Heartbreaks Can Be Messy, But You Can Still Win: Ten Proven Ways To Get Over The Pain[Article]

October 6, 2020

Heartbreak can make you weak. It can destroy your appetite and reduce your will to live. And unless you’re half human or asexual- in which case we all envy you- you will have dealt with messy emotions every now and then. I am of the opinion that if you can feel and think then you can get hurt.

But then, popular musician Ed Sheeran says in one of his songs, “a heart that’s broke is a heart that’s been loved”. This gives us hope that before our hearts break we will probably experience brief – or extended periods – of love induced euphoria.

You will probably argue with that last statement, especially if your heartbreak was triggered by unrequited love. If you will take it from my point of view however, you will agree that even crushing on someone brings happiness, however momentary.

Wikipedia terms a broken heart as, “a metaphor for intense emotional- and sometimes physical- stress or pain one feels at experiencing great and deep longing. The concept is cross-cultural, often cited with reference to a desired or lost lover”.

The Urban Dictionary- which is a cooler version of more traditional dictionaries- defines heartbreak as , “like you’re on the verge of death, but you can’t seem to die. Like a large swelling pain stabs your heart over and over. Usually caused by the rejection of a loved one.”

If you cannot relate with the definition given above, that’s absolutely normal. Heartbreak for everyone who has experienced it is different.

Personally, I would describe heartbreak as a hollow, empty feeling of the deepest despair. It feels like drowning. Altogether, we can conclude that heartbreaks hurt.


Often times we experience deep hurt from other situations that do not have to do with feelings of romantic love alone. However, heartbreaks can occur from a number of other things:

  • Death of a loved one: Grief is a very deep version of heartbreak. In fact, grief and heartbreak are inseparable. The death of a loved one causes deep sorrow, which is synonymous with heartbreak. Not only does it hurt, but it can bring forth feelings of deep sadness, emptiness and pain which all symptoms are of heartbreak.
  • Failure to meet set expectations: This applies mostly to people who have anxiety or perfectionism issues. Your emotions are the main trigger for heartbreak. Therefore when you feel like you aren’t productive enough, sadness can set in. this is a much ignored form of heart break.
  • Rejection, i.e. jobs: If you have ever submitted a proposal and had it rejected, then you will understand this form of heartbreak better. This type applies heavily also to college students with failing grades or unrealistic academic performance expectations. It is heartbreaking to put a lot of effort into something, and have your dreams crushed.
  • Friends can break your heart too: You’re probably nodding your head in agreement at this particular point. As human beings, being programmed to be social is both a blessing and a curse. It is very easy- and perfectly normal- to be vulnerable with someone else. Where it becomes tragic is when that vulnerability is abused by a friend. Disloyalty, backbiting and other toxic behaviors can hurt more than most physical pains.
  • This is similar to romantic hurt because of shared emotions. It can hurt deeply when someone who has shared all your secrets and happy moments turn their backs on you.


  • Emptiness: The loss of a relationship or a loved one can induce a feeling of hollowness or emptiness. It can often be described as a sort of giant hole in one’s chest. The emptiness is caused by the loss of the loved one’s presence emotionally, which is so strong it can be felt physically.
  • Loss of emotional feeling: This is often explained as feeling numb. Most time, heartbreak often leaves its victims operating as if on autopilot. You respond to all questions, even smile once in a while. But it is often apparent that the affected person is aloof and distant. This is a direct side effect of all the overthinking that heartbreaks can cause.
  • Withdrawal from regular activities: This is one of the most noticeable symptoms of being heartbroken. I mean, who really wants to be involved in fun and games when you have just lost another love of your life? It is very common for people who have been hurt emotionally to seek solitude.
  • There are often a lot of things to think about after a messy breakup, or an emotionally traumatizing event. Most of us will try to rationalize what has happened, and why it had to happen. Memories are often very pesky necessities at that point, and will cause a person to become introspective.
  • Depression: Depression is a deep unrelenting sadness, possibly caused by a combination of biological, psychological and social sources of distress. In simpler terms, depression can be induced by occurrences that are super tragic. And what is more tragic that lost love?
  • Heartbreak can degenerate into depression, especially if the victim suffers from other mental illnesses like anxiety, which will serve as a boost for negative thoughts.
  • Feeling lost: In the case of heartbreak caused by the loss of romantic love or friendship, a sudden disruption of routines can cause the victim to feel lost or out of sync. For instance, if you and your significant other went to the park on Friday, it would be difficult to change that pattern at once.
  • This leaves lingering feelings of something being missing, causing you to feel lost or disrupted.
  • Insomnia: Sleepless much? When your heart is newly broken or old- it doesn’t matter- it is very easy to forget to close your eyes. It is even more common to WANT to sleep, but not be able to. Insomnia comes into play as a result of shock.
  • Heartbreak is no joke, and therefore comes with very unsettling side effects. Apart from the constant painful thoughts that run through your mind, your brain is still trying to adapt to the new emotions. That translates to you lying eyes wide open night after night. Ouch.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety is messy. It can be characterized by intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Fast heart rate, rapid breathing and sweating may occur. It does not take much to join the dots here.
  • Heartbreak makes you nervous about repeating past mistakes. You get heart palpitations when you see someone who looks like your ex or loved one on the streets. Similarities in speech patterns, and even familiar places make you cringe in dismay.
  • Heartbreak induced anxiety increases fear of the unknown, and a steady refusal to enter situations that seem connected to the past relationship.
  • Loss of Trust: Similar to anxiety, it is easy to lose trust in everything when your heart has been broken. In the case of romantic love, people tend to distrust anyone new with the justification that even those closest to you can fail.
  • And of course, constant tears. You know your heart is broken when all you can do is cry.


Heartbreaks can be painful, and seem like the end of the world. There is a saying, however that nothing is permanent in this world except change. Change comes with time, gradually and irreversibly. Heartbreaks are no different from other difficulties in life, in that they will all pass.

That however, sounds very clichéd and not very comforting. Everyone who has experienced heartbreak knows that at that period of time it can feel as though the pain would never end. Obviously what is needed therefore, are short-term solutions to help us cope. So here goes!

  • Don’t be afraid to feel: Today’s world preaches a lot of tough guy approach towards emotions. We hide our pain behind detached, philosophical quotes and emojis. And to be honest, it is easier to pretend nothing happened, than to admit that you have been hurt.
  • This behavior is counterproductive to healing, however. Feelings have been programmed into humanity for a reason. It is normal to be very hurt, and shutting down those feelings will only lengthen your healing period.
  • Instead, admit to yourself that something bad has happened to you. Whatever you feel- anger, hatred, self-loathing- just let it flow. That way you learn about yourself, how you manage crisis and how to better handle pain.
  • Cry, cry, cry! Heartbreaks will show you just how emotional you can be. This is also the period when you will suddenly get the urge to stifle your sobs and text “I’m okay”. Don’t do that to yourself. At that point in time, you are not okay. You know it. Your friends know it, so why intensify your agony by holding back your tears?
  • Tears are healing. They wash out impurities from your eyes, like dust particles or remaining memories that just won’t fade out of your mind.
  • Express yourself: You know, instead of saying how fine you are and then getting stupid drunk. It helps to vent to someone when you have experienced deep hurt, and grief. Talking to someone helps you relive the experience and piece it apart.
  • In taking the situation apart, you will be able to identify what went wrong. In adition, you will most probably discover their flaws and faults. This is good because it helps you take them off their pedestal and see them for who they really are.
  • In situations of non-romantic grief, the importance of expressing one’s pain cannot be overemphasized. Talking out the pain allows friends to bestow much needed empathy. Comfort makes emotional burdens easier to bear.
  • Forgive yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over having made the wrong choice in the first place. You are human, and you cannot see into the future. You must forgive yourself for errors, imagined or real, that you made in the relationship.
  • It is important that you do not blame yourself for the failure of the relationship. It takes two to make any social activity work. And if your heartbreak is based on the loss of a loved one, please do not dwell on all the wrongs you did to them.
  • You should remember that they loved you just as you did them. Forgiveness is one of the main ingredients of any successful relationship.
  • Forgive them:
  • This is very similar to forgiving yourself, but even more crucial. It might sound impossible initially, especially when the hurt is still fresh. However, you need to slowly forgive them of all the pain they have caused you.
  • Forgiving someone loosens the hold they have over your thoughts and actions. It means that you are no longer focusing your every breath on revenge. It means that space in your head is freed up for more productive thoughts. It can be hard to do, but it is beautiful and refreshing once achieved.
  • Take off the rose tinted glasses:
  • It is super easy- and natural- to place the one you love on a pedestal. In order to get over heartbreak faster, you must undo that action. Don’t hate them; just see them for who they really are.
  • If they were sleazy and slovenly, don’t see them as cute couch potatoes anymore. If they were unfaithful and constantly apologizing, see them as the manipulative people they truly are.
  • Consciously remove the pretty paint you created for them. Examine the real person beneath, and you will agree that they probably did not deserve you.
  • Think of it as their loss. Because it is. You are this awesome, beautiful and talented person. How could anyone not miss the brightness of your aura?
  • Accept that you cannot control anyone’s decisions: The sad truth life smacks us with at one point or another is that we have control over ourselves alone. Therefore, the reasons behind other people’s actions or inactions will mostly ever be mysterious to us.
  • Understand that they made a choice, just as you did. You cannot control their behavior. But you can control how you choose to let it affect you.
  • Do not text them. Burn your phone, bury it. Resist your itchy fingers. Ignore the burning urge to seek closure. If the relationship could have worked, it would not have crashed. No amount of explanations and “who done what” can make it right again.
  • Resist the urge to stalk them. This is a capital NO. Please get off their social media pages. Block them if you have to. You really do not want to see pictures of them falling in love again. Do you?
  • Stalking is super unhealthy and just slows your healing right back to square one. Don’t do it.

Get back up and slay. Dress up. Eat healthy. Smile and be brave. This too, will pass.

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