Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Recovering from a Broken Heart

Heartbreak. Is there anything worse? I believe love lost is one of the most painful experiences that a person can have in a lifetime. Luckily, there are ways to move through this hurt and loss. Here are some tips on how to navigate with a broken heart. 

(1) Know that you are not alone

I know that you've heard this before. I know that you know that you aren't the first or last person to experience heartbreak. And I know in the midst of a broken heart, you don't really care. But it's not that kind-of alone that I'm talking about here. What I am talking about is: your ex-partner is hurting too.

How can I be so sure? Because pain is exchanged; it is not a one way street. If you are feeling pain within your relationship or during the split, then it is safe to assume that your partner is too. In fact, he is probably feeling pain to the same degree that you are. How do I know? Because our partners mirror us. We don't always realize how closely linked our emotional experiences are with the people we are closest to. Your pain is very similar. How he manages that pain, well that is up to him. But regardless of what he does with it, know that the pain is there. 

It is helpful to know that your ex is also experiencing a loss not because you want him to suffer, but because it eases the root cause of all pain: separation. Separations induce a sense a being alone, disconnected, and incomplete. These feelings can be intolerable at times. We can take feeling separated to really dark places: I'm unlovable, I'm unwanted, I'm not worthy. Why is it so painful? Because separations trigger your first wounds; the ones that happened to you (to all of us) when you were really, really young. This is the why the pain felt during a breakup can be so primal--it is your first wound, essentially, that is getting reactivated. 

We often can get caught in thinking that we are the only ones experiencing the pain of a separation. It is the mere experience of separation that causes us to believe this; we project the disconnection we feel within ourselves onto our exs. "He doesn't even care. He isn't even hurting. He doesn't feel alone." Know this: on some level, he is. It may not be obvious to you, and it may not even be obvious to him, but we don't go through major separations without feeling torn apart. You are not alone. 

(2) Don't bypass feelings

Feelings can be tricky. There are three specific ways to handle them--repressing, overindulging, and just plain feeling them--and you are most likely doing some version of all three. Navigate them the best you can (and reach out for help if you need too--a good therapist can be of great service when it comes to getting through feelings). 

Repressing feelings means you block them out or pretend they aren't there. When you don't feel your authentic feelings, they go into your unconscious to be played back at another time. For the sake of your future relationship, try not to do this. In order to heal and move on (meaning, move into a more evolved way of being in a relationship), then you have to feel you feelings. Sadness, anger, despair, loneliness, hurt…they are all part of the breakup process. Don't be afraid of them; if you let yourself feel them, they will move through you so you can move on. 

On the other hand, overindulging your feelings during a breakup can be tempting as well, but it just leaves you in a state of more pain. When you overindulge your feelings (meaning you feel consumed by your feelings) you remain in a holding pattern of despair and separation. This keeps you stuck. You can't actually move on until you internally move on, and this means moving away from the uncomfortable feelings. 

If you find yourself overindulging, set boundaries to keep your mind and heart in check (and on another subject). You have to pull yourself out of this space--meet with friends, do things you enjoy, remember the good times. It is easier said than done, but then again, you actually have more control over your internal world than you think. Putting yourself in a position to feel good is the only way for you to actually feel good again. 

(3) Remember the good

The pain of love lost comes from the loss of something good. Yes, you had good times with your ex, a lot of them probably. And it is ok for you to think about the good times. In fact, when you think about the good times you shared from a sense of fullness rather than lack, then it will speed up the process of bringing love to you again. 

Let yourself muse and remember the sweet times you had in your relationship. The times you listened to music and cooked dinner together, memories of travel or adventures, the way it felt to touch each other. You may be thinking "Is she crazy?! Why would I want to think about that stuff when I don't have it anymore?" You want to remember what you loved so you have it again, in the next relationship.

This also can be delicate territory to navigate. If you find that when you are doing this you just end up longing for your ex, then stop, it's not helping. But if you can remember what you had from a place of genuine happiness and love, then it is a good thing--it keeps your heart light, happy, and loving. This is what you want. The more you can get back to feeling a sense of love within, the more quickly you will heal. 

(4) Forgiveness

When you feel like a victim, heartbreak is incredibly painful. Why? Because being a victim means feeling powerless. No control, no choices, no options. There is so much fear that comes from feeling like you have been wronged and victimized--it is really scary. And you don't have to stay there. 

The way to rise out of victimhood is by forgiving. You have to remember that your  relationship was a two-way street. Just as our partners mirror our feelings back to us, they also mirror our experiences. When we go back and take an inventory of what happened in the relationship, it can be surprising to see how often we were actually doing the things we blamed our partners for. Did you feel betrayed in your relationship? Well how did you also betray him? Did you feel that he was dishonest? What were the ways that you were dishonest too? 

When we begin to get really honest about what happened within our relationships, we can usually see that we have done what was done to us. And this, hopefully, can induce a sense of compassion for your ex. Again, if you feel hurt, then he is hurting too. What happened between the two of you was created by the two of you--no one person is the victim. Taking personal responsibility for your part empowers you so you can move on.

Breakups aren't easy. There is no way around it. Gather your support, feel your feelings, reconnect with your heart, and know that you are going to be ok. You will make it through this. You are here to love; it is what life is all about. Do everything you can to take care of yourself and know that you will find love again. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Who Are You (Really)?

What masks are you wearing? What I mean by this is, what are the ways you're hiding from the world? How do you veer away from your authentic self? How do you change or alter yourself in relationships? The answers to these questions can be very telling as to why you aren't feeling happy, complete, or fully embodied in your life.

Your mask has a lot of different names: the "false self," the "conditioned self," the "learned self," the "ego." Basically what it is is the version of you that is not authentic. We all have this version of ourselves (and some of us have many versions, one for every occasion). The fact that you have a false self is nothing to feel ashamed of. It is, however, a part of yourself that you might want to get to know; especially because happiness comes from learning how to take your mask off.

Here's a short history of where your false self came from. We all received messages (overtly or covertly) when we were young about how to be in the world: "you should or shouldn't be, act, feel, think" a certain way. Naturally we internalized these messages to mean that we needed to be different than who we really are to be accepted. Hence the birth of the false self (good girls, bad boys, etc etc).

Unfortunately many of us have never taken those masks off--we are still walking around as an altered version of our real selves. This causes us to feel like something is "off;" either our relationships don't feel fulfilling or we feel a little fraudulent or incomplete. If you feel "off" in a general way it's a good  indication that your false self has taken over. It's time to take back the reins.

One of the most common places for a false self to appear is in romantic relationships. Why? Because romance makes us vulnerable, vulnerability makes us scared, and when we are scared we want to put our masks on! We do this for two reasons:  #1 we think that altering ourselves is a way to get people to approve of us (like when we were young) and #2 we believe that hiding behind a mask keeps us safe. Neither are actually true. Really all your mask does is make you feel distant from others. It is a protective measure that backfires in a big way; rather than helping you, it just keeps your authentic greatness hidden from the world.

Your mask is not the real you! The real you is behind all that altering and changing.  The real you is your essence, your authentic self, your SOUL. Your Soul may be hidden behind a bunch of stuff, behind the masks, but it's there. And it's waiting for you to make contact. Ask yourself these questions to realign with your true self:

Who am I really? (really, really)
What do I stand for?
What is my purpose?
What is my message?
What am I here to do? (like, on this planet type-of here!)
What is important to me?
What is my gift? What do I want to create?
What inspires me?
What do I really love?

Now live your life according to your answers! Is it always easy? No! It's vulnerable as hell! But it's worth it. Trust me. The fact is you are going to feel limited in your connections if you are mainly operating with a mask on. Your mask hides you--it keeps you at a distance. So in order to really start living your life, you have to start showing up in a more authentic way.

Let yourself out! Greatness does not come from hiding. You have greatness within you and it's dying to be set free. So show the world who you are. We're all waiting to see...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Love, Just Because

There are different ways that we experience love, but there is one love that trumps them all and that is Unconditional Love. Unconditional love is the biggest of the loves. It is the most pervasive. It is the love that radiates out and takes over everything in sight.

Unconditional love comes with a sense of oneness. Whether it’s people, places or things—when you are in a state of unconditional love you feel as though you are a part of something much bigger than yourself. It is a big, big love. Overwhelming yet soft, all-encompassing. Unconditional love is often wordless and timeless—it just is.

All love is good, right? I mean, who is going to bag on love? Not me. But let’s talk about conditional love for a second, because it definitely poses some problems for us, especially in relationships. Conditional love is: “I love you because ______.” And sure, we all love people, places, and things for certain reasons. Great. Especially if those reasons stay constant. But what if the reasons change? Or what if you do? Then what happens to the love?

Conditional love covertly occurs within a “get-mentality”—“I get blank from you and therefore I love you.” But when I stop getting blank from you, or during moments where I’m not getting blank from you, then we have a big problem on our hands. When the conditions of love change, then the love seeps away and other, not-so-loving feelings come into play. This type of love can create a real rollercoaster within a relationship. One minute your partner is doing all the things you like and you are in love with him or her; but the minute they mess up, ooohhhh, watch out! The love is gone.

Love can’t last alone on conditional love because we change! Often. Luckily, there is a kind of love that occurs regardless of the conditions and this is called unconditional love. Does feeling unconditional love mean you never feel angry or disappointed or other uncomfortable feelings? No. But what it is is a sturdier type of love that is made to last because it extends beyond getting something from someone else—it is about loving, just because.

The only place you can “get” unconditional love is within yourself—it is born, cultivated, circulated and donated by YOU! It is a love that radiates within you and out of you. Unconditional love is the highest form of self-love. It is about contacting (on a very regular basis) your heart, your Soul, your purpose, your joy, your deepest pleasures and meanings in this life. It is about knowing who you really are. It is about staying true to yourself and doing what you love. When you live your life in this fashion, you feel love. It is a love that just exists. Not based on conditions. Not based on outside sources. YOU ARE THE SOURCE.

When we begin to recognize that the greatest form of love we need exists within us (and not outside of us!) then we are in a position providing more for ourselves and others. The more we take care of ourselves, the more we meet our own needs, the less we are “asking” others to meet our needs for us. So much anguish is caused in relationships by this misstep—asking another to meet your unmet needs for you. It doesn’t work that way! What you don’t do for yourself, you partner cannot do for you. Love included. If we use someone else’s love to feel the love that is missing within ourselves then eventually we are going to hit the same block. No one can make us feel love if we don’t feel love within ourselves, for ourselves. The absolute key to cultivating a love that lasts is loving yourself.

Unconditional love is about loving yourself and letting that love shine out onto others. It is an act of giving—“I have so I share with you.” It is about knowing that you are made of love and that you are here to love. It is the love of all loves. This is the one that lasts. This is the one that makes you feel alive and purposeful and joyful. It is one that you should start working on feeling more of today. Contact your heart. Contact your Soul. Listen to them. They will show you the way.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Feelings are Meant to be Felt

Feelings end up in your unconscious when you don’t feel them. You stuff them deep down so they are mostly or completely hidden and walk around as if everything is ok. But it’s not ok. What shows up around you will prove that. Pretending your true feelings don’t exist won’t solve anything. You actually have to feel your feelings if you want to move on.

If you cover-up or hide your feelings, they get bigger. Hidden feelings gain more power in your unconscious and they begin showing up in all areas of your external life. They are trying to get your attention so will do something about them! The more we hide from our feelings, the more massive they get.  

Now, the truth about feelings is we cannot technically change them on our own. Feelings change when we let them take their natural course. And their natural course is being felt. But what we can do to hurry the process along is to actually take some time to get to know our feelings—what are they all about, why are they here, and what are they trying to teach you? When we start to get to know our feelings better, they start moving through us pretty quickly.

One thing that is important to know about feelings is that fear is the root of all feelings that we don’t like to feel. Worry, anxiety, fright, panic, despair, uncertainty, hopelessness—of course no one wants to feel these things. Fear is what happens when we stop believing in the truth about ourselves. Fear is what happens when we start believing that we are separate, that we are alone, that we aren’t completely worthy, and that we are missing something. Fear is the indulgence of the ego—it stems from the felt sense that we are incomplete.

The ego is not your truth. The real truth about you is that you are completely worthy. The real truth about you is that you are a loving person, filled with grace, joy, and peace. And this truth—the truth of your Soul—stays with you no matter what feeling arrives! This means that you are always whole. No matter how bad you feel, no matter how hard of a time you are having, underneath it all, even when you can’t feel it, love remains strong. Your capacity for well-being and love never leaves you. This is a big deal! You can always make your way back to feeling love and loved. Always. And you will. To do so, you must look your feelings in the eye.

There are two big mistakes we make when it comes to feeling feelings: we either repress them (oh hell no you don’t exist) or we indulge them (you exist in a big, big way—in fact, you’ve taken over my life!). Let’s talk about both.

Indulging uncomfortable feelings means letting them define who you are. It means surrendering your power over to fear. It means buying into the illusion that you are anything short of magnificent. Here is the truth—you are not your feelings. You are not your depression. You are not your anxiety. You are not your hopelessness. And you are not your fear. What you are is pretty f-ing magnificent. The truth about you is you are a stream of well-being who gets hooked into the ego’s delusion from time to time. Remember that. You are fantastic. And your feelings are just feelings.

On the other hand, repressing your feelings means you essentially turn a blind eye to them. You put your hand up and look the other direction. You pretend they aren’t there. But you know that they’re there! Resisting your feelings just makes them worse—basically, they get pissed off that you’re ignoring them and they start to riot. Resistance equals persistence. We use a ton of psychic energy and force to make our feelings go away, but we end up feeding them ammo instead. Bad move.

Instead of completely indulging your feelings, or completely resisting them, turn around and look at them in the eye. Figure out what they are all about. Figure out if they are even based in reality or not. Many feelings that occur within the present have very little to do with what is actually going on for us now; they are usually from our past. Again, most feelings of discomfort stem from the illusion of separation. They come from the very-false belief that you are alone, that you have always been alone, and that you will always be alone. This is a lie that your ego likes to tell you.

Here are questions that will help you stay present to a feeling when it comes up:

- What does the feeling feel like in my body? Where do I feel it?
- Where does the feeling come from? Can I determine the root? (Sometimes, we cannot)
- What am I really scared of? Is this the truth about me, or is this one of the ego’s illusions?

Now all this looking your feelings in the eye is definitely easier said than done. It’s not fun. But it's really the only way through. You have to be brave; but don’t worry, you are. You’re courageous, you’re strong, and you can do this. If you do, your feelings are going to move right through you, and you can get back to being the fabulous person that you really are.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Little Lies about LOVE

There’s a lot you should know about love if you want it get more of it. For example, you should know what it really is. And you should definitely know what it is not. There are tons of little lies floating around out there about love so I am here to set the record straight.

Truth #1: LOVE IS LIMITLESS! There is an ever-abundant supply of love. It never runs out; it only grows. This means, the more love you give, the more love you get! Period. End of story. Happily ever after.

Limits are a thing of the ego, and the ego is not where love resides. Here are some of the ego’s not-so-smart instructions on what to do with love when you feel it. You might recognize some of these:
Hold back
Not so fast
Shut down
Back up
Close up shop
If you give too much, you are going to run out!

Now let’s use our intelligent minds to think about these statements, shall we? Does it really seem like a good idea to put limits on the thing that we all want; the thing that makes the world go round? Shut it down? Come-on! The ego is way out of it’s league on this subject. Flat out, it's lying.

When you limit love, then it limits you. When you withhold love with the intention of getting more, it backfires—love gets withheld from you. The only way to get more love is giving it out. It's like a muscle—the more you work it, the bigger it gets.

Switch your mindset from a get-mentality to a give-mentality (real giving, not sacrifice—check out my blog Giving vs. Sacrifice to find out the difference), you are going to receive a TON MORE LOVE! Comprende?

Truth #2: LOVE FEELS AMAZING. This may seem obvious, however many of us walk around believing that the opposite is true. The ego is a mastermind in convincing us that love hurts.

Again, let’s think about this. Love hurts? Really? No it doesn’t! Not loving is what hurts! Denying love is what hurts! Withholding love is what hurts!

Everything that hurts is an act of shutting out love (everything!!! Bold statement, I know). The actual act of loving should feel nothing short of fantastic! If you think you're loving but it doesn't feel good, then you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere. That’s ok. We all make mistakes. Try again. The truth is: we all know how to love. Love is our purest instinct. All we have to do is reach into our hearts and make the decision to love, and we will.

Truth #3: LOVE LIVES IN YOU. Love lives in your Soul—your authentic self, your unconditioned self, the real you—whatever you want to call that part of you that is deeply connected to your heart. And your heart is open and ready to do business with you 24-7, 365. No appointment needed. Love is hanging out, waiting for you to show up.

You can tap into the good feeling of love anytime! There is so much out there to love! You can love anything. Seriously, anything! Your man. Yes, of course. You dog. Yes! Chocolate. Yes!! The trees, the flowers, the city, the country, your home, delicious food, good friends….(catch my drift!?) 

Love is about appreciating the beauty that surrounds us and the beauty that lives within us. You don't have to wait for love because the capacity to love lives inside of you! Love it all. Love the way the wind moves through the trees. Love the sound of the fog horn. Love looking into your lovers eyes. Love whatever you can. The more you make a conscious decision to love, the more love you are going to feel.
Here is the bottom line about love: It is impossible to be in a state of loving and not feel loved yourself. When your heart is filled with love, then love is what you feel. And that means, you have control over it! When you start loving more, you start feeling more love. Honestly, don't you think this world could use a lot more love? I do. Let’s start a movement of love by opening our own hearts and letting it pour forth. If you do so, you’ll be amazed at the gifts of love that will return to you.