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Self-Discovery After a Breakup: How to Happily Move On

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Breakups are painful – most people would probably agree with that statement. But if you do some self-discovery, you can get back on your feet again.

When a relationship ends, sometimes it feels like having the proverbial rug being pulled from beneath you. You go from having normalcy in your life to suddenly plunging into various stages of ugliness:  the drunkenness, tears, the breakup songs, and the self-pity you’ll marinate in. If you’ve ever experienced a breakup, you could vouch for the fact that everything crashes and burns after one of you utters “we’re done.”  However, it doesn’t have to if you do some self-discovery.

How to embark on self-discovery after a breakup

Once you’ve hit rock bottom, you’ll find that there are two choices: (1) you stay that way, or (2) you start picking up what’s left, and start over. Whichever you choose, you’ll have to move on.

Once you start moving on, you go through a process of self-discovery. You learn something new and rediscover things about yourself that got obscured during the relationship. In the end, you’ll be a better person.

#1 Arrange for some breathing space for yourself

Just like a bad hangover, breakups will give you a few days’ worth of negativity before you make sense of things. During this phase, your general disposition towards everything else is pretty negative. You’re so depressed, angry, and frustrated that you’ll want everyone to feel your pain.

So the first thing you need to do is to stop, make a firebreak to minimize the damage to yourself and others, and take a breather from the present. [Read: The 10 stages of a break up and how to get through each of them]

a. Cry your eyes out. Cry yourself to sleep if you want. A good cry will always make you feel better.

b. Turn off your phone, and get out of the internet and social media lest you unwittingly type a post-breakup tirade on Facebook.

c. Take a few days off from work or school.

d. Change your usual routine. Avoid the places where you might run into your ex or places that remind you of them.

e. Treat yourself to something you really love. A shot of bourbon, a pint of ice cream, a slice of pie, or a massage.

In other words, do what you have to do to sober up. Once you’ve gotten your head back and are feeling a little better, you can start with the healing process. [Read: How to survive the first 168 hours after a break up]

#2 Reconnect with your friends

Remember all those hang out invitations, parties, and get-togethers that you have to miss because you were too busy with your previous relationship? Now, you have a lot more time to catch up and reconnect with your old friends.

Romantic relationships often take time away from your friends because you’re too hooked with your partner and the things you do with them. In some cases, people forget their friends altogether and just communicate with them if they had a fight with their significant other and they need a shoulder to cry on.

But now you’ll realize that the very same people you forgot and took for granted will be the ones to join you for a post-breakup drink, listen to your sob stories, take you home once you pass out, and most importantly, offer their support and advice. Listening to what they have to say will help you with your self-discovery journey. [Read: How to deal with a breakup with a smile]

#3 Talk to close friends or keep a journal

A breakup is not the kind of experience so severe that you’ll need to attend a support group. Nevertheless, you’ll need someone to listen to whatever you have to say. The solution is to talk it out. Tell your parents, your siblings, your close friends, or anyone who will be there to listen to you. And if you’re not the talking type, keep a journal.

Keeping a journal in and of itself is therapy. It allows you to share your thoughts in written form and release all that emotion that you’ve carried during the course of the breakup. Whichever you choose, the point here is for you to release what you feel and allow yourself to reflect your recent experience. This is an important part of self-discovery. [Read: How to find closure within yourself after the end of a relationship]

#4 Hit the “reset” button

Just like when your computer crashes, you should be able to reset to a previous point in your life where you were in full control. This is easier said than done, but you’ll find it more fulfilling than living a life built from the pieces of your failed relationship.

Time to visit your old list of plans. Often, you had personal plans that you had to postpone or give way to your relationship. It could be something simple as a recreational activity or something important such as a career decision. Put all these on the table and see what you can do now that you don’t have a reason not to. Make a new list of plans and start getting the life you always wanted. This is a huge component to self-discovery. [Read: 15 really great lessons you can learn from your own breakup]

#5 Travel and go soul-searching

As the Conor Oberst song goes, “There is nothing that the road cannot heal.” Travelling is a mixed salve of scenery, escapism, and childish sense of adventure that brings new experiences, a new perspective, and new people into your life. Travelling distracts, and it also educates. Finding yourself in a foreign place makes you feel like a different person altogether – far from the place that caused you grief.

#6 Start doing things alone – solo dates

Doing things alone is kind of a bittersweet consequence of a breakup. At times, you might find that some activities are not enjoyable anymore because you used to do it with your ex. But give it a try and be surprised.

Start by going on solo dates. Treat yourself to a movie, shopping, or going to a concert that you always wanted to attend but can’t because your ex hated it. As you do this, you’ll realize that you don’t need another person to be able to enjoy these activities. Being alone is essential if you are going to be successful at self-discovery. [Read: 15 reasons why being single can be much more fun than being in a relationship]

#7 Do something new and productive

Some people call it a distraction from the pain. Some do these things to fill a void. But as they say, if you keep yourself busy, you’ll move on. In all honesty, it is the better, proactive solution – so much more awesome than staying in your current situation or wallowing in hate and self-pity.

There is no better outcome to a bad breakup than ending up happier and more successful than your previous life. And that’s what self-discovery is all about.

Try a new hobby or a new career. You can travel, take up art, volunteer for a cause, or do anything that you’ve always wanted to try. The self-discovery process allows you to get to know yourself in many ways, and you make new friends along the way. [Read: The top 5 things almost all women do immediately after a breakup]

#8 Meet new people, but avoid falling into a rebound

Being able to meet people after a breakup is the foremost sign of moving on. You’re no longer stuck with longing for your past relationship. However, your emotional maturity will be gauged by whether you allow yourself to fall into a rebound or not.

Hooking up for the purpose of getting the feel of your previous relationship back is called a rebound. It is unfair to the other person and would probably end worse than your previous relationship. [Read: 13 rebound sex questions to ask yourself and know if it’s for you]

So when you feel that you’re ready to start seeing other people, see them for the experience of meeting a new individual, not for the purpose of an immediate relationship.

A breakup is a bitter pill. It will taste bad, and it will be hard to take. But in the end, it will be good for you. There will always be the miserable crying phase. But once you start learning from the experience instead of getting stuck with the sadness, the healing process will begin.

[Read: 8 most common post-break-up mistakes you should never commit!]

People deal with break-ups in their own different ways. Some get through with it easier and faster than others. But no matter how long it takes, in the end, you’ll be glad that you embarked on a self-discovery journey in order to become a new and better person.

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Paul Timothy Mangay
Paul Timothy Mangay
Paul aka Morty is a keyboard-pounding cubicle-dweller based in Manila where he occasionally moonlights as a writer for anyone in need of his mediocre word-strin...
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