Tips And Tricks On How To Stop Pining And Start Thriving

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated June 21, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Pining over a lost or unreciprocated love can be an emotionally tumultuous experience, often leading to feelings of low self-esteem and a sense of longing that can cloud daily life. This is often a deeply personal struggle tied to memories and feelings from a past relationship that seems impossible to move beyond. However, this phase of emotional turmoil is completely normal and possible to overcome. Transitioning from this state of yearning to a phase of thriving is not just about forgetting or suppressing these emotions; it’s often about starting a journey of self-improvement and emotional resilience. How to stop pining and start thriving involves a conscious shift in focus from what was lost to the potential for happiness that lies ahead.

To go from pining to thriving, individuals should embrace self-care, foster self-respect, and engage in practices that promote emotional healing and personal development. This transformation can be a powerful opportunity for an individual to rediscover their strengths and capacity for love.
A middle aged man in a blue button down shirt turns towards a window with a cup of coffee while deep in thought.
Getty/Ezra Bailey
Ready to redirect your emotional energy?

Understanding the psychology of pining

Understanding the psychology of pining over someone often requires examining complex emotional attachments and unmet needs. The tendency to pine or obsess over a person who does not reciprocate feelings–often referred to as one-sided love–can often be explained through attachment theory. Forbes explains attachment theory as “a developmental psychology concept [that] proposes that each and every one of us has an attachment style that developed when we were very young. The attachment style that was formed during your early relationship with your primary caregivers, and how they responded to your needs, can play a major role in how you relate to the people around you— namely close friends and romantic partners—as an adult, according to the theory.” When these deep-seated emotional needs are unmet in a relationship, it can lead to an intense longing for the other person, even without mutual feelings.

The impact of pining on mental health can be significant. PiningIt may lead to a cycle of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem as individuals struggle to stop obsessing over what might have been or what they think they lack. Social media has only emphasized the issue, providing a constant window into the life of the person they pine for, which can reinforce feelings of inadequacy and loss.

Cultivating self-love and independence

Cultivating self-love and independence is a transformative journey that can significantly influence one’s ability to stop pining over lost or unrequited love and, more importantly, foster healthier relationships with oneself and others. This process begins with the practice of positive self-talk, a usefulpowerful tool in rewriting the narrative of self-worth and capability. Forbes supports this: “Powerful and positive self-talk can change your entire mindset, which can affect your actions. That, in turn, can have a massive impact on how successful you are on any journey you take or any obstacle you face.” By actively challenging negative thoughts and replacing them with affirmations of strength, value, and resilience, individuals start to view themselves in a more compassionate and loving light. 

Self-care practices play a significantcrucial role in this journey, encompassing a broad spectrum of activities to nurture the body and the mind. Whether engaging in regular physical exercise, adopting a nutritious diet, dedicating time to hobbies, or prioritizing rest, these practices can be fundamental in how individuals view themselves. Additionally, setting personal goals can contribute to a sense of purpose and progress, guiding individuals toward their aspirations and away from the stagnation of pining.   

Independence in personal development is equally important, offering a pathway to self-discovery and confidence. Exploring new hobbies, pursuing further education, or seeking career advancements not only fills the void left by other relationships but also enriches one’s life with new challenges and achievements. These activities provide opportunities to meet new friends and strengthen bonds with existing friends, expanding the support network and fostering a sense of community.

A woman in a blue turtleneck smiles while talking on the phone as she sits at her kitche ntable with her laptop open infront of her.
Getty/Natalia Lebedinskaia

Redirecting emotional energy

Redirecting emotional energy from pining to productive and fulfilling activities is a strategy that can offer hope and healing. When individuals find themselves longing for what might have been, it’s important to remember that this energy can be channeled into pursuits that enrich their lives.

One approach to this redirection is through creative expression. This could manifest as painting, writing, music, or any form of art that allows for the external processing of internal emotions. Creative outlets provide a cathartic means for expressing feelings that might otherwise stay bottled up, transforming them into something personal. Physical activity also offers a dual benefit: it can be an emotional release and improve physical health. Activities like yoga, running, or team sports not only distract the mind but also release endorphins, combating feelings of depression and anxiety. 

Volunteering is another avenue through which emotional energy can be positively redirected. By focusing on helping others, individuals can gain a sense of purpose and fulfillment that pining may have obscured. Whether working at a local shelter, participating in community clean-ups, or any other form of volunteer work, giving back instills a sense of accomplishment and connection to a larger cause.

Learning new skills or pursuing education can shift one’s focus from what didn’t happen to what could be. Whether it’s taking up a new language, enrolling in cooking classes, or studying a subject of interest. These activities foster personal growth and self-improvement. They not only occupy the mind and body but also build self-esteem and confidence as new skills are developed.

The psychological benefits of engaging in activities that align with personal values and interests are immense. They foster a sense of achievement, enhance mood, and ultimately contribute to a more positive self-image. As individuals immerse themselves in these enriching experiences, they gradually find that the energy once consumed by pining is now fueling a more balanced and joyful life. 

The role of support in healing

The role of social support in the healing process is crucial. Friends, family, and community offer social support and comfort during emotional turmoil. Their support can significantly ease the pain of longing for what once was or could never be, providing a sense of belonging and understanding.

Deepening existing relationships is an important step toward harnessing this support. It involves more than just spending time together; it’s also important to open up, share vulnerabilities, and allow those close to offer support and guidance. This can be achieved through regular, meaningful conversations, participating in shared activities that foster closeness, or simply being there for each other in times of need. Choosing to spend time with loved ones not only strengthens bonds but also provides a safety net of emotional support, reminding the person they matter.

For those finding it particularly challenging to move on, support groups and therapy can offer a structured environment where individuals can share their experiences and feelings with others facing similar struggles. These settings provide a unique opportunity for empathy, understanding, and mutual support. Whether in group or individual settings, therapy offers professional guidance to navigate through the complexities of emotional healing, equipping individuals with strategies to cope with their feelings and encouraging personal growth. 

A woman in a yellow shirt stands in her home and  smiles while prunning her indoor plant.
Getty/Lordn
Ready to redirect your emotional energy?

Benefits of online therapy

One major benefit of online therapy platforms like BetterHelp is accessibility, which can be especially relevant to individuals working through the emotional aftermath of pining over a past relationship. For those navigating the process of pining to thrive, the convenience and flexibility of online therapy can make a significant difference. Online therapy allows individuals to seek support from the comfort of their own homes at times that suit their schedules. This ease of access ensures that help is available when individuals need it most, providing an important lifeline as they work toward healing. When trying to move past unreciprocated feelings and foster self-love, the ability to connect with a therapist online can offer personalized guidance tailored to each person’s unique situation, facilitating a smoother transition to healthier relationships.

Effectiveness of online therapy 

In a study focused on enhancing self-esteem and forgiveness post-breakup, a specialized online intervention was designed for young adults grappling with these challenges. Conducted over eight weeks, this program targeted female participants aged 20-25 who exhibited low self-esteem and difficulty in forgiving following romantic separations. Utilizing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approaches based on established self-esteem and forgiveness modules, participants demonstrated notable increases in self-esteem and forgiveness compared to the control group, which showed no significant changes. This evidence shows the effectiveness of online therapy in addressing emotional recovery post-breakup, offering a practical solution in situations where traditional face-to-face support is not feasible. This study highlights online therapy’s potential to facilitate emotional healing and personal development after romantic relationship breakups.

Takeaway

Navigating the emotional landscape from pining over a lost or unreciprocated love to a state of thriving and self-fulfillment is often marked by introspection, self-care, and the support of friends, family, and, potentially, professionals. The effectiveness of online therapy lies in its ability to provide targeted, accessible support tailored to the unique challenges of overcoming such deep-seated emotions. It offers a space to explore feelings, understand the psychology of pining, and develop strategies for moving forward. By integrating these insights and strategies alongside therapy, individuals can find a path to healing that is both effective and empowering. The journey from pining to thriving is deeply personal but universally achievable, with online therapy as a powerful tool in bridging the gap between longing for the past and embracing the future.
Learn to strengthen your mental health
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started