No, You Can’t ‘Just Get Over It’—Here Are 6 Psychologist-Approved Things To Do Instead

Photo: Getty Images / Mario Arango
Even with the most well-intentioned of advice, certain statements just don’t help. For example, the notion of time healing all wounds is nice conceptually, but when you're in the midst of navigating an issue, it likely doesn't feel helpful (and probably feels downright annoying) if someone suggests that you “just get over it.” In fact, doing so as a force of will isn't even possible, according to a psychologist.

“In reality, we can’t just ‘get over it,’ as those feelings do not diminish on command,” says psychologist Sanam Hafeez, PsyD. “You have to work through them, take your time, and remember that everyone copes and manages their emotions differently and on their own time schedule.” This reality is important to know, both on the basis of giving advice and setting realistic goals for yourself in moving forward.

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Why saying “just get over it” isn’t actually helpful

“This common phrase can minimize a person’s struggle by insinuating overreacting [is taking place],” Dr. Hafeez says. Think about it: If you pour your heart out to a friend, and they tell you to just get over it, you'd probably feel disregarded, as if they're not registering your issues as serious or worth their time. This can, in effect, stop you from moving through your emotions and effectively healing because the messaging is that there's no problem to get over. This is, of course not the case.

“This common phrase can minimize a person’s struggle by insinuating overreacting [is taking place].” —Sanam Hafeez, PsyD, psychologist

That said, it's not necessarily coming from a place of malice or an intention to make you feel disregarded. Dr. Hafeez says folks generally aren't trying to minimize what you’re going through. Typically, they’re suggesting you to get over it for two reasons: they care about you and don’t want to see you agonizing over a given situation, or doing so helps them cope with their own stress about what you’re going through. To be sure, they may take on some of the tough emotions that you're navigating on a personal level.

“Intense emotions can be stressful not only for ourselves, but for those around us. As much as they may care about us, people just want to control their stress,” says Dr. Hafeez. And that’s part of what people are doing when they tell someone that they should try “just getting over it.”

Well-intentioned or not, Dr. Hafeez encourages folks who say these words to reconsider their messaging and instead offer other, more actionable tips for proceeding. Keep reading to find her six tips for coping with difficult situations and effectively "getting over it."

6 practical tips for getting over it, according to a psychologist

1. Create an affirmation that will counter the negative thoughts

Affirmations are short statements that can help calm you down and ground you in the present moment. In order to use affirmations as one of many tips for getting over it, you'll want to “talk to yourself in a way that can move you forward rather than keep you stuck,” says Dr. Hafeez.

She suggests a perspective change if you’re having a hard time sorting through your feelings, and apply that as a mantra. “Instead of getting lost in ‘I can’t believe this happened to me!,’ try a more positive [approach], such as, ‘I am now able to find a new path in life—one that is good for me,’” says Dr. Hafeez.

2. Keep your distance—physically and emotionally

This works as an “out of sight, out of mind” tactic to keep worries away about the person or circumstance that has you hung up. Creating physical or even psychological distance between yourself and the person or situation can help you let go,” says Dr. Hafeez. “If you have no reason to think about it, process it, or be reminded of it as much, you will be much happier.”

3. Focus on yourself

According to Dr. Hafeez, it’s crucial to look inward when you’re wondering how you might eventually get over something. “You have to choose to address the hurt you’re going through,” says Dr. Hafeez, adding that letting things bottle up is unideal when you’re trying to move past something, because those feelings will inevitably come to the surface.

If what you’re going through is leaving you drained at the end of each day, Dr. Hafeez suggests a healthy dose of self care—which can take the form of meditating, going for a walk, journaling, setting boundaries, learning how to say no, or doing anything that brings you joy and comfort. “The more we can implement self care into our day-to-day lives, the more empowered we can be from it,” says Dr. Hafeez.

4. Surround yourself with people you love

As far as tips for getting over it, whatever the hardship might be, being around people who care about you is quite powerful. “Allowing ourselves to lean on our loved ones and their support is an excellent way of avoiding isolation and reminding us of the good in our lives,” says Dr. Hafeez.

Going through tough times can often be lonely, so surrounding yourself with people who care about you can be a welcome reminder that you have the support you need to get past this (and anything else, for that matter).

5. Allow yourself to talk about the situation

While you definitely want to create actual and metaphorical distance between you and the root cause of your sadness, it’s key not to avoid talking about it entirely—because that may also lend itself to pent up emotions.

“When dealing with painful feelings or a problematic situation that hurts you, it’s important to allow yourself to talk about it,” says Dr. Hafeez, adding that sometimes shame makes it hard for people to feel they can chat about it.“However, talking it out is essential, and finding [a therapist or friend] who is patient, accepting, and willing to listen can go a long way,” Dr. Hafeez adds.

6. Practice forgiveness

Even if you have yet to receive an apology where one is due, you can still work through your anger and frustrations. You can forgive for yourself, even if you no longer are on speaking terms with someone—and, for your mental health, that's a wise way to proceed.

“Waiting for someone to apologize can stall the process of letting go, and you may have to work on your forgiveness instead,” says Dr. Hafeez. “Forgiveness is vital to the healing process, as it allows you to let go of any anger, sadness, shame, or guilt—or any other feeling you may be experiencing—and begin to move on.”

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