Breakups are brutal, aren’t they?
A relationship takes a ton of work and energy. You have to be vulnerable and trusting and take a risk on love. You open your heart and soul to your partner. It’s no surprise that your life gets flipped upside down when your relationship comes to end.
We need to grieve after a breakup. Grieving is important, but it sucks. It’s not a fun time. Some people grieve for a few days, others grieve for months…or even years.
Regardless of how much time has elapsed since your breakup and how much grief you’re still holding onto, there are ways to punch your grief in the face and start moving forward as a stronger, more confident version-of-yourself.
After the toughest breakup of my life, I grieved in not-so-healthy ways. I drank and smoked. I cried a lot. My productivity in building my business disappeared.
But I turned it around. Here are five ways I managed to start letting go of my grief and moving on after the worst breakup of my life:
Tell Yourself, “Time Does NOT Heal”
There are some really unhelpful clichés out there and “time heals all wounds” might just be the worst.
Listen, time will help you heal and move on—eventually. But your time is valuable, isn’t it? You’re a busy person and you don’t have time to let a breakup slow you down.
Reframe your thinking: time will not heal you as quickly as you want to be healed, so stop giving control over to time and start doing something about it.
There are two people you need to forgive in order to conquer your grief: your ex and yourself.
First, even if your ex cheated, lied, or betrayed you, you have to forgive them. They probably have issues with insecurity, fear, jealousy, and who-knows-what-else. Feel sorry for them, forgive them, and wish them loving-kindness.
Second, you need to forgive yourself. We all make mistakes in relationships and we all play a role in our breakups. Hindsight is wonderful but you can’t change the past. Be gentle with yourself and then make sure you don’t let the same mistakes happen again.
Rekindle with Family and Friends
After my breakup, I picked up the phone and called people who had drifted out of my life (I know, talking on the phone is so 90s).
I was open and honest. I told them I was struggling through a breakup. And when I did, something amazing happened.
My vulnerability was reciprocated. Friends and family opened up about their own fears for the future, problems with relationships, and challenges at work. Vulnerability builds stronger connections and those bonds with loved ones will help you let go of your grief.
Help Someone Who Needs It
We get stuck in our own problems after a breakup. We wonder if we’ll ever find Mr. or Mrs. Right. We look in the mirror and imagine ourselves doomed to a life of loneliness.
After my breakup, I found healing in becoming a volunteer. I applied to an organization that matches younger people with senior citizens. I’ve been meeting with an 85-year-old woman who lives alone once a week for over a year.
Hanging out with her is a reality check. I gain a new perspective and always leave her feeling refreshed and optimistic. So if you’re stuck in your own head, try reaching out to someone in need after your breakup and I bet you’ll take a giant step towards healing.
Get Your Butt Into Shape
Be honest with yourself. Are you in the best physical shape you could be in?
After my breakup, I was not in the best shape of my life so I joined a new gym. I thought I’d try CrossFit for the first time and I fell in love with it. I met new friends, challenged my limits, and saw improvements every week.
Getting physically fit will help you burn off frustration, clear your head, and feel more confident. There really is no down side to exercise. And now that you have more time on your hands, you have no excuses. Get into shape and watch your grief melt away.
Even though a tough breakup can feel like the end of the world, it really is an opportunity for a new, fresh start. Change is inevitable throughout our lives and the way we react defines our resilience and grittiness.
Don’t let time slip away. Grieving takes time, but you can set the limit. Start letting go of your grief in more healthy, productive ways. If you do, I can guarantee you’ll look back and thank yourself when you’re living the joyful, fun-filled life that you’re dreaming about.
Eric Ibey is a relationship and leadership coach, member of the International Coach Federation, and the creator of the Breakup Challenge. He lives in Montreal, Canada.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.