Getting dumped is depressing, but it’s even more heartbreaking to move on when you still find yourself—eep!—in love with your ex.
So, what do you do to finally let go? Well, obviously, your pals will have some advice to give you. They’ll tell you to get drunk. You’ll also hear that there’s still someone out there for you, which might be true. Others will coax you into joining Tinder (good luck with that).
But if you’re sick of these ineffective recommendations and you want a surefire way to get over a breakup, a group opf researchers have found the perfect strategy: fake it till you make it.
Professor of psychology and neuroscience, Tor D. Wager, explains in a statement that “just the fact that you are doing something for yourself and engaging in something that gives you hope may have an impact.”
They came to this conclusion after putting 40 volunteers, who had recently been through an “unwanted romantic breakup,” through a series of tests.
Participants were asked to bring a photo of their ex and a friend of the same gender to a brain imaging lab. First, to confirm whether emotional pain is real, they were shown the photos and asked to recall the break up. Then, they were subjected to a hot stimulus on their left arm to simulate physical pain.
Researchers discovered that the regions of the brain that lit up while experiencing physical and emotional pain were similar.
“Know that your pain is real—neurochemically real,” Wager says.
Next, all participants were given a nasal spray. Some were told it was a “powerful analgesic effective in reducing emotional pain” while others knew it was just bogus.
When tests were repeated, people who thought they had a special spray experienced less emotional and physical pain.
“These findings suggest that placebo treatments reduce emotional distress by altering affective representations in frontal-brainstem systems,” he notes.
The bottom line? What you’re feeling right now is real. But you can trick yourself into believing you’re okay and soon enough you will be!