Feeling sorry for yourself after a breakup is not uncommon. In many ways, it is the expected response at least in the initial days following the breakup. After all, you’ve just lost an integral part of your life and are grieving that loss.
Just as it is important to grieve and process all the angst and hurt, it is equally crucial to stop feeling sorry for yourself at some point to be able to heal yourself after a breakup. A continued sense of victimhood can keep you arrested in the past. When that happens, it impedes your ability to forge new meaningful connections and move on.
Figuring out how to stop feeling sorry and heal yourself after a breakup all on your own can be challenging. To help you find the right answers, we spoke to psychologist Juhi Pandey.
What emotions do you feel after a breakup?
A breakup is often one of the most emotionally draining and stressful life experiences. The reason for the split and whether you wanted the breakup or not notwithstanding, it can leave you feeling like your entire world has been turned upside down. That is why most people feel so sad after a breakup, gripped in the throes of unsettling emotions.
This holds even if the relationship was unhealthy or not good for you. A breakup represents not just the loss of a partnership but also of all the hopes, dreams and vision for the future you shared with a former significant other.
In the case of a long-term committed relationship where you were sure that this was meant to be, a breakup can plunge your life into uncharted territory. You may find yourself lost trying to live the single life again. In some cases, people no longer know how to interact with their friends, families and children in the wake of a breakup because their identity is deeply entrenched with the now-over relationship.
Add to the mix the uncertainty about the future, the skepticism about finding love again, and the pain, disappointment, disruption, stress, grief can be immensely overwhelming. While going through the wringer of heartbreak, a majority of people grapple with the following emotions:
- Shock: If you were blindsided by the breakup, the shock and cluelessness about what went wrong can last a while
- Denial: On the other hand, if you and your partner have been in an on-again-off-again unhealthy relationship you may struggle to accept that the breakup is permanent. Even if you’re the one who called it quits
- Sadness: Then comes the ‘I feel so sad after a breakup that my entire body is in pain’ phase where you’re engulfed in feelings of sadness, self-pity and loneliness
- Bargaining: The sadness becomes too overwhelming and you see getting back with your ex as the only way out. So, you start bargaining, trying to win them over again
- Obsession: At some point after the breakup, you will start obsessing about your past relationship and ex-partner. The quest for answers about what went wrong, putting your relationship under the scanner to understand what was lacking, stalking your ex on social media to see how it’s going for them are the common ways this emotion manifests itself
- Anger: If you pulled the plug on the relationship, you’d feel angry at yourself for doing it and at your ex for pushing you to a point where you had no other choice. If it’s the other way around, you begrudge them for breaking your heart
- Longing: You may start longing and pining for your ex, which only augments the sense of feeling sorry for yourself after a breakup
- Acceptance: The emotion of acceptance comes only after you’ve stopped feeling sorry for yourself and truly made peace with reality. From this point, you will be ready to leave the past behind and move on.
Related Reading: The importance of burning bridges after a breakup
9 Expert Tips To Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself After Breakup
As you can see, acceptance of a breakup cannot be achieved until you stop feeling sorry for yourself. However, getting to this point is easier said than done. Often people find themselves trapped in a never-ending loop of self-pity, loneliness, longing, anger and pain after a breakup. In turn, moving on and turning over a new leaf can become unrealistic prospects.
That’s why learning to identify signs you are feeling sorry for yourself and weeding them out becomes a prerequisite to healing a broken heart.
“Breakups can be messy and make you feel as if your life has turned upside down. It is very difficult to deal with such situations. When the one who was the closest to you breaks your heart, it’s natural to feel inadequate and worthless.
“Try as you may to rationalize the situation with a list of reasons you should feel good about the breakup and try to focus elsewhere, it rarely works. When it comes to love, our rational mind isn’t running the show. Instead, breakups often make us think the worst things about ourselves.
“These are some of the classic signs you are feeling sorry for yourself. But let that not put a full stop to the pursuit of joy and happiness of your life,” Juhi says.
The following can be the different ways you can stop feeling sorry for yourself after a breakup:
1. Be kind to yourself
“This is easy to say, hard to practice, especially when the breakup is still new and the wounds fresh. That’s why you must make a conscious effort to kind and compassionate to yourself.
“It works as the perfect antidote to wallowing in self-pity. The key is to start small. You may lose interest in things around you or find yourself unable to eat. It is in moments like these that you have to remind yourself that the breakup is not the end of your life,” Juhi advises.
Often being kind to ourselves is the hardest thing to do because we don’t know how. Curiously, the answer is simple – treat yourself the same way you’d treat a friend nursing a broken heart. Tell yourself it’s okay to cry or skip a social event if you don’t feel up for it.
At the same time, offer little nuggets of encouragement to take over the reins of your life again.
Related Reading: Worst things that one can do to deal with a break up
2. Forget and forgive
According to Juhi, that’s the essence to stop feeling sorry for yourself after a breakup. “Have patience. Try forgetting and forgiving your ex for what happened. When you forgive someone, you are setting yourself free and making them incapable to continue hurting you anymore,” she adds.
Patricia, who dumped her boyfriend after she caught him cheating on her, agrees. “For over a year, I was wallowing in self-pity. My mind fixated on the ‘why did this happen to me?’ question. I felt bouts of anger toward my ex and obsessed over how he had wronged me.
“He, on the other hand, I learned, was now dating this other girl and going through life unaffected by the breakup. That angered me even more. It took 6 months of conscious, mindful effort – and one drunken encounter with my ex where I lay it out for him as it was – to get overall the residual anger. I forgave him, and that set me free,” she says.
3. Focus on the positive
As they say, every dark cloud has a silver lining. Even if it doesn’t feel that way where you’re neck-deep in emotions of self-pity. To be able to stop feeling sorry for yourself, you must shift your focus.
Concentrate on the positives of the breakup. Perhaps, you were not good for each other. Maybe the relationship was unhealthy. Or there were underlying issues and relationship problems that would have eventually taken a toll on your bond. The fact that you decided to part ways indicates that something was amiss. Find solace in the fact that the relationship ended now rather than a few years down the line.
Juhi says, “Try thinking of good things and find positivity in the situation. Your focus should be on seeing the bigger picture clearly. Rationalize the breakup by reinforcing the fact that it was inevitable and would have happened at some point. Sooner the better !! This may sound unusual but it actually works.”
4. Pamper Yourself
Juhi’s advice is that to heal yourself after a breakup you must try doing things that bring you joy. It can be a shopping outing, reading books, spending time with your loved ones, engaging in hobbies and passions.
Martha says, “I broke up with my fiancé two weeks before the wedding. Everything from our big day to the honeymoon was planned to the last detail by then. Needless to say, I was devastated even though I had decided to call it off.
Then, at a friend’s suggestion, my gang of girlfriends – who were to be my bridesmaids – and I went on the honeymoon I had planned, taking a leaf out of Sex and the City. It was a little weird and sad in the beginning but I eventually found myself having a good time. The trip did me a lot of good, and at least, got me started on the path to healing after a breakup.”
Related Reading: When Someone Leaves You Let Them Go…Here’s Why!
5. Take a break from social media
Social media and breakups don’t mix well. The pictures of happy couples on your timeline can hit like a sharp jab, augmenting your feelings of loneliness and longing. Then, there is the compelling urge to stalk your ex on social media to keep track of what they’ve been up to.
Spotting a new ‘someone special’ in their stories or posts can be soul-crushing. Likewise, if you see that they seem to be unfazed by the breakup, it can enhance that gloomy state of feeling sorry for yourself.
Juhi says, “It is better to take a break from all the social media platforms. It will help you in different ways. First of all, no more stalking your ex. Secondly, you will be away from other types of negativity which can affect you through social media. Last but not least, you will have more time to give to yourself.”
6. Reconnect with your people
“Try to see it this way: When a child is hurt, they go to their mother and father, who can comfort them, soothe them, and make them feel better. As we grow up, we lose touch with the child within us. To heal yourself after a breakup, let that child reconnect with people who can make you feel better,” says Juhi.
Spending time with your loved ones can be the perfect way to combat the feelings of loneliness after a breakup. Besides, when you feel loved and cared for, you no longer feel lost.
So, lean on your friends for support. Call your bestie when you need to vent. Spend the weekend at your parents’, soaking up all the pampering that they dole out.
7. Focus on your career
After a breakup that left him devastated, Jackson found himself drowning in pain and agony. “You keep hearing people say that you feel so sad after a breakup but never truly realize what that means until it hits home. I was so badly affected by mine that I’d wake up each morning feeling acute pain and a sense of a heavy load on my chest.
“Not knowing how else to push these feelings away, I threw myself into work. As my priorities shifted, so did the quantum of my pain. Many months later, I woke up one morning and realized that my ex wasn’t the first thing on my mind anymore. I haven’t experienced relief like that before or since that moment. It was the first time I felt I was moving on from my past,” he says.
Juhi also believes it’s a good coping mechanism that can get you to a point where you stop feeling sorry for yourself. “Try doing courses to upgrade your skillset. Spend more time in the office. Or if you are a student, spend more time in the library, reading something. Reading inspirational stories can make a person feel much better than one can imagine,” she recommends.
Related Reading: How To Fall Out Of Love With Someone – 18 Tips to Make it Happen
8. Take some time to introspect
“Whenever your mind is bombarded with negative thoughts, take some time to introspect. Ask yourself: Is it the end? Is it the only purpose of my life? Is the past relationship so significant that I am losing myself over it? Am I being too harsh on myself?
“Of course, these are just a few examples to help you understand how asking the right questions can present you with answers you need to move on. It helps you gain a clearer perspective on the purpose of life.
“When you look at the larger scheme of things, a breakup – no matter how bad or devastating – can seem like a small bump in a long life journey,” says Juhi.
9. Commit to an active routine
“You feel so sad after a breakup that you may end up spending most of your time wallowing and crying, confined to the four walls of your room. While it’s okay to take the time to grieve, what’s more important is knowing when to stop and work toward getting your life back on track.
“It’s not at all easy to gear up. But having an active routine, with some form of physical exercise – be it gyming, dancing, going for walks – can rev up the flow of feel-good hormones called endorphins. These make you feel good naturally, helping you get over the sadness and self-pity.
It’s not easy to stop feeling sorry for yourself after a breakup. But it is entirely possible, and that too without spending months of your life mourning the loss. Succeeding at that requires strong will, commitment and patience.
To reclaim yourself after a breakup, first and foremost, you have to allow yourself to grieve. Holding up all the sadness, anger or pain inside only prolongs the process of healing and moving on. Once you’ve done that, focus on what’s ahead rather than going forward with your eyes fixated on the rearview mirror.
How long these feelings last after a breakup depends on factors like how long you were in the relationship, how deeply invested you were, whether you were prepared for the breakup on some level, as well as how well-equipped you are to deal with it.
Feeling sorry for yourself after a breakup is natural but the endeavor should be to not let that feeling build up to an extent that you can’t get past it.