How to slowly regrow a vulnerable heart
Opening your heart after a breakup begins with acceptance of the pain you feel. Fighting your emotions will slow down the healing process. Meanwhile, there are new rituals, points of view, daily habits and self-care that will move your broken heart toward a place of mending with openness and love.
Don’t avoid your feelings
Gautama Buddha wrote, Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. When your heart breaks and you avoid the pain, the pain will worsen and become acute. Embracing your hurt and negative emotions is the first, crucial step toward being able to move through them. It can be tempting to tell ourselves or those who would support us that we are “fine.” Admitting that we are not fine, that we are in pain, will lessen that pain over time as we move through it.
Now try acceptance
When a relationship ends in heartache, the lack of control we have over certain aspects of the situation can feel overwhelming. Of course, we want to find a solution to something so painful.
And yet, sometimes there is nothing to be done. You can find yourself caught up in thinking about what you wish the other person would have done or could still do. If this happens, work toward accepting your lack of control over that person.
Using a daily diary entry can assist with this change. Write out a list of what you cannot control that is on your mind. Then write a list of what you can control. This retrains your brain to focus on your emotional health – to let go.
At first, this might heighten the pain by thinking about what you can’t control. If you hang in there, the pain will dissipate and relief will come. There is relief to be found in knowing you are not in control of how the situation ends. You are only in control of yourself and your behavior. Now you can truly feel your heartache cleanly, without the struggle for control adding to your misery.
Keep track of gratitude and joy
To move toward a loving heart, remind yourself of what makes you feel love. The events, places and people that bring you feelings of gratitude and joy need to be noted. Again, journal keeping is a simple and effective tool for reminding your brain and heart that there are still beautiful things in your life.
A small list that notes your brother’s hug, a boss’s praise, the happiness of a good run – this is powerful. Done daily, a gratitude journal is proven to increase your well-being. It can decrease illness, boost productivity, strengthen relationships, reduce stress and depression, and increase energy.
Let yourself be cared for
This can be very difficult for people who are used to being in control of things. Remember that it can be a pleasure for others to express their love for you. Allowing yourself to be loved, whatever that looks like for you, is part of allowing yourself to heal.
Take your friends up on their offers for some of those coffee dates. Let your mom pay for dinner. In whatever form love and caring comes along and feels right, embrace it.
Give of yourself
There are few things in life as guaranteed to soften your heart as giving yourself to others. Those others can be anyone in need – even animals. The point is that you offer up your time and attention to a cause, large or small, that matters to you.
These actions will give you more to think about when you are at risk of focusing on the past. It will remind you of your self-worth as you help others. The physical and mental benefits of volunteering, such as decreased depression, are well-known. Giving back will remind your heart that, while love can hurt, it can also be worth the risk.
Replace your rituals
Love relationships form their own rituals. Falling asleep together, eating together, snuggling on the couch – when a relationship ends, these small endings continue to hurt. Replacing your old rituals with new ones is important to healing your heart.
If you fell asleep together every night to music, try a new routine. Light a candle next to your bed, and pick up a good book to read before falling asleep. Create a ritual that you truly look forward to. You might go large with your new ritual and splurge on yourself. Maybe you want to join a yoga studio or a gym. Whatever it is, treat yourself.
This self-care is healing and goes a long way to help you become ready to open your heart again. Try this “Meditation on Creating Change” and see where it takes you on your journey.