This post goes out to all of you who are navigating the tricky waters of transition, heartbreak, loneliness, disappointment or loss. I’m right there with you this month!
Both my parents grew up on corn and soybean farms in central Illinois. I come from grounded, humble, hardworking and loving stock.
Decades of watching the seasons change and being entirely dependent on the weather and forces far beyond your control breeds a deep trust in the nature of things—an earth-based spirituality rooted in the reality of the way things are. Ever-changing. Ebbing-flowing. Sometimes the crop is abundant. Sometimes there’s a drought. Consequently, my dad consistently offers no-nonsense, refreshingly practical advice (may also have something to do with him being a lawyer).
For the past few weeks, I’ve been going through a rough period of heartbreak, disappointment and sadness after a breakup from my lovely long-time boyfriend. A few days ago, my dad called to check in and ask how I was doing. I told him I was upset, mad and frustrated with tears rolling down my cheeks.
He said simply, “Well, everything changes. Sometimes you’ve just got to pick yourself up and keep moving. Get up everyday and do your best. You will get through this. Put one foot in front of the other. Another man will come your way.”
His left-brained words landed. They lifted my heart. I could breathe. Oh yeah! It will all change. This has happened before, and I’m stronger, deeper and richer for it. (Breakups still suck.)
The piercing of truth through a veil of emotion. Believe me, I’m all for emotional expression, cultivating emotional intelligence and emotional processing. After all, I am a Cancer with a Pisces moon and enough water in my chart to be an amphibian. But this uncomplicated, plain advice was the perfect medicine.
Here are a few more tips to help you through heartache:
#1 – BEFRIEND YOUR PAIN.
Let yourself swim in the watery tears and swirling emotion. Actually FEEL. Identify the SENSATIONS of sadness/anger/loneliness in your body. Describe them. When we learn to practice mindfulness and become “friendly” toward whatever we are feeling (a Buddhist concept called maitri), just becoming curious and watching it with sincere intrigue, we soften, allow and have less need to push away. We realize this wave will pass and another one will come. Give yourself permission to be gentle with yourself.
#2 – INVITE YOUR “DEBUTANTE” TO THE PARTY.
My old therapist, Mona Miller, used to say that I have a strong, bullying inner “debutante”—a teenage princess who systematically rebels when she doesn’t get what she wants, when she wants it. She whines. Quickly slipping into denial, she knows exactly how to manipulate a person or situation to get what she wants. Or at least try. This is not helpful. It only prolongs the inevitable. Instead, I learned to invite the debutante to the pity party. She actually is the one throwing the pity party. I let her whine it out on the pages of my journal or yell and scream at the top of my lungs while hitting a pillow with a wiffle bat. Yes, I really do this. Yes, it really works. She must be heard. Her voice is the valuable inner heart of your sadness. Let her in. Let her be heard. Then, be a good parent. Draw clear boundaries and don’t let her run the show. Party’s over.
#3 – PRACTICE RADICAL SELF-CARE.
The heart is precious. Love is our most vulnerable, tender temple of Self. When we are wounded, heartbroken, disappointed or sad, it is crucial that we go the extra mile to treat ourselves with utmost respect. Get a massage. Eat especially clean, nutritious foods. Avoid self-sabotaging behaviors that only repress difficult emotions, which will resurface sideways and compounded at a later, most inconvenient date. Slow down your work load and take it easy. Spend time with trusted friends and supportive family. You are wounded. Time and self-love will heal.
#4 – KEEP GOING. ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER.
As Ralph Turner says, “Pick yourself up. Keep going. It will all change.”
Take an action step (baby steps are perfectly acceptable) to keep moving toward your dreams. Literally, get moving. EXERCISE! Nothing will make you feel better. Call old friends, strengthen your social network (in real life, not just online, people), do one thing every day that propels you forward. Small baby steps. Forgive yourself for taking it slow, but make a commitment to take one measurable step a day. I decided to launch a 30-Day Yoga Challenge. I’m doing thirty yoga classes in thirty days with thirty different teachers. (Blogs on this coming.) Do something radically different. You will be rewarded.
Thanks, Dad, for inspiring this post and for your ever-present love, wisdom and support! I am one lucky daughter! I LOVE YOU!
Please a comment below with one thing that helps you through heartbreak. I need all the help I can get.
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