You might be plagued by memories of your former love, and these thoughts taint your day-to-day to the point that you can’t focus. Or perhaps things aren’t as bad as that, but you still find yourself comparing every new romantic interest to your old flame.

No matter what happened between you and your ex, emotional baggage is real. It isn’t a sign of weakness, and it’s not a character flaw. It’s the natural result of having split from someone who had a huge impact on your life—positive or negative. So if you’re struggling to move on, today I’m exploring 5 ways to leave that baggage at the door and enter the cozy warmth of a bright new future for yourself, your wellbeing, and your love life.

1. Learn from the past

Reflect on your experiences with your ex. What went wrong—and indeed, what went right? As you do, you’ll grow stronger and wiser, more self-assured, more confident in what you want, need, and deserve. Look out for telltale signs that a new romantic interest has the same deleterious traits that led to the downfall of your last relationship. And adopt a more stoic perspective on your past. That way you can begin laying the foundations for a sturdier and more secure future, in which you only let in people who meet your stringent criteria, who you feel you can genuinely trust.

2. Take a mindful approach to your sadness

We can’t have the highs without the lows, the joy without the melancholy, the love without the heartache. Opening yourself up to love means you open yourself up to hurt—it’s the risk every one of us takes in the search for The One. And when the pain comes, as it may well do, then yeah, it’s bad as hell. But hard as it is, try to observe your pain. Let it wash over you and fizzle out briefly, then wait for the next wave to come. In time, the tide will turn in your favor, and you’ll be left in the sun, tired, weak-kneed, and panting—but with a whole new level of understanding about love, life, and yourself.

3. Do not talk to your ex

I repeat: Do not talk to your ex. Delete their number—block it entirely if it helps. Do the same on social media. Unable to see what they’re up to or communicate with them (whether or not that communication is reciprocated), you’ll start to think about other things again, perhaps even other people. And yes, I know that’s hard to believe right now—but it works. Think of it as an intervention, an intervention on yourself. Because there’s no “moderating” when it comes to checking their Instagram or texting a weekly essay expressing your grief. Cut. Them. Out. The distance forces you to forget—and forget is what you need to do.

4. Get therapized

Everyone benefits from therapy—it’s that simple. So if you feel you can’t do this alone but can’t open up to family and friends either, call up a professional. A therapist is objective, nonjudgmental, and totally apart from the situation. Think of them as the conduit through which you channel your emotions, to then process and understand on the other side. A therapist isn’t there to take sides—not even your side. Because in this process of self-discovery, you may conclude that you as well as your ex were partly to blame for the breakup. And that’s okay, because we all make mistakes. It’s what we do with that self-understanding that matters—and that’s why the services of a therapist are invaluable.

5. Remember that not everything is meant to last—and that’s okay

We sometimes struggle to move on from a relationship because we never wanted it to end. Or perhaps we actually did want it to end, but now we’re putting on the old rose-tinted specs to reminisce about the good times. But you know what? Some things in life just have an expiry date. Put it this way: Didn’t you think your first proper relationship was the one that was meant to be? And remember how devastated you were when it ended, only to then be swept off your feet by someone even better? It might well be the case again here.

With every relationship we learn more about ourselves, who we are, and what we need from love, romance, and intimacy. So embrace the sadness, because it means you gave the relationship your all. It means you have so much love to give—and someone, somewhere, will see you for the gem you truly are. And if you need a little nudge in the right direction, well hey there friend—you’ve come to the right place.

Maclynn is a boutique, multi-award-winning introductions agency with offices in New York, New Jersey, California, and London. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles within our vast network of attractive, intelligent professionals, and our matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right. Get in touch today, and prepare for genuinely meaningful dating—just like you deserve.