Finding Clarity After a Breakup

by Taylor Dinardo

If you’re looking for an article recommending fun and creative ways to destroy old pictures, clothes, and mementos associated with your ex, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for advice on getting back together with your ex, this also isn’t it. This article is for those of you who have undergone a breakup and wish to handle it as constructively and positively as you can. The following tips suggest mentally and emotionally healthy ways to ease the post-breakup healing process.

Allow yourself to experience the depth of your emotional pain.

It would be amiss for me to write about moving on from a breakup without acknowledging the emotional turmoil you will likely experience before this process can even begin. Cry. Talk it out. Channel your pain into whatever medium is most comfortable. Paint, write, take photos, create. Lose yourself for a while in a favorite movie, song or book. Find some form of healthy emotional release. There are numerous on-campus psychological resources available to students should you wish to discuss your feelings with a professional.

While you should allow yourself to experience this ache, don’t prolong it by provoking painful thoughts. Restrict yourself from visiting your ex’s social media pages. Block them if necessary. Most importantly, don’t continue to look for further reasons why your relationship didn’t work out. Although you may feel the need for closure, you must accept the fact that you will never know all the answers. If you wronged your ex or said/did anything during your relationship that you regret, learn from the experience without punishing yourself. Hopefully, you had the chance to apologize. Now all you can do is let it go. Once you have forgiven yourself and your ex for wrongdoings and mistakes in your relationship, you will find that you have finally moved on.

Don’t lash out.

You may be angry with your ex. Perhaps they cheated on you, or maybe they just fell out of love and wanted to break up. You are 100% entitled to feel hurt, upset and angry. How you choose to handle these emotions, however, will either accelerate or prolong the moving on process. In fueling the negative feelings associated with your ex, you are only further entrapping yourself. Acknowledge that this person was once a part of your life and gently push aside whatever reminders you no longer wish to keep.

When it comes to mementos associated with your past relationship, I suggest taking your time in handling them. Place sentimental objects into a box and store it away until you are emotionally ready to decide their fate. Remember that these are artifacts of your life and you may want to look back at them someday. Destroying these items will only further derail your healing process, as you will be creating new memories associated with them. Whatever you do, try not to create further drama. This will allow you to maintain your dignity and to move on with greater ease.

Lean on your friends.

When we are in relationships, we often tend to pay less attention to the other sources of companionship in our lives, including friends and family. Take this breakup as an opportunity to focus more deeply on these relationships. Feeling connected with others greatly improves your emotional (and physical) health. Human connectivity has been evolutionarily hardwired in us for the betterment of our survival. This is why emotional pain often hurts us in a way that feels just as real as physical pain. Spend more time and engage in more conversations with the loved ones around you. Soak in all of the support that they offer you and remember that you are never alone.

Finally and most importantly, spend time developing the most important kind of love there is: self-love. If you find doing things like verbalizing affirmations and accepting compliments to be difficult, you probably need to work extra hard on this. No one else can supplement or replace the love you should be giving to yourself. In light of your past relationship, be proud of yourself for opening up to another person, and don’t be afraid to do it again one day. Single or not, your relationship with yourself should always come first. Focus on improving your life, not to spite your ex or make them jealous, but because you love yourself and deserve to be happy. Continue to fall in love with your life in every way. Eventually, you will fully realize that you are everything you need.


A version of this post originally appeared in “Clarity” The Teller May 2019 Issue 6

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