How To Process the Unbearable Pain of a Breakup

I couldn’t process the unbearable pain of a breakup and my ultimate divorce.

I have never felt the depth of intensity of emotional pain as much as I did then.

It was so scathing that all I wanted to do was hide from the world.

My inner world felt like the combination of a raging hurricane, a bullet shot to the heart, and like drowning in a tsunami.

This probably sounds quite morbid, but the unbearable pain of a breakup felt like all these things.

My divorce crushed my spirit and soul. It crushed me emotionally and also helped me realize something that nothing in life had ever prepared me for.

I was incompetent and clueless about my emotional being.

Until that point in my life, I had actively denied my emotions. As a child, my parents told me in no uncertain terms that boys didn’t cry and to be more like a man.

Looking around my family, I noticed that all the men didn’t show emotions.

I thought that to be a man was to bottle up my feelings. When I was married, I regularly felt intense pangs of emotions and reminded myself that I had to be emotionless.

Of a long series of mistakes in marriage, it was probably my biggest one. Whoever knew emotions were that important?

Not only did I not know that emotions were essential, but I also didn’t know how to process them. I didn’t know what to do with them.

Emotions have such an overwhelming influence on our lives, and I wonder why it is that society doesn’t teach us much about them?

Why isn’t everyone required to take a class called emotional regulation?

Anyway, if you’re going through the unbearable pain of a breakup, I’m here a simple message for you today.

The key to surviving and thriving through your breakup is learning how to process your emotions.”

It’s going to be tough if you’ve never had any practice or experience processing emotions but no better time than when facing your most unbearable pain of a breakup for you to start working on your emotions.

There’s nothing wrong with emotions.

They make you feel terrible, but they are not evil, bad, or have any sinister intentions. Emotions are there for you to get insight into your life. To be human is to have emotions. To be a healthy human is to be able to process emotions ell.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad.

One of the first things I hear from people who reach out to me is just how intolerable the emotional pain of a breakup is. They tell me it’s the most unbearable pain they have experienced. They tell me that they hurt beyond words.

I feel for them and feel their pain, and I want to say to them that it’s ok to feel this bad. It’s important to your grieving, letting go, and moving on. There is nothing wrong with feeling bad.

Imagine you had some incurable disease. What you’re doing is feeling the pain of that incurable disease and then feeling bad for feeling the pain of that incurable disease.

You’re wanting to hide that pain from others, keep that heavy pain to yourself so that you can show the world that you are fine. You want to be strong, so your ex and your network of people don’t see you in this hurt place.

The way over it is through it.

The way to get over the pain is to get through the pain, which means that you have to be willing to feel the unbearable emotions, process them, and then release them. You can’t step over it or avoid it.

Let’s say you’re feeling bad about feeling bad, so you do something like find another relationship, distract yourself or find some other unhealthy vice. What you’re doing is avoiding doing the work. You are going to be carrying around unresolved pain and trauma for years of your life just because you feel bad about feeling bad.

Get curious about the pain.

Let your curiosity be greater than your fear,” Pema Chodron has said, and it’s one of my biggest lessons from her book When Things Fall Apart (affiliate link).

In the book, she suggests that we get curious and examine the things that are paining us. Let’s examine our emotions and look at it with interest. Let’s try to learn from it, understand it, and see what it has to say to us. Instead of simply feeling our emotions, we can think of our emotions as a sweet friend that we are trying to understand and extend compassion to.

It’s this very idea that makes you into a spiritual warrior. One of the most powerful passages from Pema Chodron’s book is this one.

To stay with that shakiness — to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge — that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic — this is the spiritual path.”

I talk about it more on my Youtube video.

What this passage means to me is that the person doing this deep emotional work is walking the path of the spiritual warrior. When you catch yourself going through all the emotions, that’s when you’re doing the work. In this place of anger, bitterness, sadness is where the spiritual warrior operates.

If you find yourself in this place of facing a breakup and dealing with unbearable emotions, then now is the time to face the emotions, process the emotions and let go of the heaviness of the emotions that are consuming your life.

To process your emotions when facing the unbearable pain of a breakup:

  • Identify the emotions. Just naming the emotion or calling it out is a big first step to processing your emotions. Identify your emotions for yourself, so you’re familiar with what it is you’re feeling.
  • Observe your emotions. Notice the heaviness, darkness, and overwhelm of your emotions. Get better at observing your emotions. Use your curiosity to gage and understand the emotions you’re feeling. Be familiar with the common emotions whenever they arise.
  • Get to the root. Identify the circumstances in your life that are creating the emotions. What specifically about the breakup is making you feel bad? What is at the root cause of you feeling the way that you are? What event or thought is triggering your current emotional state.
  • Allow yourself to feel the emotions. Instead of judging or resisting your emotions, allow yourself to feel your emotions. It will be unbearable and painful, but if you are mindful of it, you’ll be more aware of the emotions you’re experiencing.
  • Express your emotions. Say it out. Write it out. Sing it out. Dance it out. Find a way to express your emotions in a healthy way. Use poetry, writing or art. Use talk therapy or intimate conversations with friends. If you find your emotions too heavy to handle, share your emotions with a friend or professional if needed.
  • Face your emotions with compassion. Look at the emotions that arise with compassion. Inquire about your emotions. Find out the message they have for you. View it through a lense of kindness and compassion. Thank them for alerting you to whatever it is they want you to know. Thank your emotions for looking out for you and supporting your life.

At the end of the day, you’re going through a grieving process. This is what grieving looks like. You have to process in order to let go. The heaviness of the emotions will decrease over time if you continue doing the work of processing your emotions. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

You will not only come out healthier because of processing the unbearable pain of a breakup, but you’ll become more resilient in life. The people who are able to get through the hard stuff can process their emotions better and can be more open to love in the future.

The people who can’t process their emotions, suffer, and want to harm themselves or pick up unhealthy habits. Remember, emotions are emotions. There’s nothing bad about emotions and nothing to be ashamed of.

Face them, welcome them, speak to them, understand them, and process them. Go through the pain you’re feeling so you can let go of these unpleasant feelings.

If you need some support, reach out for coaching here. If you’re seeking some advice, send me an email here. For my book on letting go, pick up The Sacred Art of Letting Go here. (affiliate link)