Last year I worked with a young man who just ended a three-year relationship. I watched as he went through the process of desperately holding on, blaming himself, lashing out, and feeling completely shattered and rejected. As a therapist I am able to stay detached from the suffering and let compassion lead the way, but If you are close to a young adult, maybe your own child, you know there is nothing more painful to watch.
The cold, hard truth was that I could not fix my child’s broken heart. I took a few deep breaths as I rubbed her back, remembering that all I needed to do was be a witness, and honor her emotions.
I remember the feeling of losing a love – you may too – going from being joined at the hip to feeling like you have just lost a limb. As an older adult helping a younger adults through this process you may rationally know it can be a good learning experience but it can be very frightening to watch. I remember my feelings of helplessness as my own daughter mourned the loss of her beloved a few years ago. In a bit of a panic, I did a good job of dreaming up worse-case scenarios: What if this very normal right of passage causes her do something impulsive and dangerous, or worse, turns into a full-blown set-back?
Today’s letting go exercise: Listening is loving
….Then I remembered the importance of just being present. The cold, hard truth was that I could not fix my child’s broken heart. I took a few deep breaths as I rubbed her back, remembering that all I needed to do was be a witness, just like I am with the young adults in my therapy practice, and honor her emotions. I did not need to come up with some clever solution, distract her with gifts, or spurt out overused (but true) platitudes like “time heals.” As I let go of trying to fix, and let myself simply be a witness to her pain, something shifted. I could feel us both relax a little.
We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!
Dr. Rick Hanson’s Foundations of Well-Being program can help you cultivate a resilient heart. This program is an ongoing, on-line, self-paced training based on practical neuroscience to help you boost your personal or professional mindfulness practice. CEUs are available for health care professionals. Click on the banner below for more details.