If you’ve had a difficult breakup, here are my top tips for letting go and moving on.
1. The 2-minute rule
If you are still pining over your ex, it’s important to think about the 2-minute rule. You are allowed to think about them for two minutes and then STOP! If you do this regularly, it will help a lot.
2. If they cheated on you
This can be hard as it can be difficult to believe anything they ever said at all. Did they even care about you?
It is important to resource yourself with good people who can hear you and validate you. Good friends can help you to realise that having difficult life experiences does not make you a bad or unworthy person.
Write letters you do not send, to release your rage.
Also find a way to look at this situation and see what your part may have been – did you ignore your instincts, because you weren’t ready to leave? Explore what was going on for you. It can be helpful to do this to regain your power.
3. If they had to move away
This is heart-breaking and can be really hard to get over. This is where it can be helpful to do a process with them, or a friend or a Counsellor, where you talk through all the lost dreams and longings, the sadness, upset and despair.
4. If you just fell out of love
This too can be hard because you may feel that you left it too long to leave. In this case it can be really helpful to see a therapist or go to an assertiveness group to work on reclaiming yourself, your needs and wants.
Very often couples can become friends and one of them may have given up a long time ago but felt too guilty to say anything.
If this is you, find a way to get your voice heard, even if you have left now. Physical exercise can help too with releasing feelings of guilt.
5. If you disagreed over wanting kids
This is also really hard, but if this is a bottom line then it is important that you remember that you chose your needs over being disappointed or regretful for the rest of your life. Choosing may have been hard but it is time to build your self-esteem and recognise your own bravery.
6. If you’re the one that broke up with them (but you still need to get over it)
When we have been involved with someone for a while and/or been sexually involved, it can take some time to physically, mentally and emotionally untangle.
Many people feel drawn to staying in touch and even keep having sex with an ex. This is normal, it happens a lot.
You may need to do some work to let them go, recognise your choice and move on. Writing letters to them you don’t send, doing physical exercise, getting a friend to listen to you or seeing a therapist are all ways to help you release the feelings.
Make a date in your mind to mark the time by which you would like to be over this person. Then work out ways to do releasing exercises, e.g. writing letters you safely burn, doing an exercise with them or a friend where you say thank you for what they gave you, talk about about the difficulties and what you are angry about, and (if you feel ready) say goodbye (when doing this see if you can really feel).
7. Social media protocol
What is the best thing to do social media-wise after a break up, e.g. deleting pictures with them, blocking them? Each person has to decide what is right for them but your social media can be like a cupboard where you have never released/got rid of old clothes.
I would always recommend clearing old photos and starting afresh. If you don’t wish to be part of their lives then make that clear and unfriend or block them.
It can be really damaging to keep looking at their instagram feed or spotify playlists and I would recommend refraining from this and adopting more loving behaviours, such as connecting with people and activities that bring you enjoyment.
8. Connect with your pleasure
Get a pleasure diary where you list your favourite things to do, taste, eat, wear, look at, listen to and start to engage with more of those. For example, listening to most loved music while drinking tea from your favourite cup.
Each day start to notice what you enjoy and bring these things in a little more each day. Writing gratitude lists and meditating are also helpful tools. Developing a new hobby can also really help you focus on something else.
9. Things to avoid
Are there any things that people definitely shouldn’t do to get over someone? Any behaviours that could be toxic or more damaging?
People can understandably get obsessed with getting someone back and making it different this time. Of course this might happen but if it is causing you real pain to engage with these thoughts then you might want to get some help with releasing these thoughts and creating a no-contact contract with yourself for 30 days. If you can manage 30 days then you may be able to build to 90 days and after that you may feel released. Have a buddy who you contact to support you, then when you are tempted to get in touch with your ex, reach out to that friend.
It can be really helpful to make a list of all the good things you saw in the other person and start to own these as part of you – part of the attachment can be that you might feel that this person has certain attributes or gifts that you cannot do without. The idea is that if you can see it in another then it is in you and you can start to own it. If you need help with this you can join a group or see a therapist.
It is best not to engage in indirect contact with your ex, such as asking mutual friends about them. This can really bring back the pain that you have been doing well to recover from. Find and meet other people who have had a similar loss. Make sure you get touch and hugs and support.
Make sure you are around things that are alive like people and animals and seek the support of others.
It is ok to feel low and to need comforting and it is very important to seek comfort. It’s ok to feel you’re being incredibly slow. These things are not necessarily quickly dealt with. Create a schedule and take lots of rest. Learn how to listen to meditations that are kind and soothing. This is a meditation by me that is for comforting.
With any loss there is a process of grieving as talked about in the 5 stages of grieving by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.
- Denial – you can’t believe they are gone
- Anger – why has this happened to me?
- Bargaining – if I’d done this or that we’d still be together
- Depression – what’s the point in anything now I’m alone
- Acceptance – I’m going to be ok, I can live again without this person.
Don’t forget that this is a process – be patient and kind with yourself.
Love Cate x