Stoic Philosophy Can Help You Recover From Breakups

A breakup is never the end of your identity; it's only the end of a chapter in your life. Click To Tweet

When a relationship ends, you feel like the world you’ve known for so long has come to an end. The future becomes unclear. Your once-energizing, life-affirming values seem to lose their meaning.

Most of us would feel that way after splitting up. To help you cope with that difficult period in your life, you can turn to the way of the Stoics.

The Stoics knew what it meant to be in love. They also knew what it felt like to fall out of love and how to move on with one’s life after a breakup. Stoicism is a practical philosophy that helps you deal with the negative emotions and thoughts that come with a breakup, as well as improve your overall happiness.

Stoicism originated in Athens during the Hellenistic times—the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander and the start of the Roman Empire. The fact that it has lasted for 2000 years and is still thriving is quite remarkable.

Stoicism got its name from the Greek word “stoa,” which means “porch.” It was a porch in a marketplace where Zeno first started teaching it. His followers came to be called Stoics. To them, practicing the four virtues was the most complete way to find glory and status.

Stoicism for Breakups

How Can Stoicism Help Recover From A Breakup

Stoic philosophy has helped people recover from breakups, separation anxiety, and even the loss of a loved one.

To those who practiced it, it was an effective strategy to cope with the stressful Hellenistic period of constant wars. Stoicism was always a way of life, rather than a subject of discussion among the hallowed ranks.

Stoicism taught people how to find equilibrium and tranquility in the midst of tragedy.

Stoicism showed how they could achieve tranquility, a mental state free from emotional pain, confusion, and melancholy. Gradually, its principles evolved into popular strategies to help people thrive in the face of severe adversities.

Stoic Strategies To Handle And Heal From A Breakup

The Stoic way to go about a breakup is to acknowledge and accept the situation, remember the good times you had together, change your perspective about it and move on with your life, with no grudge or regret.

See also  Self-Fulfilling Prophecy In Mythology: Pygmalion & Oedipus

A breakup is an intensely painful and unpleasant experience.

For many, breakups are the worst thing that could happen to them because it shatters the whole identity they built around that relationship. For some, unforeseen breakups bring in dark days of melancholy and aloofness. No matter how long they take to process the situation alone, the negative emotions do not subside.

The Stoics, as against the commonly held flawed belief, are not expressionless, emotionless people. They are perfectly capable of feeling the entire range of human emotions, without suppressing any of them.

There are many different ways to react and respond to a relationship breakup. However, some of the most successful Stoic strategies to handle a breakup involve:

How To Be A Modern Stoic In These Chaotic Times?

1. Change your perspective about the event

Breakups can leave us feeling helpless and hopeless.

The Stoics knew that people are innately eager to move on from difficult situations in order to avoid the pain of it. However, to do so successfully, they discovered, the suffering person must not run away from the situation but embrace what has happened.

One of the most prescribed ways to move on with your life after a breakup is by allowing yourself to feel what your emotions want you to feel. If you feel frustrated and despondent, as it reminds you of what you lost, then you must let yourself feel so.

Some things are rushing into existence, others out of it. Some of what now exists is already gone. Change and flux constantly remake the world, just as the incessant progression of time remakes eternity. — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

A breakup of a long-term relationship may make us believe that we’re never going to be able to move on from this pain. But if we change our perspective, and allow us to feel the joys of life again, we may see the opportunity for a new relationship as time passes.

2. Make sure that you do not keep focusing on the past

It is human nature to think back on what we have done and ponder about what we could have done. It stops you from being able to progress from where you were at the time of the breakup.

The Stoics knew an excellent method to get over the past: Mindfulness—a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. They practiced mindfulness meditation to refocus on the present rather than remaining tethered to the painful past.

Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Sometimes we may not even realize we are doing it, but we see the present and the future through the lens of past tragedies.

See also  How To Be Happy Again After A Breakup: 10 Helpful Pointers

However, if you make a conscious effort and keep focusing on the present, as the Stoics did, you will be able to move forward. This is what will help you grow as a person.

Make time for yourself and your friends and family

One of the best strategies to handle a breakup is to take care of yourself (self-care).

Focus on your mental and physical well-being because having a clear mind helps you think more clearly about your situation. It also helps you maintain your emotional stability, which then allows you to move on with life at a faster pace than if you focus on self-torment.

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature. – Marcus Aurelius

There are many ways to take care of your mental and physical health and here are some of the best ways to show yourself some self-care: Writing, journaling, laughter, exercise, meditation, learning new things, watching movies and shows, socializing.

Try each and spend time figuring out what works best for you.

Find out what is The Stoic Triangle of Happiness.

Take it as just one chapter of your life

Breakups are hard, but they’re just one chapter in your life. You can’t predict how you’re going to feel after a breakup, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling angry, sad or guilty, for a while.

But you must remember that a breakup is not the end of your life, and there will be more chapters ahead.

Powered by TinyLetter

Joy comes to us from those whom we love, even when they are absent. – Seneca

Sometimes relationships don’t work out because one person is not right for the other. This can be a heartbreaking experience, but it’s important to keep in mind that it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of loneliness and misery.

It doesn’t matter how long you were together or what the circumstances of your breakup were; while it may take some time, eventually things will get better, and you will be able to overcome this difficult period.

Focus on what you can control, don’t dwell on things that you cannot.

No one can control the external world, but you can control how you react to it. It’s not worth wasting time on things that are outside your control.

See also  10 Health Benefits of A Good Night's Sleep, From Science

The breakup was outside your control, even if you had made zero contribution toward it or never saw it coming. So, let go of it as it is something already out of your hands.. Release the person from your life. Detach yourself from the feelings of turmoil associated with the event.

Instead, the Stoics say, learn how to focus on what you can control.

Love the hand that fate deals you and play it as your own, for what could be more fitting? – Marcus Aurelius

You can’t control everything in your life – but you can focus on what you can control, like your opinions, judgments, and actions. Controlling them is the most important aspect of controlling life beyond a breakup.

Stoicism also asks us to be grateful for all that we have, something that modern science calls savoring. It is something under our control.

When we are being grateful for our blessings, no matter what life throws at us, it can help us heal from the trauma of a relationship loss.

Final Words

The Stoics did not focus on pleasure – that’s something the Epicureans did. Instead, Stoicism taught that a person must be content with what fate delivers them without fighting against it (amor fati).

When a person exits a relationship asking us to never contact them again, we should accept that fate. If we try to drag them back​ after they have moved out, we could be setting ourselves up for a life of regret and resentment.

A parting of the ways in a long-treasured relationship can leave you feeling rudderless and powerless. However, following what the Stoics teach, you can recover from the dark phase of your life after a breakup.

Stoicism teaches self-control, mindfulness of the present moment, improving your way of thinking and acting, and moving on with life after emotional setbacks.

With Stoicism, you could learn to focus on being content with what you have, and not despair for what you have lost.

• • •

How To Practice Stoicism: 18 Stoic Exercises For Modern Life

• • •

Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental health, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism)

Our Happiness Story!

If you enjoyed this, please share it on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn.