5 Ways Your Mind Deceives You When Your Heart Is Broken

5 Ways Your Mind Deceives You When Your Heart Is Broken
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Hearts can break just as easily as bones. When this happens, your mind often deceives you. It drags you into despair and convinces you to cling to the smallest impossible hopes of reconciliation. However, little by little, your heart resigns itself to reality, and your mind returns to its normal state. That state where, with dignity, we reconcile ourselves to have to go through the mourning process for our broken heart.

The theme of a broken heart is, sadly, a frequent one, but one we never get used to. In the 70s, one of the most successful songs was a Bee Gees number that included the following lyrics. “How can you mend a broken heart? How can you stop the rain from falling down, how can you stop the sun from shining?” We can see a small breath of despair in those words. Words that seem to tell us that the loss of love causes a wound that never heals.

“It’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.”

-Alfred Lord Tennyson-

Something that social psychologists have often pointed out is the fact that people, on average, fear social or emotional pain much more than physical pain. For example, the thought of breaking a bone doesn’t scare us as much as suffering disappointment, being cheated on or an emotional breakdown.

Our bodies know what to do and how to react to a physical injury or infection. However, when a relationship is broken, our bodies and minds experience a complete blockage. Experts tell us that the brain interprets this kind of separation as a type of burn. It experiences emotional pain in the same way as physical pain, but the difference is that we don’t know how to repair the the emotional wound. That’s why our mind, for a time, falls into a mixture of contradictions, false hopes, and meaningless reasoning.

The brain and the broken heart

How does your mind cheat you when you have a broken heart?

Your mind deceives you, albeit unintentionally. It does so because it is wounded, lost and still attached to your broken heart. To a heart that doesn’t know how to deal with rejection very well, or how to say goodbye to a love that was everything to you until just a short time ago. When this happens, we are trapped in a complex network of defense mechanisms that try to deny what happened. And, if as this were not enough, even more sophisticated and adverse processes occur in our brains.

Our brain activates the secondary somatosensory cortex and the posterior dorsal insula. These are the structures which link to physical pain. As we have pointed out earlier, emotional suffering is often experienced in the same way as physical suffering. All of this means that that we cannot think clearly, and that we deceive ourselves. Let’s see now how this process usually works.

When your mind deceives you, it does it unintentionally because it is hurt.

1. I’ve lost the most important person in my life

The emotional pain provokes anguish and the anguish looks for a refuge, for nooks and crannies where it can feed itself in desperation. In this post-rupture stage it is common for harmful thoughts to arise, like “I’ve lost the most important person in my life, the only one who could possibly make me happy”.

Your mind deceives you, in fact it is taking you captive. The most important person in your life is you. Your ex-partner was someone who was important to you for a time in your life that has now ended, and that is something we must accept.

2. I’ve done something wrong, I can change!

Denial is the first part of the battle, and this is where we inevitably clutch at straws. It is common for us to blame ourselves, and to tell ourselves that we have neglected the relationship, that we have done something wrong that can still be repaired.

From there on, we try almost obsessively to convince the other person that we have to try again. Start over with a clean slate, go back to the beginning. Because surely what we had just shouldn’t be thrown away just like that. Yet again, your mind is deceiving you. Your heart is hurting and your good intentions blind you. You just have to accept the cold reality – the other person doesn’t love you anymore, and there is no second part.

Man watching film

3. The obsession to connect and make contact

We live in an era of immediate communication, instant help, and the inability to tolerate frustration of any kind. How can I accept that my beloved no longer sends me messages? How am I supposed to understand that he has blocked me, and that he no longer wants anything to do with me?

Our mind will invent a thousand excuses to explain the silence, the rejection or how long it takes him to reply. Moreover, it will even devise a thousand strategies in order to be able to get one last message to him, or one last desperate request. These destructive dynamics will last until our dignity finally tells us that enough is enough. And that is the moment we’ll take those necessary steps, such as deleting our ex-partner from our list of contacts and social networks.

“Sometimes when a person leaves, the world seems empty”.

4. My life will never be the same again

This statement is true. Our life will indeed no longer be the same again after suffering this emotional breakdown. However, your mind deceives you yet again, as it often whispers to you that you will never be happy again. It’ll tell you that you don’t deserve love again, that you spoil everything you touch, and that you’ll never find anyone else like the one that has just left you. Such thoughts are a form of absurd torture. Of course life will not be the same again. It’ll be different, it’ll be new and it’ll be much better, because we won’t have someone by our side who just didn’t love us. Or maybe he did, but not in the right way.

5. I have to know the reason he stopped loving me

Let’s admit it. Is there ever a clear, objective, and tangible reason why we stop loving someone? Sometimes maybe, but not always. We can become obsessed about it and even despair, but the flame of love sometimes goes out without us really knowing why. There may be other people involved, there may be many little things creating something big. But most of the time breakups can’t be translated into words. In these cases, the only the way forward is acceptance and honesty. Acceptance on our behalf, and honesty from the person who has stopped loving us, who, with bravery, makes it clear to the other person that there is no turning back and no future in the relationship.

Figures of man and woman

To conclude, we know that we can’t always trust our mind when we have a broken heart. However, most of the time the feelings and the reasoning are part of the battle. If we accept what has happened then that will help to bring sanity to the chaos around us. Bit by bit we’ll start to make our way back to the shelter of our own self-esteem. And there we’ll start the delicate, yet essential, task of healing our heart.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.