Why does our heart ‘break’ when we get disappointed
Oh, all the songs, and the poems, and the movies, and the literature… so much heartache, so much pain, so much indulgence in pain, sometimes bordering addiction, backed up by the widespread cultural acceptance and promotion of this feeling. I know no one that hasn’t had their heart broken. In my thirty years as a breathwork therapist I’ve heard so many stories, I’ve witnessed so much sadness, grief, apathy, rage.
In the toltec tradition, there is nothing to learn, there are only things to unlearn. To me, the concept of “unlearning” is central in supporting my clients. When, as adults, our hearts are broken, we are called to unlearn the notion/illusion that somebody, be that a person, an organisation or the world, can hurt us emotionally.
Emotional hurt has a direct effect on the body, it can get really physical and that makes it feel even more real. Our primal response to emotional pain is to retract, in order to stop ourselves from feeling. So even when the pain is emotional, our musculoskeletal system contracts and the muscles feel tensed, our cardiovascular system requires an in-crease of oxygen and so the heart rate and blood pressure increases, our brain system is in a state of anxiety, of poor concentration, of inhibition or promotion of pain, and our respiratory system shows signs of increased respiratory rate, shallow, interrupted breathing, and increased risk of infection. Our body loses its homeostasis and gets into a state of dis-comfort, of dis-ease. The pain is real, our heart is ‘broken’.
At a purely emotional level, the pain that we feel in those moments actually comes from closing our own heart. We shut down our connection to trust, to safety, to love, we put on our armour, and in doing so we stop ourselves from feeling, from being open, open-hearted. We live under the illusion that the hurt is caused by their leaving, by their dis-connection, by their separation, by their loss. But, the notion of losing some-thing/someone outside of you is an illusion. The true disconnection happens only with-in ourselves.
As with all fears, the fear of loss is just a reminder of a past event during our innocence and vulnerability, somewhere between our birth and the first two years of age, usually related to a separation trauma. Journeying with my clients in the issue of disappoint-ment, it is always a pleasant surprise for them, when they realise that part of their un-conscious wanted them to be disappointed. Sometimes, feeling disappointment by hav-ing their heart broken is for them a way to revisit that old trauma of separation, the illu-sion of their own separation from their source. I’m always amazed by the inventive cre-ativity of humans: how we can produce painful situations in our life, as a way to heal, little by little, our traumas and learned illusions.
Allowing ourselves to experience any emotional grief is ‘broken’ heart is always a great chance
… to keep our mind open
When we unlearn, we step outside of our existing mental model in order to choose a dif-ferent one. When we live by the notion that we are at the effect of the world, helpless and powerless, the conscious willingness to dismantle something that is not working anymore, in order to allow the perspective of a different outcome/thought/approach is inhibited.
Recognising that notions like “I am at the effect of others” “It’s not safe to connect, be-cause I’ll get hurt”, “Connection is something outside of me” may not serve us anymore. An open mind might also require from us to investigate whether we could do something differently next time so that we can have a more loving result for ourselves. Having the beginner’s mind is a superb therapeutical tool for healing and growth. Keeping our mind is open is about directing our mental power to a
… to keep our heart open
Love and Fear are the two states we can be at any given moment. Anything we think, feel, say or do, in every moment of our life, reflects our state in this continuum.
Whatever we feel, whatever the situation we are dealing with, it’s good to stop and ask ourselves: Where am I right now? Am I saying no/yes because I’m afraid or because I love myself enough?
As a therapist, helping the client to keep their heart open is not a fluffy new-age prac-tice. It’s a conscious, continuous, admittedly difficult decision in a fear-based society. Choosing love over fear is a truly revolutionary act of consciousness.
… by breathing and releasing the energy
Rationalising is good, explaining and deconstructing a situation is beneficial, giving a different perspective can be revealing, but it’s not enough. As we mentioned earlier, emotional pain has an impact on the all the body systems, ie endocrine, cardio, muscu-lar, brain. Holding back emotions takes a lot of energy, leaving us feeling drained, bur-dened and even achy or sore. Emotional pain leaves its own trail in the body, that can be navigated through our breath and healed. Through our breath, we can access traumas stored in the body, even from the time of our birth, and release them,
navigate through different levels of consciousness