What Love Teaches Us: 17 Love Life Lessons We Learn From Heartbreak
Having your heart broken comes with enormous amounts of grief and loss. Often there is no easy way to get rid of that pain. Instead, it's something that you need to process gradually until you reach a point at which you might be able to open your heart to someone again. Some days, you'll doubt that it will ever be possible to move on. You may find it hard to shake all the painful memories of your past. On other days, however, you'll start to glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel and may even feel ready to start planning parts of your future.
Any time your heart is broken, it's vital that you find a way to make use of the experience. As it turns out, what love teaches us when we're sad is just as precious as what we learn when things are going well. In fact, there are certain types of personal growth that can only be facilitated by great loss, so it's important that you spend time on self-reflection even when the urge to repress your emotions is strong. Here are 17 of the more profound and meaningful love life lessons that we can only internalize through the pain of heartbreak.
1. You Find Out Who Is Really There For You
Those who are there when your heart is broken are the people who really care for you, and who are willing to go through difficult experiences with you. While fair-weather friends might disappear until you're able to be more “fun” again, true friends will listen to you, support you and ensure you never feel alone.
In some cases, they'll also say the difficult things that you need to hear in order to help you move on. And when life becomes easier and happier for you again, you'll have a better sense of who deserves your emotional investment and who does not.
2. Change Is Scary But Needed
Left to our own devices, we often stick with the comfortable and the familiar, even when it's not really working that well for us anymore. When we face heartbreak, we're also forced to face change. You may find this terrifying and destabilizing, but it also kickstarts a transformative process that allows you to reexamine absolutely everything about how you live. This is the perfect time to rethink your career, your values, and your goals, as well as what you want from a relationship.
Further down the line, you may realize that this change was necessary even though its source was unpleasant.
You may find it hard to ask for help when you need it, especially if you were raised to believe that you should be self-sufficient or were told that only the weak rely on others. However, it's virtually impossible to travel through heartbreak alone.
In reaching out for much-needed support you will realize that it's not only okay to do so, but it's also positively good, strengthening your relationships and your self-esteem.
Once you've asked for help in such a difficult situation, you may find it more straightforward to ask for help more generally, making all of life's hardships just slightly easier.
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4. Time Heals Wounds, But Some Lessons Last A Lifetime
As noted above, heartbreak can feel endless at first. However, you'll soon discover that the pain fades with time and that it gradually becomes manageable. In contrast, the emotional and psychological lessons that you learn last forever, and help to guide you through all your future relationships. You'll know more about what you want and need from a partner, so you'll be less likely to spend time and energy on people who just aren't right for you. Crucially, you'll also know for sure that you can survive even the worst forms of adversity, and this can make you bolder in pursuing new connections.
5. There Are Always Silver Linings
While we all know the saying “every cloud has a silver lining”, you really have to live through heartbreak in order to see that it always comes with surprising benefits. Sometimes, for example, a difficult breakup is needed in order to guide you to your ideal partner further down the line.
In other cases, it's an experience of heartbreak that will push you into making massive changes in your life more broadly. While you won't immediately see the silver linings attached to a broken heart, trust that they will come. When you look back in six months or a year, they'll begin to appear.
6. You Have To Take Responsibility For Yourself
One of the toughest lessons from heartbreak is that you need to take accountability and responsibility for your actions, your needs, and your feelings. This doesn't mean that your grief is your fault – far from it.
Rather, the thought is that you can't rely on someone else to take care of you and regulate your emotions. Often, when we get deeply attached to someone in a relationship, we become dependent on them or view them as the source of our happiness and value. A breakup is a hard but important reminder that this happiness has to come from within, as does your self-worth.
7. You Are Not Defined By Your Relationships
Similarly, going through a heartbreak helps you to take stock of the fact that you're an individual. Your identity isn't subsumed by that of your partner, and it isn't defined by your partnership.
When a relationship ends, ask yourself what may have been lost within it. Which parts of you were pushed down or put to one side to make the relationship work? How can you nurture those parts now, reclaiming them as positive aspects of your individuality?
In addition, remember that you are always worth something. You don't need to be part of a couple or do anything for any other person for this to be true.
8. Everyone Goes Through Heartbreak
If you haven't had your heart broken before, you might have thought it would just never happen to you in this lifetime. On the contrary, it's a universal experience, and it's one that is important for growth and self-knowledge. Once you've been through it, the process is demystified and you come to understand that it's just part of life. It is painful, but it can't be avoided. This new awareness can help to encourage you to take more risks and put yourself out there more, as you'll know that there's no way to simply hide from all pain or discomfort.
9. Mental Health Is Just As Important As Physical Health
When your mental health is good, it's easier to underestimate how important it is and to focus on taking care of your body. However, when your heart is broken, you realize just how crucial your mental well-being really is. This can push you into looking after your psychological health more deliberately and thoroughly. Further, this is a habit that can improve and extend your life.
Give some thought to how you can best practice self-care during your time of heartbreak. Plus, consider how you can continue to care for yourself in the longer term. Often, it's a dip in mental health that makes you determined to maintain it in the future.
10. You Remember Your Old Goals And Inspiration
Just as a breakup can reacquaint you with parts of yourself that were suppressed in your relationship, it gives you an opportunity to reconnect with your old goals.
What did you give up or defer in order to please the person you were with? How could you pursue those aims now?
Once you start to think about this and begin to make plans, you'll often find yourself overcome with an old surge of inspiration that you haven't felt for years. Once again, this is part of reclaiming your identity as an individual and looking beyond your role as someone's partner.
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11. Heartbreak Fuels Creativity
Many of your favorite songs, novels and poems were likely written in times of heartbreak. Going through such a monumental loss tends to fuel creativity. So, give some thought to what you could do with your feelings. Whether you write, paint, make music or take photographs, you can find ways to channel your pain into something beautiful.
In addition, remember that you don't need to document your precise experiences if you don't want to. You can simply use your feelings as the basis of a piece of art and then spin the story into something else entirely.
12. We Don’t Always Get What We Want
If you've had a charmed life so far, having your heart broken will teach you the important lesson that we don't always get what we want. Even if you're generally lucky and happy, certain things are beyond your control. After all, all lives are made up of both joys and miseries. Although this seems like an unpleasant lesson, it's also a reminder that you can choose to make something good out of the times when you don't get what you want. Each time this happens, ask yourself what you've discovered, what learning you'll take forward, and how your life will be different in a positive way.
13. Independence Is Underrated
Many of us give up our independence when we get into relationships. While this can feel safe and reassuring, having your heart broken can push you back into an empowering level of independence. After all, when you're entirely autonomous, you can choose what to do with every aspect of your life. Your time and your money are yours alone. Your sole responsibility is to make decisions that work for you.
Try making a list of the things you'll do with your new independence. Bonus points if you would have been unable to do these things while still in your old relationship.
14. Emotions Can Be Fleeting And Unreliable
Breakups show you something important about the transient nature of emotions.
Everything that we feel, whether it is wonderful or horrible, is temporary. Going through heartbreak shows you that even the most unpleasant feelings are fleeting, and this can be a source of strength for you in the future.
It is healthy to practice a kind of detached acceptance of your emotions. This is a cornerstone of mindfulness exercises, which teach you to observe your feelings and view them as something that stands apart from you. Viewing feelings in this way can be freeing, making it harder to get caught up in despair in the future.
15. Love Can Bring Out The Worst (And Best) In People
Any experience of heartbreak shows you that love brings out extremes in all of us. We can be at our best with our partners, and also at our very worst. This is a useful lesson to take forward into new relationships, reminding us not to expect perfection of ourselves or others.
Further, try to remember that how you feel and behave during moments of extreme distress is not a reliable guide to who you are as a person. So, do your best not to feel embarrassed or ashamed about this period of your life. Plus, don't draw too many conclusions about your identity.
16. Everything Happens For A Reason
Everything that happens in your life is part of a narrative that guides you toward your life purpose. At the time of heartbreak, you simply have to take it on faith that this is an essential step in your journey. However, later in life, you'll be able to see the role that this pain played in your development.
For evidence of this, think back to some previous difficulty you've experienced. Notice how you can trace out the positive developments that came directly from this challenging period. Be patient, believe in your future, and know that you’ll make sense of your heartbreak one day
17. Life Goes On
Finally, just as your emotions are impermanent, so is every stage of your life. When you have your heart broken, you start to see that even the most devastating experiences don't stop life. It continues to move on, changing around you, and in time you will change as well. Relationships can be tumultuous and deeply hurtful, but they won't stop you from moving on. Try saying “Life goes on” as an affirmation to remind you that this is merely a difficult phase of life, not your whole story. In time, this will just be a memory. However, the lessons you've learned will remain.
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