Breakups are the worst — there’s no doubt about it. The world continues to rotate on its axis, and life goes on around you, but you feel frozen in place, blindly going through the motions. The thought of moving forward is daunting, but looking back is often too painful to bear, so you’re left with the challenge of the present.
Rarely do we look at a breakup as a positive experience, one that might actually make you a better, fuller person despite how broken and unwhole you might feel. But in spite of your heartbreak — perhaps because of your heartbreak — the present has the power to be a beautiful, transformative place. Here’s why we need to rethink the way we look at breakups.
Sometimes, it takes losing your love to find yourself
Whether the relationship lasted a few months or a few years, you invested your time, energy and self in another person. Now that this person is gone, you have the opportunity to redirect that energy and invest it in yourself. You now have the freedom to be indulgent in ways you might not have been able to during your relationship.
Apply for a job in a new city. Go on a spontaneous weekend trip with your cousins. Join a new volunteer organization. The possibilities are endless!
You can build up the other relationships in your life
Chances are, during your relationship you spent a lot of your free time with your significant other. Perhaps you found yourself spending less time with friends and family in favor of going on dates, celebrating certain holidays with your SO’s family and so on.
Although one relationship has come to an end, there are many other important people in your life that love and care about you. These relationships, whether they be with your family, friends or coworkers, can be just as fulfilling as a romantic one. You might be surprised at how other relationships in your life grow when you have more time to invest in them.
Romance exists in other areas of your life
Although we might not always admit it, sometimes the mushy-gushy aspects of a relationship are the best part. There is something wonderful about someone you care about buying you flowers, baking you cookies and telling you how great you are. However, it is entirely possible to find romance in your everyday life without being in a romantic relationship.
Look for the beauty in the ordinary. Pause to savor the little things, like a kind stranger you pass on your way to work, the radio playing three of your favorite songs in a row or a cloudless blue sky. You don’t always need someone to be in love with you — you can fall in love with your own life.
You have the opportunity to create new habits to replace your old ones
We are creatures of habit. It’s easy to become used to calling someone every night before bed, telling them whenever something good or bad happens and spending lazy Saturday afternoons together. It can be incredibly painful to break these old habits. However, don’t let this pain discourage you. Change can be incredibly exciting if you allow it to be.
Start a lively group text with your best friends that you can write in when something great happens. Schedule a weekly “date” that you go on with yourself, whether it be a facial and a manicure in your bedroom or a trip to your favorite bakery after work. Invest in what makes you feel good, and over time, feeling good will become a habit.
When you get over this, you will be better for it
It’s been said that you learn more from your failures than you do from your successes. Despite how painful and challenging breakups are, you will emerge from this experience as a newer, fuller version of yourself. When that moment comes, you will look back with pride when you remember where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.
But for now, be kind to yourself as you embark on this journey. In the words of Cheryl Strayed, “You don’t have to move fast or far. You can go just an inch. You can mark your progress breath by breath.”
Originally published on August 10, 2017.