Transforming a Broken Heart
By Ronald Alexander
How can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
…Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again.
- the Bee Gee’s 1971 Hit Song
When we suffer a deep loss or trauma our broken hearts can literally feel that they have been shattered into a million pieces. Or we feel that our heart has broken open and we are bleeding metaphorically. At times it can even be difficult to breathe. Our heart is both a living organ that is our life source as well as an emotional mind/body metaphor referred to when we experience heartache and sorrow. It’s as if the heart that beats to an electrical energy wave becomes short circuited and burns out, flares out or is broken into many tiny pieces. After the initial shock of a loss many feel the need to push aside their grief lest it overwhelms them with its intensity. This is understandable, but the longer you avoid your pain and attempt to push it away, the more difficult it will be to break out of the paralysis. Just as birds are drawn to bread crumbs on the ground, the pain will keep returning after you shoo it away. When I work with my patients in the initial stage of sorrow I suggest that at first they just sit with their pain and grief, simply noticing it as if they are sitting on a riverbank watching these heavy feelings float downstream. During this time many of them ask, “Why is this happening to me?” While it is impossible for us to see the big picture, I suggest to them that when they are ready to use this experience to honor themselves by learning, and growing from it. A translation of a Rumi poem says, “When your heart breaks (open), journey deep inside.” So if you are going to be courageous and take that journey it’s helpful to be guided by the following seven steps for overcoming and transforming a broken heart.
7 Strategies to Transform a Broken Heart
Step 1: Struggle with Denial Denial is the first round of defense that we immediately enter into like the first chamber in the heart that breaks. In this inner chamber we face the demons of trying every which way to not accept the loss. It’s as if a visitor with bad news has entered our home and we try to push him/her back outside so we don’t have to listen to the painful message.
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