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Have you ever experienced heartbreak? Have you had a recent breakup or are you still struggling to get over a love from months or even years ago? So this episode is for you. But even if you're in a happy relationship, I promise there will be some wisdom for you today as well.
I know that one of the areas where so many of us have been experiencing stress and strain during this pandemic is in our relationships today. We're talking about heartbreak and how to deal with it, not just how to deal with it, but how to really, truly heal from it.
And so it doesn't matter if your heartbreak is fresh or if it's from a long time ago or maybe you're hurting from just a few disagreements in your current relationship. Today, I'm going to share with you three ways. We love why that matters. And four big questions and exercises for real, lasting healing. First, I wanted us to look a bit about the nature of love, because when we understand the type of love we want to feel, we can identify when we've healed from heartbreak.
I'll say that again. When you really understand love and what you want to feel, then you know, when your heart has truly healed from past hurts. I'll explain how it works. There's an idea about love that I came across recently, and that's that we fall in love with three different people in our lifetime, or that there are three different ways we love. This is an idea that's appeared in many places and I think that there's some real truth there.
But I also think there are a few things were missing that are causing some of our biggest challenges when it comes to having successful relationships and to feeling lasting love in our lives.
Now, I want you to close your eyes for a moment. Not if you're driving or walking or chopping vegetables, obviously, but take a screenshot of this and come back to this moment that if you can. Close your eyes. And just think back for a moment to your first romantic love. Who was the first person you fell in love with? It doesn't matter if you were 10 years old or 16 or 26 or 36 or 46. What was that relationship like?
Maybe they loved you back or maybe they didn't. Maybe you felt that obsessive desire to see and speak to them as much as possible. Maybe you're in that place right now. The first way we love for some of us, it's the first person we fall in love with is called the Love that looks right, that is the love where we can't eat, we can't sleep, we can't focus on our work because we're always thinking about the other person.
And in this love, provided that person loves us back, we mostly try and mimic relationships as we've seen them in popular media. We buy gifts, we write love songs. We maybe ditch our friends. We stand outside their bedroom window in the rain with a boombox over our heads, blasting Reiji. One wish I experience that. When I was in elementary school, I had my first huge crush on a girl and I absolutely obsessed over her. But here's the thing about the love that looks right.
It's really grounded in our deepest self. It's really from a place of true love. Instead, again, we're mostly mimicking the behavior we think we're supposed to engage in when we're in love. And we mostly go for people who we think are supposed to be right for us, even if they aren't. It's a lot about externals. I remember just thinking and obsessing over this girl, and that was exactly all the highs and lows I felt were just a replication of what I thought I was supposed to feel and behave like when I had a crush on someone.
That's what I'd seen in the movies.
And those images are so strong and vivid that they stay in our minds. This can also be called early stage love. For many of us, early love often feels like an addiction. And brain science now shows us why researchers took several groups of people. One group described their feelings toward their partners as steady and long lasting, and these people had mostly been with their partner for a while. Others describe their feelings towards their partner as more obsessive. The scientist put each of these people in a brain scanner and watched their brains while they looked at photos of their partner.
Among those who described feeling a more obsessive love areas of their brain lit up that correspond with addiction. But not so for the first group. So in many ways, we really can be addicted to love or our perception of what love is. And by the way, this early stage love behavior is not a bad thing. It's only negative if we don't move out of this phase and into a more lasting and contented stage within a few weeks or months, or if the obsession goes overboard and we become overly possessive or unhealthy, fixated on the other person.
Usually this addiction is characterized by the idea of lust. We think we're in love, but actually were in lust. Lust doesn't just mean physical attraction. Lust means that fascination, that curiosity, that obsession with the new, with the exciting, with the enthralling. We start with lust and we think it goes to love next. But it doesn't. It actually goes to learning. And that's what I mean by moving out of that lust stage into that learning stage.
Often we lust after people we barely understand or barely know. When we learn about them, we can elevate to love or we can realize it's time to leave.
The second way we love or type of love experience that I've read about and heard about is called hard love. This is the relationship of the time in a relationship where you learned difficult lessons, where you experience pain. Now, think back to whether you've had that type of relationship and who it was with and maybe with more than one person in this relationship, at least for a time, you hung on. You tried to keep it going because you wanted to make it work.
Maybe there were intense highs and lows. The good times were phenomenal. But then every time at some point, things would come crashing down. You fought a lot. There was a lack of trust. There were fights and friction. You gave too much of yourself. And again, maybe some of you are there right now. Maybe it feels like just about everything is uphill or a constant rollercoaster. These experiences are definitely hard, but learning those relationship lessons is important.
When we truly metabolize them, they put us in a position to have better, stronger relationships in the future. We all make mistakes of some sort in our early relationships. Pretty much no one is immune from that, myself included. But we can learn and grow from them, or they can leave us with deep emotional wounds and will come back to that in just a minute. And I don't know about you, but I've been dreaming about sipping a tropical smoothie with one of those little umbrella toothpicks on a beach somewhere, colder weather listeners, I promise I'm not complaining has it's not that cold in L.A., but a smoothie on a beach is not a reality right now.
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And our listeners get 10 percent off your first month with the discount code purpose. Get started today. I'd better help help dot com forward slash purpose. There's no shame in asking for help. The third way we love is what we all dream of, it's the love that lasts. Have you ever heard someone say, I never knew what love was until I met my current partner or my spouse? If you've experienced that yourself, you know what I'm talking about.
The love that lasts is the kind of love experience that is so supportive with the other person loves you for exactly who you are, where you feel like that person wants you to be the best version of yourself and where you can truly be yourself. The first time I felt that kind of love was when I was 18 years old. The person who connected me with that feeling was a monk. In fact, love that lasts doesn't have to be limited to romantic love, as we sometimes think.
If you've read my book, think like a monk, you know the story. The first time I ever heard a monk speak, I was in college and some friends dragged me to a talk by a man named Karonga Das. Incidentally, Gongadze is still one of my great friends and teachers and I interviewed him on this show a few months ago. And so please go back and check that out if you missed it. He shares some incredible wisdom from the monk perspective.
This third kind of love, the love that lasts, is what I think of as universal love. There's a spiritual path called back to yoga that isn't at all to do with what we usually think of as yoga, the poses or the positions that you see in a yoga studio. But it's to do with cultivating a total devotion to love in all forms, all of the kinds of love we can experience, love for our family and friends, love for nature for animals, romantic love, God, love, universal love, planet love, earth love.
All of it is encompassed by universal love. It's what we think of as unconditional love. And one of the things that I think it's helpful for us to understand is that this last kind of love, this universal love or the love that lasts, this type of love is not different from the first two types of love. It's not different from the obsessive love and from the hard love. It actually encompasses these ways. We love when you feel the love that lasts, it has this feeling of pain along with it sometimes, too, if you felt it, you know what I mean.
And that's not just with romantic love. I've had my friends with kids talk about that, too. They love their children and so much and so completely. There's almost a pain to it or even love for your pets or other animals can make you feel it because we care so deeply. And it's because we've learned that in life, inevitably, there is always some pain associated with love, whether that's because the other person intentionally or unintentionally hurts us or because we're aware that someday, inevitably, as time passes, we will no longer be together in this way, that we may lose them.
We want love to be pain free, but that's not love, it's not deep love anyway, it's not the love that will last. In a conversation with Oprah, Buddhist Monk Paymer children said, you can't know how to love unless you also know how to hurt. Often in our lives, love makes us make the biggest sacrifices, takes on the biggest stress, takes on the most pressure. Love is not about peace. Love is about accepting stress for the one that we love.
Of course, that stress doesn't mean accepting emotional or physical abuse, but it can be going through difficult times together to truly fall more in love with each other. What we need to do is learn to recognize and separate this kind of pain, the kind that's a natural part of universal love from the pain caused by injury, by wounds. That's the pain we need to heal and incidentally, pay.
My Children knows about both types of pain. Before she became a monk, she was married several times and had an extremely painful breakup when she discovered her second husband had been cheating on her. So let's talk about how we address that pain from wounds that we probably got when we experienced hard love. See, that's the pain. You want to heal the pain and the stress you get from experiencing a loving, fulfilling relationship. That's not what needs to be healed.
For many of us, even if we moved on to other relationships, some part of us is still stuck in the hurt of the heartbreak we've had before. And one of the reasons for that is we don't know how to do something I call Wise Healing. That's an acronym WIC for Weakness Insight's Service and Expansion. Those are the four steps we're going to take to heal. If you've listened to me for any length of time, you probably know that one of my big loves is football or as Americans call it, soccer.
As a long term football fan, I've watched many, many games easily, hundreds. And over my many decades of being a fan, I've seen many player injuries as well, because if you're playing the game long enough, you're going to get hurt in some way at some time, right? Of course, the same is true with love. There are two common responses to injuries. We either take a lot of ibuprofen or paracetamol or try numb the pain and maybe we take a short break or we bandage our wound, but then we get back to the game as soon as possible.
In love, we ignore our pain. We tell ourselves that person didn't matter. Then we fire up the dating apps and do our best to move on and to meet someone new as quickly as we can. The other common response is that we take time off and rest. We stop playing the game entirely and lay on our couch in love. It's similar. We're on the couch, not going out, not talking to anyone or watching sad movies and eating chocolate or ice cream.
I promise. I'm not talking about myself. And then eventually we start to feel a bit better and a bit better. And then finally, maybe we're ready to date again and then we get back out there. Here's the problem with both of these strategies. It's not that either is bad or wrong, but neither truly heals us. We've still got a wound that's been untreated. Here's what's not treating injuries properly. Looks like in the human body, let's say you tear a hamstring muscle when a muscle tears.
Your body doesn't replace that muscle tissue with more muscle tissue. It can't. The only thing it can do is replace it with something called collagen, which is more dense and less flexible than muscle tissue. And because collagen is replaced in kind of a haphazard way, it interferes with the way the muscle functions. And you're more likely to get injured at the same spot again, or you're more likely to develop a new injury because you're trying to protect that spot from getting hurt.
Our hearts and our minds are the same way when we get her emotionally. So how do we truly heal with a muscle injury? We focus on the site of the injury. A physiotherapist might do some massage to break up the scar tissue and they give us exercises to do what will help strengthen us. That will cause the collagen fibers in the wound to actually line up with our muscle fibers. And you know what's really amazing about that? Because collagen is a lot stronger than muscle.
When we take the time and put in the work to heal this way, we actually become stronger in the injured place. And once again, your heart and your mind are the same way. Ernest Hemingway once wrote, We are stronger in the places that we've been broken. I agree and I love that quote, but only if we practice wise healing.
You can think of me as your love physiotherapist because I'm getting too easy now, but because I'm giving you these four exercises designed to help you get stronger in the places where your heart has been broken. So our first step in wise healing is that we find a site of weakness, we find the site of the wound and we actually pan out from there. When a physiotherapist helps you heal your quad, they don't give you a bunch of difficult exercises to start with.
Otherwise you would just get hurt again. When we are suffering from a break up, when we are in that pain space, we tend to over focus on this wounded part of our identity. And so even though we have many other aspects of our lives and of who we are, this gets all the focus. We overemphasize its impact on our life. Our first wise healing exercise is based on the idea of a mind map where you get a big blank piece of paper and you put a topic or a goal in the middle, and then you write down any ideas or thoughts that come to you that are related to that goal or that topic.
It can be a great way to organize your thoughts or to brainstorm. We're going to do something similar. But in this mind map, it's more of a heart map. So screenshot this because you're going to want to come back to this. You're going to get out a big piece of paper. It's easier to do this by hand rather than a computer. And you're going to write the word me in the middle and circle it. And now you're going to ask yourself this question.
What are the other parts of my identity beyond being a romantic partner to someone? And what did they mean to me? OK, stop judging your handwriting right now. It's fine. Just go with it. You're not sharing this anywhere. You might share an Instagram allative. It's a work of art. You're going to write down the other roles you play in life. You draw a line from me and maybe you're right, sister or brother, you draw another line and write co-worker or another line and write parent.
What are all of the roles you play in your life? Once you've done that, you're going to choose the two most prominent roles in your life. So maybe that's daughter and boss or father and brother. And next to each of those, you're going to jot down three to five sentences about what those roles mean to you. Why are they important to you? What do you bring to others or to the world in those roles? So, again, you write me in the middle, draw lines from it with one line to each of the various roles you play in your life and for your two most important roles.
Right. Three to five sentences about each of those and what they mean to you and what impact they make in the world overall. What this exercise does is remind us of who we are, which is more than just our wounds, we're much more than our heart break from this supporting place and from this place of greater perspective. We're ready for the next exercise, which is eye for insights. Lots of you know that I'm a big fan of the filmmaker, Christopher Nolan, when I was thinking about healing from heartbreak.
I thought about his most recent movie, Tennet Don't worry, I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it. I'll just say that there's an element of that movie that's to do with going back in time and being able to examine and interact with what happened in the past in order to change the future. We can do this with our wounds. When the physiotherapist does this, they apply manual massage and maybe some cryotherapy or some electrical stimulation to the side of our wound to help break up the collagen so it can be reformed and reorganized.
In our case, we're going to go to the site of our wound as well to gain some insights that will make us stronger going forward. So, again, take a screenshot, get your paper out, or this time you can use the notes at. Your question that you're going to answer is what insights can I gain from this experience?
Or more specifically, what did I learn about myself in this relationship? Maybe you learned that you really don't want to be with someone who doesn't share your values like they don't want a family.
Maybe you realize that kids are a deal breaker issue for you.
Maybe you learn that you really need to be with someone who makes healthy choices because you need or just really prefer that kind of lifestyle and support.
Take 30 minutes to an hour and write it all down. A full hour is great because you want time to really go deep. The surface answers will come quickly. The deeper answers take more time where something cozy, get a mug of tea, sit in front of a fire, do this in a setting and in a way that feels comfortable and supportive because you might come across some uncomfortable realizations and that's good.
You may feel excited or energized by some things and others may not feel so great. But just like getting scar tissue massage, some discomfort often accompanies healing. If we can't let ourselves go there, we can't truly heal. Love can make us blind to others faults and challenges and our desire to feel good about ourselves can make us blind to our own missteps. When we love someone, we overlook things we don't see annoying or even destructive habits and behaviors. This exercise helps us look at those things now with fresh eyes.
Here's another question you can try. What did I do well in this relationship and what do I not want to repeat? Maybe you found yourself always putting your needs first and not truly listening to your partner. Or maybe you feel like you did a really good job of being clear about your needs and drawing healthy boundaries. Yet your partner was not in a place of being able to do that or to respect your boundaries. Again, write it all down.
And again, you see, these are not easy surface questions when looking for the deep stuff. When my children look back on a marriage, she found something surprising. She says, I didn't realize how attached I was to having someone else confirm me as being OK. It didn't come from inside me. It came from someone else's view of me. Once she understood that she knew she no longer wanted to rely on others for her sense of self esteem.
It was a painful realization, but it helped her shift something major in how she related to herself and those around her. Now we're onto the S in wise for service, one of the things that I think is beautiful is that when we are connected to love in our lives, we're connected to all love. When we feel the micro of our love in our specific relationships, it connects us to the macro of all the love that's in the world. Similarly, when we experience heartbreak, we can more acutely feel the heartbreak in the world.
We resonate with others pain. And so while on one hand that might make us feel like we want to hide from some of the other pain in the world, if we learn to help heal that pain, we can help to heal our own. According to the researchers at the University of Notre Dame, who followed two thousand people over a five year period, those who characterize themselves as very happy volunteered an average of five point eight hours per month. That's about 90 minutes per week.
Your next question, your healing process is how can I serve? You don't have to conquer world hunger simply making time to connect with someone else and ask them how they're doing or going help at a soup kitchen or mindfully caring for a child or a pet.
When we assume an attitude of service, even the things we do every day can help to serve us back because we're helping to heal the wounds and the heartbreak of the world. Our final step in ways healing is E for expand in physiotherapy. One of the things that's common is to give you a broad range of exercises that don't just focus on your injured muscle, but strengthen entire muscle groups and movements to heal from heart break. We're going to look back to what I was talking about in the beginning of the podcast with regard to universal love and how we can access that feeling.
As monks, we learn about Maya, which means illusion. Part of the Maya of love is that we can access it only in limited ways. So it is only through certain people. That's an illusion.
We imagine that there's a door guiding love that to express deep love and happiness, we have to find the one key that opens that door and that key is another person or in their pocket at least.
Fortunately, love is much bigger than just one person and it's bigger than just people. When you broaden your concept of love, you quickly see that there are so many ways to access it. You see that there are so many keys.
And when you really let go of the Maya, the access to love is limited. You see that there is no door at all, that the door blocking you from feeling loved and from sharing love with others is one that each of us creates as a perception.
When we look at love like there is only one type of love and one narrow path to it, and that we can access it through only one person. When we think we may have found that person, we start forming unhealthy attachments.
That's when we start projecting all of our needs and desires on them. That's when we become jealous and insecure. And our partner may be doing this too. We're so afraid to lose our key. We're so afraid that Door of love might closing us.
And so when we do break up, we feel broken, we feel ripped apart because we were so unhealthily attached in the first place.
One of the ways we can heal is to learn to loosen our grip on love so that when we encounter romantic love again, it can be like that healthy scar tissue that works in conjunction with our muscle, that we can learn to move together with our partner in ways that are independent of one another and that also complement one another. My teacher, Rosalind Swami, who practices Bhakti Yoga, says that in our desire for security and control, for knowing what will come next, we become rigid.
And that's when things start to feel scary and they start to break because we're holding them so tightly in a healthy approach to love. We relate to love and to our partners like we relate to the ocean. We don't try to control the waves. We learn to read them and serve them to interact intelligently with them in their flow. So our final question and exercise for wise healing is to help us relax our grip on love. It's to expand our perception of how we can access love, what are the sources of love in our lives so that we gain some perspective and don't pull all of this pressure on one person or on ourselves.
Again, it's screenshot time. Get out your notepad or your notes and reflect on this question. What makes me feel love? Or you can ask when do I feel love and just make a list? You don't have to overthink it. Maybe it's when my child hugs me, when my cat pops up on my lap and purrs, when the sun shines, when I'm hiking in the woods, when I'm sitting by a lake, when I'm talking to my parents, when I'm sitting here journaling, when I go to yoga, when I get to pillories, when I work out, I want you to take at least fifteen minutes to list out every person activity or setting where you feel in some way connected to love and do it any time you need to feel that expansion and that connection to love in your life.
Any time you start to feel yourself getting constricted now, just like an injury, a broken heart doesn't heal overnight. But engaging in these four exercises can help you feel more self appreciation, more perspective, more insight, and at least the start of some very deep healing.
I wanted to just leave you today with one last idea, and that is that love is a very large bank with no separate accounts. When we make a deposit in the bank, we all get paid. But another aspect of my around love, another illusion, is that if we offer love to someone and they don't repay us, that we have lost. There's a wonderful quote from Washington Irving that goes, Love is never lost, if not reciprocated will flow back and soften and purify the heart no matter where or how you offer love.
When it's sincere, it will come back to you in some way, maybe a completely different one, but it will come back to you. So for all of you out there healing from a broken heart, I see you, I support you. And I want you to know that you are never truly separated from love because you've chosen to live your life on purpose.
This podcast was produced by Dust Light Productions, our executive producer from Duss lt is Meesha Yousef. Our senior producer is Juleanna Bradley. Our associate producer is Jacqueline Castillo. Valentino Rivera is our engineer. Our music is from Blue Dot Sessions and special thanks to Rachel Garcia, the dust like development and operations coordinator.