The Healthy Way to Process a Breakup

Undoubtedly, going through a serious breakup is one of the most devastating experiences anyone will ever undergo. Even when we know it's the right thing, it's challenging to move on through Life without that someone that had become such an important part of it. It can be even worse when we feel that what happened was wrong or unfair.

Some people never recover from a bad breakup, and while most of us do, we still carry the pain from past relationships in our hearts. Most of us have learned to do certain things in a breakup or behave in a certain way, not realizing that these behaviors are what have us struggle to really let go. Even when we think we've let go, we often find the pain coming up again and again in our future relationships.

There are healthy ways of growing through a breakup, and while it's not always easy, it can lead to peace, fulfillment, and ultimately confidence. In this post, we'll walk you through that process so that after a breakup, you'll be able to truly heal your heart and confidently move on to find the Love you desire.

You may have heard of the 7 Stages of Grief:

1. Shock and Denial

2. Pain and Guilt

3. Anger and Bargaining

4. Depression, Reflection, Loneliness

5. The Upward Turn

6. Reconstruction and Working Through

7. Acceptance and Hope

In a healthy breakup, you will pass through all seven. What happens for most people is that they get stuck in the first four stages and never truly move on from there. Some may never even get past the first one!

To truly heal we must go through all of the stages but many of them can be passed through fairly quickly if approached in the right way. In fact, the first four stages, which happen to be the most painful ones, are the ones that we can pass through most quickly.

The first thing you must practice is not to resist, argue, or deny.

Shock and denial is the first stage of grief. If you are courageous, you don't have to remain there for long. It is normal to experience shock initially; it will come and go on its own and will usually pass within a day or so of the breakup. However, denial is where most people tend to get stuck.

Denial is more than simply denying what has happened. Denial is a state of resistance to the situation. It is also what locks you into the next three stages. (Have you heard the saying "What you resist persists"?)

Due to individual personality styles, some people will experience mostly anger, while others will move towards guilt or depression. You may experience more of one or the other, although we usually experience some of all of them.

While you are going through any of the first four stages, you experience a state of internal resistance so strong that it locks you into these limited ways of processing.

We believe that we have to close our hearts when we experience pain. I'm sure you know that feeling--it's a way of becoming cold to the world when it gets too painful to bear. Many of us started learning how to do this when we were very young and it's become such a habit now that it's basically an automatic response. Oftentimes this is what leads people to feel jaded, hopeless, isolated, depressed, and so on.

That "becoming cold" to life is one of the fundamental sources of human suffering. In a breakup, it can be devastating.

You have to be willing to go through the process and experience the pain and the emotions, the hurt and the disappointment, that come with it.

Just feel it. Don't hide from the experience or push it away. Don't attempt to justify or explain it. Don't create false hope to try to hang on. Don't beat yourself about it or attack the other person for it.

If you look closely, you'll see that for the most part, we usually only experience a fraction of the painful things that happen in our Lives. The rest of the time, we use mental tactics to try to avoid the pain and push it away. When we do that we don't really allow ourselves to let go. Instead, we repress the feelings and judgments associated with it and pretend like everything is OK.

When we recognize that we're doing this, it's no wonder we have the insecurities and fears that we have, why we're always concerned with what people think of us, if we said the wrong thing, or if someone is going to hurt us. All that repressed pain that we've never fully let go from our Lives is churning just beneath the surface.

You must come to fully accept that it happened, it hurts, it feels awful, it didn't go how you had hoped it would, and it's not going to change. Just be with that.