The second answer that came to me when I asked the question “Why does heartbreak hurt so much?” tends to apply more when you feel like the decision to end the relationship has been completely out of your hands.
When this happens, we feel like the victim. We feel out of control. We feel ‘wronged’. We feel like this is something that has been done ‘to’ us.
…and when we’re in this place of feeling like it has been done ‘to’ us, the lack of choice, the lack of control makes it even harder to process.
We’ve been forced into this situation of having to deal with these emotions without any choice, any say, and (often it feels like) no consideration.
What I have to say now might be difficult to hear if you’re currently going through heartbreak.
I know, because I’ve been there, and it was hard for me to consider at first too.
But really hearing this, really understanding it can make a huge difference to your experience…and to your future experiences too.
The path out of this feeling of being out of control, of feeling like the victim, the wronged party, is to understand and accept that it is your own choices that have brought you to this moment in time.
(Take a couple of moments to shout and swear at the screen in front of you if you’d like…that can sometimes help too! 🙂 )
This side of heartbreak can be hard to face…
I can almost hear your thoughts “What do you mean?! They’re the one who did this! It’s their fault! I did nothing wrong!” …and I know how this feels, because I’ve felt it myself.
But the reality is that the choices that you have made have led you to the point you are at now. What you’ve done and haven’t done, who you chose to date or not date, what you allowed from other people and what you didn’t allow, how you showed up and how you didn’t show up.
Now, let me be perfectly clear about this…this is not about blame.
This is not about blaming yourself for what has happened (or the other person for that matter)…it’s about understanding that you can take responsibility for your part in how the situation played out.
Whether it’s in that you prioritised your work over your relationship, or that you didn’t always bring the best ‘you’ you could to the relationship, or simply that you chose to be with someone who wasn’t willing or able to meet your needs, or whose wants and needs you weren’t willing or able to meet in return.
This is not about looking back with regret or shame…you’re at this point now because there’s something you need to learn for yourself…and without this experience the lesson wouldn’t be as powerful and wouldn’t make a difference to how you choose to live your life going forward.
Simply understanding this, simply getting to the point where you can see it, and take responsibility for your part in where you’re currently at is the point at which you can shift from feeling like a victim, to feeling empowered.
If your choices have helped create the situation you’re in right now, your choices can help to create something different in the future….they can help to create what you really want for yourself.
I’m not going to lie. This was hard for me to understand at first…and a part of me didn’t want to understand it.
It was easier to blame someone else for how I was feeling.
I didn’t want to accept that I could have done anything that could have changed the situation I was in and the way I was feeling.
I wanted to make him the ‘bad guy’ because it made me feel momentarily better about the fact I wasn’t with him anymore and I had someone to blame for the pain I was feeling.
But when I really took a moment to honestly look at it, I realised that I had played my part in it too.
I’d played my part in each one of my heartrbeaks
Every heartbreak was different, and my part in it had been different too.
There were some in which I’d simply chosen a person that I was fundamentally incompatible with. They didn’t have the capacity to be the man that I wanted to be with long-term.
There were others where I simply wasn’t giving him what he deserved, because I’d not been ‘getting it’ from them first.
There were others where I’d held back for fear of getting hurt, and in doing so I never gave the relationship a chance to see what it could really be.
There were others where I ignored warning signs of dishonesty and just ‘hoped’ that it would get better.
The list goes on. I had to accept that I had a part in the every one of those relationships coming to an end (even if that part was just in starting the relationship in the first place!)
…and here is the part where the power lies.
The gift in heartbreak…
Because if you can see how your choices have helped create the situation you are currently in, you can choose (if you want to) to make different choices in the future.
The awareness that this brings is the key to finding the gift that I mentioned in my earlier article…because the gift is the learning. The gift is being able to understand yourself better, understand what you want in the future, and grow in a way that will enable you to have it.
To make new choices that will empower you and that will create a different outcome, and that will get you close to the life and relationship that you desire and deserve.
…and as a last note, I’ll say this:
This is a very powerful part of the experience of heartbreak. It is also something that needs to happen at the right time. This is part of the ‘acceptance’ stage of the 5 stages of grief that I mentioned in my last article.
Trying to go through this process when you’re still deep in anger, or denial or bargaining, or depression is likely to make you feel worse, not better…because it will be used as a tool to enhance your current stage. You’ll feel more angry (normally at yourself!) if you try and do this from the anger stage…or feel more depressed about the situation if you do it during the depression stage.
It’s a very important process to go through, but you will only get the real benefit of it if it’s done at the right time.
During my last heartbreak I remember ranting to a friend and shouting, “I know this is all happening for a reason, and I know that there will be a gift in it eventually, but right now it just sucks…and I just want to be with the fact that it sucks, because that’s all I have the capacity for right now!!!”
So be gentle with yourself…allow yourself to experience all the stages of grief and all of the emotions that come up fully and in your own time.
…and then when you’re ready (and not a moment sooner!) take yourself through this process to find the gift for you.