Using Heartbreak as a Compass to Find Your Purpose

If you’re like the rest of us, heartbreak isn’t the first place where you’d look for the spark to ignite the...

find your purpose

If you’re like the rest of us, heartbreak isn’t the first place where you’d look for the spark to ignite the transformation, to lead you towards a purpose driven life. We don’t want heartbreak, we don’t want to deal with grief, we do our best to run away from pain, not give into it. Yet, there is Glennon Doyle Melton, telling us to allow our pain to become our power. And there is Eckhart Tolle talking about how each disaster is also an opening. And there’s also Marianne Williamson teaching us to navigate through our suffering, not hide from it.

When Things Fall Apart

Glennon Doyle Melton is not your typical #1 New York Times bestselling author. For almost 20 years, she was lost to bulimia (since she was 8!), alcoholism and drug abuse. After she unexpectedly became pregnant, she decided to show up in her life, to stop numbing the pain she was feeling since she was a child. She got her life back on track, she got married and had more children, she shared her story and built an online community around her, but life had another punch to throw at her – in therapy, her husband confessed he’d been unfaithful for their entire marriage.

It was after this new heartbreaking moment that she fully understood Pain, and it started with a Pema Chödrön quote from the book “When Things Fall Apart”:

“If you can sit with the hot loneliness for 1.6 seconds today when yesterday you could only sit with it for 1, then that is the journey of the warrior”.

That’s when she figured out that we’re not what happens to us, but we might be what we do next, that pain is not something that needs to be fixed, but the price for love. If we manage to get ourselves to sit with our pain for a bit, we grow stronger. Heartbreak isn’t something we must avoid at all costs, heartbreak is where the people we currently are become the people the world desperately needs us to become.

Not everyone can be still with their pain

Glennon realized not only that hitting rock bottom has its gifts, but also that not all of us are strong enough to sit with our loneliness and pain. And when we don’t know how to be still with it, we have to pass it on, and we do that by hurting others, by being mean to those who love us.

If instead of lashing out, you accept pain as part of life, and you stop fearing it and feeling ashamed that you’re dealing with it, you will discover, as Marianne Williamson once said, that “you can have a more expanded life because your heart and mind have also been expanded.”

Use your heartache as your compass

We don’t feel pain only when we’re going through something though, traumatizing, we can feel pain even when we’re reading the news or take a look around us. Glennon Doyle Melton thinks that if you find the thing that breaks your heart, you’ll find your purpose. It’s a very similar concept to the way Tabby Biddle taught us to identify the causes closest to our heart in our article on the importance of women’s voices.

If something breaks your heart, it matters to you, even if you wouldn’t want to consciously accept it. Being able to work toward changing the things that cause you pain is one of the best missions you could embark on in life.

If you’re going through a tough time, remember that you’re a warrior and do yourself a big favor by watching this beautiful, inspiring speech Glennon Doyle Melton gave earlier this year.

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