By: Sarah Woehler, Life & Relationship Coach
Whether we’re the ones doing the breaking up or on the other side of it, no breakup is ever easy. But some are definitely worse than others, especially when we fall hard (as INFJs do, once we decide to), putting our all into the relationship, showing sides of us we seldom show to anyone, to eventually wrapping ourselves in the glow of love and lust and our partner becoming “our person”, in some ways our everything, only for it to eventually — be it a year or a decade — come to a dismal end.
Our heart breaks even if there were aspects about the relationship that were challenging, even impossible at times, because we love so deeply, so intensely that our every being was consumed in the relationship, and now it’s over so what do we do? As trite as it sounds, time heals all wounds, but here are some other tried-and-true ways to recover from that difficult breakup, whether you’re an INFJ or not.
1. Accept Where You Are
You didn’t fall in love overnight. It took time to develop these intense feelings, so of course they’re not going to just go away because the relationship didn’t work out. Because of this, allow yourself to really feel the sadness, anger, hurt, and remorse. Cry it out, let yourself reflect on both the good and the bad times you had with your ex. Really feel the hurt so that you can move on when the time is right — for you.
2. Take To Your Journal
As an INFJ, I’ve kept a journal for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until I left my marriage that I started journaling consistently. It was my salve as I was going through my divorce, struggling with sleeping at night, wondering if my ex was okay, feeling the hurt for both of us. My journal was a place to hold my feelings, to get the pain out of my head and my heart so that I didn’t feel the internal pressure to cradle them with my every being. My journal was like a box that I could drop my emotions into, at least for the time being. Even if it’s just a sentence or two, write what you’re thinking or feeling. Burn the page afterward if it helps to minimize the self-consciousness of writing. But give yourself the gift of expressing the pain and the hurt so it doesn’t weigh you down so much.
3. Talk It Out
Journaling is a great way to work through emotions, to get them out of your head and onto paper, but when going through an especially tough breakup you’re going to need someone to talk to, another human to help process your pain. A good friend is always helpful, but should you need guidance from an expert I’m a huge advocate for finding a therapist or relationship coach to help you through this tough time.
4. Get Some Exercise
The first few days of a difficult breakup it may be hard to get out from under that blanket on the couch, and that’s totally okay. But by day four, force yourself to get some movement. If going to the gym isn’t your thing, then go for a long walk, listen to some music or an inspiring podcast, and take note of how you feel afterward. Endorphins are powerful especially when you haven’t felt them in a while.
5. Don’t Speak To Your Ex
At least for a while. I’m all about being friends with my exes, but it’s all too easy to fall back into old, comfortable patterns especially if there’s no buffer in between breaking up and “just talking.” And be real about it. If they’re texting you late at night or saying “I’m thinking of you”, tempting you to want to respond with a yellow heart emoji, instead take a long pause and think about what’s going on in your brain. Remember that your brain is basically trying to function without drugs (the drug of your former relationship) right now. It’s detoxing from your breakup. So any temptation of an easy hit will make it want to go right back where it was. If you understand intellectually what’s happening it’ll help you maintain distance, at least for a few weeks as you detox from your relationship.
6. Let Yourself Feel the Pain
Since we’re talking about the brain detoxing from your relationship, know that it’s perfectly normal to hurt, for your heart to really ache from what you’re going through. Now is the time to have some compassion for smokers trying to quit, or alcoholics trying to give up alcohol, because you’re going through it now too. This is actually not that different from a neurological perspective. You may not be physically detoxing, but emotionally you are, and so it’s perfectly human to be hurting in all the ways you’re hurting right now. You may be more tired than usual or you may not be sleeping as well at night because you’re anxious. You may have no desire to put on mascara or get out of your PJs. Acknowledge it, accept it, but also do little things to comfort yourself: Make yourself a hot cup of tea, start a new book, let yourself watch TV a little bit more than usual.
7. Stay Busy But in a Mindful Way
After the first few days of your breakup and you’ve binge-watched the entire last season of Schitts Creek, you’ve journaled, really felt your sadness, maintained distance from your ex, write out a to-do list, things you have time to really focus on now that you’re single. Maybe it’s an art exhibit you didn’t want to drag your ex to, or maybe you’ve been wanting to take a hike, or maybe you always fantasized about going to a restaurant solo. Now is the time to do these things, to start a hobby that you’ve been thinking about for months.
8. There’s a Reason For Everything
You may not see it or feel it now, but know that there’s beauty in the struggle. Anyone who’s ever gone through a hard time has grown from challenges. So look at this time as not a failure but instead an opportunity for becoming better as a human being. And also know that some things, actually many things in life, have a natural end just as they do a beginning.
9. Resist The Urge To Start Dating Right Away
After a week or two you’ll probably start feeling better, maybe even a little bored, a bit listless and restless now that you’ve got so much time on your hands. But try not to sign up for dating apps right away. Remember: processing a breakup, especially after a significant relationship, takes more time than people realize. And also, boredom isn’t a reason to start dating again. Try filling your cup first, doing “you” for a bit, and acknowledge that when the boredom hits it’s time to reach out to a friend and make some plans. Depending on the length of your relationship, I recommend at least a month (perhaps longer if your relationship was over a year), until dipping your toes back into the dating pool. And once you’re truly ready, you’ll be so glad you gave yourself time to recover and really grow from your relationship — and your breakup.
Breakups have the potential to break us down or ultimately to make us better, teaching us things about us that we didn’t know before, forcing us to look deep inside at how we could do better or find better ultimately. These tips will help you work through the pain and the grief and hopefully come out better in the end.
Written by: Sarah Woehler
Sarah Woehler is a life and relationship coach, helping people transform their relationships, careers & lives — from the inside out. She’s also a writer and host of the podcast, @interrelatepodcast.
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