Key Points of the Ted Talk:
- During a heartbreak, your usual coping mechanisms fail and your instincts could lead you astray.
- Understanding on how your thoughts and behaviors can undermine your recovery. The lovelorn behave like addicts seeking a fix, and compulsive thoughts about an ex are the brain’s attempts to satisfy its cravings.
- Take the reason at face value. Accept the reason your ex gave you for the breakup, or simply make up a reason. Give yourself closure so you can “resist the addiction.”
- Avoid idealizing your ex. List the ways that the person was wrong for you, and review the list when nostalgia strikes.
- Identify all the post-relationship voids in your life, including losses of community and identity.
- Refill these voids, rebuild your identity and be patient with your recovery.
- Change your personal narrative.
People’s usual coping strategies for enduring life’s worst moments do nothing for a broken heart. Take the example of Kathy, who proved resilient through two bouts of breast cancer but then floundered after an unexpected breakup. Amid heartbreak, your normally reliable instincts lead you astray. You can’t trust your own thoughts. Studies show that knowing the reason that the relationship ended helps people move on. But even if your ex tells you an honest, simple reason for the breakup, you may reject it. The pain of a breakup is so intense that the brain wants to match it to an equally intense cause, even a dubious one.
Withdrawal from love and withdrawal from drugs like cocaine and opioids activate the same mechanisms in the brain. Yet when addicts relapse, they know it. The lovelorn don’t realize that they’re getting a “fix” when they dwell on memories of their ex, trail the person online or try to solve the mystery of the failed relationship. Contrary to what their instincts tell them, these actions steer them deeper into addiction. Instead, understand that no explanation for the breakup will satisfy your broken heart. Accept the reason your ex told you, or simply make up a reason. Give yourself closure so you can “resist the addiction.”
“Heartbreak shares all the hallmarks of traditional loss and grief: insomnia, intrusive thoughts, immune system dysfunction. Forty percent of people experience clinically measurable depression.”
“Heartbreak is a master manipulator. The ease with which it gets our mind to do the absolute opposite of what we need in order to recover is remarkable.”
“… every second you spend stalking your ex on social media, you are just feeding your addiction, deepening your emotional pain and complicating your recovery.”
Recovering from heartbreak is a battle, “not a journey.” Your capacity to reason is your best weapon. Heartbreak manipulates you into undermining your healing, for example, by idealizing the person who rejected you. Balance such thoughts by recalling the emotional lows of your relationship and how the person was wrong for you. Keep a list of these failings on your phone. When nostalgia strikes, read the list.
“There is no breakup explanation that’s going to feel satisfying. No rationale can take away the pain you feel. So don’t search for one, don’t wait for one, just accept the one you were offered or make up one yourself and then put the question to rest, because you need that closure to resist the addiction.”
“Addicts know they’re addicted. They know when they’re shooting up. But heartbroken people do not.”
Hope can be incredibly destructive when the heart are broken
Heartbreak’s loneliness and pain make complex logic and reasoning harder. Your IQ drops temporarily. Thus, heartbreak can affect your job performance and even your job security. Like grief and loss, a broken heart can cause sleeplessness, intrusive thoughts or immune impairment. Some 40% of the heartbroken become clinically depressed. When relationships end, people can lose much of the social structure of their lives and their identity as a couple. Heartbreak doesn’t leave just one “void” in your life; it leaves many. Heal yourself by identifying and refilling all the voids. Find new activities. Hang new pictures on the now-empty walls. Rebuild your identity and your purpose. Stay patient. Healing will take longer than you think. But by taking steps to move on, you’ll suffer less, connect better with friends and family, and be more productive in the workplace.
“Another consequence of heartbreak is that feeling alone and in pain can significantly impair our intellectual functioning, especially when performing complex tasks involving logic and reasoning. It temporarily lowers our IQ.”
“To fix your broken heart, you have to identify these voids in your life and fill them, and I mean all of them. The voids in your identity.”
“So if you know someone who is heartbroken, have compassion, because social support has been found to be important for their recovery.”
Categories: Personal Development