It’s four ways to put your painful past behind you and open your heart to what’s next.
Everyone knows who is to blame if a snake bites you once — the snake. But if you let it happen again, it’s your own fault for not knowing a snake when you see one, or forgetting how painfully poisonous it is. To be wounded is to be warned.
It’s good to learn from our mistakes and avoid repeating them. But if you’ve been bitten so often that everything—and everyone—has begun to look like a venomous snake, then you’ve taken a good thing too far. So long as you carry a flamethrower everywhere you go—or perhaps refuse to leave the house at all—a new, healthier relationship doesn’t stand a chance.
Don’t misunderstand. It isn’t easy to move on from a painful breakup or a broken heart. But it is necessary. Here are four strategies to help ease your heartache and prepare you to love again:
1. Find freedom in forgiveness. While this may sound overly religious or metaphysical, forgiveness is, in fact, quite practical. You needn’t be a saint or a yogi to pull it off. A common misconception is that to forgive someone is to let them “get away” with something, to call offensive or hurtful behavior “okay” when it plainly wasn’t. The truth is, forgiveness means choosing to cancel old emotional debts—and free yourself to get away with your heart intact, able to enjoy whatever comes next.
2. Share your struggles. When someone new comes along in the aftermath of a romantic catastrophe, it’s okay to be open about your struggle to trust and love again. At the appropriate time, don’t be afraid to tell the truth about how you feel. Often, simply owning your pain and anger out loud is enough to relieve the pressure and release it for good.
3. Burn your bridges. Decisive action is needed to confirm to yourself, and perhaps your new partner, that you’ve made a clean break with the past. It is easy to fall into a post-breakup twilight zone in which old expectations and emotions hang around like ghosts at a crime scene. Open the windows and sweep out the cobwebs. Delete her emails, texts and tweets. Remove his number from your phone directory. Throw away all the reminders and remnants from your living space. Find a new coffee shop where you’ll never inadvertently meet up. All these are powerful rituals of recovery and self-reclamation.
4. Let go of control. Will you ever be hurt by a lover again? Possibly. When it comes to romance, there are no guarantees. Only one thing is certain: To be lucky in love you must forget the times you lost, go “all in” again, and roll the dice with full belief you’ll be a winner this time.
Moving from heartbreak to healing love begins with solid steps—the determination to get up, redouble your resolve, and embark on the journey once again.