Heartbreak is devastating.

When unwarranted, it’s a period of grieving. And, it’s perfectly normal to feel down in the dumps for a period of time. It’s not uncommon to mourn the possibilities of a future with that person. You will reminisce on the love you may have shared, the trips that did happen and the ones you’ll never get to go on, and all those phone conversations to share your good news and help you through the bad.

It’s called breaking up, dealing with heartbreak, or being broken-hearted for a reason. Just like experiencing a broken arm or leg, it’s painful.

In fact, studies from the National Academy of Sciences confirm that people who just experienced a breakup show similar brain activity as when they experience physical pain.

Break apart

When you’re brushing off relationship memories, the dust of the past will start to cloud your vision. It may even become hard to see a future where you’ve pieced yourself back together. But the acceptance of being broken creates an opportunity to rebuild. Pick those pieces up, and fit them back together until you’re a brand-new version of yourself.

It doesn’t mean it won’t be painful, but there are ways to use the experience of being cracked open as a way to let more light in instead of shutting it out and trapping ourselves in the darkness. So let’s rebuild.

Feel to heal

Our bodies have the capacity to feel a wide range of emotions, from fury and sorrow to excitement and joy. Though all of these emotions are equally deserving of being fully experienced and felt, there is a societal stigma that tries to tell us certain emotions aren’t as acceptable as others.

When we were children, we felt these emotions without judgment. When did that change? When did we start feeling like certain ones had to be avoided? Who told you that you weren’t allowed to cry or show emotion? It’s okay to feel emotions. It’s part of the healing process.

Sorrow, anger, and fear are natural responses to experiencing a breakup.

Give yourself permission to feel them, completely and without judgment.

Let them flow through you and, eventually, they will move out of you. As you feel them, hug your pet more closely. They sense our emotions and will be there to help comfort you in your time of need.

When my neighbor’s pet passed away, he mentioned how his dog had been with him through a few breakups and even a divorce. Pets are confidants and nonjudgmental.

Reflect, reframe, and relearn

As you process a breakup, it’s far too easy to fixate on the negatives like fights, miscommunications, and mistakes. That fixation will result in the entire relationship feeling like a failure, or a waste of time.

However, a breakup is not a failure. A relationship that doesn’t work out is not a mistake or waste of time; it’s a learning experience.

You have control over how you think about the breakup, so flip the script. Don’t think about what you did wrong. Think about what you’ve learned. What did you put up with that you never will again? How can you communicate better in future relationships? What do you need from a partner that you didn’t realize you did before this?

Reflecting and reframing is what prevents you from repeating patterns, and will ensure your future relationships (with others and with yourself) are stronger and more compatible.

Fill the void

When you’re in a relationship, that person’s presence seeps into many different areas of your life. Once they’re not in your life anymore, their absence feels big and looming.

But that empty space is an opportunity to reconnect with friends you may have drifted apart from during the relationship, a passion you stopped making time for, or a new interest that you never got around to exploring. Take more walks and hikes with your pet, or sign up for that agility or yoga class even if neither of you may be good at it at first. Find a new dog run or pet-friendly café or bar!

Pick up the phone, the paintbrush, the guitar, the frying pan. Sign up for a new workout class, join a book club, or plan a weekend away with friends. Keep discovering new things about yourself.

Be patient

Progress is never linear. Neither is moving on. When you sign up on FetchaDate’s dating app, tell us about your new interests (and the old ones too). It’s all part of the process.

You’re going to be okay.