Falling in love is one of the most extraordinary feelings in the world. Conversely, when it doesn’t last as long as expected (forever, right?), it can give way to some of the saddest emotions—such as distress, disappointment, loss, loneliness, hopelessness and more—you’ve ever had. What happens to humans during this difficult time isn’t all bad. In fact, it can be an incredible opportunity for personal growth, as author Lodro Rinzler discovered when interviewing dozens of people about their heartbreaks for his new book, Love Hurts.
In the book, the best-selling author, Buddhist teacher, and meditation advisor for Sonima.com shares his observations from these intimate conversations, weaving in his own personal experiences with mending a broken heart. The bottom line: There’s no escaping getting hurt by a loved one, but you do have a choice in how you chose to proceed. “The only way we can get through our heartbreak is to sit in the middle of that terrible, devastating, world-changing experience,” writes Rinzler, who knows firsthand the benefits of meditating on a feeling. In November 2015, he co-founded MNDFL, a popular drop-in meditation studio in NYC.
A willingness to face your discomfort (rather than repress it with a pint of ice cream) can lead to living a more present and authentic life. It can teach you to see things for what they are, which in turn, can help you shift your mindset from one of anger and despair to hope and openness. To be able to love again, first learn to heal your heart—and your head—with these wise words from Rinzler.
1. Love needs space.
After a third date, you may find yourself fantasizing about a life with this person—the courtship, the house, the kids, the vacations—only to get dumped two weeks later. If this happens to you often, consider this: “We need to give our love room to grow,” Rinzler says. In other words, the more we can allow people, including ourselves, and relationships to develop organically over time, the better off we’ll be. “If we box it in with our notions of how things should be, then we’re dooming ourselves to a death by a thousand heartbreaks,” he writes. Save yourself from all that pain by being open to how things really are rather than how you wish they could be.
2. Give into all the feels.
When you’re going through heartbreak, it’s natural to feel a barrage of emotions. As overwhelming as they can be, the only way out is through. Let yourself burst into tears while walking down the street or chopping vegetables or some other innocuous scenario without judgement or commentary. “The only bad emotion…is the one you close yourself off to,” Rinzler says. Rather than attempt to force yourself to feel a certain way (i.e., happy it’s over), be open to the lessons your real emotions have to teach you. Try breathing into the pain for 90 seconds, then let it go. This will help you move toward healing.
3. It’s really not about you.
You may roll your eyes at the cliché breakup line, “It’s not you, it’s me,” but it’s usually spot on—even if you don’t believe it in the moment. “Often a rejection has much less to do with us and much more to do with what is going on in that person’s own head,” Rinzler says. Yet, too often, we create stories about how we’ll never find love or we’ll always fall for the person who cheats on us. This way of thinking only locks you in your own personal hell. Forget those false stories you keep telling yourself and accept the one the universe has planned for you.
4. Recover, then risk it all again.
As much as you want to, you cannot avoid heartbreak. It’s a natural and important part of life. So the best thing to do is to embrace it. “By showing up for [heartbreak], day in and day out…we show up for our life much more authentically and offer our love that much more deeply,” Rinzler writes. And if going through the pain of heartbreak means we get more out of every moment, including the best aspects about love, then isn’t it worth it?