The morning after I got dumped completely out of the blue four years ago, I called in sick.
I didn’t sleep the night before, I had no appetite and all I could do was yank the covers over my head and will time to pass.
I went through breakups before (though, to this day, I’d say this one was by far the worst), and I had proof time would heal even this deep, brand-new wound.
The problem was, I knew I had about six months of extreme grief ahead of me. During this time, I was pretty sure I would desperately Facebook stalk, think obsessively about what went wrong, probably try to get him back, attempt to gather information about him from our mutual friends and cry a f*ckinglot.
The months following that breakup were, indeed, brutal. Wasn’t there a way I could instantly erase this person from my thoughts, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”-style?
Spoiler alert: There’s not. But, there are certain mental tricks you can use to speed up the process. That’s something, right?
Here are six tricks to help you get over your breakup a little faster.
Come up with a mantra.
It sounds corny, but it really does work. A mantra, or something you say to yourself on a daily basis, has a lot of psychological power.
Don’t believe me? Think about what would happen if you woke up every day, looked in the mirror and said to yourself,
I hate my body.
Can you imaginenothating your body a month later? Didn’t think so.
Maybe the words, “I choose to be happy,” will work for you, or maybe you want to remind yourself every day of something you didn’t like about your ex, like “I hated how dismissive he was of the things I cared about.”
In any case, come up with a mantra that works for you. Say it to yourself right now, on your walk home from work and absolutely any time you need strength.
You got this.
Hang out with a happy person.
It may seem counterintuitive to spend time with people who are happy when you’re so down. After all, won’t their happiness just remind you of what youdon’thave?
I’m not saying you should go running into the arms of your newly-engaged friend, but ask someone who always seems to radiate positive vibes to have coffee with you.
Misery may love company, but happiness is contagious. You can actually catch it. You won’t leave your coffee date totally over your ex, but you will probably leave feeling a little lighter.
Bonus points if you got some laughter in because it’s an excellent stress reliever.
Listen to sad songs.
Again, I know this sounds weird. Won’t listening to “Hello” on repeat just prolong the wallowing process?
Actually, research shows listening to sad songs doesn’t make us sadder at all. Our brains experience rewards while we listen to sad tunes. They help us experience empathy, regulate our emotions and stimulate our imagination.
Go ahead and listen to all the sad music you want. It’s good for you.
Unfriend and unfollow.
I don’t care how uncool it makes you look to unfriend and unfollow your ex on every single one of his social media accounts (yes, Pinterest counts) or how badly you want to be able to stalk his Facebook profile once in a while.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out staying up to date on someone’s life is a surefire way to slow the healing process.
As Tara C. Marshall, a researcher at England’s Brunel University London who studied the subject,explained,
People who remained Facebook friends were lower in personal growth than were those who had defriended the ex-partner, suggesting that even weak-tie contact with an ex-partner through remaining Facebook friends might disrupt the process of moving on.
I don’t have numbers here, but I’m going to guess cutting all cyber ties will take at least a few weeks off the grieving process.
Trust me, it really isn’t good for you to ride an emotional rollercoaster every time a new girl follows your ex on Instagram. Take the plunge.
Tell your obsessive thoughts to take a hike.
For me, the worst part of breakups is always the obsessive thinking.
What went wrong? Were we doomed from the start? Was I boring? Why wasn’t I good enough for him? Do I smell?
I know I’m not the only one who’s been a victim of obsessive thoughts. As therapist Sheri Meyers suggests in a blog for Huffington Post, make use of the word “stop” when you know your brain needs an intervention.
Start by saying, “stop,” in your head. Tell your thoughts to “stop RIGHT NOW.” If that doesn’t work, you can choose different wording. The idea is to interrupt obsessive thought patterns, so if the word enough is what works for you rather than stop, give it a go.
Sometimes your mind just needs a good talking to.
Make a list of reasons it didn’t work out, and revisit it when needed.
Once we get a little distance from breakups, our brains are hardwired to remember only the good stuff about relationships, which is a recipe for disaster.
When all you can think about is that time he had a giant bouquet of flowers delivered to your desk “just because” or the way you two used to laugh together until you cried, it’s not exactly easy to heal.
It may feel like a negative exercise, but try making a list of all the reasons it didn’t work: He didn’t get along with your family; he criticized the way you lived your life; he made biting comments that made you insecure.
Then, each time your mind goes on a trip down memory lane, take out this list. It’s good to have a reality check once in a while.
Remember, it’s called a breakup because it’s broken, and there’s no universe where heartbreak doesn’t suck.
You will move on, no matter what, in a matter of time, but you do have some control over speeding the process up a bit. Get going!