10/17/2014 02:28 pm ET Updated Dec 17, 2014

How to Thrive in the Midst of a Breakup

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I remember the first time my heart was broken. I was in the sixth grade. The boy didn't even know I existed. Since then, I've had my heart broken countless times.

Through it all, including two divorces by the time I was 32, I learned a lot. And each breakup hurt less and allowed me to grow more.

Buried in every relationship is a lesson.

Truth is we all go through breakups. Some of us heal faster than others. And even though each situation has different dynamics, fundamentally they are all the same. Bottom line: breakups suck.

Before you can move on, either to a new relationship or a new phase of your current one, you must learn the lesson and rediscover who you are. Here are eight things you must do to thrive and heal in the midst of a breakup.

Find The Silver Lining
What's the lesson? Everything happens for a reason and it's your job to figure out what that lesson is. What did the relationship bring you? What did you get out of it? What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about others? Understanding the role of the relationship will help you move forward and grow. If you never learn the lesson, it will keep repeating itself.

Realize no one is perfect, including you. Take time to reflect on your part. Could you have done things differently? Were things said or done that shouldn't have been? Instead of bashing your ex, take the opportunity to acknowledge what you did wrong so you can make it right next time.

Choose Happiness
Choose happiness over grief, even if you don't feel like it. Banish guilt and blame and focus forward. What's done is done. You can't control or change the past, but you can choose your emotions now. I'm not saying it's going to be easy, but if you want to thrive, you have to commit to happiness and get rid of anything in your life that doesn't align with that.

Love Yourself
Others will love and respect you to the degree you love and respect yourself. If you think negatively about yourself, others will too. You have to be your number one advocate and own the greatness within you. Quit the self-loathing and focus on your amazing qualities instead. Treat yourself as you want others to treat you because, frankly, the only person you have to live with forever is you.

Feel It, Then Let It Go
It's okay to cry, be upset and go through the typical grieving process. The key here is to feel it, then let it go. Don't unpack and stay there. Sometimes, it's easier to play the victim and wallow in your own self-pity. It will get you nowhere and keep you feeling stuck. Attachment is an emotion-based on fear. Rise above the pain and detach.

Forgiveness is the key to moving on and thriving. Get rid of the old junk and release it. There's no sense in carrying around old wounds, old beliefs and past pain. Forgive your ex. Forgive your parents. But most importantly, forgive yourself.

Have Gratitude
Gratitude has literally changed my life and it's a practice I am devoted to. Be grateful for everything. Look around you, look at your life outside of the breakup, look at all your wonderful friends and family, your car, your house, the screen you're reading this on. There is so much in this world to be grateful for, and when you infuse gratitude into your daily routine, dramatic shifts occur.

Get Clear
It's crucial to have a clear vision of what type of relationship you want so you don't get sucked in one that isn't right for you. Examine everything. Who is this person? Who are you? How do you feel when you are with him or her? When you are so sure about what you want, it's hard to settle for less than that.

Understanding these simple but powerful concepts will allow you to either come back to the relationship stronger and happier, or make the courageous choice to leave it and thrive.

Relationships are hard. Breakups are harder. At some point, we all go through it and, eventually, we all get through it. Though it's true time heals all wounds, instead of allowing a breakup to affect you for months, years or even decades, choose to flourish in spite of it.