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How To Move Forward When You Are Heartbroken

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

Written by Radonda Rowton, MAC, LPC

I got a text from a friend recently that said: “When you are heartbroken, how can you stop the swirling, spinning thoughts that seem to derail you? How can you keep moving forward?“ Intense disappointment can leave us emotionally drained, physically aching, mentally shutdown, and spiritually desperate. It’s amazing how one minute we can think we are doing fine and then the next minute we realize that life has pulled the rug out from underneath us, or the thing that we have invested so much time and energy in has disintegrated within minutes, or the pieces of the puzzle of our life don’t fall exactly as we planned—and suddenly we realize how fragile we have been all along.

Sometimes half the challenge of heartbreak is just reminding ourselves we aren’t crazy. We walk around the world most days, looking at all the people so perfectly dressed and perfectly put together, and assume we are the only ones struggling. We assume we’re the only ones with toxic thoughts, mixed up feelings, and bad days. We’re the only ones who cry in our beds at night eating a pint of chocolate peanut butter ice cream. It is this lie that keeps us isolated, that keeps us feeling like something must be wrong with us, that keeps us stuck in a pit of shame rather than reaching out for acceptance and love. Most of the battle is just reminding our self that these feelings are normal. This is a part of the human experience. Everyone who has ever lived and loved has felt this feeling.

But because we want to so quickly fix our circumstances, we immediately want to come up with a survival plan. I once heard someone say, “You do not have to do anything right now. You simply need to make peace with what is true.” While that should be comforting to our anxious, busy, perfectionistic self, it usually isn’t. Why is it that, when our thoughts are spinning and swirling, our first instinct is to DO? Why do we want so badly to perform, hustle, act, go, change, call, drive, fix, control when the ONE thing that would bring us peace is to sit still, to be with ourselves and to accept what is true. And the truth is that we may not need to fix, change, alter, or grow. Not yet. All we may need to do is make peace. Then and only then does it become about surrender, not struggle.

Can we allow the things that are true to be true? After all, they ARE true, whether we allow them to be or not. What if it is not just our circumstances making us miserable, like we imagined, but it is our resistance to our circumstances? What if just because we accept something as truth does not mean that we must agree with it? I have watched as people refuse to accept a relationship that has died, or the loss of a job or promotion, or a diagnosis because they fear that to accept that truth means that they agree with it. If we are going to have to be honest with our self, we should at least get to be honest about we feel about it. Life will happen. Things do not go as planned, but when it comes to truth, we can accept it, but we don’t have to like it.

Nothing awakens the feelings of rejection and low self-confidence like disappointment. Although those feelings of rejection seem like they are coming from the outside, the truth is they are an inside job, and the most painful rejection that one can ever experience is the rejection of themselves. Repeatedly we reject ourselves, lie to ourselves and pretend to be people who we are not. We put on the proverbial mask and act like we are okay when we are NOT okay, only to wonder why we feel so terribly alone and isolated. Why is it so hard to accept ourselves? Because the part of ourselves that we don’t like will require us to dig deep to find the compassion and forgiveness for the struggling human being that we are. And unless we learn to love and have compassion for that person, we will struggle to love or value anyone or anything with fullness of what is in our heart. And after all, isn’t that what we are here for…connection? If we don’t accept our self, who will? That is why the struggle is so real.

So, what is the truth?

This is all your fault…