4 Ways I Released Deep Emotional Pain After A Breakup

mbg Contributor By Michelle D'Avella
mbg Contributor
Michelle D’Avella is a breathwork teacher and the founder of Pushing Beauty, where she shares breathwork techniques and writings focused on healing from pain. She is the author of The Bright Side of A Broken Heart and her work has been featured on Forbes, W Magazine, and The Huffington Post.
Expert review by Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW
AEDP Certified Psychotherapist
Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW, is a certified psychoanalyst, AEDP certified psychotherapist and supervisor, and licensed clinical social worker. She is author of the award-winning self-help book 'It’s Not Always Depression.'
Woman Rubbing Shoulder Looking Stressed

Image by Lucas Ottone / `

It was one of those breakups you don't see coming, the kind of heartbreak you never thought could happen to you. But it happened to me, and I lost myself for a while. I was in a lot of pain and I wanted nothing more than to get rid of it.

I'd heard experts say time and time again that the only way to move through pain is to face it head-on, not run away from it. But my natural tendency was to avoid the pain—to get as far away from it as possible by pushing it aside or looking for ways to go numb. The problem with those approaches was that they only created bigger problems in the form of stress, anxiety, and emotional stagnation over time.

Only by staring my pain right in the face could I find the richness, beauty, and joy that came with true freedom. These steps were fundamental in helping me process my pain, release it, and ultimately transform it into love:

1. I was present with my feelings.

When you feel an emotion coming on—whether it's worthlessness, resentment, emptiness, shame, or loneliness—feel it completely. To feel your emotions means to allow them to arise in the body and notice the sensations that occur. Don't manipulate or try to control them. Allow yourself to be present and observe them.

It's important not to shame yourself for any feeling that comes up, no matter what it is. Anything goes. Treat yourself like you're your own child. Tell yourself everything is OK. Tell yourself that you're there. This might seem weird, but the love we have for ourselves can be our greatest tool for healing emotional pain.

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2. I breathed into my heart.

I teach breathwork because it's a transformative practice for healing and practicing self-love. There are a variety of ways to breathe that encourage healing. One of the simplest techniques is to lie on the ground and breathe long, slow inhalations and exhalations into the heart. Breathing gently through your nose and into your heart can help open the heart chakra, which is often blocked when you're going through emotional pain. Breathe this way for 5 to 10 minutes to start, continuing for longer if you like.

Again, pay attention to any emotions that arise and allow them to surface without judgment. You might feel sadness and the need to cry. Don't hold anything in.

3. I screamed into a pillow.

Using the voice to release emotion is really cathartic. It helps propel stuck energy out of our bodies and leaves us in a more peaceful state. Some people repress anger for a lifetime because they've been taught it's wrong or bad to feel anger. It isn't. Even if you don't feel angry, screaming can be a great energetic release.

So, grab a pillow, stuff your face into it, and scream until you feel like you're done. If you find yourself needing to cry, let it out. You might feel a sudden burst of happiness or giddiness and want to start laughing. Whatever you feel, just go with it.

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4. I moved my body.

Our bodies need movement. Try playing an upbeat song you love and letting your body move however it wants to move. See if you end up getting lost in the song. You might just find yourself experiencing a little joy.

Sometimes we're in so much emotional pain that dancing just doesn't feel possible. In those cases, getting outside and taking a walk can help lift your mood enough to make a huge difference in your day. Try some gentle yoga or a walk in nature.

Remember that our society teaches us to avoid emotions with mantras like 'emotions are weak' and 'you should just get over it,' so leaning into them will be harder than avoiding them. Do them anyway. Try just one. You'll notice a difference in how you feel, and that will be your incentive to keep going. You will be showing up for yourself, you will be giving yourself love, and you will be healing on your own terms.

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