The world is abundant with breakup recovery methods, but I’ve seen no other work as efficiently and quickly as meditation, journaling, dream reporting, and therapy.
For most people, these four methods are the catalyst for stupendous personal growth. And because of their mind-fuckingly powerful healing capability, I’ve coined them — you’ve guessed it! — The Holy Quaternity Of Breakup Recovery. Let’s go over each in turn.
Meditation is the act of observing oneself in silence and stillness. You can do it practically anywhere, at any time, and you don’t need any fancy gear or software to pull it off. Plus, the benefits of meditation are plentiful… and often life-changing.
Meditation improves focus, discipline, and clear thinking. This means you’ll be way more likely to follow through on critical day-to-day tasks instead of deviating to trivialities like checking your Instagram feed for the 69th time. (1)
Meditation thickens links toward intuition. Intuition is your instant gut reaction to the things in your environment. It’s the little voice inside your head that whispers, “I know you want your ex back, but you probably shouldn’t send them a text right now.” Well, meditation helps this voice become louder and, thus, more helpful. (2)
Meditation increases emotional stability and deepens self-awareness. Higher emotional stability translates to fewer tamper tantrums, frustrations, and neuroticism. And increased self-awareness translates to an improved skill of becoming aware of what you’re doing, thinking, and feeling on a moment-by-moment basis. (4)
While this last point may sound irrelevant, it’s probably the most vital benefit of meditation by far. For example, when your ex sends a text, and you don’t get overwhelmed by emotions — that’s the power of emotional stability. Or, when you notice you’re feeling angry, and instead of punching another hole in the wall, you seek help — that’s the power of self-awareness.
Now that you’re all stirred up about meditation, here’s how to do it:
- Find a place where you won’t be disturbed. Set your timer, either a phone or a clock, for about 10 to 20 minutes.
- Sit down on the floor with your legs crossed. If it hurts, grab a pillow or two, and stick them right below you. Get ’em all nice and fluffy down there. Keep your back straight — tall as a mountain, the gurus say. And lastly, place your hands on your knees or cup them softly in your lap. As a side note, don’t stress too much about your posture being perfect. It doesn’t have to be. Just try your best.
- Close your eyes or look straight ahead and relax your whole body. The way you do this is by releasing any tension from each of your muscles. Start with the ones on your face and end with those on your feet. Fun fact: this process is called a body scan. It’s like foreplay before actual meditation.
- Take three deep breaths: in through the nose until your chest is full and out through your mouth until it fully contracts. After taking the deep breaths, shift to breathing at your usual pace.
- This is where the actual meditation starts. Keep inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth for the next X minutes.
- Relax, unwind, and try to think about nothing. Remember: Meditation is all about focusing on your breath, despite the different thoughts and feelings that creep into your mind. It may even help to count “zero” when you reach the end of your inhale and “one” when you reach the end of your exhale. This way, you never lose track of your breath.
- Try to remember your name before you were born.
- Keep doing this over and over again until your timer rings.
Meditation WILL feel uncomfortable and challenging at first. You probably won’t be able to stay focused on your breath for more than three inhales/exhales. Chances are, your mind will wander off by them. That’s okay.
In fact, it’s to be expected: you’re not accustomed to the painful sitting position, the weird sensations that come up, or the discipline of quieting your mind. So don’t judge or beat yourself up. When you screw up, just let it go. You’ll get better in time.
Journaling has many benefits. It reduces emotional distress and the impact stress or stressful events have on us. It helps us be calmer, happier and more productive. It even reduces the number of intrusive and obsessive thoughts we may be suffering from. (5)(6)
But don’t take just my word for it. If you look at history, you’ll learn that many of the greats journaled. To name a few: Queen Victoria, Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon, Anne Frank, Franz Kafka, Marcus Aurelius, Ben Franklin, Mark Twain.
Most of these titans even went on to admit how journaling helped them become more relaxed, grateful, productive, happy… basically everything that science confirmed years after their comments.
The way you start journaling is simple. Grab a pen and paper and start writing about your breakup. You can jot down all the things you currently feel: all your worries, the things you’re grateful for, the things you’re angry about, or the things you’re afraid of. You can also write about your past, the lessons from it, or you can use journaling to outline a new and better future for yourself.
Just whatever you do, do not overanalyze the simple discipline. Too many people spend days researching the best times and places to journal and the pros and cons of different pens and notebooks. Don’t fall into that rabbit hole. Just start writing. The therapeutic effects are sure to come regardless. The fact that you’ve brain-dumped your thoughts and feelings on a piece of paper makes feeling better afterwards guaranteed.
Dream reporting stems from Freud and his work on the human subconscious and is similar to journaling. Freud reckoned that our dreams could give us a greater awareness of what’s going on in our subconscious mind and that this awareness then leads to therapeutic understanding, which, in turn, makes us feel better.
The practice may sound daunting, but it’s not — it’s easy as pie and comprised of only three steps.
Step #1: As soon as you wake up, write down what you dreamt about. When you do this, be sure to capture as many intricate details of your dreams as possible. If you have multiple dreams in a night, stick to scribbling down only the one you felt was most important — the one that held the heaviest emotional weight.
Step #2: Continue writing down your dreams for the next 30 or so days.
Step #3: Start analyzing the patterns found in those dreams. You do this by asking yourself a specific set of questions:
- What were the themes inside my dreams?
- What were the approximate meanings behind the objects, people, and scenery around my dreams?
- What colors, sounds, and scents could I see, hear and smell?
- What are the feelings that I had in my dreams?
Many people bounce back and forth with the idea of going to therapy after their breakup. Yet, if you find the right therapist, the experience can be incredibly life-changing.
A good therapist will act as the examiner — the person asking “Why?” They will lead you to question your inner world, consider new perspectives on your crisis, and help you realize new things about yourself. They will also give you an outside and objective perspective on your breakup situation.
The idea behind therapy is identical to meditation, journaling, and dream reporting we mentioned earlier. In all cases, what you’re doing is trying to make your mind’s unconscious aspects conscious. And when you achieve this, you’ll be able to exercise control over them. This is generally how you learn to take care of your mental and emotional health.
For example, suppose you always felt uncontrollably anxious when your ex hasn’t called you back. In that case, there’s probably something hidden within your unconscious, causing you to react in such a senseless manner. By attending therapy, you can start burrowing into your past and examining your life problems, personal challenges, and traumas in detail to find the trigger for your anxiety.
Maybe you felt uncontrollably anxious because you had a neglecting father to whom you always tried to prove yourself. Maybe it was because you had a mother who loved you only under certain conditions. Or maybe it’s a result of some other obscure trauma you’ve encountered.
A therapist will help you figure these things out. And when that happens, you’ll be able to process your anxiety in a safe environment. This will further allow you to become more aware of your anxiety and, therefore, not feel so powerless to the outbursts when they happen. In time, you should be able to exercise enough emotional control to modify your behavior.
One last thing about therapy: don’t be too worried about picking the right type. I know there’s a lot of them to choose from (BT, REBT, AEDP, ACT, existential, Gestalt, interpersonal, Jungian, psychoanalysis, etc.), but all of them work to some extent and produce, on average, a relatively similar result. (7) (8)
Observing The Holy Quaternity Of Breakup Recovery from afar, the reason the four methods that comprise it work so well is because they help you make your unconscious feelings conscious. And as a result of that transition, you’re able to acknowledge those feelings instead of suppressing or repressing them, and in doing so, unearth, dissect, and divert them into something more useful that’ll help you understand them.
From there on out, not only will you feel better but you’ll also regain the ability to retake control of your identity and life — an ability unknown or out of reach to most people plowing through the backwaters of heartbreak.
If you need more more help healing from your breakup, check out my Radical Recovery Course. With over 5h of video, 200 pages of writing, and personalized 1-on-1 coaching, I'll walk you through every step of the recovery process from start to finish.
7 Types of Breakups (And How To Navigate Each One)
Angry breakup, cheating breakup, sudden breakup, and more! Discover 7 most common types of breakups and learn to navigate each one.
On Gratitude And Death
Breakups suck, but there are many worse things that could happen to you. So be grateful a breakup is the only thing on your plate.