The Most Important Question that Eases the Pain of a Breakup

For many, a substantially painful experience is the heartbreak that follows a romantic loss. You may be delaying your emotional recovery, if all you find yourself doing is thinking to figure out a solution for the loss. Living in a mind that is wounded by loss of attachment, despair, and perhaps longing for re-connection is a recipe for feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. The problem stems not from the pain; but from ignoring it.

 Artist:  Nasim Golkar  

Artist: Nasim Golkar 

You may be convinced that behaviors like ruminating on the breakup story, rebound physical intimacy, drugs and alcohol ease the pain. But escaping the pain prolongs healing mechanisms in your brain and body. The mind wants everything to feel better, so it does everything it can to find a solution that brings the pain to an end.

In this biweekly post, I'd like to ask you to let go of such thoughts for a moment and drop in to your heart center. Go there and stay with the pain your mind dislikes so much. Because following the experiences of rejection, emotional cut-off or abandonment there may be so much pain; and this pain is going to get better if you relate to yourself with gentle care.

Ask yourself, “right now, am I living in my heart or in my mind?”

We often get in the way of our own healing as we get stuck on the mind level which seeks to tell us ruminative analytical stories with solution-focused agendas. But this kind of overthinking is often either critical of yourself or your ex-partner. The underlying unconscious belief involved in excessive thinking is that “thinking is doing something for me, so it must somehow benefit me”. Instead, it’s only there to perpetuate suffering as we are entirely focused on our suffering – and not actually healing. Living in your mind is exhausting. 

So, what does your heart have in store for your healing?

Healing from an emotional wound can be the sum of all the moments that you live and honor any discomfort that comes up for you. It begins where you let go of thinking on-purpose and accept that “there is an ongoing painful experience that I am having in my life right here, right now.” Accept your experience wholeheartedly without changing or ignoring how everything has been, is or should be for you.

Healing stems from your will to pausing the time so to let your pain be fully present, be vividly seen, and be sensibly felt in your body. This is the opposite of suppressing or disowning a painful experience. Breath by breath, realize you don’t have to even enjoy sitting with your pain in an accepting way. Rather, sitting with raw and heavy suffering is of highest form of treatment you offer yourself that actually works for you. Your pride will be in showing up for your hurt feelings with courage and care. What activates in your nervous system is the built-in healing mechanism that you share with the rest of mammals.

Here is how:      

“Mothering” is a mechanism deep-seated in the mammalian nervous system that has got a vast capacity to transmute suffering. Begin by relaxing the muscles that are tensed up unnecessarily.

Take a breath, then gently, wrap yourself softly in your own arms. Lower your head to look inside and utter softly, “I am so sorry about everything. I am here for you now. Just relax and breathe. Everything is okay. You don’t have to change to make me feel better”.

A cascade of chemical reactions follows as your self-directed words allow things to be okay the way they are. Spend some time in this space of gentle loving kindness. Then, even if just a little, notice your pain eases, shifts, or becomes something else entirely. It transforms to its next natural state. Continue to stay with whatever each moment of intentional self-soothing brings for you.  

Through revisiting this process, you will start giving yourself what you need – more love and purposeful sitting with your own stuff without judging or rejecting them. I assure you come out a different person. Consider it your duty to take care of yourself so you remember that you don’t get to bully yourself when you are in pain. You don’t get to judge yourself for where you’re at. Self-love means you show up for yourself in exact moments when you need you the most.     

If the reality of this moment is that you are in pain, drop into your heart and trust the neural machinery in the brain which exactly knows how to help you when you sit kindly with a pain of loss. Your emotional well-being follows not having ignored the pain.

In moments of despair, may we find harmony beyond our personal loss and in the relation to all beings.

To our profound awakening,  

Dr. Hessam