Is there anything in life that sucks more than a broken heart? I don’t think so.
When my university boyfriend and I ended our four-year relationship a few years ago, it launched me into one of the toughest phases of my life.
We’d been together since I was a bright-eyed 18-year-old, and figuring out who I was outside of our relationship was really scary. The weeks that followed our split were really heavy. Just waking up and making it through the day felt like a challenge.
Constant confusion. Deep sadness. Raw vulnerability.
To climb out of the break-up hole alive, I relied heavily on a piece of advice given to me by my wise friend, Brittany.
In university I lived in a house with six other girls. As you can imagine, boy drama was constant. Every month someone was going through a break-up, a hook-up, or trying to shake a creep.
My ex and I were in the middle of a rough patch and fighting intensely over something so trivial I don’t even remember what it was. I was pissed and being passive aggressive, ignoring his texts and complaining to my roommates that he wasn’t “trying hard enough” to “make it up to me.”
They listened, holding a space for me to vent and release my sadness and frustration. Then Brittany said, “You know, Alex, this might be hard, but think of it as character building.”
Character building? Hmmmmm, I thought… that made sense.
Her advice shifted me right out of my passive aggressive behaviour. Instead of playing the victim card, I began to look at our disagreement as an opportunity to build my character.
I asked, what would the wiser, calmer, more loving version of me do? What type of behaviour would make her proud? And I began to do that.
I stopped sending snarky passive aggressive texts and started opening up about how I really felt. The result? We made it work for three more years.
And when I felt that it was time for us to end things, I did so in a way that was completely in alignment with my values. While it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, I knew it was right. And I made it through my darkest time gracefully and with my dignity in tact.
Yes, it sucked. I cried. I prayed. My heart felt like a ton of bricks.
But the light at the end of that tunnel was glorious. The woman I grew into as a result of that painful experience amazes me even now.
And you know what? That dark period is actually the thing I am most grateful for in my life.
It gave me the balls to move to Africa, the courage to welcome new love into my life and the faith in myself I needed to eventually start my own business.
If we were still together I wouldn’t even be close to the woman I am today.
Relationships are our greatest teachers. They’re like a mirror, shining back to us our greatest strengths and weaknesses.1
Every painful experience holds within it the wisdom you need to grow and evolve into a more complete and loving being. The skills and strength you gain when moving through your darkest moments are what you need to evolve into the next best expression of yourself.
I was inspired to write about my own break-up experience this week because a handful of clients and close friends have been reaching out to me for advice on how to deal with their personal heartbreak.
I shared these six steps with a beautiful soul client this week and hope that you too find them valuable.
The Break-Up Formula: 6 Steps to Healing a Broken Heart
▷ Feel your feelings: The only way to heal pain is to feel it. When we repress our feelings and emotions by ignoring them or numbing them (aka drinking the pain “away”), it doesn’t actually leave, it just gets pushed down, building and intensifying with time until it becomes full blown anxiety/depression. If you feel sad, sit with that sadness for a minute. Feel where it hits you in your body. Notice it. Then breathe into it. Breathe into it until you can feel it becoming lighter. Do this every time you feel pain, sadness, anger – any negative emotion you’d like to pass.
▷ Release: Talk to your family, girlfriends, anyone in your life you trust and feel has your back at a time like this. Don’t bottle up emotions and keep them inside (see above for why!). Instead, release them. Also, I’d definitely recommend getting a journal. Write about how you’re feeling. Release those painful emotions onto a page. When we talk things out, or write things out, we release those thoughts, which often run like a hamster wheel inside our mind, creating mental white space. Free writing (aka just writing what comes out of you) is like free therapy – definitely a practice I recommend if anxiety is something you struggle with.
▷ Shift: When you feel painful emotions/feelings come up feel them, release them, then SHIFT. This means doing something to replace your negative energy with positive energy. What are the things you REALLY LOVE TO DO? Make a list and make a real effort to do them, especially when you’re feeling down. Treat yourself to a nice cappuccino, buy yourself a cute new outfit, go out dancing – moving your body is an AMAZING shifter. When we exercise we release endorphins, which naturally make us happy! We also RELEASE (2for1!) negative energy, stress and toxins.
This might be hard at first, especially when you’re feeling vulnerable and sad, but it’s key. Don’t allow your painful emotions to take over. Feel them, release them, and shift back into a positive state.
▷ Stay in your own game: That means don’t put yourself in the mind of your ex, wonder what he’s thinking, what he’s doing, who he’s with, etc. Focus on transforming yourself into THE most amazing, beautiful, kind, generous, loving, adventurous woman that she can be! And YES, she can be all those things and more. This will be tough at first, but you’ve got to commit. Every time you catch yourself outside your own game, shift back. Bring your mind back to you and your needs. What do YOU need to support yourself? What do YOU need to feel loved? What do YOU need to have fun?
Staying in your own game also applies to taking advice from others. At times like these I’m sure your girlfriends are full of sassy advice, which isn’t necessarily bad, but you gotta do what feels right for you. You’re the expert of your heart. If your friends are saying things like “get over it,” or “you gotta just cut him out” and that doesn’t feel right for you, stay in your own game. Follow YOUR intuition. She’s got your back and is always guiding you. Tune in and listen to what she has to say.
▷ Forgive: This might be a toughie at first, but it’s necessary for real, authentic healing to take place. You’ve got to forgive your ex. This doesn’t have to be a real conversation that takes place between you two. You can forgive someone and never actually speak to them. Forgiveness is an internal shift that takes place inside of you. It frees you from the pain this person/experience has brought you, creating space for positive, loving emotions to come through. Forgiveness is a process and it may take a lot of feeling/releasing/shifting before you get to a place where you’re ready, but you will get there. Happiness is a choice you must make. When you forgive someone who has harmed you, you are CHOOSING YOUR OWN HAPPINESS, because you are no longer letting the pain from that experience weigh you down.
▷ Trust: Getting over someone is a process. It’s hard as shit, but seriously, girl, it’s times like these when you discover the deepest truths about yourself. Trust that the universe has put you in this place, at this time, because it’s exactly where you need to be. The strength, wisdom + compassion you’ll gain by going through this are what you need in order to evolve into the best possible version of yourself. It might not feel like that today, but watch, in a few months you’ll look back on this experience and feel grateful for it. TRUST.
Have you been through a painful break-up? What advice would you give to someone currently going through heartbreak? Share your wisdom in the comments below.