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Loving Yourself Through Heartbreak and Grief

By Dr. Margaret Paul
December 05, 2016

Learn how to love yourself through heartbreak and grief, rather than continue to abandon yourself in ways that are hurting you.

Woman on a beach holding her temple, looking onward expressing grief.



Take a moment right now to remember times growing up that were very painful. Very painful situations might have been:

  • The loss of a parent, sibling, good friend, grandparent or someone else very close to you
  • Emotional abuse – yelling, name-calling, criticism and judgment
  • Physical abuse – being hit with a hand, fist, belt, coat hanger, switch, paddle, wooden spoon or something else equally hurtful
  • Sexual abuse – fondling, grabbing or other inappropriate touching, leering looks or lewd comments about your body, rape or oral sex
  • Neglect – having to take care of yourself and/or younger siblings, being a latch key child, having emotionally unavailable parents or other caregivers, being locked in a closet
  • Living in an orphanage or foster homes
  • Living in poverty, not having enough to eat or a place to sleep
  • Being bullied or humiliated at school
  • Being rejected by parents, siblings, teachers or peers
  • Other_________________________

Now take a moment to remember how you handled the heartbreak and grief of being so hurt and unloved.

  • Did you shut down, go up into your head, dissociate?
  • Did you become angry and try to hurt others?
  • Did you turn to various addictions to numb the pain – food, alcohol, drugs, nicotine?
  • Did you judge, shame and blame yourself, telling yourself that you were being hurt because you were not good enough?
  • Did you become a 'good' child, trying to be 'perfect', complying, caretaking and people-pleasing in order to try to have control over getting approval and avoiding more pain?
  • Other_________________________

As children, we needed to find ways of avoiding the pain that we were too little to manage, and that we didn't know how to manage. So we disconnected from our feelings, judged ourselves, and turned to various addictions and other forms of control to survive.

Which of these survival strategies are you still doing? Today, what do you do to avoid feeling the deep pain of heartbreak and grief?

Most people continue the survival strategies they learned as children, because they never learned how to lovingly manage the pain of life. But by continuing to avoid your pain with these self-abandoning behaviors, you are creating other forms of pain – such as anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, aloneness and emptiness.

How To Love Yourself Through Heartbreak and Grief

You can take the following steps to love yourself and manage pain with both past and current pain.

  1. Put your hands on your chest, breathing into your heart and inviting the spiritual presence of love and compassion into your heart.
  1. Let your inner child – your feeling self – know that you understand that he or she is feeling the deep pain of heartbreak or grief, that you are here with him or her and you are not going to leave him or her alone with the pain. You are going to love yourself through it rather than continue to abandon yourself.
  1. Stay lovingly and compassionately fully present with the pain until you feel it start to release. Once it subsides, then give it to Spirit and ask for inner peace.
  1. Open to learning with your higher self about any information you need about the situation causing the pain, and about what action would be loving to yourself.
  1. Take whatever loving action you are guided to take.
  1. Go back inside to see how you are feeling now. Hopefully, you are feeling some relief.

Do this each time the same pain or pain from a different situation comes up. With big losses and other very painful situations, the pain might come up over and over, and in order to not continue to abandon yourself, you need to lovingly manage the pain each time. You can do this same process to release past pain.

It's not healthy to store old or present pain in your body, so learning to lovingly manage and release pain is very important. You will find your old protective behavior, including addictions, naturally falling away as you learn to love yourself through your pain.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."

Join IBVillage and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.


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