(Note: “From Heartbreak To Happiness” reprinted with permission by Aurora Winter)
Most of us are looking for love in all the wrong places. When a relationship ends, whether it be through divorce, death, or break-up, most people rush out to find someone new. I know — I have done it myself! After my 33-year-old husband died suddenly, I yearned to find a new husband … and someone to be a father figure for our four-year-old son. But the truth is, we can’t just plop a new person into the hole in our hearts left by the loss of someone we loved. We have to first heal the hole in our own hearts … and then, from that healed place, we will inevitably attract the perfect partner. But how do we heal our broken hearts? The following four steps will dramatically accelerate your journey through heartbreak to happiness. This is what works for me when I am confronted by any kind of heartbreak, and what I share with my clients now as a grief recovery counselor.
1) EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS
This first step comes naturally to most people. It is very important to express what you are feeling … not what you “should” be feeling. Don’t be kind. Don’t be spiritual. Tell the truth … and release it. It is only your truth for that moment, anyway. I expressed my feelings in my journal, and that may work for you, too, or you can express your feelings to a friend or therapist. Unexpressed feelings are like food poisoning. If you stuff your feelings, you get to keep them. Imagine two people who go out for sushi, and they both get food poisoning. One of them throws up … and lives. The other “stuffs it”… and dies. It may not be pretty, but it is absolutely essential that you get whatever is bothering you out of your system.
2) ACCEPT THE SITUATION
When you truly, deeply accept the situation, and I mean accept it as if you had chosen it, you will release all “victim” energy. Thoughts and feelings that you have been victimized repel happiness.
In my case, I was blessed with a dream on the second anniversary of my husband’s death. In this dream, I met my husband at the airport and raged, “How could you rip my heart out? How could you die beside me?” I confronted him with his ultimate betrayal, “How could you leave our son without his father?!”
In this dream, my late husband asked me three questions. “If you had it to do all over again, would you still marry me?”
I thought for just a moment, flooded with happy memories. I would take my time with him, though it be short. “Yes.”
“If you had it to do all over again, would you still have our son?” This time the answer was quicker, surer. He’s the light of my life, my joy, my blessing! “Yes!”
And then he asked the final question, “Given that, would you want to know that I would die young?”
His question gave me pause. Would I choose to taint our joy with dread? I looked into my heart, and after a long moment, realized the answer. “No.”
This dream changed my life. I was freed from the idea that I was a victim of fate. You can free yourself, too, by simply imagining the possibility that you were spared a much worse fate. Once you accept your “lemons,” you can make lemonade.
3) FORGIVE EVERYONE EVERYTHING, INCLUDING YOURSELF
Forgiveness is a challenging concept for many people, so let me walk you through two levels of forgiveness, from beginner to advanced. If forgiveness is challenging for you, let us be clear that forgiveness is not the same as condoning.
Forgiveness means “giving up the hope for a different or better yesterday.” Yesterday isn’t going to change. Why continue to give yourself pain over what happened yesterday? Forgiveness isn’t a gift you give to another person — forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. You free yourself from the tyranny of the thought that yesterday should be different. Yesterday is never going to change … no matter how much you beat yourself up with the idea that it should have been different. Give yourself a gift by forgiving everyone everything … including yourself, the other people involved, and God.
At a much more advanced level, when you deeply forgive, the thoughts that were causing you pain simply evaporate. You discover that there is nothing left to forgive. This is true freedom. For example, for a long time I held the thought, “My husband’s death is the worst thing that ever happened to me.” That thought caused incredible pain and suffering. But was that thought even true? When I forgave my husband for dying, forgave God for stealing him away from me, and forgave myself for being such a horrible person that God would do such a terrible thing to me, the whole thing simply evaporated. I realized my late husband gave me two priceless gifts. The first was our son. The second was the experience of having my heart broken … and then opened. It has profoundly changed me in ways I appreciate. It made me who I am today.
Through death, my late husband was my greatest spiritual teacher. I am grateful for everything he taught me. I am grateful that I now have an open heart. An open heart is love. An open heart naturally, spontaneously, radiates and attracts love. Perhaps your greatest spiritual teacher is not some guru in a cave in India. Perhaps your greatest spiritual teacher is the person you are living with … or your ex?
4) SAY GOOD-BYE
Rituals bring closure and resolution. Before you hang up the phone, you say “good-bye.” At the end of a relationship, you need to say “good-bye” also. It does not mean good-bye forever, it just means that this particular telephone call, this particular chapter in our relationship, has ended.
If you don’t say good-bye to the old, you don’t make room for something new…whether that be a new form of relationship with the same person, or a new relationship with someone else. It’s like cleaning out your closet. If your closet is stuffed full of old clothes you don’t wear, there is no room for new clothes. In the same way, if you don’t release your old loves, there is no room for new love.
So it is very important to say goodbye, whether it is a formal event like a divorce or a funeral, or a private ritual that you create. When you say “good-bye” to the old, you make room for the new. When you say good-bye to the past, you welcome in the present moment. And being fully present in the here and now is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.
In summary, instead of looking for love in all the wrong places (i.e. outside of yourself), first look within and do the work required to heal your own heart. Accelerate your own journey from heartbreak to happiness by:
1) expressing your feelings,
2) accepting the situation as if you had chosen it,
3) forgiving everyone everything, including yourself, and
4) saying good-bye.
Healing a broken heart requires work, but you are worth it! As you express your feelings, accept the situation, forgive everyone, and say good-bye, you will find yourself feeling lighter, freer, and happier. From that place, don’t be surprised if your soulmate shows up!
Aurora Winter is the Founder of www.GriefCoachAcademy.com, a speaker, and the author of “From Heartbreak to Happiness: An Intimate Diary of Healing”. You can get the complimentary ebook version of this book at www.stages-of-grief.com
Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “I have read every page of this beautiful diary — it touched my heart and I know it will impact yours.”
For more information, visit: www.FromHeartbreakToHappiness.com