Breakups suck, more so if you didn't initiate it. The thumb rule to be followed after the end of a relationship is - focus on yourself and not on your ex or your past. Therefore, it goes without saying that...
1. The worst thing you can do is follow your ex on social media and keep track of what they're up to in their life with you not in it.
The best thing to do is to unfriend and unfollow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and delete/untag all photos in which you are together on social media.
2. The worst thing you can do is to tap common friends for intel on your ex and keep checking on whether your ex has moved on with someone else, and to compare yourself with that person, as well as to compare your life today with your ex's life.
The best thing to do is to move towards your own personal and professional goals focusing on constructing your life, and to be with family and friends who elevate you, and to categorically state to common friends that you are not interested in hearing about your ex.
3. The worst thing you can do is to force your ex to reconsider the breakup, thus getting into a painful cycle of 'on-again off-again' and prolonging your own agony by wanting to keep the illusion of the relationship alive. You should not have to beg for a relationship as it means you don't value yourself or do not think that you deserve better.
The best thing to do is to have a clean breakup - go cold turkey. This will begin the recovery process sooner rather than later, and remaining based in reality will allow for important realisations to sink in that will empower you going forward. Remember that a relationship is healthy and sustainable only if both truly look forward to being with each other and value the relationship , and not if you have to sell or market the idea of the relationship. Ending a relationship that is not right for you, creates the space and allows the freedom for one that is.
4. The worst thing you can do is to isolate yourself socially and hear 'our song', visit 'our favourite spot', order 'our favourite meal' or look at mementos that make you wallow in the thought of the breakup.
The best thing to do is to create new memories with new favourites, and to enjoy old favourites with new people, creating fun memories that will overwrite the old. Ensure that you have a robust social life and don't cut off from people who care. Throw away all mementos that could remind you of your ex.
5. The worst thing you can do is to send long-winded emails or text messages or drunk dial or hook up with your ex. While you might think it's cool to do so, it will jeopardise your own healing and throw a spanner in the 'moving on' process.
The best thing to do is to delete your ex's number from everywhere, and to ask a trusted friend or family member to keep reminding you of the reasons for the breakup so that you remain objective at all times and are not tempted to go back and re-create pain for yourself.
6. The worst thing to do is to remain angry/vengeful/self-pitying and to overgeneralise that 'all men/women are the same' or to be cynical about love. Do not create toxicity in yourself wishing ill for your ex, or whining about betrayal of trust or a broken heart. Stop talking about how your ex deserves to be miserable.
The best thing to do is to remember that - 'It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all' - and to feel good about the fact that you have the ability to love. Start thinking and talking about how you deserve to be happy as your birth right and fill your day with happiness assignments, feeling grateful for all that 'is'. Focus on how you've grown and what you've learned.
7. The worst thing to do is to have a false sense of bravado and pretend to be okay. Do not jump into a relationship on the rebound with the fear of loneliness or to reassure yourself of your attractiveness to potential partners. It is such desperate relationships that have the potential to become messy after a while as you have not taken time to grieve the loss of the previous relationship. Moreover, you might choose mediocrity in desperation.
The best thing to do is to take time to grieve. Bawl if you need to and let all your feelings pour out at one shot. See a professional counsellor who can help you process your feelings about your ex and your breakup objectively, who can help you grieve appropriately and who can facilitate learning valuable lessons about yourself and about relationships. These lessons then could equip you in your future relationship.
8. The worst thing you can do is to allow the breakup to affect your work and other stability zones in your life. When there is a shakeup due to a breakup, we need all the stability we can hold on to as that aids our recovery.
The best thing to do is to remain dedicatedly focused on giving your best professionally and remain connected with other stability zones like family and trusted friends. Not only will it help in the moving on process, it will also ensure that you maintain high self-esteem as you fulfil other roles well.
9. The worst thing you can do is to keep those rose-tinted glasses on, and mope over having lost the 'best thing' in your life. The fact is that it has ended because it clearly wasn't the best thing, and did not have a long-term potential.
The best thing to do is to focus on being the 'best you' and to create the 'best life' that actualises your human potential. The truly best thing is to have the best relationship with yourself. So get cracking on having the most loving and nurturing relationship with yourself... doing things that deeply fulfil you.
10. The worst thing you can do is to drink and cry and rehash your breakup over and over again, telling yourself and others that your pain and misery will never end, that it is a permanent state and that you are destined to stay unhappy forever. Listening to sad songs lying in bed all day and believing that your life is over is the worst thing to do.
The best thing to do is to stay sober and tell yourself that while there are flashes of the relationship that once was, and that it's natural to feel what you feel, that this is a 'temporary' state and that 'this too will pass'. In the meantime, engage in self-care. Eat well, go for a run, get a massage, watch a comedy, de-clutter your home and throw away things that no longer fit the new and healthier life you choose to build for yourself.
11. The worst thing you can do is keep whining about 'Why me?' and cribbing about life being unfair and to play up the 'poor-me' and 'victim drama' in your head. Stop making a negative inventory of what life has not given you. Stop complaining about not having a relationship and stop comparing your life with others in a relationship.
The best thing to do is to write a 'gratitude journal' every day, and to ask yourself 'what you can give to life' as gratitude for all you have received. Get out and volunteer to help the needy, the underprivileged, and find ways to put a smile on one person's face every day. Listen and empathise with the struggles of those around you. You will realise that there is a common thread that runs through all of humanity who struggle with the human condition. This will create a solidarity with all humans and you will not feel alone, ever.
Dr. Minnu Bhonsle Ph.D. is a Senior Consulting Psychotherapist and Relationship Counsellor at the Heart to Heart Counselling Centre, Mumbai, and has been working with couples for the last three decades.