What Would You Do If You Knew There Was A Science Behind Moving On?

Wanna hear some sad story? I’ll tell you two.

When I was young… about 19 or 20, I fell in love hard with an American boy who was my best friend in the whole world. He later became my husband.t

We liked playing guitars together, sharing stupid inside jokes and him trying all the weird Tagalog words he wanted to learn.

We’d wake up mornings next to each other full of love and smiles.

Many people were hesitant of our decision saying we were young and naive but we knew that what we felt was real and strong.

And thus we swore to spend the rest of our lives with each other. We were serious about having a family together.

For someone like me, I never liked commitment or marriage. But for some reason, when I looked at him, I saw grey hairs and rocking chairs. This made me change my mind.

But 2 years after we got married, things turned 360. We talked less and less and we would argue about even the most mundane of things. It was like, we were driving each other crazy.

What hurt the most was not the burnt out romance, but the ashes of my best friend who used to be there.

When you face an end with your lover and best friend, it isn’t the relationship you’re mourning over. It’s the friendship that died with it.

And that pain cripples you knowing a good friend won’t be there in your life anymore.

My point is, even the love you thought you knew could be so different in a blink of an eye.


Two years after that, I met the father of my child. It wasn’t an ideal relationship but we tried to make it work.

He was a Muslim and I was a Catholic. And much to the chagrin of my parents, I still pursued it even if we were on two different paths – I was a designer, he was a football athlete playing for a famous Philippine team.

Our meeting was like that from a romantic movie: guy bumps into the girl by fate (ours was amidst a city street), story goes and they fall in love.

I wish I knew then what I knew now. And I should have listened to my parents.

But then you know, you will never ever know it’s a mistake unless you make it. Because no matter how true the things people say, the only person who will believe that mistake is you.

This is why you have to go through the hard stuff yourself.


But let me tell you if you don’t know it yet: Relationships are tricky.

The only thing you will ever realize is that you’ll only think straight from the standpoint when it’s all over. Also called the loveless/sober phase.

And from what I have learned, you need to be secured before jumping into anything.

Emotions are beautiful but they are not everything.


Which leads me to this: Heartbreaks are the worst.

Whether you are in a relationship or not, it’s just one of those things that linger in your body and mind and you can’t turn the fucking thing off.

But it’s not entirely just the worst. Pain is also a catalyst for growth; and heartbreaks, whether you were amicable with it or not, allow you to do some self-introspecting and development.

If you’re asking yourself: “how do I get over from this situation?”, I’m terribly sorry but you can’t. The harsh truth and the only way to move on is “through”.

To understand this better, we’ll have to break down the types of heartbreaks there are so you know which solution is applicable for you.

Heartbreaks are also a huge indicator of the type of relationship you have with that person and to yourself so pay attention. You will pick up some stuff (most likely the red flags) that you missed at the initial phases of your relationship.

READ: The Different Types Of Heartbreak. Which one was yours?


When You Can’t Deal With Heartbreak, Let Science Help You Heal The Pain

When I had a draft of this article in my Evernote, I started digging up some research on break-ups.

I fiddled with the concept: “If heartbreak causes pain in the emotions, and those two things are a by-product of our biological process… then there must be some science behind it that I never knew?”

And that’s when it hit me to make this guide.

People would be mindblown if they find out some sort of “hack” or closure where it did not directly involve begging it from their past lovers.

It took me 14 days to finally get down in writing this.

I came across a blog post on NPR that cited a research in the journal called Social Psychological and Personality Science. In it, the study discovered that while indulging yourself in the sorrow and aftermath of your breakup is not a good choice, rehashing can actually speed up your recovery.

Reflection over a failed pursuit is a good thing.

I was impressed by the information done by that research. It was led by a Northwestern University social psychology grad student whose name was Grace Larson.

Grace had been studying heartbreak for years and one of her curiosities was, if she asked research participants to recall the painful memories of their relationships, would it hinder their recovery?

This was because the first half found that the consistent evaluation of their painful experience led them to process and mourn the loss.

So what she did was call up 210 young volunteers who went through a heartbreak recently. Half of those (the 1st batch) attended the lab evaluation on a consistent period, answering questions over their breakup for the period of 9 weeks.

The other half of the 210 (2nd batch), just did two simple surveys. One in the beginning and one at the end of the study.

The result was staggering: The 1st batch had a better response than the 2nd batch.

This was because the first half found that the consistent evaluation of their painful experience led them to process and mourn the loss.

No wonder why trauma victims undergo debriefing.

This is pretty much the same concept.


Breakups & Moving On Are Part Of Our Evolutionary Process

Apparently, heartaches and separations are not purely just emotional and psychological processes. They’re also biological.

It was studied that the key to our survival was finding a prime mate, even if it means leaving the former one.

Because reproduction, whether we intend for it or not to happen, is engraved in our brain. How we behave is inclined to the years of biological shifts that gravitate towards reproduction.

Okay, so blame your buckets of tears on the survival instinct yeah?

Well, back in the day it was essential to ensuring that our species survived. Researchers even had a clinical term for this.

You ready for it?

 They call falling out of love the “primary mate ejection” and entering a new relationship, “secondary mate ejection”

 

And the harsh part uncovered about this study is that while humans are biologically serial monogamists, they can’t mate for life with just one partner.

So consider your grandparents rare, kids.


The Fixes

Now that you’ve understood and processed how and why a heartbreak happens, it’s time to finally swab a cotton and some oxygen peroxide over your heart and plaster a band-aid on it.

Here are my tried-and-tested fixes for a broken heart:

  • Time
  • Productivity
  • Support Group
  • Healthy Living & Mindfulness

 

Time

All of my heartaches felt like I was being skinned alive, and I thought they’d never end. But what I found was, I only had to give it time.

This is perhaps the hardest thing to accept, but it is a fact.

Time almost always heals everything.

Productivity

Along with many other people I have interviewed, we all agreed that productivity is an essential thing when moving on.

Immerse yourself in projects that bring out your best. Do work that fulfills you. This is my secret.

When you’ve got your mind and body busy, you will start to retrain your focus to look at your bubble alone.

At first this will be hard, but practice takes time and the mind will need some of it to adjust to your brand-new self-love habits.

Support Group

Finding your tribe is a major factor in your capacity to move on.

The more time that you replenish your social meter, the quicker you are able to feel that you are wanted again.

The thing with heartaches is that, social rejection is a huge nick on our egos. And as we know, egos are responsible for our self-worth.

Even APA (American Psychological Association) has found that “a broken heart may not be so different from a broken arm”.

Upon comparison with people who played it that were included, the excluded players showed that rejection increased activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate and anterior insula. These two brain regions are used to show and tell the signs in response to physical pain.

The article states that we rely heavily on social groups for survival. So much for the “no man is an island” fluff, eh? It is as basic as our any other biological need – hunger, thirst, shelter, you name it.

In fact, Naomi Eisenberger, PhD from University of California, Los Angeles USA together with Kipling Williams, PhD at Purdue University and their colleagues, have uncovered that rejection activates many brain region groups that are connected to physical pain.

They used a technique called Cyberball with an fMRI scanner.

The Cyberball simulates an online game of frisbee catch with two other players, eventually excluding the main person playing.

Upon comparison with people who played it that were included, the excluded players showed that rejection increased activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate and anterior insula. These two brain regions are used to show and tell the signs in response to physical pain.

So as you can see by science, recovering from heartbreak needs a huge amount of social interaction.

Tip: Even if you feel forced for the first time, try as hard as you can to initiate human contact. If you’re not feeling it and you have pets, try practicing interaction with them. After a couple of tries, you will start to get a feel of things.

Healthy Living & Mindfulness

Heartbreak can take a toll on your self-confidence.

As with rejection, it creates body stressors that temporarily disable you (and yet, can feel like permanent during it happens!).

It’s important to take care of yourself during this period.

Here are some simple and actioanble activities you can do while going through a tough time:

    • Get enough sleep. This may be difficult to achieve during your first days in heartbreak but you have to eventually get at least 5-8 hours. This is very important and non-negotiable. Your sleep largely contributes to your overall mood and your disposition in doing your other productive activities.
    • Exercise
    • Eat healthy
    • Practice meditation and/or yoga
    • Breathe

RECOMMENDED: For more ideas, read this ultimate guide on how to get over a bad phase.


Dealing with heartbreaks is a very difficult time for any human being, but with the right help, a little nudging and sprinkles of self-love, you too can get back on track.

Remember, you will not be the same as you once were prior to this painful experience. But you will come out stronger, more aware, self-loving and you will know your standards deeply as you should.

Never settle for any less than you feel like you deserve.

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