The end of a relationship is a universally painful and intense experience, one that is followed by a period of mourning and healing. Everyone recovers from a bad breakup differently, but all can benefit from thinking about the process in terms of spiritual healing. So put away that voodoo doll and try these 10 spiritual tips for getting over a breakup and moving on with your life.
Tip #1: Don’t Blame God
It’s tempting when you have lost a love-even if you were the instigator of the breakup-to channel feelings of loneliness and abandonment toward the heavens, blaming God for bringing you together as a couple only to have the relationship fall apart. In the period just after the breakup, though, try to turn toward God or your higher power for support and direction, rather than turning away from your spiritual self.
Tip #2: Clean Up the Mess
Cleaning house can be a spiritual metaphor for inner cleansing. When you’ve just endured a breakup, that process becomes even more meaningful as you gather up your ex’s clothes, books, music, and other stuff. It might be painful to face the memories that are attached to those things, but once they’re out the door — either in the mail or the dumpster, as the case may be — you’ll be surprised at the refreshing sense of soul-cleanliness that you feel.
Tip #3: Write it Out
After a breakup, the heart and soul often feel overwhelmed with emotions and memories. Pouring your anger, hurt, confusion, sadness, regret, or even relief or apology into a heartfelt letter to your ex is a great first step toward healing yourself of these feelings. Then, make a ritual of getting rid of the letter instead of sending it. Either put it in a special private box, tuck it into a journal, or toss it into a crackling fire.
Tip #4: Try Something New
“Starting over” is a scary phrase associated with the aftermath of a breakup, but it can also be an exciting concept. Take a class to help you learn a new skill or hobby, learn a new language, or consider a new career direction. Trying something new is a way to symbolically demonstrate to yourself that the world is a big place, and new opportunities in life-and love-are always available.
Tip #5: Relish Your Solitude
Being on your own is intimidating at times, but it is also a spiritual gift. Many forms of meditation are practiced in solitude, and practices from yoga to tai chi can also be done solo. Create a space in your home that feels like a sanctuary to you. This will allow you to infuse your alone time with spirituality and remind you of the pleasure of your own company.
Tip #6: Love Your Life
No matter how bleak your life might feel after a breakup, there have to be some positive aspects that you’re not questioning or struggling with. Think about what you love about your life — it can be a meaningful job, a group of supportive, funny friends, a loving family, a comfortable home, anything that simply makes you happy. Make a “gratitude list” and keep it on your night-table or somewhere else nearby so you can look at it instead of glancing wistfully at pictures of you and your ex.
Tip #7: Don’t Be Afraid of Tears
Not to put too fine a point on it, but breaking up is hard to do. Crying is allowed, and so are anger, resentment, and fear about the future. Give yourself permission to fully feel the pain of the loss, because only when you are honest with yourself about your feelings can you begin the healing process.
Tip #8: Take Care of Yourself
The stress of a breakup can leave your body feeling fragile and upset. Tend to your physical well-being to restore your feelings of self-worth, confidence, and attractiveness. Start a satisfying new workout program, cook simple, healthy meals, or treat yourself to a soothing aromatherapy massage to reconnect with your inner beauty.
Tip #9: Believe in Yourself
Breakups aren’t great for the self-esteem. If you did the breaking up, you might feel like a callous jerk. If you were dumped, you might feel un-loveable. Sit down in a quiet place with your journal or a piece of paper and write yourself reminders of what you like about yourself. That’s not to say there aren’t lessons to be learned from every breakup, but you should come away feeling like the good and special person that you truly are.
Tip #10: Begin Again
At some point after your breakup, you will be ready to re-enter the dating scene. Watch your emotions carefully, and your intuition will tell you when you are ready to let go of your past relationship for good and open yourself up to the possibility of finding love again. When you make that decision, you’ll be ready to head out-or online-with a renewed and refreshed spirit.
* Holly Lebowitz Rossi is the relationships editor for Beliefnet.com, the premiere faith and spirituality website. Holly is also a freelance writer, specializing in religion, whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Spa Finder, Sojourners, the Washington Post, and NPR’s “All Things Considered,” among many other publications.