Why Your Heart Keeps On Breaking In The Same Way

Why Your Heart Keeps On Breaking In The Same Way

By Heidi Priebe

Danielle Dolson

Every heartbreak tends to feel the same.

Have you noticed that tendency, too? The situations differ, of course. First it’s a breakup, then a rejection from a professional opportunity. One day it’s a feeling of physical inadequacy, the next a sense of shame over past actions.

The circumstances differ, but the feeling of pain, of inadequacy, is a well-worn place. A place your mind always returns to when things go wrong. A feeling that haunts even the best days with the threat of a return. A feeling you never really get over, despite spending so much time trying to avoid it.

And here’s the truth about that familiar heartache:

You never get over the feeling because you never face it head-on. Because every time it comes to you – that panicked, frantic feeling of inadequacy, you do the first thing you can think of to avoid it.

You turn the TV on. You call a friend. You line up the next person you’re planning to date, the next opportunity for escape, you pull up an Internet article assuring you that you are enough. You turn to the first thing you can find that will remind you that everyone else is the problem.

Except everyone else is not the problem. The problem is that you still need everyone else to feel okay about yourself.    

You need to be loved. To be accepted. To be admired. You need to know that you are making more money or dating more attractive people or succeeding in ways that other people are failing, in order to feel as though you’re worthy of walking alongside them.

The reason you never conquer your feelings of inadequacy is because you learned to mask and avoid them, around the same time you learned to walk and talk and be a person who exists in a social sphere. You learned to compare yourself. You learned to social reference.

You learned these things because when you’re three years old, social referencing teaches you that you can put a strawberry in your mouth, but not a power drill. It teaches you that smiling sweetly gets you what you want, while pushing someone over gets you in trouble. It teaches you not to put your hand on a hot stove (nobody else seems to be doing it!), but it also teaches you a lot of things you didn’t need to learn.

Like the idea that you are not enough as you are. Like the idea that you have to look a certain way, talk a certain way, exist in the world following a stringent set of rules, in order to be worthy of being there.

It taught you that your work or your net worth or your relationship status will define you. That without those things, you won’t be enough. And so you learned to spend your life chasing after these superficial stand-ins: things that serve as placeholders for the person you actually are. Things that hold you back from growth, because they are keeping you separate from your true vulnerabilities.

Not sure what your superficial stand-ins are? Think about the last thing that broke your heart.   

Maybe love didn’t live up to your expectations. Maybe you failed at a dream and had to move home. Maybe you acted in a way that surprised you. Maybe you fell and didn’t know how to get up.

The things that break your heart – and I mean the ones that really get in there and shatter you – are the things that tell you the most about who you are.  

They are your greatest ego defenses. They are your ultimate stand-ins. They are the things you are clinging to so desperately because they are the strongest defenses you have against yourself and the truth of your humanity.

Maybe you cannot be single because you’re terrified that you’re unlovable. Maybe you need to be rich because you’re afraid of not being in control. Maybe you need a path mapped out for you because you’re afraid of being lost and directionless. Maybe you don’t feel like you’re capable of solving those problems for yourself.

Of loving yourself when no one else loves you. Of controlling your mindset when your environment is chaos. Of charting your own course when all the compass arrows are spinning.

Maybe it was never your heart breaking, but your ego. That part of yourself that figured, ‘this will save me from myself.’ The part that figured, ‘As long as I have this, I’m okay.’

Now imagine something differently for me, quickly: Imagine being okay without that thing.

Imagine being unloved and still knowing you’re enough. Imagine being out of control and still finding stability and strength. Imagine having no direction and still moving forward in a way that felt authentic and true.

Imagine your heart being completely and utterly shattered, and not being destroyed by it. Not having to run back to the same old patterns of what broke you. Not having to re-create your heartbreak, time and time and time again, because it’s the only method you have for avoiding your deepest fear.

Imagine facing that fear instead. Imagine sitting with it: that horrible feeling of not-enough-ness. Imagine accepting it fully. Imagine not trying to run away.

Imagine meditating on that feeling of inadequacy, of pain. Imagine allowing it to exist in your emotional environment, letting it tell you a truth about yourself.

Imagine getting quiet enough and close enough to those feelings to finally understand what it is, exactly, that you’ve been running from. What part of yourself you have been guarding so obsessively, so fiercely, since the time you learned to walk and talk and understand your place in the world.

It’s that part of yourself that makes you think, “If I show this thing to the world, the world will be able to destroy me.”  

Because it will.

The world will break your heart and leave you in pieces and never pause to look back for a second. The world will pit all of your weaknesses against you. The world will chew you up and spit you out mercilessly.

The world won’t protect you from your fears.

But once you’ve learned to let in and live with those fears, you will not need protecting.

Because that thing you’re trying so hard to keep hidden? It’s the thing that’s going to save your goddamned life if you let it.

Take your feelings of un-lovability. That is a fundamentally human thing. Have you stopped to truly consider that? Everyone feels that way. You are trying to run from the feeling because you want to stay connected to others; to feel love and belonging and acceptance.

But those feelings – of love and acceptance and belonging – live in a land that exists on the other side of the pain that you are trying to avoid.

By accepting that you feel inadequate and so does absolutely everyone else, you are tuning into the very channel that you’ve been so desperately trying to find; the channel that connects you, at your core, to every other human alive. When you welcome in those feelings of un-lovability, you are tuning into a great universal ache and sadness that connects every living thing on this planet. Everyone aches. Everyone loses. Everyone is fundamentally alone.

And when you meet other people on that level – when you’re honest about where you’re at, instead of trying to hide it – you will feel a sense of connection that surpasses every superficial interaction you’ve ever had. Because when you meet people in that scary, uncharted land that lives beyond their fears, you are meeting people as they truly are. Without their masks. Without their ego defences. Without their bullshit. You are finally connecting human-to-human, instead of ego-mask to ego-mask.

And it doesn’t just work that way for love.

Consider the fear of being out of control. Imagine accepting it – allowing your mind the space to come to terms with the fact that to be human is to be fundamentally vulnerable and helpless. Imagine accepting that you can and might lose everything. Imagine realizing it would not destroy you.

Imagine developing the strength to thrive and find meaning even within the situations where you’re helpless to control your environment. Imagine the indestructible power that would arise from harnessing that ability.

Because the truth is, the thing that’s going to save your life is always hiding on the other side of your greatest pain.

Your pain isn’t meant to be avoided; it’s meant to show you the truth about yourself.

The truth about humanity. The thing you have to accept and make peace with in order to find what you actually want.

If you want love, get comfortable with feelings of abandonment.

If you want power, get comfortable with feelings of helplessness.

If you want abundance, get comfortable with feelings of deprivation.

Because once you accept and learn to exist alongside that big, scary fear that lives inside yourself, you will learn that it was only a façade all along.

Your greatest fear isn’t meant to keep you running. It’s meant to stop you in your tracks and show you to yourself.

Show you what is keeping you stuck. Show you what you’re meant to be working past. Show you what it is about yourself that you need to learn to understand and work with, in order to connect with the world around you in the most meaningful and powerful way possible.

But to get there, you first have to stop running. Have to stop defending your ego. Have to stop indulging in the things that break your heart, over and over again.

You have to first simply let your heart be broken.

And instead of trying to fix it, try to learn from it. And to allow it to teach you what the most honest part of yourself already knows to be true.

Heidi Priebe

Author: Heidi Priebe

Author. Blogger. Speaker. Founder. Person.