Healing from the emotional, mental, and physical shock of breaking up is difficult even if your relationship was troubled and you suspected it was ending. But, the shock of a sudden breakup hits even harder.
“We were in a relationship for four years but his mother never accepted me,” says Priya on 5 Things You Need to Survive a Breakup. “He’s already dating someone else. I can’t believe it, I am still in shock from suddenly breaking up. How could he already be in a new relationship? I don’t know how to cope with the pain. I feel numb most of the time, like I lost everything in my life. I’ll never forget him and hope I heal from the shock and pain soon.”
How do you heal from the shock of a sudden breakup? There are no simple “one size fits all” solutions or tips…but what might help is to remember that you are literally in shock. Your body, mind and heart has been hit with an unexpected trauma. Below are five tips for coping with the shock of breaking up and losing someone you love.
It’s important to remember that your relationship was one part of your life. If you let a man occupy the center stage of your life, then your existence revolves around him. This gives him total control over your happiness, peace and wellbeing. It also means that a breakup can shatter your life and self-identity. Our relationships should be one aspect or part of who we are; they should never define or control us.
One of the first steps to coping with the shock of suddenly breaking up is to change the role you gave your boyfriend or husband. Instead of assigning him the most important role or giving him center stage, remind yourself that he is one part of your life. Change the story you’re telling yourself about him, your relationship, and yourself. This will help you overcome the shock and start healing.
5 Tips for Healing From the Shock of Breaking Up
If you’re confused or surprised by your feelings, read 11 Emotions You’ll Feel After Breaking Up. A sudden breakup doesn’t just create feelings of sadness, loneliness or depression. Breaking up leads to a surprising – even shocking – variety of emotions and reactions! Some you’d never expect, such as grief, heartsickness, rage, self-hatred, shame, and guilt.
Allow your feelings to rise and fall. Don’t fight how you feel or avoid your emotions. It hurts, I know. I remember feeling like I was going to die after one of my breakups. I honestly thought my heart was going to stop beating. But it didn’t…and yours won’t either. You will heal from this breakup, and you will feel better about your life and yourself.
1. Understand how a sudden breakup affects your self-image
Your identity is changed when you have a boyfriend or get married. You’re no longer just “you” – you’re part of a “we.” The life and love you shared as a couple becomes part of who you are. Love changes everything! So when your relationship ends (especially unexpectedly), your whole life turns upside down. Your body goes into shock to protect itself from unbearable pain and grief.
Another reason sudden breakups are so shocking – especially if your boyfriend cheated and lied to you – is the trust that was broken. When you love someone, you trust them. You need to be able to rely on and trust the man you love because we’re wired to be in relationship with one another. God created us to be connected in relationships, to love and be loved in return. He wired us to lean on each other, to trust and support and nurture. We are so interconnected and built for love that even thinking about someone you love activates the same parts of the brain associated with pleasure, motivation, and reward. When you lose this intense connection, your body reacts by going into shock.
2. Be gentle with yourself
Understanding why it’s so hard to get over the shock of suddenly breaking up can help you heal and move forward. Think of the breakup like it’s a massive, terrible, traumatic car accident. Your body, mind, and soul has been crushed, bruised, beaten and broken. If you’ve ever been in a crash you know how hard it is on every aspect of your body – including your mind, heart and spirit!
The experience of breaking up is a rejection that pierces your heart and soul. This rejection prompts a neurochemical withdrawal in your brain. A relationship is wonderful when all goes well, but you are literally going through withdrawal symptoms after a betrayal or sudden breakup. You lost the love you were getting, and your body needs time to adjust.
3. Give yourself time to grieve
Different people heal and cope with “breakup shock” differently, everyone has to grieve the loss of the relationship. You didn’t just suddenly break up with your husband or boyfriend, you also lost the associated relationships. Maybe you knew and liked his mom, friends, or even his coworkers. Maybe you walked his dog or took care of his cat…and maybe you helped him through the shock of losing a family member he loved.
Grieve your loss like it something that died…because it was. Your relationship died. This is a shocking, painful, sad loss in your life. Don’t rush through the grieve; give yourself time to grieve this breakup slowly and thoroughly. You might to try different ways to heal after the shock of breaking up, such as journaling about your pain, talking to a counselor, and reading books such as Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You.
4. Refresh and rediscover your self-identity
Who are you? A key tip on how to get over the shock of a sudden breakup is self-renewal. What is your life all about, why are you here, where do you want to be and go? Take time to rebuild your identity and self-image. Refresh and rediscover your sense of self-worth. Restore your self-esteem.
The more you received your self-worth and identity from your role as a girlfriend or wife, the harder it is to heal from and cope with the shock of a relationship ending. If your self-worth is tied up in your relationship, then your boyfriend or husband’s absence is a direct reflection of who you are.
On the other hand, if you see your relationship – and the breakup – as one part of who you are, you’ll be better able to absorb and heal from the shock. If you remember that you are also defined by your strengths, interests, abilities, experiences, memories, hopes and dreams then you will find yourself rebounding. You’ll know that your husband, boyfriend or relationship is not who you are. You find your identity as a woman, as a child of God. This makes healing from the shock of suddenly breaking up lighter and easier…almost natural.
5. Accept and let go
Emotional and spiritual freedom are so important to me! I wrote 75 How to Let Go of Someone You Love: 3 Powerful Secrets (and 75 Tips!) for Healing Your Heart to help women cope with loss, grief, and sad endings. In this ebook I share what I learned from my interviews with therapists, grief counselors and life coaches. I found a wide variety of practical and personal tips for coping with a breakup.
Letting go of someone you love isn’t about pretending he didn’t exist or even forgetting about him. Rather, letting go means you accept what happened – both the good and the bad parts. You allow the shock of the sudden breakup to heal naturally, at your own pace and in your own time. And you let go because you know that gripping the past only makes you sad and weak.
Feel free to share your thoughts below. How are you healing and coping with the shock of breaking up? Writing can help you untangle your emotions and work through your thoughts. Writing forces you to slow down and center yourself. Even if you don’t write here, I encourage you to write about your relationship and sudden breakup in your journal. Writing can help you heal and start moving into a fresh new season of your life.