual, you can start the day in a way that helps you feel relaxed and ready for the day ahead.

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    Cultivate a positive attitude with a great morning routine.

      3. Exercise Is the Natural Feel-Good Drug

      Exercise is a great way to maintain a good attitude because of all the positive chemicals it releases into the bloodstream.

      One study found that between groups who participated in high-intensity interval training, moderate continuous training, and no exercise, those in the second group experienced the greatest drop in depressive symptoms and stress[1]. Therefore, if you’re looking to exercise to help you feel good, get your heart rate up, but don’t push too hard or you may increase overall stress.

      Also, remember that exercise can include many activities. If you don’t like running, try dancing or kickboxing instead. Put on some upbeat music to kick up the positive vibes even more.

      4. Use Books, Audio and Videos to Overload Your Brain with Positivity

      There are millions of amazing books, podcasts, and videos for you to absorb from people who are inspiring and living the life of their dreams. Tap into their positive emotions and their experience by learning how they think and what they do to create the lives they want.

      You can do this in the morning or while exercising, eating, commuting, cooking, cleaning… there’s always time for positivity.

      5. Your Language Shapes Your Thoughts

      Little changes in your language can change the way you think and how you act. Whenever someone greets you and asks how you’re doing, do you answer with “fine” or “not too bad”? Think about just what this language is communicating to others… and yourself.

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      I always answer with “great,” “fantastic,” or “amazing.” Not only does this remind me that life really is great, but it usually helps the other person shift toward a positive attitude as well.

      Also, take some time to look at the way your inner voice talks to you. Is that language positive or negative? If it’s overly critical or negative, it may be time to tap into some mindfulness meditation in order to shift your inner critic to an inner cheerleader.

      6. Hang out With Positive People

      It is often said that you will have a similar level of health, income and lifestyle as the five people you spend the most time with.

      So if you want to be fit, then start to hang out with fit people. Want to start a business? Then hang out with business owners. And if you want to be positive, make sure you’re hanging out with positive people[2].

      7. Show Your Appreciation for Others

      By appreciating others for a job well done, their outfit, or their smile, you start to cause a positive chain reaction. Stop complaining and focus on all the good others are doing around you.

      Don’t you feel great when you receive a compliment from someone else? Well, if you want to receive more, then start giving them out and watch what happens to the people around you.

      One particular study found that people who sent letters of gratitude experienced significant increases in happiness scores[3]. If you don’t feel like writing a letter, send a nice text to someone who recently helped you out, or send an email thanking your coworker for always helping pick up the slack around the office. Whatever it is, take some time to show gratitude.

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      8. Garbage In, Garbage Out

      This is an expression from programming where the result is only as good as the input. If you’re feeding yourself with negativity all day long, then it’s pretty obvious you’re going to be feeling negative as well.

      A great deal of the media thrives on negativity. Put yourself on a negativity diet (including people) and watch how much easier it is to maintain your positive attitude.

      9. Stop Negative Thoughts in Their Tracks

      It’s hard to be a constantly positive person, and negative thoughts are going to bubble up from time to time. These will be more frequent in the beginning but can decrease as you practice the tips we’re talking about. When you start to notice negative thoughts, you can use a pattern interrupt to stop them in their tracks.

      The idea is to interrupt your current thought pattern and shift to a more positive outlook. One way to do this is to set a visual or auditory cue. It can be something as simple as a bracelet you wear each day or the sound of a car passing outside your window. Whenever you see or hear the cue, use it to shift your thoughts to something positive.

      You can learn more on how to shift your mindset and negative attitudes in the following video:

      10. Live With Gratitude

      So many positive things happen during our day, and we often ignore them while letting one negative comment or event ruin our mood. It can help to keep a gratitude journal where you jot down things you are grateful for each night or during the day.

      If you’re reading this, then you probably live with a roof over your head and food in your belly, which is a daily struggle for a large portion of the world. However, we often take these things for granted and don’t realize just how great we have it.

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      Try refocusing your thoughts towards everything you do have instead of what you don’t. One study found that reflecting on past experiences with a sense of gratitude can lead to increases in both hope and happiness[4]. That’s a great reason to give it a go today.

      You can find more ways to practice gratitude in this article.

      11. Recharge Your Batteries

      One key to adopting a positive attitude is taking the time to recharge your batteries. This might mean taking a few hours on the weekend to read a positive book or taking a few weeks for a holiday.

      If you’re not in the position to travel, you can take a staycation, or have a “home holiday” where you simply switch off from the outside world and spend time doing things you love.

      Final Thoughts

      You now have 11 tips for maintaining your positive attitude, but they are no use to you unless you implement them into your life.

      Start small, and pick the easiest tip or the one that you really love and introduce it into your life starting right now. Then, over time, start implementing the other tips and watch your positivity soar.

      More Tips About Staying Positive

      Featured photo credit: Pepe Cast Zam via unsplash.com

      Reference

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