We have all been through various levels and stages of heartbreak. The tinge of rejection. The wham of disappointment. The knife of betrayal. Heartbreak is a feeling of sadness and heartache in response to life’s most normal and yet painful experiences. Akin to grief and loss, heartbreak can be felt in the body. It can be intense, emotionally draining, and overwhelming at times. The question is not if but when you will face heartbreak. And how we to respond to heartbreak determines if we prolong our suffering or handle it with grace and care. In this article, we will explore How to Handle Heartbreak with 7 Ways to Love Yourself Through It.
Heartbreak or heartache are like any other emotion. They are temporary. However, like grief or loss, heartache can be an ongoing emotional experience. It may come in waves or it may be a one time occurrence. When faced with this pain, it may be difficult not to just shut down or seek to numb out. After all, we are human, and we don’t like pain. However, the act of disconnecting from our emotions and either dismissing or drowning them out causes us additional suffering. When we don’t deal with our emotions, they actually haunt us. Like a shadow or a stalker, they lurk in the dark. Often times, they become even more intense as we try to bury them, bursting through at the seams.
Heart(ache) on My Sleeve
I have had my fair share of heartbreak and heartache this past year. From failed relationships, to co-workers talking about me behind my back. From believing you know someone and then watching them lie, change, turn into someone different. Or people rejecting you saying “You are insecure and I don’t enjoy being around you.” (These all actually happened to me this year, btw) The pain of heartbreak is real, I can attest. Sometimes I can see so clearly what I have been through and easily have compassion for myself. Other times I just ignore it and keep trudging (cause that’s what we do, right?).
While I can’t say I have found a way to eradicate my pain and suffering, I can say I have grown in my ability to care about my pain and my ability to learn to love myself through the pain. The key, I found, is kindness and compassion. Equally as important, acknowledging what I am going through and not dismissing it or judging myself for feeling heartbroken. Lord knows I have had plenty of good reasons to feel this way!
Self-Love for Heartbreak
As discussed in Self-Love 101, self-love is the act of taking responsibility for yourself and taking loving action on our own behalf. It isn’t always an easy thing to do, but it helps to be a guide for how to handle these difficult emotions, such as heartache. Taking responsibility for how we feel is a good place to start. Then seeking to find how to meet our pain with love. A general rule of thumb, “Does this serve me?” or “Does this serve my highest good?” Other questions you can ask yourself to help you navigate through heartbreak: “What am I truly needing right now?” “How can I be loving with myself?”
Loving yourself through heartbreak means nurturing your basic and deeper needs to help you become more resilient and restore peace and wholeness.
Here are 7 Ways to Love Yourself Through Heartbreak:
1. Take care of your body.
Basic needs are first and foremost, especially when we are suffering. Feed yourself, hydrate yourself, sleep, get some exercise. Bottom line, these are going to help you heal on a cellular level, never mind on an emotional level. Before we throw in the towel and decide to give into feelings of despair or depression, perhaps check in with our basic needs first. “Am I hungry? Thirsty? Tired? Do I need a bath? Do I need to take a walk?” Often when we are physically depleted or neglected, our emotions get out of balance. Which is only going to make things worse if we are heartbroken. So take care of your body!
2. Listen to your needs.
Your needs are real and valid. One of the worst things we can do when we are experiencing heartbreak is to just pretend like we are fine and proceed with life as usual. Chances are, you are needing extra love and attention, of which you can often give to yourself. Tune into yourself. Listen to yourself. “What am I needing right now?” A nap? Some peace and quiet? A night out with your friends? Go ahead: be “selfish” and give yourself what you need, whatever that is. Beware: if the voice in your heads answers something destructive or questionable, ask yourself the follow up question, “What I am truly needing, on a deeper level?” Your needs and wants may not always be the same thing.
3. Validate what you are feeling.
Be your own therapist. Not everyone is going to be able to understand what you are feeling or going through. When a friend is able to give you that validation, that can be very encouraging. But you can also give yourself the validation you are needing. Look at the situation at hand and acknowledge the pain that you are feeling. There must be a good reason you are feeling this way. Give yourself permission to feel sad and heartbroken. Often times just that step alone can help ease the pain. “It’s no wonder I am so disappointed. I was really looking forward to getting closer to him/her.” Or even just “This is so difficult to go through. Of course I would be in pain.” Journaling is another good way to express what you are feeling and to get some sense of validation.
4. Be kind to your self.
Treat yourself like you would a child that is hurting. Be kind and gentle with yourself. I hope that your inner critic isn’t as loud as mine. Because it can be hard to be kind to yourself if you are busy judging or critiquing yourself. A word of wisdom? Make it a goal to be tender and gentle with yourself when your heart is aching. Like a good parent would, listen to and gently care for yourself. Kindness means kind words, kind thoughts, and kind intentions for yourself.
5. Evaluate the cause of the heartbreak.
Any experience that provokes a difficult emotion is an opportunity to learn and gain insight. Consider the source of the heartbreak. Perhaps part of your pain is that you took something personally? Or perhaps the other person was also in pain, which led to them saying or doing something hurtful? Try and understand what is causing you heartache and why.
In my experiences, you may have to peel back a couple of surface layers to get to the core of the emotion. Initially, you may feel outraged and upset at what happened. But anger is just a cover up of the deeper pain. Stop and acknowledge what is actually making you sad and heartbroken. Often, the heartbreak is a result of something we deeply want or need not being met. We all want love, acceptance, and respect, right? We want to be seen and heard and understood. When those needs aren’t met, it is painful. All of this is something we can learn about ourselves if we do a little digging.
6. Connect to something greater.
We have never been and will never be alone in our experience of heartbreak. One thing that can help us feel more at peace is realizing that every single other person has felt or are feeling what we feel. This is a concept of “oneness,” a Buddhist concept that we are all connected. Our pain and suffering is everyone’s pain and suffering. This can lead us to feel a connection to something greater to ourselves. A sense of unity with humanity and life itself, which combats any feelings of being isolated or unacknowledged. It can also be helpful when we are aching to see out connection to a higher power (if you believe in one) or connect with a group of people that help us feel supported and not alone. Because the truth is, we are never alone.
7. Allow, accept, and release.
When you first notice the pain, do not try to change it or suppress it. Simply allow yourself to be in that emotional space. Make a conscious effort to accept it. “This is it. This is how I am feeling right now. I can’t change it.” When the wave comes, just try to sit with it. Allow yourself to cry, if needed. In fact, let it all out. For as long as it takes, allow and accept the emotions of heartbreak, heartache, disappointment, and sadness. Don’t get caught up in the storyline, replaying what happened or focusing on the person that hurt you. But simply be present for your pain in the moment.
Then, when you feel some sense of release or relief, focus on letting the heartbreak go. There is no need to cling to it once you have fully allowed it and felt it. Now you can consciously bring yourself peace and wholeness. Using visualization or self-affirmation, imagine that the pain is a dark energy leaving your body and being absorbed into the universe. Then imagine a white energy, the energy of peace and love, entering your body and filling you up. It can be a very soothing exercise, one in which you may have to come back to several times.
While a difficult experience to deal with, heartbreak is a necessary part of life. If we aim to take good care of ourselves and our feelings, we will heal and recover from the pain. And the better we become at tending to our needs, the more resilient we become over time. I hope that this article was helpful for your understanding of how to handle heartbreak. I would love to hear your feedback, questions, or comments below. Thanks so much and take good care of yourself!