Every heart breaks in big and little ways. Most of us learn how to live with broken hearts. Some of us love more deeply because of heartbreak.
Living with a heart broken by loss, a breakup, or an accident is easier if you remember two things: 1) This is the way life and love is supposed to be; and 2) You don’t have to believe everything you think and believe. Learning how to live with a broken heart is about accepting what is (the “isness” of this moment) and allowing your thoughts and emotions to pass through you.
My sister disappeared from my life eight years ago, which I mentioned in How to Be Strong in Your 40s After a Breakup. I used to think I’d get over it because time heals all wounds, right? Wrong. Now I know that a broken heart never fully heals. But I also know that I can’t keep anyone or anything in my life for longer than is supposed to be. And, I no longer allow my thoughts and emotions to control how I live in this moment.
“Letting go is a behavior we can practice each day, whatever the circumstances in our lives,” writes Melodie Beattie in More Language of Letting Go. “It’s a behavior that benefits relationships we want to work. It’s a helpful behavior in insane relationships, too. It’s a useful tool to use when we really want to bring something or someone into our lives, and in accomplishing our goals.”
Learning how to live with a broken heart is about letting go. Not just of the person you loved and lost, but of your own hopes and dreams. Even more important is to make space for the idea that you won’t always feel like you’re living with a heart broken by loss, rejection, or abandonment.
You won’t always feel this way. If you truly want to heal, you will get through the worst of this…and you will learn that this, too, shall pass.
4 Ways to Fill Your Broken Heart With Hope and Faith
Earlier today I wrote an article about healing your heart without relationship closure. In my research I learned that when we are attached to people, our identity gets wrapped up in them. I was so attached to my sister, she became part of my identity. I also identified myself as a sister and an orphan with no other close family members. That was not an easy identity to release.
When my sister told me she didn’t want me in her life anymore, my self-identity was completely destroyed. Later I realized that my identity was the reason it was so hard for me to heal my broken heart. I didn’t know who I was anymore; my identity was shattered.
How is your broken heart wrapped up in an identity you had, and lost?
1. Make room in your life for a new identity
This is the hardest thing for me to accept, because I truly thought I’d always have my sister in my life. I loved her more than anyone. Even though we had grown further apart and I knew our relationship wasn’t great, I still thought she was the most important relationship in my life.
I was wrong.
Now I know that I don’t have to live with a broken heart! I grieved my sister’s decision to leave me, and I created a new self-identity. It took years – it wasn’t easy or fast – but it was so good for me. We can’t learn how to stop loving people, but we can make room for ourselves to grow and become different people. Our lives are different, our hearts are different, why can’t we be different?
2. Accept life with joy, peace, and a humble heart
I don’t live with a broken heart anymore. That was part of my identity; I am not that girl anymore. I’m still sad that I lost her, but I don’t even wish things were different. It is what it is. I learned what I had to learn.
Accepting reality – the “isness” of this moment – brings so much emotional freedom and energy! When I accept that fact that she is not here with me – that she has chosen to leave me – then I feel light and free. When I resist reality, I feel heavy and anxious. If you want to learn how to live with a broken heart, keep doing what you’ve been doing. But if you want to be free and light, pay attention to how you feel when you accept and when you resist.
3. Savor the sprinkle of rain and rays of sunshine
If you live fully in the moment when you’re savoring something delicious – a strawberry, a sweaty run, a nose-to-nose rub with a baby or a dog, a beautiful flower, a bubble bath – then the pain of the breakup will be gone! In that moment of sweet surrender to your experience you will find nothing but taste, scent, touch, or sound. At that moment you’re not living with a broken heart. You’re just living.
Are you an extrovert? Maybe you need to spend more time with someone who is so alive it makes your teeth hurt. Someone who is loud, happy, exuberant, and who laughs freely and easily. If you’re an introvert, maybe you need to spend more time in quiet contemplation, forest walks with God, writing or painting.
4. Question your thoughts on living with a broken heart
“A thought is harmless unless we believe it,” writes Byron Katie in I Need Your Love – Is That True? How to Stop Seeking Love, Approval, and Appreciation and Start Finding Them Instead. “It’s not our thoughts, but the attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.”
Believing that you need to learn how to live with a heart that is broken is a thought. It’s a belief that may not be true. The only way to find out is to question it. Instead of learning how to live in brokenheartedness, explore different ways to heal and and open your heart.
Will time help your heart heal? Perhaps. Read 5 Ways Time Heals a Broken Heart.