Dealing With Heartbreak? Train Your Brain

Fagjun | Published 2017-06-12 07:48

Dealing with heartbreak is hard enough without compounding it with doing things we'll later regret. Brain training won't ease the pain of heartbreak, but it'll stop us from sending an ill-advised drunk text at two in the morning.

Love may lift us up where we belong and all that, but it can also be quite painful. Unrequited love is even more so. As if pain isn't enough, love can also apparently make us act impulsively toward the object of our affections. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's almost always a bad thing when it comes to ex-partners. In this case, our reaction may not be the best.

We get a lot of advice on dealing with heartbreak. The advice here, however, is likely more scientific than others. This advice allows us to deal with our feelings and actions right at the source—our brains. All it takes is brain training to make sure that we deal with heartbreak in the most dignified way possible.

Dealing With Heartbreak the Brain Training Way

The neuroscience of dealing with the end of a relationship

It's all about self-control. Several pieces of relationship advice often encourage us to have some degree of self-discipline and self-control in order to effectively deal with relationship problems. The end of relationships isn't any different.

Barbara Sahakian, professor of clinical neuropsychology at Cambridge University, is exploring the possibility of a training exercise for the heartbroken. This exercise is a computerized test that can make people's self-control stronger. It's also quite simple. Participants just have to press a button as a response to arrows flashing on a screen. When a buzzer goes off, participants have to stop pressing the button.

Sahakian's brain training program actually originated as a program that reduces impulsive behavior in people with mental health disorders. She figured that the program might also work in reducing impulsiveness in people dealing with heartbreak. The program trains the brain's prefrontal cortex, enabling it to exert more control.

The prefrontal cortex plays a role in decision making and social behavior, among a number of other things. Heartbreak itself involves the amygdala and limbic parts of the brain, but the prefrontal cortex is what stops us from losing to our emotions.

Avoid Wallowing

Mending your heart isn't easy, but the first step is to stop wallowing.

Coping with heartbreak is difficult because we keep expecting the emotional reward of loving someone we are no longer with. This can make us emotional, which can in turn make us do stupid things. We may make embarrassing declarations of love, we may beg plead for our ex to take us back, and we may write extremely bad poetry and actually let others read it.

Thus, the brain training program seeks to strengthen impulse control the same way we go to the gym to become physically stronger. Of course, brain training requires the same kind of commitment as physical training. Sahakian claims that eight hours a month of brain training may be enough.

But does the brain training program work? For now, it all seems to be theoretical. So if you're looking for the most effective ways of dealing with heartbreak, Sahakian suggests getting out of the house and distracting yourself from thoughts of your ex. This can stop you from doing something you may regret or push an ex-partner even farther away.

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