“The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday. That’s guaranteed.” – Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook
We all suffer tragedies in life.
Break ups, abandonments, lost loved ones, and countless other bumps and bruises will take their toll on our hearts as we live.
It’s so tempting to close off to the world after we’ve been hurt… to look at the hand we’ve been dealt and say, “You know what… no. No more. I don’t like that I might be hurt again. I’m not going to offer my heart to the world anymore.”
It’s tempting to think to ourselves, “I can’t imagine ever hurting as much as I have in the past… but I don’t even want to risk it. It’s not worth it.”
But this choice of closing off to the world is what keeps us stuck. It keeps us from giving our gifts to the world. It keeps us from growing. It keeps us pessimistic and lonely.
And in avoiding the potential pain that someone might cause us if we entered into a relationship with them, we endure a low-lying enduring pain in loneliness… the pain of not trying… the pain of internal collapse… the pain of shrinking in to ourselves and holding back from living our lives more fully.
I have had my heart smashed to pieces repeatedly and I am thankful (at least in retrospect) for each experience that I have lived through. Through these trying times I have learned that there is a way to fall in love with others once more.
Here are three ways you can ease into love when loving someone scares you.
1. One breath at a time
It’s a romantic notion to say that you should just commit or “jump in with both feet”… but those things are a lot easier said than done.
When you’re dealing with past emotional wounds that keep interjecting them in to your emotional process it’s hard to just “jump in” to something that terrifies you.
I believe that our way back into love after having been hurt is a battle of breaths. It’s feeling the anxiety/nerves/sadness arise in your belly, allowing it to be there, and breathing through it one breath at a time.
You don’t have to heroically storm through the muddy trenches of your emotional warfare to earn your way back into love. Sometimes the bravest action you can take is inhaling some courage, and exhaling your doubt.
2. By questioning your thoughts
Don’t believe everything you think.
When you start heading towards a new loving relationship (or when love is even beginning to be offered to you) your ego will overwhelm you with excuses to keep you safe and in your comfort zone.
You might think things like…
“They’re too old/young/small town/big city/fancy/simple/etc. for me! It’ll never work anyways…”
“I’m not finished working on myself yet. I’m not ready for a relationship with anyone. It would be a waste of time!”
“Relationships are hard work and I don’t want to lose my sense of independence.”
“I like my life as it is already, thank you very much. Having a partner would just complicate things.”
“I don’t need a man/woman/partner to complete me.”
And all of these may have some degree of validity… but I would argue that the majority of the excuses that pop up for you are just rationalizations of you wanting to stay safe and emotionally hidden.
So whatever walls your ego tries to throw in your way on your path to loving again, have a healthy dose of curiosity about them. Listen to your thoughts and ask whether or not you want to engage in believing them.
You can even have statements on standby along the lines of “Thank you for your opinion, Ego, but I am going to choose to go my own way.”
3. Allowing the storm to pass without resenting the weather
When I started to fall for someone again after years of emotional closure it was terrifying. I had done my best to avoid feeling for so long that when I was finally offered a relationship with someone that compelled my heart forwards it was one of the most confronting things I had faced in a long time.
For several days after our first date my body felt like it was possessed. I had a full blown freak out full of journaling, tears, and hundreds of rationalizations as to why I should get out of it while I still could. By diving into my emotional storm head on I allowed the feelings to move through me. It certainly wasn’t easy… but it was necessary. And after the storm passed, I felt lighter. I felt my way through my emotions and I felt considerably more prepared to face my new partner head on compared to when I was trying to stifle my emotional response.
Emotional flare ups will come and go on your way back into love. They are natural, they are healthy, and they should be greeted as warmly as you would a house guest that you haven’t seen in years.
These emotional flare ups are your friend. They are a path way to your deeper soul connection with another human being who has nothing but the best of intentions for you.
How Do You Earn Your Way Back Into A Loving Relationship?
You will learn to love in layers. Just like anything else worth having in life, this will not be an overnight process.
So let it all in. Let the exhilarating wave of emotions wash over you and carry you to shore.
I know… I KNOW… that it can feel terrifying. And overwhelming. And oh-my-gosh-I-just-need-to-run-away-from-these-feelings-because-they’re-so-confronting-and-scary… but there is no growth in running away from your feelings.
Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is sit with your emotions without judging them, and feel them all the way through until the end.
I so believe in you. For your sake, the sake of the growth of humanity, and for the unknown love that is already heading your way, just breathe into it. You’ve got this.
I wish you the best of luck in your emotional journey.