By Dr. Annika
What does broken-hearted actually mean?
A little while ago, I read in a mainstream newspaper a little article that said that research had been done that showed that people whose hearts had been broken (emotionally) showed the same changes in heart physiology as those who had had a physically broken heart (heart attack). Their conclusion (predictaly) was that people with broken hearts should receive the same medication as those who have had heart attacks.
My question is: Should we offer the same care for someone who has had a heart attack as we do for those with a broken heart? Compassion. Love. Being present and allowing that person to express their grief. Connection.
Maybe the person with the heart attack is actually broken-hearted and did not think they were allowed to or supported to express what they had going on. Or they didn’t even realize that those were the emotions they didn’t allow themselves to feel.
My father had a heart attack in his forties, and when he woke up he thought “It doesn’t matter if I die!”. Once he heard himself say that thought to himself, he stopped himself and realized that maybe he should do something about the things in his life that made him miserable. (I am glad he did, or I wouldn’t have been born.)
I remember reading a paragraph written by Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of the amazing book “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom”, that describes how the family had been away, and she drove for hours to pick up her daughter from summer camp. She had been looking forward to catching up with her daughter, whom she hadn’t seen for weeks. As soon as they got into the car, her daughter fell asleep. And as soon as they arrived, she woke up and jumped out of the car to connect with her friends . At that point, Dr. Christiane’s heart broke, and she had terrible physical pain, as well as the emotional pain.
Dr. Christiane is adept at feeling what is going on for her, but most of us aren’t. Far more women are die of broken hearts (1 in 4 – same as men) than breast cancer (1 in 8), but nobody seems to take much notice of that. As a society, we are obviously very good at breaking our hearts.
In LifeLine technique, we have this saying that hearts don’t break – they break wide open to allow the next best version of you to emerge. Like a seed that births a tree or an egg that births a lizard, unless it breaks, it stays the same – meaning stagnation, wasting potential and ultimately, death.
So I encourage you to listen to the conversation your body is trying to have with you. Louise Hay, the doyenne of the self-help movement worldwide, wrote her first book “you can heal your life” on how to understand the symptoms your body is displaying.
And listen to your own words when you say things like “it breaks my heart”, “a pain in the neck”, “gives me the sh**s”, “twinkle in the eye”, “spring in my step”, “I can’t see that”, “feeling good in my skin”, “I feel numb”, “I am tense”, “scarred from an experience” and so on, because your language actually often reflects surprisingly accurately what is going on for you.
And honour your emotions as feedback. If you are broken hearted, admit it, express it, and create the change you need in your life to allow your heart to thrive. Listen to its whisperings so it doesn’t have to shout at you. It always knows your next best step.
And you will live longer and healthier for it.