This article originally appeared on The Good Men Project and has been republished with permission.
I’ve had my heart broken once and it’s enough pain to last a whole lifetime. There’s nothing else in this world that can make you stronger and mess with your head at the same time, more than heartache. It doesn’t matter if your parents, child, partner or a friend causes the heartache, it all feels the same. The intense emotional and sometimes physical pain may feel like it will never end. But it does, with time.
There is a similar intense feeling when you love someone unconditionally. It’s the inherent and profound sense that you’re opening into another realm of your soul. The heart opens so wide you can feel like your chest will burst open with joy. It has the intimacy and tenderness of becoming a child again, where everything is new, shiny and easy.
Often when you experience heartache such as losing the love of your life, you misplace a piece of yourself that holds you together. This is the one piece that makes you a well-balanced person. When your heart feels like it’s breaking, in a sense you start to break as well. The fragments in your heart reveal there’s nothing left for you to do because you feel like all hope is lost. This is when you must find the strength of a warrior if you can.
A Warrior of the Open Heart
A warrior of the heart experiences transformation through intense mental and physical pain. Their bravery encourages them to embrace self-discipline, mindfulness, ethics, honor, and intelligence when it comes to change. They develop an attitude of persistence by facing difficulty, pain, discomfort, fear, and sometimes failure — without quitting. A warrior understands these principals and doesn’t compromise them, which takes practice. Being a warrior is a lifelong commitment to oneself.
Several years ago I was in a relationship that was falling apart around me. I loved my partner so deeply that I lost myself. He was the one person I enjoyed hanging out with more than anyone else. As a television host, sometimes people have a persona of what they think you are, but with him, he really saw me for who I am.
At times it was uncomfortable being with someone who was completely honest and upfront. He had the 7 Personality Traits of a Game Changer but back then I didn’t understand what this meant. I’ve never experienced a relationship like it since, and I’m quite comfortable with this. Perhaps to a degree I still love him.
Looking back I remember that love hurt so much. Sometimes it was the pure ecstasy of loving someone unconditionally and letting go of control. But when we separated, I felt like a part of me died. My heart was so heavy, I vowed to never love again.
I remember crying myself to sleep every night and in the mornings before I went to work. It was a struggle to find anything remotely wonderful during these times. I moved countries, was in massive debt, sleeping on a friend’s couch, and working two low-paying jobs. The mental and physical pain seemed unbearable. I often felt like I was drowning. Then one night a friend called me and said these words:
“You’re not a victim. Be a warrior and fight.”
This was a major turning point in my life. My friend gave me the courage to become a warrior of the heart.
When you Vow “Never Again”
In last week’s article, Why Women Cheat (the answers may surprise you) I coveredthe reasons why some women cheat; it’s due to the lack of emotional connection. In my relationship, our emotional connection was severed on two levels. First, he couldn’t quite understand what I was going through and second, I didn’t have the emotional capacity to communicate what I was feeling and to ask for support. In our case, neither of us cheated, instead we lost the strength to work on our relationship.
It’s easy to get upset after an argument or a relationship breakup. This is when your heart naturally becomes heavy and you vow never again. But what if it’s just a simple miscommunication like you get caught out lying to your partner, or overhearing her joke about your shortcomings in bed – how do you react? Most of us react by withdrawing, hiding or closing in on ourselves.
This is exactly what happened to me. Back then I was fighting demons head on and quite unhappy. It had nothing to do with him at all. I had little to no support to help me get through what I was facing. My family and friends were in another country. I felt isolated and lost.
During these times, it’s pretty difficult to look a person in the eyes. Sometimes your chest or solar plexus becomes tense and contracted. You may have a shortness of breath and your heart can race. These are unskillful reactions to hurt. When you are closed you are unable to act. You’re trapped in self-protection, and you’re no longer free.
Live with a Heart that Hurts
I’ve learned it’s far better and easier to live with a hurting heart, than a closed one. With a closed heart, you become bitter and twisted. You no longer love yourself and self-medicate, become destructive and end up hurting yourself and the people you love the most.
On the flipside when you have a hurting heart you’re still open to the kindness of others and in turn, you take much better care of yourself. This means you become a better person to hang out with and in time your heart does mend.
As a warrior of the heart, you learn to stay in the wound of pain and act with spontaneous skill and love from that space. It doesn’t mean you solve everything or that the pain doesn’t go away.
It’s not easy being a warrior; it takes practice to master a heart that hurts. I’ve failed at this many times, but each time I try to remember some simple breathing steps that help me expand my breath and heart.
When faced with a breaking heart, here are some tips to help you act with love:
- Open the front of your body. This will enable your chest and solar plexus are less tense.
- Sit or stand up straight and full.
- Soften your chest, push your stomach wide and free and breath in and out.
- Look directly in the eyes of the person you are with, to keep the communication flowing.
- Feel your own pain.
- Take three deep, full breaths so your intelligence can expand.
- Respond as if you are talking with yourself. Know that the other person is feeling this intense pain also.
When you feel the entire situation with your whole body, you are able to sense the subtle cues and signals that you may miss if you are closed off. This will enable you to act with emotional mastery in the situation. A closed body shuts down and ensures you can never be receptive.
Through the difficult times with my ex, I wish I behaved with more emotional mastery as a warrior of the heart. Instead, I closed down and he became angry. But it never stopped me from loving him. After some time, I could see the anguish he was going through as well. He hid his feelings where I crumbled into a ball of mess. He became so strong he was unrecognizable. I never once got angry with him. I spoke to him with love, as if talking to myself. And this is something that I can be truly proud of.
Closing down is a denial of a person’s nature. When you learn to stay balanced in the wound of pain and act with love, you become a true warrior of the heart.
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