Romantic heartbreak is a universal suffering that almost everyone experiences at least once in their lives. A broken heart can feel like the end of the world, especially if you didn’t see it coming. Learning how to heal a broken heart can seem like a daunting task. It can feel almost impossible to get over the physical and emotional pain that comes with heartbreak. Luckily, psychologist Dr. Guy Winch is here to shed some light at the end of the broken-hearted tunnel.
Dr. Winch went viral with his popular Ted Talk, How to Heal a Broken Heart, where he breaks down the science of heartbreak and gives practical advice to move on.
According to Dr. Winch, being in love is like being hooked on drugs. Brain studies have shown the withdrawal of romantic love activates the same areas of the brain as withdrawing from cocaine or opioids. Your unconscious mind loves to replay good memories with the person who broke your heart to “get a fix.” While addicts know when they’re addicted, people suffering from heartbreak often do not.
“We tend to associate having a broken heart with something that happens to the young, the naïve, or the inexperienced – teenagers and young adults who have not yet felt the full weight of adult responsibilities on their shoulders. Real adults are supposed to handle such occurrences as they might any other setback or disappointment – with maturity and stoicism. Heartbreak resides firmly in the category of baseball and spilled milk – it is simply not something one cries over, or so we believe. That is until our own heart gets broken,” explains Dr. Winch in a passage from his book, How to Fix a Broken Heart.
In his practice, Dr. Winch has seen successful CEOs who conquer setbacks at work with strength and ease crumble over romantic heartbreak the same way a teenager would. Love isn’t something we’re used to dealing with rationally. Our natural responses to heartbreak are often exactly the opposite of what we should do. To soothe our broken hearts, we tend to adopt coping mechanisms that actually hurt us more and delay our ability to move on. This “clinging” to memories of an old flame can have seriously negative effects on mental health in the long run.
Breaking up is hard. Rejection is even harder. But guess what? You can get over it! Your happiness and mental health are worth it and waiting for you to get it together. Grab the tissues and a pint of ice cream and jot down these tips on how to heal a broken heart. It’s time to move on. Life is in session. Tick. Tock.
1.) Go Cold Turkey!
Stop stalking your ex on social media. Seriously, stop. https://t.co/AJWC43Bekc
— TED Talks (@TEDTalks) February 10, 2018
In order to get over your ex or the person who broke your heart, you’re going to need to go cold turkey. That’s right! This means eliminating all contact with them. Suggestions: delete them from your phone, block them on social media, and move all recorded memories (pictures, videos, emails) somewhere they won’t be as easy to access, like a folder with a password a friend sets up. Get creative.
While it might seem childish and extreme to go cold turkey, it’s the first step in moving on. It’s important to resist the urge to stalk your ex on social media and contact them when you’re feeling sad. Social media stalking will only make you feel worse. If you see them moving on while you’re still wallowing in self-pity, your self-esteem is going to take a serious hit.
2.) Don’t Forget (or Gloss Over) All Their Bad Qualities
When love ends, we have a tendency to only remember the good parts, making it more difficult to fix a broken heart. @GuyWinch, @TEDTalks viral star shares how we can change these tendencies in his new book “How to Fix a Broken Heart.” https://t.co/1aFCzvgCnr pic.twitter.com/SR27ZdiOKM
— IVY (@IVYconnect) February 13, 2018
When you’re feeling heartbroken, it’s easy to look back on memories with the person you loved and only reminisce about the good times. This tricks you into believing your relationship was better than it was. Do you really want to stay in love with someone who doesn’t really want to be with you?
While it might seem harsh to write out all their bad qualities, it’s the antidote to your brain’s addiction to replaying only the good stuff. You might have loved the physical connection you shared, but maybe they had an obnoxious laugh and hated hanging out with your friends. Write it down. Refer to it often.
3.) Stop Trying To Solve Why Things Ended (Or Never Took Off)
— Guy Winch (@GuyWinch) January 9, 2018
Our natural reaction to a heartbreak is to play detective. We can obsessively replay memories trying to come up with reasons the relationship ended (or maybe never even took off). This can cause serious damage to your self-esteem by putting too much blame on yourself. Sometimes there is no good explanation for a failed relationship or unrealized love. Stop waiting for a reason or an explanation! You could be waiting forever if do.
4.) Remember Your Reasons for Moving On
— TED-Ed (@TED_ED) October 24, 2017
You’re going to need to have a serious love affair with yourself in order to move on. Instead of blaming yourself and replaying moments where you might have turned your lover off, own your quirky qualities and get real about your expectations of love.
Write down a list of reasons why you need to move on. This can include things like, “I love myself,” “I’m not attracted to people who don’t value me,” and “I want a partner who’s open with their feelings.”
5.) Learn To Love Being Alone
“Our heart might be broken, but we do not have to break with it.” How to Fix a Broken Heart, from my friend and colleague Dr. Guy Winch.https://t.co/nyGFhiukKo
— Esther Perel (@EstherPerel) February 17, 2018
When you’re in a long-term relationship, you get used to being a “we.” “We love boozy brunches.” “We had the best time Europe.” It’s time for you to be an “I” again, and this can be incredibly liberating. Do you really love boozy brunches? Or was that more of a “their” thing? Get selfish and take the time to figure out what you really enjoy without anyone else’s opinion.
Dr. Winch says self-esteem grows when we demonstrate real ability and achievements in the areas that matter to us most. Love to cook? Throw more dinner parties. Always wanted to backpack through Southeast Asia? Check it off your bucket list.
Building self-esteem isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it. Focus on your goals and work toward the things that matter to you most. When you’re focused on your own self-worth, it’s easier to take life as it comes and bounce back from difficult moments like heartbreak.
Need more inspiration to get over an old flame? Watch Dr. Guy Winch’s Ted Talk on How To Heal A Broken Heart.
Mastered how to heal a broken heart and ready to get back out there? Here are the Top 5 Reasons to Join a Dating Site Post Break-Up.