Learn why distraction doesn't cure heartbreak
Updated: Nov 17
Ten years ago when my ex left, after 34 years together my mind kept going back to the moment he said "I need space..." And every time my mind travelled to that memory, the pain of heartbreak was dominant, but I felt that I had no control to stop my mind focusing on that pivotal moment in my life.
There are certain times where we tend to go back to that “person” in our mind more than others… For example, when we wake up and find that we’re alone or when we're not busy...
Our mind rewinds back into a memory of that person, or the moment we’re not busy we feel lonely and a sense of loss, so we think of that person we wish we were with . Especially when eating alone or going to bed alone at night. It's so alien, so strange after being with someone for a long time.
It may also be a time when something good is happening. I mean that’s weird isn't it, when you’re celebrating a family birthday, or when you’re on holiday …. and you’re like “He would have loved this, said this or done that" It's like you've lost a limb!
Sometimes we have this association that when things feel BAD, that's the time when we’ll miss someone the most. But naturally, we miss someone the most when things are good such as your holidays, christmas, your kids birthdays, weddings and when you have grandkids.
When we’re experiencing something we’d know they’d love or that we’d love to share with them, sometimes we have to share these happy events with them and the new person hanging on their arm! I know, I've been there!
I felt like I was going crazy, so what is the cure for this?
How do we surpass these times of pain and move to a stronger place in our lives?
The truth is that distraction doesn't help heal the situation. But so many people go straight to distraction activities.
They start dating; one night stands; eating pots of ice cream or pizza; drinking bottles of wine; talking about their situation over and over again.
But, if you’ve ever been heartbroken then you know you can fill your day with activities and being with people you love, but the moment you have time to think again… your brain will ping back to that person/that negative thought/that memory that makes your heartache…
So do you believe there is no cure?
The thing that has helped me the most to begin my healing journey is to first honour how I feel. It's no good suppressing the feelings, because they will come up at some time in the future, so it's best to face them now. Feelings like resentment, jealousy, anger, hate etc can create dis-ease and that's the last thing we need!
It also helps to focus on a particular life goal, such as a project of working in your garden, or a piece of work that you wish to accomplish, such as writing poetry, a book or art ….
A lady I recently interviewed in my facebook group used art as a way to heal after her husband of 32 years died. Her goal was to create unique pieces of art to give to her friends and family to thank them for their love and support.
So let's look at the distinction between distraction and progress.
Distraction is a short-term solution to heartbreak: we drink, we eat, we have one-night stands believing that will help stop us thinking about the person we loved and perhaps still do. We spend as much time with friends as possible, we lose ourselves in our work as much as possible…. but these things don’t always represent progress … if they only represent distraction then there will be a momentary relief from this person, but the truth is, there won’t be a long-term solution from moving on from this person. We remain stuck!
For example, you go out and have one-night stands believing you can “get over your ex” but what you realise is, that it's a distraction in the moment. But afterward, if that person doesn't contact you, or if you haven’t actually found someone you actually connect with, or if that person doesn’t match up to your partner from before.. that distraction will very quickly give way to a real sense of low self worth and low self esteem leading to feeling depressed
So it doesn’t help heal your heartbreak at all, it just takes your mind off of it temporarily.
Progress, on the other hand, actually MOVES you PAST IT. If you’re heartbroken right now, I want to encourage you to think of what important things you can work on, what you can invest in, what will give you a sense of achievement and fulfilment.
Because after you worked hard on something important: you’ll feel more confident, which means when you feel confident, you feel the need to tackle other parts in life. You’ll be feeling life intensely because when we work hard on something that’s important we’re engaged in life… suddenly it feels like life matters.. suddenly it feels like we’re dedicating the time and energy to something that’s important.
This will result in a sense of progress. It’ll actually make you feel alive and when you feel alive, you feel a sense of possibility again and when you feel a sense of possibility again you gain a sense of hope for the future
What fixes heartbreak, is not going on another holiday … it’s not trying to escape... it’s not just trying to spend as much time with friends and family as possible… because all those things work just for a little bit until you’re alone again, and you don’t feel like your life is moving forward.
You can't heal your heart by going on a holiday,(I know, as I tried it!) or buying yourself another handbag or designer shoes. Luxury items or even loads of money does not solve heartache.
So here’s my task for you, find something in your life today, that you know is somehow important to you and focus on that. Even if that’s even just for an hour…and notice the feeling you get at the end of that hour and how it may not eliminate all your heartache at once because let’s be real, it won’t happen overnight. But the sense of satisfaction and achievement and confidence you get will change the intensity of heartache and it just makes you see how bright the world can be.
If you can’t think of something that gives you ultimate purpose right now, because let’s be real, not all of us have something immediately that “this is my life passion” “this is the thing I want to focus on in my life” “this is the thing that gives me purpose” not everyone has that. So okay…. start small. You know, instead of going and drinking that bottle of red tonight tonight.. go find a class online that makes you feel a sense of progress, you worked on your body and you made yourself feel good at the end of it. Do something that is going to make you feel GOOD. Even the yoga class or pilates class, may not be your life’s purpose but if you tie it to something perhaps like: looking after your body, having the energy for your bigger goals, you can still connect it to something important. And when you do, and you have that little bit of progress, it starts the ball rolling and you could get momentum.
If one of the most important things in life is love, then suffering because of love is clearly going to be the most painful things, in life.
So commit to doing something and if it's not for yourself, do something for others by getting involved in a charity.
I get that you may not want to right now, I know you probably don’t want to do anything right now, but commit to it, focus on something that’s important and allow it to give your life meaning and to show you how bright the world can actually be when we’re in a good place and we feel like life means something.
If you would like to book a no cost clarity call
Heather Prince is founder of the Fearlessly Moving Forwards Method