Anatomy of the Broken Heart

Anatomy of the Broken Heart - A man standing on a beach - Summer

Our relationships with others weave the fabric of our existence and constitute the mosaic of our life. In sharing our experience with loved ones, we find warmth, joy, support, companionship and often purpose and direction. Our connectedness with others connects us to the essence of life itself. We have a natural tendency to turn to others to receive information and validation about ourselves. Depending upon the stability and nurturing we received in our childhood, as our knowledge and comprehension of life and our own identity was developing, our dependency on the information and validation we receive from others is more or less pronounced.

The behaviors, actions and reactions of individuals who were loved, nurtured and supported in their childhood vary greatly from the behaviors, actions and reactions of those who were not. As the child begins his journey of discovery of the world and himself, he relies on his parents, family and other authority figures to develop his belief system about his identity, his value and his role in the chemistry of life. The child’s mind functions primarily at the subconscious level. As such, he will accept and integrate the information he receives from authority figures as truths. These truths progressively form his belief system and the reference parameters according to which he views himself, his value and moves forward, processing and reacting accordingly to the world around him.

The child raised in a stable, loving and supportive environment develops an underlying foundation made of positive beliefs, a sense of self-worth, balance and inner-strength, which allows him to bounce back from life’s challenges more easily. Those raised with the belief they are not good enough, not worthy enough, face the world fractured, carrying a gaping void within, which makes it considerably more challenging to address life’s difficulties.

This fundamental difference is clearly illustrated in the case of a break-up or the loss of a loved one. While the loss of a loved one is unquestionably one of the most painful experiences we go through in life, someone whose sense of self-worth was supported during the identity development phase of their life, will proceed through the stages of loss, grief and sadness with a foundation of strength, knowing life goes on and their identity remains unaltered.

On the other hand, someone whose sense of self-worth was shattered during the identity development phase of their life, tends to rely on the relationships they have with others to fill the gaping void left behind by the lack or absence of self-worth they acquired in early life.

In this case, when the relationship ends, the early childhood wounds of despair, abandon, betrayal and terror are reopened and compounded. The fractures left behind, having never been mended, are re-triggered.

The person is left with a terrifying sense of free fall, as if the ground had suddenly collapsed under their feet. The sinking feeling, often felt physically with symptoms such as nausea, stomach or digestive problems, shortness of breath, tightness in the throat or chest, can be experienced as panic attacks, bottomless despair, loss of identity and depression, potentially even leading to a sense of inability to go on, suicidal ideation or actions.

Our sense of self-worth is the spinal cord of our ability to go through life, act and react to the challenges we face, while remaining centered, grounded, solid and stable. With a healthy sense of self-worth, we are anchored on our path, balanced in the midst of the constant shifting and unfolding of life events and able to pause and react accordingly. We are not led by an exhausting compulsion to achieve and excel, driven by the deeply-rooted panic of reliving the rejection we experienced in early life. The status of our relationships with others is neither detrimental nor determining to our sense of self.

Consequently, when we are called to work with individuals who find themselves unable to recover from the loss of a loved one, the root of problem does not lie in the relationship they recently lost per se, but stems from a lack of self-worth acquired much earlier in life, often in childhood.

With hypnotherapy, we have the possibility to track the negative emotions experienced – be it a sense of despair or darkness, a sensation of free fall, panic, void, terror, abandon, betrayal or anger – back to their original cause to discover what initially prompted them to appear in the person’s experience. In doing so, the root cause behind the programming of the negative beliefs is unveiled. This allows us the opportunity to shift the perception, release the negative beliefs and ultimately, restore and rebuild the missing sense of self-worth.

The results experienced include a noticeable sense of relief, as if a considerable weight had suddenly been lifted. We acquire a new sense of inner-peace, lightness, acceptance and the realization that events unfolding around us are separate from our inner value and do not have the ability to damage it. This enables someone to stand in the face of a loss and understand that, although sadness and grief are part of the process, who they are within and what they have to offer remains unchanged and endures.

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About Genvièv St. Clair

GENVIÈV ST. CLAIR, Fellow and Former President of the Oregon Hypnotherapy Association, is an award-winning Board Certified Instructor with the NGH.

A Valedictorian from the Ivy League University of the Sorbonne in Paris, she graduated summa cum laude from the department of doctorates of one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. With specialized training in forensic discovery, and years of expertise in the medical and legal fields, she acted as a communication liaison in complex and critical situations, including duties for the Department of Homeland Security, the US court system, and leading medical centers.

Featured on Discovery Channel, radio and television programs worldwide, Genvièv is the author of Zen in the Art of Survival, published in the best-selling series Chicken Soup for the Soul, as well as Diving into the Unsolved Mysteries of the Mind, Make a Friend of Fear, Meditation in Motion, Life Line, The Gift, Emotions, and countless magazine columns and articles on performance, achievement and success. Her story is featured in Chicken Soup to Inspire the Body and Soul – Motivation to get over the hump and on the road to a better life. She produces an educational health and wellness series on YouTube.

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