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How to fix a broken heart | Guy Winch

How to fix a broken heart | Guy Winch


At some point in our lives, almost every one of us
will have our heart broken. My patient Kathy planned her wedding
when she was in middle school. She would meet her future husband by age 27, get engaged a year later and get married a year after that. But when Kathy turned 27,
she didn’t find a husband. She found a lump in her breast. She went through many months
of harsh chemotherapy and painful surgeries, and then just as she was ready
to jump back into the dating world, she found a lump in her other breast and had to do it all over again. Kathy recovered, though, and she was eager to resume
her search for a husband as soon as her eyebrows grew back in. When you’re going
on first dates in New York City, you need to be able to express
a wide range of emotions. (Laughter) Soon afterwards,
she met Rich and fell in love. The relationship was everything
she hoped it would be. Six months later, after a lovely weekend in New England, Rich made reservations
at their favorite romantic restaurant. Kathy knew he was going to propose, and she could barely
contain her excitement. But Rich did not propose
to Kathy that night. He broke up with her. As deeply as he cared
for Kathy — and he did — he simply wasn’t in love. Kathy was shattered. Her heart was truly broken,
and she now faced yet another recovery. But five months after the breakup, Kathy still couldn’t stop
thinking about Rich. Her heart was still very much broken. The question is: Why? Why was this incredibly strong
and determined woman unable to marshal the same
emotional resources that got her through four years
of cancer treatments? Why do so many of us flounder when we’re trying
to recover from heartbreak? Why do the same coping mechanisms that get us through all kinds
of life challenges fail us so miserably
when our heart gets broken? In over 20 years of private practice, I have seen people
of every age and background face every manner of heartbreak, and what I’ve learned is this: when your heart is broken, the same instincts you ordinarily rely on will time and again lead you
down the wrong path. You simply cannot trust
what your mind is telling you. For example, we know from studies
of heartbroken people that having a clear understanding
of why the relationship ended is really important
for our ability to move on. Yet time and again, when we are offered a simple
and honest explanation like the one Rich offered Kathy, we reject it. Heartbreak creates
such dramatic emotional pain, our mind tells us the cause
must be equally dramatic. And that gut instinct is so powerful, it can make even the most reasonable
and measured of us come up with mysteries
and conspiracy theories where none exist. Kathy became convinced
something must have happened during her romantic getaway with Rich that soured him on the relationship, and she became obsessed
with figuring out what that was. And so she spent countless hours going through every minute
of that weekend in her mind, searching her memory for clues
that were not there. Kathy’s mind tricked her
into initiating this wild goose chase. But what compelled her to commit to it
for so many months? Heartbreak is far more insidious
than we realize. There is a reason we keep going
down one rabbit hole after another, even when we know it’s going
to make us feel worse. Brain studies have shown that the withdrawal of romantic love activates the same mechanisms
in our brain that get activated when addicts are withdrawing
from substances like cocaine or opioids. Kathy was going through withdrawal. And since she could not have
the heroin of actually being with Rich, her unconscious mind chose
the methadone of her memories with him. Her instincts told her
she was trying to solve a mystery, but what she was actually doing was getting her fix. This is what makes heartbreak
so difficult to heal. Addicts know they’re addicted. They know when they’re shooting up. But heartbroken people do not. But you do now. And if your heart is broken,
you cannot ignore that. You have to recognize that,
as compelling as the urge is, with every trip down memory lane,
every text you send, every second you spend
stalking your ex on social media, you are just feeding your addiction, deepening your emotional pain and complicating your recovery. Getting over heartbreak is not a journey. It’s a fight, and your reason
is your strongest weapon. There is no breakup explanation
that’s going to feel satisfying. No rationale can take away
the pain you feel. So don’t search for one,
don’t wait for one, just accept the one you were offered
or make up one yourself and then put the question to rest, because you need that closure
to resist the addiction. And you need something else as well: you have to be willing to let go, to accept that it’s over. Otherwise, your mind
will feed on your hope and set you back. Hope can be incredibly destructive
when your heart is broken. Heartbreak is a master manipulator. The ease with which it gets our mind
to do the absolute opposite of what we need in order to recover is remarkable. One of the most common tendencies
we have when our heart is broken is to idealize the person who broke it. We spend hours remembering their smile, how great they made us feel, that time we hiked up the mountain
and made love under the stars. All that does is make our loss
feel more painful. We know that. Yet we still allow our mind to cycle
through one greatest hit after another, like we were being held hostage by our own
passive-aggressive Spotify playlist. (Laughter) Heartbreak will make those thoughts
pop into your mind. And so to avoid idealizing,
you have to balance them out by remembering their frown,
not just their smile, how bad they made you feel, the fact that after the lovemaking,
you got lost coming down the mountain, argued like crazy
and didn’t speak for two days. What I tell my patients
is to compile an exhaustive list of all the ways
the person was wrong for you, all the bad qualities, all the pet peeves, and then keep it on your phone. (Laughter) And once you have your list, you have to use it. When I hear even a hint of idealizing or the faintest whiff
of nostalgia in a session, I go, “Phone, please.” (Laughter) Your mind will try to tell you
they were perfect. But they were not,
and neither was the relationship. And if you want to get over them,
you have to remind yourself of that, frequently. None of us is immune to heartbreak. My patient Miguel was a 56-year-old
senior executive in a software company. Five years after his wife died, he finally felt ready
to start dating again. He soon met Sharon, and a whirlwind romance ensued. They introduced each other
to their adult children after one month, and they moved in together after two. When middle-aged people date,
they don’t mess around. It’s like “Love, Actually”
meets “The Fast and the Furious.” (Laughter) Miguel was happier
than he had been in years. But the night before
their first anniversary, Sharon left him. She had decided to move to the West Coast
to be closer to her children, and she didn’t want
a long-distance relationship. Miguel was totally blindsided
and utterly devastated. He barely functioned at work
for many, many months, and he almost lost his job as a result. Another consequence of heartbreak
is that feeling alone and in pain can significantly impair
our intellectual functioning, especially when performing complex tasks
involving logic and reasoning. It temporarily lowers our IQ. But it wasn’t just the intensity
of Miguel’s grief that confused his employers; it was the duration. Miguel was confused by this as well and really quite embarrassed by it. “What’s wrong with me?”
he asked me in our session. “What adult spends almost a year
getting over a one-year relationship?” Actually, many do. Heartbreak shares all the hallmarks
of traditional loss and grief: insomnia, intrusive thoughts, immune system dysfunction. Forty percent of people experience
clinically measurable depression. Heartbreak is a complex
psychological injury. It impacts us in a multitude of ways. For example, Sharon was both very social and very active. She had dinners at the house every week. She and Miguel went on camping trips
with other couples. Although Miguel was not religious, he accompanied Sharon
to church every Sunday, where he was welcomed
into the congregation. Miguel didn’t just lose his girlfriend; he lost his entire social life, the supportive community
of Sharon’s church. He lost his identity as a couple. Now, Miguel recognized the breakup
had left this huge void in his life, but what he failed to recognize is that it left far more than just one. And that is crucial, not just because it explains
why heartbreak could be so devastating, but because it tells us how to heal. To fix your broken heart, you have to identify these voids
in your life and fill them, and I mean all of them. The voids in your identity: you have to reestablish who you are
and what your life is about. The voids in your social life, the missing activities,
even the empty spaces on the wall where pictures used to hang. But none of that will do any good unless you prevent the mistakes
that can set you back, the unnecessary searches for explanations, idealizing your ex instead of focusing
on how they were wrong for you, indulging thoughts and behaviors
that still give them a starring role in this next chapter of your life when they shouldn’t be an extra. Getting over heartbreak is hard, but if you refuse to be misled
by your mind and you take steps to heal, you can significantly minimize
your suffering. And it won’t just be you
who benefit from that. You’ll be more present with your friends, more engaged with your family, not to mention the billions of dollars
of compromised productivity in the workplace that could be avoided. So if you know someone who is heartbroken, have compassion, because social support has been found
to be important for their recovery. And have patience, because it’s going to take them longer
to move on than you think it should. And if you’re hurting, know this: it’s difficult, it is a battle
within your own mind, and you have to be diligent to win. But you do have weapons. You can fight. And you will heal. Thank you. (Applause)

Comments (100)

  1. That’s what I have to keep telling myself, it’s just chemicals. My brain is going through withdrawals

  2. It's funny that I bump into this when I'm going exactly through that. The worse heartbreak

  3. Well, we had been together for almost 1 year and officially dated 5 months ago. We broke up last Thursday and the reason is that he no longer has feeling for me and he cannot try to love me more. 5 months is not that long but I am still hurt a lot because he was my 1st one and I do a lot of stuff with him. We planned so many things to do together but now, its all gone, in one night. I just feel lost and hopeless and I really miss him. But I guess I still have to move on and the one to blame is him, not me anyway.

  4. Bro, When I break up I want the stalking thing and thinking about that person. That isn‘t bad. You‘re sad in this moment because it was so beautiful. So you are happy sad. I don‘t know how to say this. But I like it man. 🙂

  5. remember life will never throw anything at you that you cant handle ❤️ be strong, you got this.

  6. The biggest heartbreak of my life was 9¹/² months ago. 1st rejection ever!🤧
    I was so obsessed AFTER we broke up.Literally,i didn't realised I Feel nothing for her now. ⌛😎Her loss!

  7. She wasn’t perfect for me, the relationship was alright but it got worse, it dragged on for far too long.. yet I miss her like crazy. F.

  8. We weren't even dating yet I fell so far for her. We talked all the time for a year and all of the sudden it just stopped. Turns out she got a boyfriend and didn't need the attention I offered anymore.
    I was simply her consolation prize. I've been used for things by "friends" before but the fact that she did it has left me empty.

    I don't think I'll ever be full again.

  9. its been 5 years and i still havent moved on

  10. We Russian say : "wedge knocks out with wedge". Love cures with new lover.

  11. it’s the same feeling as if someone died

  12. Я вообще после "Приятного Ильдара"

  13. You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille.

  14. Me and my gf who I was with for over 2 years broke up like a few weeks ago she broke up with me and told me life is not a fairy tale we continue talking a little bit over those past weeks and I always thought that we would get back together but yesterday I find out she is already in a whole other relationship and that absolutely crushed me I haven't been able to sleep or eat since then it absolutely destroying me and am just only 19 I would love to get some advice from someone into he comments on how to deal with this because I honestly can't take this feeling anymore am even thinking about suicide just to get rid of this feeling

  15. What a great speaker

  16. Thank you so much. Now I am open to another relationship and then get heart broken again and the cycle repeats .

  17. Thank you for putting this in my recommended. I'm still getting over a breakup where I had to move away from my girlfriend of almost a year for school. We still loved eachother. Leaving someone I still loved is the most painful thing I've ever felt.

  18. Wow this touched me on another level 👏🏼🙀😿

  19. I’m still stuck after 2 years

  20. She broke up with me around 4 years back after 6 years of relationship and there has not been a single day when I don't miss her, I'm not exaggerating one bit. I've dated people but could never make it work mainly because I was too afraid that they'd leave just like her and I cannot go through another heartbreak in this life time.
    Guess I'm just too afraid to let love walk in now or maybe I'm now in love with just the memory of hers, I wish I could somehow feel complete again because this void that she left, I couldn't fill it in 4 years and somehow I'm just carrying this void with me all the time.

  21. I don't want to fall in love ever again. It sucks what will happen. Nope. Not doing all that again.

    I got hurt 8 months ago (ghosted) by a person I was with for 7 months…I'm done.

  22. I was seeing this guy; met his family and kids. I never thought I would meet his daughter. I was also invited to her 18th birthday dinner. Everything was going great and then that weekend he broke it off. It has been 3 weeks and I am still devastated. This helped a little.. thank you.

  23. After hearing this I don't know if I should be glad that I have never fallen in love and may have a heartbreak, or should I feel lonely because I have no one in my life

  24. I haven't fallen in love but I am having the toughest time in my life. Thesedays it feels like a still bleeding wound in my chest, there is something broken on the inside of me . I tried to make that feeling let go but it stay like a wound in my chest

  25. I need a ted talk on how to get a heart because there’s nothing in me where a heart should be.

  26. My heart has been broken for 2 years

  27. The worst pain I've ever felt happened about 4 or 5 days ago. My ex and I broke up about a month and a half ago, nearly 2 months and I saw her for the first time since the breakup….With her new boyfriend….Now see, I've been trying to take time and work on myself and acknowledge that I need to heal. She started dating him about a week or 2 after our 8 month relationship. Seeing her for the first time completely tore me up inside. I'm just trying to get back on my feet and learn. I want the pain to go away.

  28. It Hurts. Loving Someone for 3Consecutive Years And Tells you about finding someone who she likes liking her Back.Im confused on what I will
    Do, I don’t know if I Should Give Up or Not. She said The man can Wait but I can’t tell whether he is lying or not.The one I like plays an important role on whether she will or will not answer him. I know that she likes him and i know that they will be together if the guy won’t change his mind.
    Please Help me 😥 I really Am Confused

    Edit:Maybe I should Move on But still I will keep it in Mind
    If the guy Hurts her Feelings I will Always be There even
    Though she Made my Heartbreak, I am just near waiting
    For an Answer 😥

  29. I need his hugs so fucking bad

  30. This is confusing me right now because my name is Kathy und i get Methadon becaouse off my Heroin addiction.

  31. Wow. Well put, dude. 🙌🏼

  32. The best explanation EVER !

  33. I called him everyday and he says I do it because I m lonely.
    That broke me .

  34. Hey, I'm only here to learn how to fix hearts might be the wrong video

  35. My heart actually hurts?!? Feel like it's going to break ! What's wrong helppp

  36. I wish all the hope and happiness to all the heartbroken people right here. May you find peace and love in the future. <3

  37. And now imagine a depression that meets a broken heart…

  38. Yes I will heal! Thank you so much!

  39. Watching this because I feel so desperate to fix my heart until I begged God to heal me.

  40. i am broken heart and need help because i have no more reason to live

  41. I’m so hurt right now

  42. I actually messed up… I took her for granted and pushed her away. She finally gave up and found another guy. Now she is happy and I'm commenting on youtube videos about heart break. I'm glad she found love again. I am glad she has her smile again. Glad she is happy again. I'll embrace the heartache and hopefully one day, I'll love again. I'll be loved again.

  43. One answer I couldn't find in this talk is frustration / betrayal. How does one recover from some one who cheated, lied, stole, etc…?

  44. I only know how to cure heartbreak by laughing it off.

  45. i found this right after deciding i needed to heal, now im watching this in tears because he speaks such truth and to know that youre not alone in a situation so cruel really gave me some light, thank you for this video

  46. Heart rate 200 before the video, 60 now. Thank you for calming me down.

  47. Damn Ive watched this 100 times over the past 6 months and I learn something new each time. Thank you <3

  48. GREAT TALK BUT …
    WHATS WITH THE SKIRT ?

  49. Back again. My three year relationship ended last December. Still broken, but getting better

  50. Broken heart is the worst kind of pain

  51. My older ex ended our 9 years relationship just a month ago. Only to know he went to thailand two weeks after he broke off with me. I was totally devastated, cheated on and betrayed. But as i muster the courage to fight off my bruised ego which causing my heart to bleed more, i read all the comments here and feeling all the various emotions/struggles from all of you, it somehow uplifted me to read that i am not alone, that all good people are hurt in the end, that in this videoTed explained point by point why i am so hurt and how to fight it off. To all of us hurting here, may we find the daily strength to carry on and remember that we deserve better. Thanks Ted! Love and light to all!

  52. This video made me think of my ex-girlfriend…

  53. "I still believe that a human being does not die at once.

    but in a way, we die in pieces;

    whenever a friend departs,
    a piece dies.

    and whenever a lover leaves,
    a piece dies.

    and whenever a dream of our dreams is killed,
    a piece dies.

    then finally,
    the greater death arrives, only to see all our pieces long dead, so he picks them up and departs."

    Gibran Khalil Gibran

  54. Came for the insight, stayed for the healing tears

  55. @4:10 jus befo fo twenty tha opposite sentiment (of pain_loss at the beginning) be true point of the setup, same high in the following portion of content post the titular reference to the rather§äď provoking thought provoking word choice… lots intimacy

  56. I had a boyfriend, in fact he just broke up with me yesterday; who I was in love with. Nobody really liked him like I did and same with me so I felt special, and anyways all throughout school he told me he always kinda had a crush on me. Yesterday is when he decided he was going to break up with me and his reasoning was, and I quote: “I don’t love you anymore.” (He has been out for five days and I couldn’t see him because he was sick.) “Those five days I didn’t see you I didn’t miss you” while I was begging that he would show up. I cried myself to sleep yesterday and I’m crying while writing this, it hurts so much. Telling me you don’t love me is the most heartless thing you could say to me. I hope nobody ever has to experience my pain and I don’t wanna lose him but at the same time I’m kinda pissed at him, if any of you have some advice that wasn’t said in here please let me know, I would appreciate it. It hurts, I don’t wanna cry anymore.

  57. i find myself reminiscing & idealizing all the time i think mostly due to all the voids in my life & having way too much free time but this definitely confirms what i already know & gives me a little hope for once in a longgggg time like maybe i’ll get through it, the hardest part is being such a prideful person & not want to even admit to myself much less anyone else how much of a tole this has taken on me even though i don’t directly think about this person everyday but i’ve been having a hard time filling the voids in my social life specifically just bc i’m so used to being closed off now, i hope i can really begin a mindset now though of moving on & building a life i kind of finally feel like i’m ready to go after certain goals i found really intimidating before ! love & positivity to anyone else fighting this brutal war with ur mind rose quartz is great for healing & letting go especially pertaining to romantic relationships!

  58. My heart has felt so devastated several times. I really have felt alone. I honestly think people do not understand how deeply I have been hurt. I have always been a good guy, and that has gotten me pain, profound heavy pain. I am about to change and just not put my heart into things. I think it is time for me to be cold inside and a bit of a liar. Help.

  59. I still want him and all his imperfections…oh why is this confusing….

  60. I'm sick of the whole thing, too. You try to bring two people together and what do you get? Heartaches!

  61. It's been two months im trying very hard to get the girl im in love with but 5 hours ago finally I've gave up i realize she will never be mine she's too good for me

  62. I know this voice! He read some of the Harry Potter books online…

  63. How do you get over a breakup without closure and then you see them everyday, trying to figure out what happened? Can anyone give advice or help

  64. The hardest part isn’t thinking “I’ll never find someone like her again,” it’s “I’ll never find HER again”

  65. I’m in year 10 and heartbroken from a nearly 2 and a half year relationship. They said they didn’t have romantic feelings for me anymore. That was it. We don’t speak. We have some of the same friends though which is difficult. It’s been just 3 months and I need advice on how to move on. Help?

  66. I’m in year 10 and heartbroken from a nearly 2 and a half year relationship. They said they didn’t have romantic feelings for me anymore. That was it. We don’t speak. We have some of the same friends though which is difficult. It’s been just 3 months and I need advice on how to move on. Help?

  67. My mother will be thankful to you sir,for saving her son

  68. This guy made me laugh even with a broken heart.

  69. im heart broken over someone who was never mine.

  70. Brilliant 👏I so needed to hear this

  71. 5:50 hits. idk how tho

  72. anyone else crying in the club rn?

  73. I put my whole soul into someone and broke all connection with my friends and moved away from my family about 45 minutes away in another town, I did whatever he wanted everyday, we fought all the time, I wasn’t perfect and I had my problems but I still loved him, I moved out after he kept calling me names constantly and we said we’d work things out, my grandma ended up passing away right after, and in the midst of all of that, he was getting wasted with his friends, purposely ignoring me, hanging out with bunches of people, not caring about me, i finally got fed up and drove to find him, he was there with two girls and his friend sitting in his car, we started arguing and I hit him a few times and threw one of the girls on the ground, I’ve never done anything like that in my life, now he tells me that he thinks I’m a bad person that is psychotic, and I know what I did was wrong, but when you love someone that much and all of these things are happening, you lose yourself, after all I’ve done for him, and all that he’s done to me, I’m still begging him to take me back, and it’s the worst feeling in the world and I hate it

  74. Was I in love with him, or was I emotionally abused until I felt insane and felt I couldn’t live without him

  75. Amazingly Accurate

  76. I’d do anything for her.. and it’s been 3 years

  77. I love this ted talk. It really is helping me with my break up. He is so spot on. I really needed this thank you!

  78. Jesus need to get over my heart break it’s so hard tho I love my ex still it’s hard to forget about good times you have

  79. Best vid on the tube ❌ 🧢

  80. Don’t get involved with hypergamous selfish ungrateful Women. MGTOW

  81. The fact that idk what just happened but this is the most accurate thing ive ever heard

  82. He broke up with me over a week ago for another woman I got fired from work and am failing school because he did it during midterms week. This pain in my chest doesn’t go away and I can’t stop panic attacks. Idk what to do anymore 🙁

  83. one of the best speakers

  84. Those hopes that he might look for you, all of that needs to go. Thank you for this! I really needed this for my story.

  85. "Imagine we treated broken hearts with the same respect and concern we have for broken arms." Guy urges us to rethink the way we deal with emotional pain, offering warm, wise, and witty advice for the broken-hearted. Our hearts might be broken, we do not have to break with them. We can take control of our lives and our minds and put ourselves on the path of healing. This book (with superb illustrations by Henn Kim) published by TED Books, offers a 'toolkit' for how to handle and cope with a broken heart and how to – eventually – move on.

    There are four (4) chapters in this book, and I include some of my favorite quotes for each chapter… To read my simple review of Dr. Guy Winch's How to Fix A Broken Heart (2018), CLICK HERE: https://www.richardangelus.me/2018/11/how-to-fix-broken-heart-2018-by-dr-guy.html?m=1

  86. I need this right now. Just broke up with my ex after 5 years in about 5 minutes yesterday. No real explanation or anything and I was left feeling hopeless. No way out. There’s no way on earth to describe the feeling

  87. Holy smokes that was deep! Wow

  88. Damn I really apprecaite this video a ton. You are right sir, I have been here before and i will get through it again! It does hurt but time will heal and I will be strong

  89. I don’t have problem with that, but what makes me unhappy is that I will never find anyone specially when I am gay. People are just becaming so stupid with ignoring me they just look at me and say(i can see it in their eyes)”that prsone is different” I will not tuch that gay person!. Even though, they see what i am capable of, and what I am offering to them is so much of goodness. But they just don’t care.

  90. What’s worst is knowing you could of done more. It was my fault I got obsessed with job trying to build us a “better” future that I forgot to do all those little things she loved very much. The money started flowing in and I kept buying her things instead of doing things. I lost who I was she feel in love with. I could see the hurt in her eyes. I was stupid and let her go but I a couple months later she’s happy now. I still love her but the best thing I can do is let her be happy. I now hate my job and rather find love again. I want my broken heart to recover. It’s a miserable dark place to be. I don’t wish this on anyone. If you have someone special do all those special little things they love. You’ll thank me.

  91. That person screaming in the end was me.

  92. I cannot tell how empathic he is . His speech is very knowledgeful and insightful.

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