After my breakup and divorce, life was a struggle. My feelings of sadness crushed me, and I felt consumed and controlled by the pain. Furthermore, I had no idea what I would do with my life or what my future would look like. All I could focus on was how I felt emptiness, fear and the pangs of rejection.
One thing was clear: I had hit rock bottom and was in the worst place of my life that I could remember.
Fast forward three years to where I am today. I can now say with confidence that my relationship ending and my subsequent divorce were the best gifts I’d ever received.
Of course, you're probably now asking yourself, "How?!" Or perhaps you think this revelation is unique to me.
Well, I'd argue that there are at least six ways to see heartbreak as a gift:
1. You realize that you complete you ... no one else can do that.
You complete me. This is one of Hollywood's most tried-and-true lines.
But I'm sorry, Jerry Maguire, you got it wrong. You complete you! Period.
Once you survive a breakup, you realize that you don’t really need anyone else to complete you or to bring you happiness. You discover that you yourself are enough. You don’t need anyone else to help you become whole. And in fact, thinking of relationships in those terms is dangerous, and breeds codependency.
You are the source of your own happiness. Your actions, self-compassion and self-care remind you that you are enough. Don’t allow loneliness or self-pity to hijack your self-worth.
2. You tap into your inner well of wisdom.
Odds are, your pain has been educational. You feel things that are unfamiliar perhaps, and likely that's why the experience is so scary and unsettling. But you also know much more about yourself now than you ever did before.
Yes, your heart’s broken, but in the process your mind opens, your feelings come out and even your spirituality awakens.
Heartbreak is a teacher that helps you become a better version of yourself. If there are ways to improve yourself, you learn about them. If you have an internal conflict or personal struggle, you confront it. If your past is haunting you, it comes up now to face you.
Now is the opportunity to do the internal work, become a better version of yourself and be thankful for the lessons you’ve learned about yourself. Hopefully, you won’t repeat the same mistakes in a future relationship.
3. You clear space for true love.
When you’re in the wrong relationship and with the wrong person, it’s hard to break things off. Most of the time this is because we believe it's better to be with someone, anyone, than to be alone.
But heartbreak from a relationship ending ruptures this false belief. You are no longer holding onto someone who’s “pretty good,” and as a result, you help bring yourself closer to someone who respects you, values you and connects with you.
In all contexts, you have to let go of what doesn’t fit in your life to welcome what does.
4. You open up your heart to new people and experiences (and to your true self).
Before your heartbreak, you may have felt disconnected from yourself. You may have become someone else to please your ex or to make the relationship work. You may have closed off yourself from your true feelings and kept them bottled up.
Now, keeping a brave face and faking it may have gone out the door. You have no choice but to confront your emotions, console your heart and come to terms with what you’re experiencing.
When your heart breaks, you let go of the walls that protect your heart and the walls you’ve built from your feelings. Become more vulnerable, honest and centered.
5. You feel a renewed sense of purpose.
When you go through a traumatic experience and the world has shaken you up, you have the opportunity to think about what you’re doing with your life.
When your heart’s broken, you can ask yourself: What truly matters to me? What do I value? What do I care about?
What do you want to make a central part of your life, and what do you need to let go of? As you go through this cleansing and simplifying process after heartbreak, you’ll have a better idea of why you’re here in this world.
Get clear on the messages you receive, and start making changes in your life to live your purpose. Do the work you were meant to do. Use the pain of heartbreak to serve others. Make your best contribution to the people around you.
6. You are more resilient when it comes to accepting change.
Before your heartbreak, you likely fretted about change and tried to avoid it at all costs. Of course, most of us feel this way.
But fear of change is a funny, vicious cycle. Fearing change actually keeps you fearful, anxious and paralyzed in life. When this is the case, you may never want to take any risks or challenges because change feels categorically terrifying.
This aversion to change often keeps us limited and at a distance from expressing our authentic truth. So I invite you to consider this: What if your heartbreak helped you deal with, embrace and accept change?
If something so certain as your loving relationship ended, maybe anything can end, and open the door for something new. Accepting change will not only help you feel more grateful for whatever you have in your life, it will help you react more positively to life circumstances.
If you can accept the unacceptable and survive the unimaginable, you are equipped for dealing with life as it shows up. You’ll realize that many things are out of your control. You can deal only with what unfolds in your life, with strength, faith and perseverance.