The day my ex and I broke up, I didn’t feel much.
A month later, I was doing my morning stretches. Suddenly, my body went limp and I felt something warm and wet rolling down my face: tears. For the next 30 minutes I lay motionless, crying silently.
It wasn’t the manliest moment of my life, but it made me remember an important fact:
Breaking up hurts and there’s nothing you can do about it.
If you’ve ever split up with someone important, you understand. Wondering if you’ll love again; missing the magic times you had together; feeling alone and lost – we’ve all been there. To deny that would be silly.
But as I worked through my first real break-up, I realized something important. Feeling sad when you lose someone is a part of life. Heartbreak – that intense, burning, painful feeling – is a choice, especially when it lingers.
Here’s how not to make that choice.
When Love Is A Drug
Loving and being loved back means many wonderful things.
Someone’s always there to listen to you; regular sex that gets hotter as you get to know your partner; unconditional support, trust and understanding. Even cleaning your place becomes fun when you’re doing it together.
That’s why it’s easy to get hooked.
Women stay with husbands who beat them for decades. Guys spend all their time with girlfriends neglecting other areas of life. I saw a guy drive across half of England to try and win his cheating girlfriend back.
That’s what happens when you get addicted to the advantages – real or imaginary – of being with someone. Relationships stop being about enjoyment and start being about needing another person.
The first step to overcoming heartbreak is differentiating genuine sadness and addiction (or a need).
What You’re Really Missing When You’re Heartbroken
Lama Yeshe has a great metaphor that I’ll use to explain the difference between heartbreak and the natural pain of losing someone.
Let’s say you love chocolate. It makes you feel happy and so you start eating it every day. One day, you run out – or maybe you decide to give it up because you’re becoming overweight.
Suddenly you’re miserable. Your source of happiness is gone. How can you live without chocolate – the only thing that made you feel good?!
In reality, you’re not miserable because there’s no chocolate. You’re miserable because you convinced yourself you need chocolate.
Heartbreak isn’t too different. It’s not just the hurt of loving and losing someone. It’s a painful and irrational cycle of regret, longing, and doubt.
Instead of remembering the great times you had and accepting your new situation, you cling to old times; convenient habits; hopes and dreams you made with your ex.
It’s not pain that creates heartbreak; it’s the inability to accept life without the person you once had.
But relying on someone else for happiness is just as absurd as relying on chocolate. Your fate is in your hands: you don’t need anything, or anyone, to make you feel good.
That’s the key to understanding and overcoming heartbreak.
Getting Better After Heartbreak
The more you focus on everything you’re missing, the worse your pain becomes. Breaking up can feel like losing a big part of yourself, but thinking about “the good old days” only makes things worse.
Two old sayings offer sage advice when it comes to getting over someone you lost:
- Time heals all wounds.
- One day at a time.
You might feel like smacking me with a fish for not giving you more complicated instructions, but that’s pretty much it.
Don’t obsess over the past. Don’t worry about everything that could have been or might be in the future. Most break-ups happen for a good reason – and if you’re meant to get back together, you will.
When you lose someone, focus on getting through life one day at a time. Fill your life with new activities – read a book, watch a movie, meet new people.
Most importantly, be gentle with yourself. Don’t expect yourself to feel fantastic immediately. Losing someone you loved always hurts; give yourself time to grieve without getting stuck in negative patterns.
Heartbreak is a choice you make by resisting reality and letting your attachments get the better of you.
I say – refuse to live in the past. Refuse to let yourself think you can’t be happy without another person. Refuse to worry over every little thing you might’ve done differently.
The pain of losing someone is something we all experience sooner or later. Heartbreak is a choice that I hope you won’t make after reading this post.