Have you ever been heartbroken? I have. And I’ve known many others who’ve been there, too. Heartbreak is something that is carried with a person long after it happened. It doesn’t matter if it’s been 30 years or 3 months, the pain of heartbreak is something that is not easily forgotten or moved past. You can’t just shake it off or “get over it” at the end of the day, but instead it becomes part of your experiences and your life journey.
Heartbreak changes a person.
And, it has the power to reshape our world, our mindset, how we see ourselves, and how we see others.
Heartbreak can also be our toughest and wisest teacher.
I’m not denying that heartbreak also has the potential to make us question everything from why we accepted that first date, to why we fell in love. And, I’m not denying that heartbreak, if left unchecked, can also cause significant emotional, psychological and physical problems for many.
Because it can.
And, it does.
Heartbreak is a form of trauma from a traumatic loss, and the pain experienced from heartbreak is grief.
However, it also has the potential to help us emotionally grow. Personal pain aside, when you’re experiencing heartbreak, or have experienced it, you start seeing the world and the people in your life through a different lens. Agendas are more easily seen through and walked away from. Shallow relationships and good times are tossed out for intimate conversation over a couple glasses of wine with a loved one. You start evaluating what was missing from your last relationship and you have your checklist ready for making wiser choices in your next one.
There are many things we experience from heartbreak and there are many lessons we can carry with us. Here’s a few of the main ones.
- Heartbreak teaches you what love isn’t. This is probably the hardest lesson for anyone who’s experienced the pain of heartbreak. But the reality is, if someone broke our heart, they weren’t invested in our heart. Love isn’t about chasing and running. Love isn’t about ultimatums or going hot and cold. Love isn’t about being there one day and going ghost the next without a rhyme, a reason or a goodbye. Love isn’t about challenging our partner’s investment to them. Love isn’t about being replaced the next day or the next week. Love isn’t about jealousy or revenge or elevating status. Love is a lot of things, but grief and heartbreak, it’s not.
- Heartbreak teaches you self-reliance. Most of us turn to our friends and family right after a breakup and they’re usually there for emotional support when it’s a “typical” breakup. Heartbreak is different. It can be emotionally demanding on the person who’s experiencing it and it can be demanding on family and friends. Some may notice family or friends won’t be there when they’re needed the most. It may not be a negative reflection on them because the fact is, they may not have experienced it themselves or may not be comfortable dealing with this type of grief. So, we can learn to rely on ourselves and our own inner strength to get through it. We start scoping out goals and creating a solid timeline in achieving them. We learn that “being alone” is not the same thing as “feeling lonely” and we recognize that we’re OK with it, because it’s a necessary part of healing.
- Heartbreak teaches you what you value in relationships. And, it teaches us what you never want to experience again. Through the heartbreak and grief, we may start seeing ‘red flags’ or ‘warning signs’ that we might have missed or dismissed earlier on in the relationship. And, this is where we start asking ourselves why we didn’t see the warning signs, or why we didn’t want to. Through this, we gain insight into what attracted us to a certain type of personality or a certain type of relationship. And because of it, we gain awareness into our own needs.
- Heartbreak can help you recognize your unresolved early life trauma. It’s probably no surprise that our early life experiences help shape us into who we see in the mirror as adults. Depending on the type of early experiences we had, we will unconsciously seek out similar situations in our intimate relationships that either help us push through and heal from early trauma, or keep us repeating a cycle of self-sabotage. This is a painful revelation for many, but it’s also one that provides the most personal growth.
- Heartbreak teaches you to recognize your own value and worth. We gain inner strength. Heartbreak helps us figure out where our boundaries may need tightening, or in learning the word “no” and being OK with it. Heartbreak can help us in figuring out why we shouldn’t be OK in settling for half-assed commitments, half-assed relationships or half-assed investments where our heart is concerned. From heartbreak, we learn that our value and worth are not tied into other people’s expectations or their opinions. And these are things we carry with us, whether it’s been a few weeks, or a few decades later.
- Heartbreak allows you to give yourself closure. Part of heartbreak will include mourning the memories, the good times, and the hope that we had for a future with that person. There may not have been a goodbye, or it may have been an impersonal text or other inappropriate relationship end. Allow yourself to move through the memories, to appreciate the good times, and to smile at some of the cherished times that were shared together. This helps in grieving, and healing.
- Heartbreak allows you to recognize the depth and breadth of your love. For those who never thought they could experience love, the only reason they feel the excruciating pain of heartbreak is because they experienced love. That automatically puts you ahead of many people who’ve never experienced heartbreak, or love. You took a chance, you loved unconditionally, you leveled up in your personal development. And, yes, you got your heart handed to you in pieces. But, you also learned the depth of the love you have to give and that is worth its weight in gold.