Being brokenhearted sucks.
Even with a broken heart, most of us know intuitively that we are better off, we’ll learn a powerful lesson, and we’ll know better next time. But in the deep night when our chest feels like it has a huge, gaping wound and our guts are tied in knots–all of that knowledge is a sorry source of comfort. Much of my work deals with love and romance and I have seen my share of broken hearts personally and professionally.
One of the worst things about being brokenhearted is feeling like there is NOTHING you can do to help yourself. But there is!
I offer you a hand-picked list of ten ideas to help light your way through that darkness:
1.) Sit with it and feel it.
Breneé Brown has two terrific TED talks on vulnerability and shame. Go listen to them. I’ll wait. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make and I’ve made it myself is to run away from feelings and thoughts that are not pleasant; feelings that might be a little scary or even a lot painful. Don’t run. Heartbreak will only follow you. Before you heal, you’ve got to deal.
2.) Stop the blame train.
“If I hadn’t done that; if he had said this.” On a superficial level, does it matter who has the lion’s share of blame? Maybe.
On a soul level, does it matter? No.
If you start hopping on the blame train try rephrasing it this way, “The next time I am going to focus more on,__________” or, “Right now I want to feel_________.” These are petitions that can actually help you.
3.) You are not an island.
Heartbreak is an underworld adventure for your soul. In our times of heartbreak it may look on the surface like everything is fine while inside we feel dead like a zombie, checked out, departed, and alone. Your journey is yours but you are not an island. Our lives are constantly touching and rubbing against each other. Call on your friends and family for support. Do not make every conversation with them an opportunity to figure out what went wrong or slam your ex. They have lives, too. Ask about them and what they’re dealing with.
4.) Invest in kindness to yourself and others.
Book a massage, get a heart-healing anointing oil, volunteer at a soup kitchen, help a kid learn to read. Heartbreak rides on the fear that you have nothing left to give. Oh yes, you do.
5.) Embrace Beauty
Read good poetry and/or make a space for something beautiful. Fresh flowers, the art museum, your local Waldorf School’s Gift shop. Beauty heals.
6.) Get pissed.
Feeling wronged? Swallowing anger makes us sick. Wallowing in anger is the basis for many Greek tragedies. The trick is to focus your anger. Make it a ritual.
Think: prescribed time, place, opening and closing and then create an activity to help you purge. Burning all your pictures of him, kick-boxing a bag with her face on it, putting an entire garden bed in, just letting yourself yell for half an hour. Let it out so you can let it go.
7.) Admit that it is not all OK
Understand that everything will not be all right for awhile. This is not a failing. This means that you are a living, thinking, breathing creature who gives a damn. Never feel bad for giving a damn.
8.) Revenge = no bueno.
Revenge is motivated by a desire for justice and fairness. The problem is that revenge also blocks out justice and fairness. You are better than that. Do something crafty, like making a salt jar instead.
9.) Treat it like trauma (because it is).
If you had a head injury you would be careful with yourself. You would learn about what might heal and help you. You would not expect too much too soon. Heartbreak is a trauma. Treat it as such. Learn about healing emotional trauma and also about spiritual cleansing.
10.) Accept help.
One time I went hunting with my uncle. It was right after Christmas, about 4:00 in the morning, very dark and very cold. My uncle does not hunt from a blind. He picks a spot and beds down with his dogs. As anyone who has seriously hunted for meat knows, most of hunting is waiting and watching. I saw lots of things in that cold, dark morning. Some were real and some were imagined.
This terrain is similar to what we travel when we experience heartbreak. Dark, a bit alien, unfamiliar but presences make themselves known to us sometimes because we are open in a unique way. Pay attention to what appears. If you need assistance in thinking about that contact a spiritual worker.
Heartbreak is hard, but in a broken heart there is room…for grace.