When the world is in upheaval, and the daily news brings a fresh rash of sorrow and outrage, it can be tough to remain centered, to still claim joy as our birthright. Add to that heartbreak over the abrupt ending of a loving relationship, and it’s a pretty toxic cocktail. So, today, I decided to make a list of the gifts of a broken heart. Turns out, there are many. These gifts have revealed themselves to me not only in my own past heartbreak, but in my work with all of you. Thank you for being so generous in sharing your stories and trusting me to guide you through the process.
1.) Love. Big L-love. I feel loved and held and supported by God/Universe/Source. I trust the process. I trust that in the end love and joy will win. Not just in my little life, but for all of us.
2.) Community. I feel the love and sisterhood and brotherhood of all of you amazing people. You people freaking rock. My friends have been patient and amazing, acquaintances stop to give me a hug, strangers email me and share their own stories—a generous trust.
3.) Laughter. When I wasn't crying, I found most things absolutely absurd. Heartbreak has a way of putting things in perspective. And I chortle over my own foibles daily.
4.) Purpose. We all have one. We are all necessary to heal this world. And heartbreak has a way of focusing intention and marshaling resolve. Think of it this way: every soul born is an octave of God’s voice. Each voice has something unique to add to the chorus. And it is when we all express our unique talents and lift our voices in love that the universe is in harmony. Don’t ever doubt for a second the impact you can have on this world.
5.) Clarity. I now know EXACTLY what I want. And that’s a tremendous gift. The bar has been raised high and I’m grateful to my erstwhile love for that.
6.) Perspective. This too shall pass. I’m a speck in this immense, gorgeous universe. An important speck, as are you, but a speck. “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.” —Carl Sagan. And this heartbreak? I will look back at it and be grateful for its lessons. I don’t feel that way now, and doubt I will tomorrow, but I trust that one day I will be humbled by its transformative power.
7.) Resilience. We have all been kicked in the teeth at one point or another. And somehow, most of us, most of the time, get back up. And then go to do something fabulous, like raise a kid, or start a company or a foundation, or write a book, or bake a cake.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” —Theodore Roosevelt
8.) Transformation. One of my dearest friends, fellow coach Susan Leahy, says “Hold your conceptions of people lightly so as to leave them room to surprise you.” So wise, so true. Just as flame forges metal and pressure creates diamonds out of dust, so does adversity transform the human spirit. It’s a gorgeous alchemy. And not only am I going through a transformation, but I’ve been able to step back and allow other people room to surprise me.
And, by the way, difficult people are our best teachers. Pain is an incredible learning tool. If someone is causing me pain, I’ve learned to stop and get curious. What’s my narrative around it? Is it true? Can I reframe it into something that is more generous and compassionate? That feels better to me? I’m committed to being a victor, not a victim. I ask myself: What did I learn from this person? How have they contributed to my growth? What’s my takeaway? What do I need to release? What do I need to bless and manifest?
Case in point: My mother. I’ve had a very complicated and conflicted relationship with my mother over the years. And I am grateful that, through grace and therapy and what measure of maturity I’ve achieved, I’ve gotten to the place where I’m able to hold my conception of her lightly because she HAS surprised me. She has stepped up and been wise and wonderful and altogether lovely. As she said to me the other day, “Sorrow stretches out places for joy in your heart.” And joy is filling me even now for her wisdom and kindness.
Thank you. Love you. Grateful for you.
As a life coach and as a single woman, I am often asked this question: What is the one thing I can do to improve my dating life and relationships? I usually ask a question in return: What do you think it is?
The answers range from be more present to be more patient, and while all of those are wonderful elements that contribute to a happy and healthy relationship, the answer I’m looking for is: Follow Through. Do what you say you are going to do.
If I had to name one reason I see so many fledgling relationships fail, it is this: lack of follow through.
This is, of course, assuming that the baseline for any dating relationship has been achieved: mutual attraction, affection, and respect. If those magical and alchemistic elements are present then, my friend, the most important thing you can do is to follow through. Call when you say you’re going to call. Text when you say you’re going to text. Communicate about expectations. Be in integrity, be in alignment, deliver on promises. And pay attention to whether your new love interest is doing the same.
The beginning of any relationship sets a critical tone for its continuance. We teach people how to treat us. If you’re okay with being put “on the back burner,” then fine, it’s okay that he didn’t call, once again, when he said he was going to do so. If you’re okay with being last on her list, then fine, it’s okay that she, once again, cancelled your lunch at the last second.
Relationships should feel good, should add value to one another’s life, not detract. The next time you’re newly dating someone, if you observe a lack of follow through, stop and get curious. How do you feel about this? Do you still feel respected/cherished by this person? Or last on their list? If an explanation or apology is offered, does it make sense to you, or do you feel manipulated? Pay attention to your gut instinct. We ignore our intuition at our peril.
If you are showing up with integrity and alignment in your relationships, then it’s reasonable and healthy to expect the same respect in return. I’m not advocating being inflexible or showcasing a lack of compassion—people make mistakes, life happens, things can get messy and tough. But, if you’re seeing a repeated pattern in someone’s behavior toward you, and they aren’t owning that behavior and making amends, then it might be time to gently take your leave.
Think of it this way: Would you stay in a business relationship or partnership with someone who habitually didn’t follow through on what they said they were going to do? Successful executives treat their clients, partners and vendors with courtesy and respect. Is your love interest worth any less? Or, to put the shoe on the other foot, are you worth any less?
You are valuable; you are worth being made a priority. Seek and celebrate the best in those around you, appreciate the beauty that is this life, and delight will surely find you. And when it does, do your bit and follow through.
Certified Professional Coach Kate Buckley is committed to facilitating personal growth and systemic transformation. An intuitive and deep listener, she specializes in helping both individuals and organizations reframe their stories in order to reclaim their life—creating meaningful strategies to transform circumstances in order to thrive!