How I Used CBT to Mend a Broken Heart
There is nothing worse than trying to mend a broken heart. Nothing!
The intense feelings of sadness and loss. Of losing someone to do things with. The belief that you will never find love again. The questioning whether you made a mistake.
There are a lot of emotions that are difficult to process. So, what do we do? We eat ice cream and drink wine and watch a lot of Netflix, hoping that the pain will pass.
There is something that can help you mend your broken heart quicker and in a healthier way. Using Cognitive Behavorial Therapy (CBT) is the key.
Psychology Today defines CBT as a type of psychotherapy in which patients reframe negative thinking patterns into positive thoughts.
Let me explain how you can use CBT to process your broken heart.
#1 – Identify your feelings.
For each of us, our broken heart manifests itself with different feelings. The feelings are often the result of how the break-up occurred.
For me, when I broke up with my last boyfriend I was incredibly sad because I loved him madly but he couldn’t give me what I wanted. I was also disappointed and angry that what I hoped would be wasn’t.
When my husband left me for another woman, my feelings were completely different. I was mourning the loss of our family, I was furious that he had left me behind, I was scared because I would have to start finding my way financially and I felt completely disrespected that I could be replaced so quickly.
So, you see the difference between the two broken hearts?
The first step using CBT to cure your broken heart is to identify what feelings you are feeling. Are you sad, mad, disappointed, scared? Once you know what feelings you have you can more easily deal with them.
#2 – Recognize your emotions.
So, let’s take you one step further into your feelings. That step is to identify what happens to you as a result of the feelings?
Ok, so, I was sad and disappointed when I had to break up with my boyfriend. With CBT I looked at what those feelings brought up.
My boyfriend had been in the process of a divorce. He made me many promises about his intentions around that divorce that were broken. He stopped being intimate with me and never made me a priority. So, I broke up with him and I was sad. But there was more to it than that.
Not only was I sad but my self-esteem was at rock bottom. I focused on how stupid I had been to let him lead me on for so long. I felt sorry for myself that he didn’t make me a priority. I felt that I wasn’t good enough if he wasn’t willing to try harder to be with me. So, my feelings, my sadness, I realized, were more about being focused on what a loser I was.
I mean, how could ever find love again if I was such a loser?
And, so, I suffered, feeling shitty about myself and my future prospects. I recognized that the sadness was really a cover for the lack of self-worth that was really the problem.
So, take a look at the emotions that you are feeling about the feelings that you have. Are they what they seem to be? Dig a little deeper.
#3 – Reframe the negativity.
So, there I was, feeling rock bottom horrible about myself and not sure where to go from there.
CBT gave me some tools to work with in that it showed me how to reframe my negative thoughts about myself.
Instead of feeling bad about myself for letting him lead me on for so long, I worked to commend myself for having the strength to finally walk away. I recognized that not making me a priority was not because of me but because of how crazy his life was during the divorce. I also saw that HIS self-esteem was really low and that he probably didn’t feel good enough for ME so he pushed me away.
By reframing my negative thoughts, the thoughts that were dragging me down, I started to see that what happened wasn’t all my fault. Yes, I had spent more time waiting for him than was perhaps wise, but I DID get out. His lack of attention wasn’t because of ME but because of his life circumstances. And that, perhaps, I wasn’t such a loser and that another love might be out there for me!
#4 – Be easy on yourself.
I have never, ever met a woman going through a break up who didn’t blame herself for the whole thing. Either her man was happy to put the blame on her or she took it all on herself, unwittingly. Either way, blame for the end of a relationship is a heavy load to bear.
Whether you broke up with your guy or he with you, know that you are NOT entirely to blame. There are two people in every relationship and nothing happens in a void. Even if you fooled around on your guy and he broke up with you, something about your relationship with him was struggling or you wouldn’t have fooled around.
So, be easy on yourself. It wasn’t all your fault so don’t let him, or you, carry the load all by yourself. You will be amazed at how much lighter your feelings are if you can truly accept that it that break-up wasn’t all on you.
#5 – Take action.
Once I had processed my feelings and my emotions, I had identified my sadness and the lack of self-esteem that had resulted from the break up, I was able to see my future more clearly and start taking some steps to get on with my life.
The first thing that I was did was I blocked my guy on social media and put every momento of him that I had in a box. My guy, who I did still love, was part of my past and not my future.
I went back on Match and Bumble and started to date. And, yes, it wasn’t much fun at first but it was very distracting.
I made a huge effort to plan doing things. I hiked and went to the movies and had dinner with friends. I went to parties (which I hate) and met new people. I shook up the narrow world that I had created while waiting for my guy to get his shit together. I started to have fun again.
And guess what happened! I met another guy. THE guy. And, because I had done my CBT work and processed my emotions and my feelings and built up my self-esteem, I was ready for him. I was ready to try again. And this time it worked!
So, don’t stay home, waiting for your life to start again. Get out there. Make it happen! You can do it!
If you are struggling to mend a broken heart right now, I am so sorry! I wish that I could just lift that pain off you and let you get on with your life.
Unfortunately, I can’t do that, but YOU can!
While it might seem too painful to confront what you are feeling head on, doing so gives you the best chance of a speedy recovery.
So, identify your feelings, focus on your emotions, reframe your negative thoughts, be easy on yourself and take action.
Take your life back. It’s yours, it’s short and it needs to be lived!!!
If you have made it this far you must have a broken heart that needs to be mended ASAP.
Let me help you, NOW, so that you can get your life back and find love again!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.