Friday, July 6, 2012

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?

I’m a risk taker, that much should be apparent. From the obvious leaving-my-life-in-NYC-to-move-to-Hanoi,  to my daily decision to get on a motorbike and drive would appear from the outside that I have a reckless streak.  One that many people say they couldn’t share, but they could, they just don’t realize it. Taking risks comes in all forms, but for me the highest risk one can take is an emotional one, it’s falling in love.

Falling in love is the ultimate risk because you are handing yourself over, making yourself vulnerable and susceptible to heartbreak. That’s the thing we’re all the most afraid of, right? When we get involved with someone, we hope and pray that they don’t break our heart, implying that doing so is the worst thing in the world. However, the more I think about it, I realize getting ones heart broken, at least once, is an essential part of the growth process and self discovery.  The things we attain from these dark hours/days/weeks/months shape our entire outlook and from them we should learn:

Compassion: Hopefully no one in a relationship enjoys deliberately hurting the person that they’re with. If you do, I’m not even going to touch that. For everybody else, though, however much we try and avoid it, we are human and we inevitably make mistakes or simply don’t think, which results in upsetting those we care about. When you’ve had your heart shattered, you know what it feels like, and you sub sequentially become kinder and more considerate in your dealings with others (whether it be a romantic partner, a friend, an employee etc.) You possess an awareness and an ability to manage those around you. I can honestly say that I am a better girlfriend, friend, daughter, and person as a direct result of the hours spent sobbing in my room. This is not to imply that prior to heartbreak that one is callous and insensitive, it’s just often difficult to imagine what would be hurtful to someone if we’ve never been on the receiving end of that kind of pain before.

Resilience: The world doesn’t stop because someone doesn’t love us anymore. It may feel like we have nothing left but the fact of the matter is, that our existence and sense of self isn’t dependent on one person.  Nor should we allow it to be. We may want to crawl under the covers with comfort food, and it’s important to mourn but this is never a long term solution. After we’ve had our heart broken once, we realize that we can face misery head on, that a broken heart doesn’t equate to our world falling apart. We can talk ourselves through it, reminding ourselves that we’ve been here before, and not only survived but flourished. We can recognize that we’re in pain but that pain will subside and that we’ll be ok. This makes us more likely to “take risks” in our life, knowing that even if we “fail” that we’ll be fine. That it’s possible to pick ourselves up, dust off, and start again. This mentality is applicable not only to relationships but to other things as well (losing a job, failed business deal, loss of money etc) We are shown, by our own example, our capability to carry on.

Appreciation and perspective:  Captain Obvious here…when you’ve had your heart broken, you start to appreciate everything else good in your world.  The family and friends who offer unconditional love, support, and distraction; the job the challenges you; the goals you aspire to; the little things you often overlook; the next person you date; and most of all, the capacity you possess in creating your own destiny. You also gain a perspective that you didn't have before, you see things with fresh eyes and perhaps discover new opportunities that were previously unavailable to you.

Obviously, it’s difficult to embrace the attributes of what comes from a broken heart when we are actually going through it (though not so long ago I was able to reason with myself, reminding that I’d “done this before and would be ok” and it helped me pull myself together more quickly. Not move on-that’s different-but pick myself up.) and  I am of the belief that certain people come into our lives so we can learn from them. 

Despite this, there are also moments that we host acrimonious desires for those who broke our heart, we want them to share our experiences. We want them to regret what they did. Though 100% natural, this isn’t healthy and doesn’t help us in the slightest. Instead, maybe accept that they lack the insight that we now have, or that they were incapable of learning from the experience. Maybe them not learning is the most significant lesson we're taught.  Let us not be on that level, but rather take the heartbreak and turn it into a powerful tool that strengthens us in every aspect of who we are.

I think, rather than living in the fear of getting our heart broken, we should allow ourselves to be open to it, accepting that it may happen, but also that it may not. These are not things we can plan, no matter how much we want to. There is no real certainty in anything, especially when it involves another party. The only certainty we have is to ourselves. Jump in, love with abandon, it's worth the risk.


  1. Playing it too safe and not taking any chances sounds like a dull life to me. Sometimes you gotta risk big to win big. Of course, occasionally I make choices that I know will most likely lead to tears - mine. Sometimes it is worth it.

  2. Agreed. I have entered into things knowing they wouldn't "work out" but purely because it was what I wanted or needed at the time, and I learned and grew, which is really the most important thing for me.