Updated: Jan 18
If there is anything which is inevitable in life, it is the occurrence of heartbreak which we will ultimately experience. It may be the end of a relationship, of a career or opportunity, the loss of a loved one, or a culmination of things. The heartbreak will inevitably lead to pain and the onset of heavy emotions. But how we frame the circumstance, reflect on it, and learn from it can ultimately bring about immense good in our lives.
To give you a concrete example, I want to share a personal story. I can't tell you how many iterations of this story has gone through in writing, as to tell it wrongly would do everyone involved a great injustice. But it is this circumstance which continues to be a great source of growth for me, and I hope you can learn something from it as well.
For a majority of the last year I was dating a beautiful human being. She and I had a lot in common, and had fantastic chemistry. Life had brought us together in an odd series of events and circumstances, and it was a relationship which brought an immense amount of joy and positivity into my life. But through a series of major miscommunications, the relationship came to a very abrupt and painful end. She expressed some feelings towards my own habits and work which caught me off-guard, and I responded in what was probably the worst way imaginable: in written word, and in a very public format.
Now, the disagreement in question was my method of training and the type of training I believe adults really need to engage in. It also happened to be right around the time I was launching my online team "Strong Future Performance." We disagreed on how hard people (and myself) need to push ourselves to increase our health and fitness. And in the worst fashion of disagreement, I used the disagreement as a basis for one of my weekly blog posts (which has since been deleted; pro-tip, don't be as immature as I was then). Her opinions exposed a deeper frustration with my own industry, and I used harsh language and a stern tone of writing to outline my rebuttal. Needless to say, the relationship deteriorated in a matter of days, and brought about some of the deepest pain I've experienced in quite some time.
As time passes from heartbreak, it is important to reflect back and see the situation for what it is worth.
In many circumstances, most heartbreaking situations cannot be undone. We can only reflect and learn as much about ourselves or the world around as is possible.
And we must do so with as clear a mind as we can, in order to take a look at three distinct things regarding any type of heartbreaking event.
First, we have to look at what we cannot control. You cannot control or own every aspect of heartbreaking situation. In any circumstance, there are incontrollable factors, some of which includes other people. You cannot control other people and their opinions, emotions, what they say, or how they choose to communicate them. In my scenario, I could not control the long distance nature of our relationship or the limitations of video chats, phone calls, and text messages. Especially when some of the more context rich mediums among those is not always available to be used. Nor could I control the external factors and stressors she was experiencing in her own life. In a similar way, you are not able to control when illness strikes down a loved one. You cannot control the actions of another driver on the road. You cannot control each part of a heartbreaking situation, and acknowledging this is key for growing.
Second, we have to look at what we can control. Our views, opinions, and emotions are all under control. How we choose to respond to an action or event is ultimately something we have control over. And these things do ultimately play a factor in the heartbreaking experiences we may have. We may have limited fault, or significant fault. I had control over how I responded, the words I chose, and the medium I chose to react within. I carry a tremendous amount of the guilt and fault in my own heartbreak because of it. I had control of numerous factors, and I chose to not be careful. I contributed significantly to my own pain and heartache as a result. Likewise, you get to choose how you respond to certain events. How you reflect on your choices will ultimately dictate whether or not you use the heartache of today as fuel for making a hopeful tomorrow.
Lastly, we have to identify the actionable things we can do based on our reflections. What did you do well in the moment and can do again if a similar event comes around? What did you do poorly and need to improve on? For me, my own failings and understanding what I can control lead to me take workshops on communication. Which lead me to being far more conscious of the mediums I use to communicate, the words I choose, and what information needs to be disclosed to make sure the right message is communicated. For example, I chose to disclose the details of a very personal story and be a bit more vulnerable about my own life, in order to provide a more tangible example of heartbreak. I chose written word to lay out this post, because it allows a more neutral tone is used and the main lessons be gleaned from it. I've put constraints on my writing to allow for greater clarity; have you noticed how I've avoided the word "that" throughout this entire post? Lastly, I examined my own view point and have even changed my stance on how adults should train. I wasn't wrong per se, but I also was missing the mark on what adults want from their training. I had to make changes, and I thankfully have. We must identify and make changes as well, and it is a conscious choice you have to make.
Now I must say, this process may be challenging. You may have to face some the emotions and pain of the heartbreak again. You may have to relive the moment in pieces to truly reflect and comprehend how it impacted you, and identify the components above. But if you take the time to do the deep work, and open yourself up to some of those things, you'll find you be more able to take a heartbreaking situation and turn it into something which molds an shapes you into someone who is stronger and more resilient. It will make your Future Stronger.