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The Dust Settles: Dealing With The Aftermath Of A Heartbreak

It happened. It’s over. Maybe you saw the end coming for a while, or maybe you thought they were the one and it totally blindsided you. It doesn’t matter. Either way, you still have to deal with the fallout. Breakups of any kind devastate the heart. If you are going through a heart-wrenching breakup, know it gets easier with time. But there is no sure time frame for how long it takes to heal a broken heart. For some people, it might take a few months, for others it could be years or even decades.

A broken heart is something that everyone will deal with at some point in their lives. The way we react to it will vary. Many will deal with it in the worse way, while some will do the opposite. Many have killed over a broken heart. Some folks have lost their dang mind over a broken heart. Some have had amazing breakthroughs and become a better version of themselves after a broken heart.

Some of my favorite movies have dealt with heartbreak, such as: Waiting To Exhale, Love and Basketball, While You Were Sleeping, Two Can Play That Game, and O. Not to mention the fact that some of the world’s most popular and successful artists have taken their heartbreak and created some of the most emotion field….absolutely amazing and timeless music ever. Adele, Mary J. Blige, Sam Smith, Toni Braxton….just to name a few; fit perfectly into this category.

Every time you get out of bed, go to a yoga class, or just do the dishes is a strong initiative of willpower because you’re pushing forward with your life, household, and health. You may still feel depressed, but it’s in these small measures that you’re seeding something wholesome for your present and future. While the destination may not be the oasis you’d envisioned, you have to remember why you set out on the journey. You took a chance by opening up to someone or attempting a new endeavor. It takes a great deal of courage to venture into an exploration of the precarious unknown, and you have to give yourself praise for making an effort.

We can incessantly pick at the “should haves” and “would haves,” but your inner GPS chose a route based on the information you had at the time. You couldn’t have done anything different. When you can fully embrace this, it is an act of forgiveness to yourself, because you stop questioning your capabilities. Everything you did was as it was supposed to be.

Heartbreak doesn’t just hurt, it often feels impossible. So many questions come along with the pain: How can I move on? How do I get through this? Will it ever get better? It will, promise. Anyone who’s come out the other side of a breakup knows that. But if you’re currently in the trenches of a potent heartbreak, that’s not exactly comforting. We won’t sugarcoat it: The unfortunate truth is that having a broken heart sucks and it’s going to continue to suck, until it doesn’t.

“Learning to provide comfort for yourself when you feel distressed is one of the most valuable tools we can have in our toolbox,” says Olubukonla Kolawole, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in New York City. But you can only do so much inside your own head, so consider recruiting two or three people you can reach out to when you need someone. “Every time you want to send a text to your partner or are reminded about your ex and want to reach for them, reach for one of your buddies instead,” she says. You can even take it a step further by stating upfront what you need from your friends, whether it’s reassurance, agreeance, or help looking forward.

One way to process your emotions is to write them down. You can even take it a step further by writing an honest letter to your ex, says Kolawole. Include all the things you’re grateful for and the things you’re disappointed about. “The letter is an an opportunity to really say goodbye, as well as say all the things you never said or wished you had said,” she says. “Write it as if you won’t be sending it so you can just write freely and take your time. But more importantly, let yourself feel your feelings as you write the letter. Let yourself grieve the relationship and feel sadness, anger, gratitude and whatever else comes up.”

As cheesy and obnoxious as they may seem as inspirational quotes, mantras really do work, because they are a quick way to keep your mind focused on moving forward, rather than spiraling into anxious thoughts. “My favorite mantra is ‘feelings are not facts,’" says Dr. Zucker. Repeat it whenever you find yourself in a spot where it’s easy to drift into negative thought territory and spiral out of control — like when you’re trying to sleep or are commuting and have nothing else to focus on. “Turn back into you, and say, okay, I’m feeling scared and insecure, and then try to remind yourself that feelings are not facts,” Dr. Zucker says.

Don’t let anyone rush you through the grieving process: When you give yourself permission to feel everything, you’re setting the stage for moving on in a healthy, productive way, said Leslie Petruk, a marriage and family therapist based in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Our culture doesn’t give permission to grieve but it’s important to ride the wave and allow yourself to feel the emotions and work through them — otherwise you will get stuck in them,” she said. “Many divorcées get stuck in anger, resentment or victimization. It is through moving through [your emotions] that you are able to heal.”

Instead of replaying the mistakes you made in your relationship over and over again, show yourself some compassion and focus on what you did right, said Besinger. “Give yourself a lot of grace and think of the ways you showed up as your authentic self in the relationship, the things you enjoyed about the other person and your time together.” she said. “Also, take a minute to reflect on anything you would like to do differently when it’s time to date again. Dating and relationships are a practice and ideally, we grow with each experience.”

The positive side of heartbreak: now you know what you don’t want and now you know how you want to be treated by the person you trust with your heart. Bear those lessons in mind going forward, and for the love of Pete raise your standards when it comes to men. Author, Shannon Kaiser, came up with 13 fool proof ways to get over a breakup. Take a look at these tips that I feel are quite relatable, essential, and important:

1. Avoid contact for 60 to 90 days

2. Don’t romanticize the past

3. Fall in love with your life

4. Forgive them

5. Focus on what you want

6. Speak kindly to yourself

7. Don’t badmouth your ex

8. Avoid social media stalking

9. Stop overanalyzing it

10. Trust the process

11. Believe in love

12. Prioritize self-care

13. Follow your heart


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