How to move on from a broken heart: advice for how to turn our tragedies into triumphs.
The truth about life is that there will always be moments of pain. It’s a fundamental truth that sometimes we wish it didn’t have to happen. Experiencing pain whether from a relationship ending, a job terminating, a death, a traumatic experience, a natural catastrophe, or even just having our expectations or needs not being met, can leave us feeling helpless. Life, as beautiful as it can be, also has sprinkles of tragedies along the way that cannot be avoided. In this article, I offer you a step-by-step approach to not erasing the pain but rather using its experience as a catalyst to create resiliency in your spirit that allows you to live life triumphantly because of it.
When tragedy hits, it’s typically unexpected. We don’t look in our calendar books and choose the day we’re ready to have our hearts broken – if only it was that easy. On those days, we would know exactly what to expect. But as those of us who have experienced heartache know, that’s not how it goes. When we lose a loved one, or our identities are in question after losing our dream job, or are witnesses to people we trust letting us down, it can make us question the nature of our reality. Life no longer looks the same and we are at a loss. We begin to wonder, how do I move on from here? How do I make the pain lessen? How do I believe in the good again? Or more importantly, how do I trust life once more?
Often, we don’t allow ourselves to have the permission slip to feel two experiences at the same time. It is possible for us to feel so devastatingly heartbroken after a loss yet still be able to feel loved, supported, or even experience laughter during that process. The quicker we learn that being a human is a complexity of emotions, the easier it becomes to digest the nature that we are moving through. The point of healing is not to erase or negate the feelings of heartbreak we are feeling, but to honor them. Heartbreak is a profound lesson in love. To grieve is to love. It means that there was something there, something that we wanted to hold on to and now, we must let it go. If we resist the experience of growth through pain, it actually stays there longer. Sure, we might be able to numb it out with distractions or in some cases, substances, but underneath the numbing it will still be there. It is important to know that as human beings we are bread for connection. So you don’t (and shouldn’t) go through this experience alone. Lean on supportive friends, and loving family members, or seek professionals who can walk with you along the way of your new path. Vulnerability isn’t a sign of weakness, it is an act of courage to embrace your true experience of being human.
The second step in transforming our heartache is to interrupt it with a positive coping skill. Sometimes, heartache can be all consuming and we can dwell and stay in that sadness. If we sit in our sorrow though, we miss opportunities to grow and heal. Interruptions can be by meditating, exercising, journaling, writing letters, calling a friend, attending a social activity, therapy, or writing a gratitude list. It may sound silly, but scheduling time in your day to be sad is okay. Don’t ignore it, but also don’t deny yourself opportunities to move forward with healing.
Next and most important, search for the light. Even in the darkest of storms, there can be a light to be found. Identify as many “blessings” (as I like to call them) as you can find. This isn’t to diminish your experience or pain, again, we’re not trying to paint a silver lining over the reality of what is going on, but we don’t want to dwell and allow our pain to be the narrator of our future. Finding gratitude can shift your perspective of fear and lack, to love and abundance. As we expand our awareness of gratitude, the more we have to be grateful for and feel comforted by it. Start small. What’s something you can be grateful for right in this very moment? The key here is to not just intellectually express gratitude but to actually cultivate the feeling of it within. Can you feel gratitude for the little and the big things in your life? This will build resiliency in your spirit to withstand harsh situations because you are a person who has chosen to seek out the good in all things. If you lost someone you love, don’t be afraid to remember them. Don’t be afraid to keep them alive within the home of your heart.
Heartbreak is unique to each person yet incredibly universal; it’s what makes us human. Allow yourself to feel the whole experience, practice coping skills such as journaling or exercise to allow yourself to process, and search for things to be grateful for in life to help motivate you along the way.