10 Incredible Benefits of A Broken Heart

At the time I’m writing this, it’s been about six months since a major left turn in my life left me questioning and spinning and hurting and working hard to find my footing again. Most of you who are reading probably know what that feels like.

  • You’ve lost someone you loved
  • Gotten a terrifying diagnosis
  • Received unbearable news
  • Been rejected
  • Been abandoned
  • Or been left waiting for that thing everyone else seems to be getting—the proposal or the baby or the house or the job

Devastated. Disappointed. Heart. Broken.

broken-heart

When you’re in the midst of it, a broken heart can feel like one of the cruelest realities of the human experience. The months and even years after a broken heart can be excruciating and terrible. And yet… at the same time, seasons like these can be some of the richest, most beautiful of your life, given the right perspective.

Below are 10 incredible benefits of a broken a heart.

If you’re suffering from a broken heart right now, or if you know someone who is, I hope this encourages you.

1. A broken heart makes you brave.

Two years ago I met a woman who had lost her son in a horrific murder. As I listened to her share her story, I thought to myself: she is so brave. I couldn’t believe she was able to articulate her grief as beautifully as she was, let alone in front of a crowd of people, from a stage.

After listening to her speak, I went to introduce myself to her and told her how brave I thought she was. Her response went like this:

“Grief makes you brave. When you meet your worst case scenario, you realize you have nothing left to lose.”

I was so amazed by that, and moved and carried her words with me, even though I didn’t exactly know what she meant. I mean I “knew” in the causal way we know information, but I didn’t know deep down in my soul, like someone who has walked in those shoes.

That is, until I had my own tragedy. Then I knew. And all the things I had been putting off or making excuses about because I was terrified to be criticized or rejected, or to fall flat on my face… suddenly I realized I wasn’t (as) scared to do them anymore.

The “worst thing” that could ever happened to me had already happened.

And I had survived.

Grief shows you how strong you are. It reminds you time is short. There are so many things you think you “can’t” do until you just don’t have the luxury of being scared anymore.

2. A broken heart can make you wise.

These days, when I meet someone who is wise, I think to myself: that person has suffered. True wisdom is hard-fought and hard-won.

Anyone can have knowledge. You can read all the books and go to all the seminars and listen to all the “experts” and keep all your knowledge-bombs in your back pocket. But the truth is, wisdom is found in the trenches.

You can know the right path to take, but what happens when it comes time to take it?

Do you put all of those thoughts of yours into action?

A broken heart can make you feel sort of crazy, but that “upside down” feeling you get when life takes a violent and unexpected left turn is really just a recalibrating of priorities, a drastic move from truth from fiction, a growing up from naive to experienced and wise.

3. A broken heart increases your confidence.

Last year Elizabeth Gilbert posted “a letter to the brokenhearted” on her Facebook wall that, among all kinds of other beautiful things, said, “You know that person you thought you couldn’t live without? Look at you, living and shit.”

That made me die laughing when I saw it.

Because the truth is there’s nothing like proving to yourself you can do something terribly hard you never thought you could do to increase your confidence in yourself. Often times a broken heart forces us into places we would have never chosen to go without the catalyst of this situation we didn’t choose.

And as uncomfortable as it is… it is increasing your confidence.

Take a look around. You’re doing it! You’re surviving. You’re getting up every single day and moving through your life. You’re not doing it perfectly but you’re DOING IT and you’re doing a freaking good job! Your best today is good enough. Take confidence in that—despite your broken heart.

4. A broken heart fills you with gratitude.

I was on a plane a few weeks ago, looking out the window and thinking about all that had taken place in the past couple of months of my life, and two words popped into mind, without any effort.

The words were: thank you.

It was so strange, because for all practical purposes, my life was “worse” that day than it had been a few months prior. More drama to deal with. New financial fears. Fears of being alone. Practical obstacles to overcome. Letting dreams go I had been holding onto. Feelings of rejection. Etc.

But it was like suddenly I realized I had everything I needed—all the raw materials—for a really, really AMAZING life.

And when you start to get that into your heart and mind—that the best part about your life is that it is YOUR life, and you get to shape it and mold it and make it into a life you can be proud of—this profound amount of gratitude begins to take over and shape your heart and make you so thrilled to be alive.

The most amazing thing about this life is that we get to live it.

It is an incredible gift to be alive. What are you doing with it?

5. A broken heart teaches you to love yourself.

Anytime we face rejection from another person—a parent, a friend, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a spouse, a boss, a business partner, etc, etc, the next question we have to answer is: will I accept myself? Or, put another way:

Who am I in light of the fact that you did not choose me?

This is one of the most pivotal questions we will ever answer in our lives.

The answer to this question can go one of two ways, but heartbreak sets us up for a profound realization: that if we do not love ourselves, we will not be able to love other people, and we’ll never be able to accept true love from anyone. So our answer to this question determines our path forward.

Do I love myself?

One of the most memorable things a friend said to me when I was going through my big heartbreak was, “people are going to want to do nice things for you. Let them.” And what I found was it can be really challenging to let people do nice things for you when you aren’t sure how you feel about yourself.

It can also be really healing, as you learn to love yourself and accept yourself just as you are, without putting any more requirements on yourself, or any more expectations on yourself, to let people love you simply because you have decided you are worth the effort.

As you learn to love yourself, you discover you are really quite lovable.

6. A broken heart shows you that you aren’t alone.

One of the hardest parts about grief and heartbreak is it can make you feel alone, especially if you don’t have people who are willing to bear witness to the grief as it unfolds. Grief demands to be seen, which is why, when you’re going through a heartbreak, it’s all you want to talk about.

It’s why your friends get a little sick of you re-hashing the same old things, over and over again.

But the truth is we are not alone—and a broken heart, if we are willing to share it, begins to show us that. I love this poem (below) by David Whyte and how he speaks so beautifully to the fact that everything happening around us is happening for us and with us and begging for us to participate.

It’s called: Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden

transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny

the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,

even you, at times, have felt the grand array;

the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding

out your solo voice. You must note

the way the soap dish enables you,

or the window latch grants you freedom.

Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.

The stairs are your mentor of things
to come,
the doors have always been there

to frighten you and invite you,

and the tiny speaker in the phone

is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into

the conversation. The kettle is singing

even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots

have left their arrogant aloofness and

seen the good in you at last.
All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably

themselves.

Everything is waiting for you.

I LOVE that poem. My favorite line is, “put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation.” I can’t help but think about how often, when we feel alone, our response is to isolate ourselves. To let shame or grief or just the heaviness of our loneliness to take over the entire scope of our lives.

The truth is we are not alone. We have never been alone. We are part of a bigger drama unfolding. All we have to do is open our hearts and eyes to see it.

7. A broken heart opens space

I was in a yoga class the other day and my instructor explained how spring is that time of year when all the things that were frozen through the winter—in our bodies, in the earth, in our houses, etc—begin to thaw, and we experience movement again.

We begin to let go.

Think about the concept of spring cleaning. Why do we wait until March or April to purge all the junk we’ve been keeping in our house and finally clean the cobwebs? Who knows. It just seems to make sense, right? But the point is, as movement happens, new space opens up.

The same is true with a broken heart. When your heart is broken, when you lose someone you loved, or when you have to let go of a big dream, or when life doesn’t go as you planned, new space is opened up.

And here’s the kicker.

Next, she said, “there will be an incredible temptation to replace what is gone. To fill the space.” In other words, you may purge the clothes in your closet you never wear and immediately feel tempted to shop again. Or—you may end a relationship and feel like running out to date or hook up with the next guy or girl you meet.

Her admonition to us was this: avoid this temptation if you can. Sometimes it’s good to have open space in our lives. If you can stand the open space in your life for just a little bit of time, it can be the precursor to the greatest blessings you have ever seen.

8. A broken heart makes you humble and kind.

There is nothing that grows your compassion like having your heart broken. Once you’ve known the darkness of despair, it gives you a whole new level of grace and compassion for those who can’t seem to get past their grief, or who make counter-intuitive decisions as they’re trying to numb or manage their pain.

It’s a breaking down of your ego.

When you have walked in those shoes—when you’ve suffered and tried your best and watched everything fall apart anyway—you suddenly realize that most people, most of the time, are just doing the best they can.

9. A broken heart makes for great art.

Not only are our creative energies are put to incredible use in times of heartbreak, but the creative work that comes out of periods of intense suffering tend to be some of the most beautiful works of art the world has seen. As I think through the list of my favorite authors, I realize each one of them has suffered greatly.

The same is true for brilliant musicians, painters, dancers, athletes, etc.

Something about heartbreak gives you the determination, the tenacity, the gumption, and just the plain guts to say things you never would have said otherwise, to put to words or to colors or to action things that would have otherwise stayed stuck inside of you forever.

So if you’re dealing with a broken heart, how can you use the loss you’ve experienced to create something beautiful?

10. A broken heart is a catapult for who you were meant to be

Grief breaks you open, in the most beautiful and painful way, and what comes out on the other side is incredible.

It’s YOU.

A stronger, braver, more resilient, more through-and-through version of you. Your priorities are refined, you gain a deeper understanding of what you really want, what matters to you, where you’re going in your life and you’re less likely to detour or to let other people get you off track or get in your way.

That’s your “jumping off” place for your next season.

How is this broken heart—which, no doubt hurts like hell—setting you up for what is coming next? Even if you can’t see it yet, are you willing to believe it’s there?

Additional Resources:

28 comments on “10 Incredible Benefits of A Broken Heart

  1. Allison,

    Thank you for sharing this! It is such a good reminder of the gifts that are present for us, even in trying times. I especially loved the last point about how these times in our life are often the times that catapult us into a new season or a truer version of ourselves. Such a great perspective! I definitely can see in my own life how true this has been.

    Thanks again for sharing this! I always enjoy reading!

    Nicole

    • Nicole—yes, it is so difficult to see when we are right in the midst of the pain, but a broken heart is so often ushering us to something better. At the very least, a better version of ourselves. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  2. Thank you Allison – this is one of the most important and validating things I’ve read recently. Very encouraging. Its helping me to work – and write – through some of these areas.

    • Oh I’m so glad Beth. And yes! Writing is such a great way to process through grief. I don’t know what I would do without it. Thank you for reading. Appreciate you.

  3. How beautiful that a broken heart opens space, but how difficult to live! Thank you for this reminder. Also, thanks for the resource of David Whyte’s interview. It’s wonderful.

    • Isn’t that interview spectacular? I listened to it twice because I was so moved. It had me in tears at places, both times. So glad you enjoyed it and the post. Thanks Alyssa.

  4. Related to #8, my eyes were finally opened and I began to understand the difference between sympathy and empathy when I went down this path.

    • Yes, huge difference there. Not that sympathy is bad. Empathy just has a little more weight to it.

  5. I enjoyed your article very much. Working hard on divorce recovery and although it was terrible and awful, it wasn’t the thing I fear most in life… those things involve the safety and ongoing health of my children. I loved your article but then stopped short of the “additional resources” at the bottom. I’m not a fan of the book “Spiritual Divorce” … my former spouse was given that book by a licensed counselor to help him decide if he wanted to continue in the marriage. Some of the concepts presented there were more “new age” and, in my opinion, in opposition of what God wants for us in marriage. But thanks for a great, thought provoking blog.

    • Evelyn—glad to hear you’re working on your divorce recovery. It really is a long and beautiful process.

      The thing I liked about Spiritual Divorce is it talks about taking what is otherwise considered a terrible situation and turning it into a catalyst for your growth and improvement. I can see why, if you had a bad experience with the book, that it would leave a bad taste in your mouth. For me it came to me in the mail (a gift from a friend) after my divorce and I found it so helpful.

      Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. All the best to you!

  6. ah…. heartbreak, it’s a messenger sent via cupid’s arrow saying ; sorry,, baby, wrong way.

  7. A couple of years ago my broken heart taught me I was worthy enough to have a broken heart. It was the result of a hard won battle to get honest enough to understand for the first time I was worth more than I’d been accepting in the details of my life. I cherished many of the days when the pain was the greatest because it was truthful and for the first time I wasn’t hiding from it. It changed my life for the better and I’ve conquered so much since that time. I can even say there are moments when I miss those days. They were a sacred part of my life. This is a great post Allison!

  8. Well said girl,

    I agree and can relate 100{9ac618bfda39dd0c8c9a0232963cb9a2adfe54a7367c2d4954ad9e847b2e5305} with you there. Thanks for sharing this and the constant reminder that ¨everything is gonna be ok¨, like Romans 8:28 says.

    Blessings!

  9. If I could just say I’m not so sure this is such a great title–“incredible benefits?” That said, this article is really powerful and meaningful. You certainly went deep to produce this and I think it is really beneficial to those who’ll be able to read. There’s great honesty and affirmation in it. The broken hearted person can feel devastated. I think you’re gently throwing significant lifelines and different ones can resonate with different people. This writing certainly could be the outline for a book or a longer article. I’ve read it twice and it certainly resonates, and more so the second time, with me. Thanks very much for it. Best in your mentoring career.

    • Bob—I’m curious what you would have titled the piece? Always curious about that kind of thing. Glad you liked the content, though! Impressed you read it twice (I’m long-winded as it is :))

      • Allison, the title was a grabber but the juxtaposition of “incredible benefits” with broken heart was a bit jarring for me. Staying with your title, maybe “10 things to learn from a broken heart” or “10 life lessons (or lessons) to learn from a broken heart” or “10 things to remember from a broken heart” or, staying really close to your title, “10 gifts from a broken heart” (not sure if gifts should be in quotes or not). But the title comment was a quibble. The message is really affirming, written very respectfully, and ultimately very affirming. And no long-winded in it!

  10. Thanks for this advise. I just got a broken heart today because I had a chance to kiss my boyfriend but I blew it, and now he’s leaving the entire summer and I wont get to see him until school starts again…

  11. Allison,
    Thanks a million for such an incredible read. You are truly, one amazing human being. We are all so blessed that you put your ♡ out there by sharing your painful struggles and story with us and letting us know that first and foremost we are NOT ALONE & NEVER WILL BE ALONE, when it comes to something so physically painfull as having a Broken Heart is… It’s true time does heal all. How much time is the question and I believe there to be so many answers to that question seeing how we are all different and differ in so many ways. To each is own yet we can all TRULY RELATE TO YOU AND YOUR STORY. Thanks again for getting the conversation started. I apologize about the late hour. Reply I don’t expect, at this time. Just wanting some advise on how to help my Broken Hearted Son…
    He’s so Broken. The other day he’s like mom, why, why does it have to hurt so much… I’m so broken I can’t sleep, I’m in such, I said, “God Aweful Pain” ? He was crying so hard I gave him this HUGE HUG and we just stood there crying our eyes out. We all know this type of cry, for we’ve all felt this kind of pain. He gave me this look of, “How did you know” How could you possibly know the pain I’m feeling… I went on to discribe some more of what humans go through when their hearts are breaking beyond repair. Or so y’all think at the time… Eventually we all find love again. But what about those who haven’t and don’t think it possible. They say they are beyond SO DONE!!! NEVER GONNA PUT THEMSELVES OUT THERE AGAIN. NEVER EVER GONNA LOVE ANOTHER. CLOSING THEIR HEART TO LOVE. IT’S WAY TOO MUCH HURT TOO MUCH PAIN
    WHEN YOU TRY EVERYTHING HUMANLY POSSIBLE TO LET THE OTHER PERSON KNOW JUST HOW TRULY SORRY YOU ARE BY THE THINGS YOU DID NOT MEAN TO SAY. THINGS YOU WISH YOU WOULD OF DONE DIFFERENTLY. HE WENT AS FAR TO WRITE THIS GIRLS PARENTS A LETTER SAYING HOW SORRY HE WAS FOR THE BREAK UP THAT IT WASN’T THEIR DAUGHTERS FAULT. HE COULDN’T GET PASSED THE GIRLFRIEND’S IN THE APARTMENT TO TRY AND TALK TO THIS GIRL ABOUT THINGS. HE WENT TO COUNSELING. HE LET HER KNOW HE FINALLY LEARNED HOW TO COMMUNICATE HIS FEELINGS AND WANTED SO BAD TO WORK THIS OUT. SHE TOOK ALL HE EVER BOUGHT HER AND OPENED THE DOOR TO HER APARTMENT AND GAVE IT TO HER FRIENDS TO THROW AT HIM AND SAY IT WAS OVER. To just leave her alone. : ((( : ///
    Im trying to let him know he will find someone else that will have the same qualities that she had only better… It’s not working. Nothing anyone of us, me, my mom or my sister is helping him deal with this issue. Ya see his pain,anger,resentment,guilt runs super deep. So deep in fact, it’s consuming him. It’s all he can think about. He hurts so bad from this break up that he punched the brick wall in the basement. We took him to the med center, my husband, his dad and I. Only to find after an xray that this is not the first time he’s punched a wall. Hmm… That maybe he’s done this before and didn’t have it looked at therefore never knew it was broken at the time so his hand ended up healing incorrectly??? My son tells us, he’s not sure why but he becomes overwhelmed, at times, he doesn’t know why but he gets so angry he has to punch things!? He says counseling did NOT HELP HIM. He still has this feeling and doesn’t know where it comes from or why. It pains him so because he says he can’t explain it!? His sister bought him a pinching bag for $199.00. He made her return it. Although extremely grateful. He’s looking at one for $60.00 lol saying if she wants she can still buy him the less expensive one. But I want so bad to help him. He went back to College today to meet with a buddy to finalize some things for the apartment him and his 3 friends are going to be sharing for the school year and on his way there today got a phone call from one of those guys saying, Your Ex works at Blah,blah,blah…
    Soooo instead of him having a good experience today it ended up being the road trip FROM HELL!!!! ANY ADVICE you can give me at all on how to Help My Son move on… Open his heart again to love again, he will. We know he will BUT WILL HE HOW DOES HE GET THROUGH THIS PAIN??? I asked him, If she were to come back tomorrow? What would u do? He’s like, I wouldn’t take her back. She didn’t want me when I was doing everything possible to try and make amends before, he’s like I don’t want her back now. He said there’s a word for it he’s not sure what it is but when someone does something to him he can’t go back… He said it’s too late. He’s moving forward but is he Really HOW can this be considered Moving forward when you’re still dragging around the God Awful Pain from your Past?!?! Help Me, Help Him Please and Thanks a Million for your Valuable time and kindness in this very important matter to me and my family…

    Love Always
    Keep up The Great Work

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