Break-ups can be devastating, but these tips will help you manage yours with grace.
Sweatpants, a carton of Ben & Jerry’s, a rom-com marathon—it’s the list of stereotypical break-up binges. Haven’t most people been there? While these things may feel cathartic in the short-term aftermath (Chunky Monkey! When Harry Met Sally!), they probably won’t help you accomplish much spiritual healing when your heart is aching. And when you’re feeling low, it’s especially important to center yourself, even if blocking out the world with another viewing of While You Were Sleeping or Notting Hill is all you want to do.
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But centering yourself is tough even on your brightest of days. So you might need some help. Enter: our brain trust of break-up experts. We mined the best advice from Suzanne Fisher, an interfaith minister based in the Richmond, Virginia area; David Routt, a licensed professional counselor and lay minister in Caldwell, Idaho; and Audrey Hope, a spiritual director in Los Angeles. What they had to say will help you get over your heartbreak in a truly restorative way.
1. Ask why this person & evaluate what you learned
During the throes of falling in love, you’re probably not prioritizing reflection. (You’re too busy falling!) Now that you’ve landed, you should set time aside to process your relationship. Because no matter why or how a relationship ends, there are valuable things that you can learn about yourself from it.
Fisher says one of the most important steps after a break-up is to reflect on why this specific relationship was so meaningful for you in the first place. Attraction isn’t a completely random event: you made a decision to date someone based on lots of factors. So think about the deeper reasons you were attracted to this person: What were the real reasons you pursued this particular relationship? Was there something inside of you that felt healed or filled by this person? What do you feel is missing in your spiritual and emotional life now that they’re gone?
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“We are here on Schoolhouse Earth to learn lessons and grow—although many times when our lessons come hard and fast, we end up wanting nothing more than recess,” says Fisher. Every break-up can tell us something about ourselves because, “we tend to bring people into our lives who can help us learn the lessons our inner guide feels we need to learn.”
Try writing down your thoughts, or, if that doesn’t help you find answers, Routt recommends reading the book Why We Pick the Mates We Do by Anne Teachworth for guidance.
“In order to break the cycle of ‘bad’ relationships, it is sometimes helpful to understand where our desire to enter these relationships comes from,” says Routt. “Teachworth explains that we tend to model behaviors and relationships that were modeled for us.”
|It’s important to question what qualities you don’t want to face again in a romantic relationship.”|
The book includes personal assessments that show you what types of emotional relationships you’re drawn to. Are they always the healthiest? Is there a reason why these relationships keep ending? By figuring out what type of person you tend to date, you’ll be able to recognize your own patterns, and maybe even earlier warning signs of a relationship that won’t go the distance.
“From there, you can make the choice about whether you want to keep up the status quo, or go for someone new,” says Routt.
That means sincerely evaluating if your ex had certain qualities you want your next partner to have. Equally important is the question of what qualities you don’t want to face again in a romantic relationship. Once you understand what your personal needs were in your old relationship, you can identify if they’re healthy needs or needs that you need to work on changing or fulfilling in a new way.
2. Think about how you can grow
In doing all of this private reflection, you’ve probably realized (or at least been reminded of) your personal flaws, how this relationship has taken its toll on you, and what role you played in the relationship ending. You are, of course, worthy of love regardless of the mistakes you may have made, but that doesn’t mean you should stop striving to improve yourself.
“Examine what you perceive to be the parts of you that are broken because of the relationship and decide how to fix them,” says Fisher. “Look at yourself totally honestly and be willing to grow from the parts of you that contributed to the breakup.”
|Relationships are a mirror to reflect back to us what we need to transform.”|
Honesty is key, even if it hurts. Gratitude for this painful time is also necessary because without this pain, you might not be examining yourself and asking these tough questions.
“Heartache is always a great awakening for change,” says Hope. “Be grateful for the madness and chaos because what is unconscious is brought out into the light. What must be healed is revealed. Relationships are a mirror to reflect back to us what we need to transform.”
3. Get in touch with God
You are not alone in this process. No matter how much you are suffering, know that you are loved.
“Reconnect with God and asking for help in becoming whole again—when people are distressed, they tend to move away from God,” says Fisher.
Don’t lose faith because you think that God is somehow punishing you.
“Know that everything you need will spiritually come when you surrender and allow,” says Hope. “In the law of attraction, whatever we need to clear and learn will knock on our door, effortlessly. Spiritually and with higher mind and guidance we are given exactly what we need at the exact moment. When you trust this you will notice the universe has your back and wants the best for you. We manifest our issues and what we need to heal.”
So have faith, trust in God, and pray to put your mind at peace as you struggle with all this self-examination.
4. Embrace self-love
“Love is a blessed opportunity to know yourself, and self-love is the key to finding true love,” says Hope.
In facing your truths, make time to love yourself. This process shouldn’t be about beating yourself up. Appreciate yourself and know that self-care is important. You’re also allowed to have fun and develop new hobbies.
“Act like you are single and loving it,” says Routt. “I know it sounds impossible because of the thoughts and feelings that are running rampant, but actions are by far the easiest thing to control out of that triad. Think about what you would be doing if you were feeling ‘OK’ after the break-up.”
Route suggests trying things you wanted to do while you were in a relationship but never had a chance to try or weren’t “allowed” to do because of a controlling partner. Put another way, be productive! Start crocheting, take an archery class, finish up your degree, sign up to volunteer somewhere.
“Acting in a healthy and positive way will affect both your feelings and your thoughts,” says Routt.
5. Gather your tribe
Be sure that in the midst of all this self-reflection and self-love, that you also spend time with your dear friends and close family. Don’t isolate yourself, no matter how tempting it may be. Enjoying time with your friends and family will provide you with a support system and also help ensure that you’ll avoid destructive behaviors. You’ll simply have too many eyes on you!
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“Another way to create meaning in your life is by experiencing others through relationship,” says Routt. “Now since you just got out of a romantic relationship, jumping right back into one is probably not going to be so helpful to you, but building your relationship with those that matter to you, like family, friends, your God, are all great uses of your time. A little quality time with those people will go a long way to making them feel cared for, and you to feel meaningful.”
So call up your old friend or get coffee with your sister, even if you think you’d rather stay in bed all day. A little human contact will go a long way to reminding you that there are lots of people to love in your life, not just boyfriends.
6. Ready yourself for new love
Eventually, you will want to love again—and you will love again. After you’ve reflected, devoted time to self-care, tried out new activities or revisited old hobbies, and enjoyed support from friends and family, you will gradually find yourself ready for a new relationship.
“Every relationship prepares us for the next one,” says Hope. “We learn from our love experiences and if we utilize the lessons we can get stronger and healthier, and establish boundaries of self love and self care. This helps us to become what we wish to find. We become our own list which helps us manifest true love.”
Even after the roughest of break-ups, we can heal, and love finds a way back to us. You just need to be open to it.
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