The definitive guide on overcoming heartbreak

From a girl who has loved, lost and studied psychotherapy

Who hurt you? The boy who left without an explanation, or the girl who decided she hated you over the school holidays? Whoever you are, losing someone you love is miserable, painful and debilitating. So here are some talk-therapy advised and self-trialled tips.

  1. Accept that you are hurting. When the anger and disappointment clouds your mind, it is easy to try and hide these feelings of grief and loss behind dislike and a tough exterior. Look in the mirror and say, ‘I am really upset, and that is justified, and that is reality for me right now.’ You aren’t a bad person for hurting. You aren’t weak. You are just a human.
  2. Recognise the physical symptoms of psychological distress. You might have trouble sleeping, eating normally, dealing with stress or getting on with a typical routine. Don’t worry, this doesn’t require a visit to an asylum, but be aware of what you need to do to stay healthy, stable and safe. If it means spending time back home with your family, or maybe not spending long periods alone without contact, that’s OK. Needing support is OK.
  3. Keep busy. Don’t overload yourself with plans, but make sure you visit friends, learn to cook that cheesecake, watch that boxset and finish your book. Go for long walks, dance to music you like, and tidy up the house. If you stand still, you will be likely to dwell on painful experiences for longer than you have to.
  4. If you wake up in the middle of the night incredibly unhappy, its okay to cry. I know you’ve probably been told to get back to sleep at all costs, but the physical release of sadness in a safe environment is usually an important step. If you feel truly terrible, write in a notebook how you feel, or watch a YouTube documentary on goats or something. Learn to vent and self care in a way that helps you. Confront and defer emotions according to your ability to deal with them sensibly and safely. No one ever had a positive breakdown at 5 am by a balcony.
  5. Do not try and contact who has hurt you, unless it is absolutely essential. You can tell yourself you need closure all you want, but no one gets closure a week after a break up. Delete their number, give your phone to a flatmate during particularly horrible fits of anger and avoid photographs of them on social media. Think to yourself; what is the consequence of this action? If the answer is a restraining order or an argument, shut that action right down.
  6. Learn that you survived before this person, and will manage again. Think about the positive things other people have said about you, and the good times you have had before and will have again. This is the hardest thing to do, but you need to disassociate all forms of happiness with the individual. Misery is usually temporary, and happiness does not exist solely in a friend or lover.
  7. However badly they have behaved, don’t let them define you. You have good traits to you and you always have potential. Whatever they said or did, you are in charge of your body, your future, your decisions. Don’t let revenge, insecurity and paranoia break you.
  8. Who was that great friend you haven’t called for a few months? Arrange a coffee or meet up. When you are laughing and enjoying someone else’s company, this will help you reassociate your happiness with other connections and sources.
  9. Look amazing. Take that selfie. Get that haircut. Wear that ballgown while eating crisps in the kitchen. Feel good. You attracted someone before, and why? Because you are gorgeous. You won’t be alone forever. Enjoy you. Enjoy not having to worry about whether you can wear that lipstick your boyfriend hated. Damn girl.

10. Don’t give up. I know it is agony and nothing is less helpful than ‘it will pass' but, ultimately it will. Not in a quick easy way. But someday you will look back at this time and say, I got through that. I’m okay. He/She doesn’t define me. Hang in there.

Written by

24 year old with an awful lot to say about everything. Opinions entirely my own. Usually. madelaine@madelainehanson.co.uk

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