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Tips For Breakups, Heartache, And Sadness!

What to do when the going gets tough? Keep going.

This post goes out to all of you who are navigating the tricky waters of transition, heartbreak, loneliness, disappointment or loss. I’m right there with you this month!

Both my parents grew up on corn and soybean farms in central Illinois. I come from grounded, humble, hardworking and loving stock.

Decades of watching the seasons change and being entirely dependent on the weather and forces far beyond your control breeds a deep trust in the nature of things—an earth-based spirituality rooted in the reality of the way things are. Ever-changing. Ebbing-flowing. Sometimes the crop is abundant. Sometimes there’s a drought. Consequently, my dad consistently offers no-nonsense, refreshingly practical advice (may also have something to do with him being a lawyer).

For the past few weeks, I’ve been going through a rough period of heartbreak, disappointment and sadness after a breakup from my lovely long-time boyfriend. A few days ago, my dad called to check in and ask how I was doing. I told him I was upset, mad and frustrated with tears rolling down my cheeks.

He said simply, “Well, everything changes. Sometimes you’ve just got to pick yourself up and keep moving. Get up everyday and do your best. You will get through this. Put one foot in front of the other. Another man will come your way.”

His left-brained words landed. They lifted my heart. I could breathe. Oh yeah! It will all change. This has happened before, and I’m stronger, deeper and richer for it. (Breakups still suck.)

The piercing of truth through a veil of emotion. Believe me, I’m all for emotional expression, cultivating emotional intelligence and emotional processing. After all, I am a Cancer with a Pisces moon and enough water in my chart to be an amphibian. But this uncomplicated, plain advice was the perfect medicine.

Father’s Day 2011 – Montage Laguna

Here are a few more tips to help you through heartache:

#1 – BEFRIEND YOUR PAIN.
Let yourself swim in the watery tears and swirling emotion. Actually FEEL. Identify the SENSATIONS of sadness/anger/loneliness in your body. Describe them. When we learn to practice mindfulness and become “friendly” toward whatever we are feeling (a Buddhist concept called maitri), just becoming curious and watching it with sincere intrigue, we soften, allow and have less need to push away. We realize this wave will pass and another one will come. Give yourself permission to be gentle with yourself.

#2 – INVITE YOUR “DEBUTANTE” TO THE PARTY.
My old therapist, Mona Miller, used to say that I have a strong, bullying inner “debutante”—a teenage princess who systematically rebels when she doesn’t get what she wants, when she wants it. She whines. Quickly slipping into denial, she knows exactly how to manipulate a person or situation to get what she wants. Or at least try. This is not helpful. It only prolongs the inevitable. Instead, I learned to invite the debutante to the pity party. She actually is the one throwing the pity party. I let her whine it out on the pages of my journal or yell and scream at the top of my lungs while hitting a pillow with a wiffle bat. Yes, I really do this. Yes, it really works. She must be heard. Her voice is the valuable inner heart of your sadness. Let her in. Let her be heard. Then, be a good parent. Draw clear boundaries and don’t let her run the show. Party’s over.

#3 – PRACTICE RADICAL SELF-CARE.
The heart is precious. Love is our most vulnerable, tender temple of Self. When we are wounded, heartbroken, disappointed or sad, it is crucial that we go the extra mile to treat ourselves with utmost respect. Get a massage. Eat especially clean, nutritious foods. Avoid self-sabotaging behaviors that only repress difficult emotions, which will resurface sideways and compounded at a later, most inconvenient date. Slow down your work load and take it easy. Spend time with trusted friends and supportive family. You are wounded. Time and self-love will heal.

#4 – KEEP GOING. ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER.
As Ralph Turner says, “Pick yourself up. Keep going. It will all change.”

Take an action step (baby steps are perfectly acceptable) to keep moving toward your dreams. Literally, get moving. EXERCISE! Nothing will make you feel better. Call old friends, strengthen your social network (in real life, not just online, people), do one thing every day that propels you forward. Small baby steps. Forgive yourself for taking it slow, but make a commitment to take one measurable step a day. I decided to launch a 30-Day Yoga Challenge. I’m doing thirty yoga classes in thirty days with thirty different teachers. (Blogs on this coming.) Do something radically different. You will be rewarded.

Thanks, Dad, for inspiring this post and for your ever-present love, wisdom and support! I am one lucky daughter! I LOVE YOU!

Please a comment below with one thing that helps you through heartbreak. I need all the help I can get.

xo

Ashley

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Ashley Turner is a top L.A. yoga teacher and body-mind psychotherapist. Visit her facebook page here.

  • Lauren

    Thank you for this blog.  I am 4 days out of a devestating break-up and needed this more than you know.  I am trying to see the grace in the disaster and trust that this is God’s will by making it through one day at a time, leaning on friends, and journaling/crying my way through the dark days.  The only way out is through.  My go-to comfort in breakups is reading It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken and taking care of myself, emotionally and physically (exercise, relaxation, and comfort).  Stay strong!  We will see the grace when the storm clears.

    • Lindamac4545

      Sweet Lauren~ You will get through this, as the saying goes “this too shall pass”, but in the transition it sucks. I know because I will be leaving a 29 year marriage. What I am discovering is that I am beginning to emerge as a newer, better version of myself. Like a caterpillar, we must go through the illusion that we are dying inside, but the reality is that we will emerge stronger, better and more beautiful than ever once this transition is over. Journaling, exercising and reading are a comforting way for me to get through this period. Remember how clean and fresh the air feels after a storm has rolled through, you will experience that as well. Renewed and refreshed. All the best to you~

  • L D Dickerson

    I do a music purge. I’ll put a sad song on repeat and just let it all out. I’ll do this and eventually get tired of crying, then I’m ready to move on. Your dad is right… It will get better!!

    • Ashleigh

      I do the same thing! My favorite song to cry to is Kellie Pickler’s “Someone to Love Me”. 

  • Paloma

    As part of a breakup, some of us must go through a divorce. In addition to your steps above, which I’ve found are really a confirmation of what I’m already doing/feeling/understanding, I’ve found another key for my experience with the divorce: keeping my sense of perspective. There are many aspects of the proceedings which are out of my control, time-wise, financially, etc. I am trying to keep the “size” of all that is scary about what might happen a reasonable size. In other words, I’m telling myself the truth about it: that it is an import part of my life which I must deal with, but it’s not the MOST important or the biggest part of my life. I give it space, but not all of my space. 

  • anon

    thank you for this post. i too just ended a long term relationship (7 days ago). i honestly feel a sense of relief and freedom from it ending. that i honored myself in the best way by not settling for short of what i want. i know truly feel that God/Universe is supporting me and understand that my relationship was a huge lesson. a lesson in teaching me what it was i really wanted in another person and in a relationship. it taught me to love myself and not to settle when i got less than that.

    i have my moments of sadness, disappointment, but know letting go of him was the best thing for me at this point. i’m going to continue to honor myself by doing serious self-care and continuing to invite in more love into my life and do those things that i love that bring me happiness and joy. i know that there’s someone out there for me who is the person that i’ve been dreaming of and who sees things as i do and i just need to keep the faith and be happy and love myself.

    wishing you much love and peace through your difficult time … i know this will all pass as long as we have faith.

  • http://semihealthnut.blogspot.com/ Amanda @ Semi-Health Nut

    I think break-ups allow us to experience who we are outside of a relationship, and sometimes we really need that!  It’s scary, but you will get through it! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=34400072 Carla Brock

    LOVE this! Exactly what I needed today. I am going though a divorce right now. At 26, I never thought I would be going through the big D. I thought I would be having that “fairy tale” romance…yea not so much. I have surrounded myself with friends, perhaps have had a few to many drinks (but that is going to change) and ultimately wanted to just run away from all of this. But I have learned that running away won’t help me heal any, it will just make my next relationship harder. So thank you for this. Just take things one day at a time. It will get better, but only if you let it. 

    Quick question…Any book I look for deals with someone who has kids, or is older. I need to find a good motivational book that is for people under 30, without kids, going through divorce!  Any suggestions?!

    • Melanie

      Read if the buddah dated, its truly helping me during my difficult breakup, i think you will find it very helpful and insightful.

  • Sherry

    Being good to yourself is so true and so important. Everyone wants you to move quickly and jump back in to dating again but wounds have to heal and the heart needs time to be whole and be ready for a new love. I think your yoga 30 day challenge is a wonderful focus. Last year I trained and ran a half marathon for the same reason and it was just the right thing to do. p.s I love the photo of you and your dad. Its lovely. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/shannon.p.wilcox Shannon Potter Wilcox

    #3 – PRACTICE RADICAL SELF-CARE.  This is the best medicine for me today.  I needed to read this after the heartache from a daughter-in-law and son.  God will heal my wounded heart and will help me in the forgiveness process as well.  Thank you for sharing your personal journey with me.  I did Yoga this morning with you.  You always inspire me even if it is just a DVD.  :)

  • Cicelee Chappelle

    I purge my sadness using music, movies, writing in my journal and talking to my friends. If I’m feeling hurt by someone, I will write a letter to them – but I don’t mail it. Instead, I release the hurt feelings (or try to at least) then I burn it. Yes, I literally burn it and it feels so cathartic. In addition to all of this, I pray and meditate and pray and meditate… I also do a 15-30 minute brain dump into my journal, writing down all that I’m thankful for, all that I’m grateful for and all that I appreciate in my life – writing non-stop. This puts me in such a positive emotional and mental place. Then, I whip out happy music to sing and dance to and funny movies to get me laughing. One more thing that I do, and I’m nervous about sharing this because I’m sure some people will think it’s crazy, but I write letters to GOD. Yes, letters to GOD. No, I don’t mail them. I just pour out my heart, getting everything out. They are super honest, real and frank. And amazingly, I feel truly supported, guided and protected after I write them. So, this is my recipe for purging sadness and resuscitating my peace, joy and happiness. Hopefully, something in this list of tactics is something that will help you.

  • Allison

    Thank you, Ashley, for sharing. 30 days of yoga with different teachers? I love it! So inspiring. I am just a few months out of the 2nd of two breakups (with the same person) this spring and summer and have been doing a major physical detox at the same time. No chocolate cake, vodka-sodas or mac and cheese to help me numb the pain. So I’ve felt it all. Surrender, as you said, has been the best, but not easiest, way to get through.

    As my dear Pisces friend reminded me just the other day when I was irritated that I’m “still not over it” and dealing with residual grief when I just want to be moving on with my life, think of it like surfing. Sometimes you get knocked off the board and are tossed underwater. I love surfing, so this is a great metaphor for me. You just have to go underwater for a while, but you’ll come back up.

    My go-tos have been those handful of friends and family (big thank you to these people!) who I can call when I am so sad and feel the despair or confusion that has me sinking to the bottom or spinning in circles. They always pick me up and being heard is so powerful. Also, FUNNY MOVIES. This was one of the best tips from another friend. Being someone who is obviously not neglecting your emotions, you will need a diversion from being sad. Laughing is awesome. Funny anything.

    If you’re on the verge of another tidal wave, and have the time for a mini-breakdown, bring on the cry-making music. Florence and the Machine always does it for me. Busts my heart right on open. It’s like a purge for the mopey. Come back to the light! :)

    Yes yes yes on the clean food, including chocoate when necessary. Bubble baths, window shopping, pedicures, treating yourself well however you know how. I’ve got to say it’s the friends who have been my rocks that have helped me through the most, though.

    When you’re ready, the book Soulmate Secret by Arielle Ford is awesome. Great exercises for clearing the past and really opening to what you want. Hope-making stories of people meeting their true love, too.

    Much love to anyone needing it right now!

    I hope these comments can help someone else!

  • http://www.managingthemagic.com Bryan R

    Hi Ashley. Congratulations on letting this heart break, break your heart ever more open. 

    I medicate with humor. If I can’t find a funny friend to make me laugh, I’ll just create my own Comedy Central TV Marathon or watch as many funny movies as I can find … I’ve found it’s impossible to laugh and feel depressed or afraid at the same time. 

    I love that you’re getting a big TDL hug from the whole TDL family. With Love, Bryan.

    • Heidi

      I tryed that last night.Great advice Bryan.

  • http://twitter.com/AKSnackShack Terry Greenwald

    I’ve always tho0ught when one thing fades, something better is coming behind it.  A few years ago I gave my heart completely to one woman who now, it appears, will never be in my life.  I was devistated for a time, then found contentment and satisfaction in the simple knowledge that at a time when I knew the only way to move was to either walk away or give myself completely, I chose to give everything I am to her.  I took the LEAP of faith and now soar in the knowledge that I was willing and able to do that.  I am older, and know I may never love again, but I also know I have loved with reckless abandon, and with my WHOLE HEART.   Life is simpler now……and I am content.   Maybe, for me any way, happiness comes and goes, but contentment stays.

  • Brokenheartedgirl

    Unfortunately I find myself in like company. I experienced a break-up, now 5 months ago and still feel pretty sad and disappointed about it all. I’ve been trying very earnestly to take baby steps forward and accept things for what they are, but my gosh some days are just rough. I know break-ups, change, letting go are all part of life. But still having a tough time seeing the bright side in all if this. But Each day I’ll keep trying. :’(

    • MST

      How long were you together?…It’s been 4 months for me since he left. I am not doing that well. I cannot believe how hard this is. We were together for 2 years. I keep trying too.

  • Portia Rabonda (Mizz_Ray)

    I am going through the same and the only way I know how to deal is to allow myself to go through all the emotions like you already stated. Thanks for the great tips. I suck at “get moving” and “self-love” I usually find myself doing things to self-sabotage. But with this break-up I realised it and made a curious decision: “what is actually going to happen to me if I stop running away from this? If I stop trying to find someone to be a temporary band-aid on my wound?” All this only made me feel worse and I decided I was going to let it rip! Let the pain be and see what happens. Some days are better than others bit I know I am getting there.

    I just realised the next thing that helps me and might hlep you too: due to my difficulty of letting things, a few years ago I realised this one truth and it has seen me through the toughest of broken relationships-s not a quick-fix but when you take the time to see the pisitive side of thins it helps. Ok here goes:as the sayings go “everything happens for a reason”. And “everything has its season” I started believing that every1 you meet in your life, every encounter, big or small but especially the big ones because they have a big impact in your life, has a purpose in your life. And sometimes, once that purpose has been fulfilled, they need to leave. Whether by choice, force, whether we like it or not, regardless of the pain it might bring. They have to leave. The healing comes in you realising the purpose that person had in your life,or the purpose you unknowingly had in theirs. Once you realise this,it helps make you feel better.

    That’s my 2cents worth. Happy healing :)

  • empty in paris

    Hello,
    I got the Dear Joan text last night. I forgot what it felt like to cry uncontrollably. Wole up and my eyes are so puffy.
    Decided to try to turn things around and realize who I thought was the love of my life, was here to teach me a lesson, not sure which one it is yet but I am sure there is one. He is my best friend, the one I abandoned my heart and body too. It is scary to think that the connection is all of a sudden just cut, after so many hours spent together just talking and just loving each other. But fear came into the way, and he couldn’t deal with the fear.
    I just hope this pain in my heart goes away and I can move on to whoever is suppose to share my life with me.
    I am very thankful for this past short year and a half with this sweet man…..

    • MST

      I have been going through a similar situation. Being cut of and let go with an email. We were together for 2 years. My world crumbled when he left. I am still trying to put my life back together. Today is not a good day. Sad and lonely. Hope you are doing better. Thanks for sharing. Our stories are very similar.

  • Lostgirl

    I myself am also on the same wave you just went through.I have already set a plan for myself to keep busy with family,friends and work.I also have a three year old son that keeps me on my toes.I feel time will heal this wound just as it has in past relationships.Today is the day I tell myself to stop texting and calling him.Enough is enough message received.

  • Pinkprettypanda

    This is right on time. As someone else stated I am going throu gh the second break up with the same person who crushed my heart in the first place. Last night I finally let it all go. It’s weird and scary to know someone who was so deeply embedded in your life is now gone. It’s hard but he was no good for me and I was so unhappy. So it’s time I realize my worth and really believe that I deserve better and I will be with someone who truly values me. All the comments have been really helpful and I know I will get through this one step at a time.

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