Most adults have experienced some form of heartbreak. If you haven’t experienced it, then your heartbreak is more than likely right around the corner. Like most experiences in life, everyone has a different initial reaction to the pain and aftermath of heartbreak. For some, it can feel like they will never be the same again. For others, it’s a fleeting emotion easily masked in the process of moving on to their next significant other.
I had a conversation with a domestic violence survivor a few days ago. In addition to being heartbroken, her past relationship left her with physical scars. “I’m not sure how to move on after experiencing something like this,” she explained. Her fear was that she would never completely heal from the pain of being abused physically and taken advantage of. My response was time heals everything under the sun, but while you are waiting on time to kick in, there are three steps you can use to help yourself move through the process.
1. Take some alone time to heal. While this sounds like common sense, it’s probably the hardest step because most people don’t want to be alone, especially after heartbreak. While we all take time out to lick our wounds, sometimes it feels better if someone else licks them for us. Unfortunately, getting into a new relationship too quickly only acts as a false sense of security, i.e. a painkiller for the moment and will not help you truly heal. Besides the obvious reasons, when you are in a hurtful place you are not able to decipher who would or would not be a good choice for a mate. We can’t make great decisions operating from a place of brokenness. So take the time out to heal and get yourself together before jumping into something new. The worst case scenario is you could make a horrible decision and end up getting a double dose of heartache from picking the wrong rebound.
2. Allow yourself to reflect on the past and see what role you played in the demise of the relationship. Reflection is step two for a reason. It’s very hard to objectively look back over a relationship to find out how you may have contributed to the downfall if you are still in a hurtful place. While the break-up or extenuating circumstances may not have been your fault, it’s important to know what it was about your actions or energy that led you to that dysfunctional place. If you are truly whole in your relationship, you will not allow yourself to settle for abuse or disrespect. Find out what it was that caused you to settle or to be a participant in an unhealthy situation.
3. Make a conscious decision about what you want from relationships moving forward. Once you’ve had time to heal and you’ve done some introspective work to make yourself a better person, decide what you want moving forward. You have the right to decide exactly what characteristics and situations would complement you in a relationship and make a deliberate effort to avoid any relationship that doesn’t serve your needs. If we make purposeful decisions about what we want, we are less likely to end up settling just for the sake of being in a relationship.
Once you’ve completed these three steps, you must allow yourself to be open to love. There is no such thing as a heart broken beyond repair. If you give yourself the ability to heal the right way, reflect back on what got you to the bad place and then decide never to return to that place again; you can heal from the inside out. Once you do this, love is certain to find its way to your heart.