We’ve all experienced it at some point– the pain of a lost love lingering like a subtle poison.

Letting go of someone you truly love is one of the most difficult things in the world. Unfortunately, sometimes…it’s necessary.

Since the pain you experience from letting go of someone you love can stop you right in your tracks, you need to take action now if you hope to move forward with your life and find happiness elsewhere.

Sometimes, you know what happened. Other times, you feel as though things slowly slipped away from you and you can’t quite pinpoint any one cause. But in any case, you’ve decided it’s time to let them go and move on.

Let’s talk about how to do that.

Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.

– Hermann Hesse

1. Cut contact

Before you do anything, and I mean anything else, you need to cut contact with the person. This is less a step and more of a critically important prerequisite.

You’ll never be able to heal if you keep the person who hurt you so close at hand. Remove phone numbers, discard contact information, pictures, and anything else directly connected with them.

You’re not erasing your memory, just removing your ability to potentially contact that person the next time you’re in a moment of weakness and might think of reaching out.

2. Be with what you’re feeling

Possibly the worst thing you can do is to ignore what you’re feeling and start looking for means to either bottle those feelings down or hide from them. The longer you do this, the worse you’ll get, so you need to take an entirely different approach if you hope to heal this wound.

Face the pain head on and don’t run from it. Allow yourself to simply be with whatever you’re feeling, even if it’s uncomfortable. Over time, the mind has a way of settling itself if you allow it to focus in on the pain.

3. Stop fantasizing

Next, stop fantasizing. As you begin to experience the gradual process of internal healing and reflect on past memories, you’ll be motivated to fantasize that maybe, just maybe, they’ll change. Maybe things could work out this time, if such and such was different. Things won’t workout — and they won’t change.

This process is your brain trying to keep you away from the pain again. Be present for these feelings so that you maintain clarity. But it’s important to then give yourself a reality check and remember that this is a natural part of the process of healing.

It’s the same thing as binge-drinking after a breakup or some other loss. You’re not really healing, just attempting to put a band-aid over the issue. Eventually, that band-aid will come off. And, when it does, it’s going to hurt like hell. The only way to heal is to be with what is (reality) and move on, so stop fantasizing.

4. Practice forgivenessTo live in the present, you must let go of your past and pain

Now is when you really begin to dig deep and get to the heart of the issue. Whatever happened has left an internal wound that needs to be sewn up. And, to do that, you need to practice forgiveness.

It’s not always the other person’s fault. Sometimes it’s our own. Whatever the case, you need to either practice visualizing the other person and repeating a simple mantra such as “I forgive you. My pain is my own” or imagine yourself apologizing and searching for those feelings of sincerity within you. When you can recognize this, the process has started working.

Depending on what happened, it will take time to heal. However, in every case, if you invest the time to be with yourself, listening to what goes within you and being kind and compassionate with yourself, you’ll heal the wound.

5. Understand the grieving process

Much like the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship is a loss and with loss comes grief. Denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are all normal stages of the process and it’s important to remember that everyone grieves differently.

6. Reach out for support

While it’s normal to have a tendency to isolate yourself following a breakup, it’s important you not experience it alone. You may not want to start having to explain your breakup to everyone quite yet but make sure to reach out to at least one person that you know you can count on for support.

7. Take all the time you need

Just like grieving, healing is a process. Give it time to run its course. Take it one day at a time and learn to manage expectations to avoid setting yourself up for disappointment. Allow yourself to fully experience the loss because the truth is there are no quick fixes.

8. Ask yourself what you’re really looking for in a relationship

Take a pause to imagine what your ideal relationship might look like. Evaluate what went wrong in your previous relationship, what worked and it will give you a better picture what you have to look forward to in the future.

9. Practice gratitude

Start your day with it. Remind yourself, every day, of all the other, often overlooked, wonderful things you have going on in your life. Be grateful for what the relationship has taught you, the good times you shared and that you’re one step closer to finding the right partner for you.

10. Love yourself  and increase self-care

It’s tempting to blame ourselves for the way things turned out but self-blame only postpones the recovery process. Instead of beating yourself up, practice self-love. One way you can be more loving towards yourself is by acknowledging your role in what went wrong in the relationship while reminding yourself that there were 2 of you involved, and you both contributed to what happened, in your own way.

11. Go out there and live

Now that you’ve created a nourishing foundation you can use to heal internally, once you feel ready it’s important to get out and into the world and start living.

Get to work, pursue a passion, meet new people, or go on an adventure. Whatever it is, start creating new experiences, memories, and connections to replace the old memories. The more you do this, the easier it will be to move on.