How to move on after your life falls apart

Has your world has shattered into million pieces? Does it feel as if your life will never be the same again? Here's some profound advice on how to move on after a big setback

Distraught woman looking outside the window / how to move on

In a universe created entirely of energy, where energy is never born and never dies, it is unthinkable that a human experience could make us believe we’re so damaged, so hurt as to mar the innermost chamber of our being: the soul.

But it happens. There is pain so searing that we do, indeed, feel as if the very depths of our soul have been shredded to pieces. It’s no wonder we use words like ‘gutted’, ‘harpooned’, ‘turned inside out’. We feel as if our lives will never be the same [they won’t] and that the hurt will never go away [it will].

Here’s the thing though: despite the way it feels and despite the common words used to describe it, your soul cannot be wounded.

Know that the soul is infinite

Your soul is the epicentre of unseen energetic selves that’s tied to an omnipotent, omnipresent, intelligent force. Some call it God, Allah, Yahweh. I call it Source. Like a child tied to its mother in the womb with an umbilical cord, we receive connection and sustenance through this tie between soul and Source. This connection and these energetic spaces are infinite by nature. No awful human thing could ever alter that.

What you experience as retching pain is not your soul being destroyed but the story of your life being unceremoniously discarded. Though not a ‘soul wound’, the annihilation of your story is excruciating. The pain is the feeling of loss of what was. It’s the loss of a story so intricate that you based your entire life on it. Your mind races, your body aches, and your emotions feel heavy, all pulsing to some version of: what am I to do and who am I to be? This pain is the process of letting go.

What you experience as retching pain is not your soul being destroyed but the story of your life being unceremoniously discarded

Your story may be shattered

When my ex-husband came to me one balmy August evening to tell me he was having an affair, it became the first and most severe of several blows that left my life in shambles. By the end of September, I carried a wound so deep it became the chasm into which I fell flailing and utterly broken for many, many months to come. I had no idea what life was without standing beside the man who had stood beside me for so many years. I simply had no framework for a life without him.

I ended up across the country in my sister’s basement with two suitcases and little more than determination holding me together. Eventually a few boxes were delivered to the house to add to my belongings, the sorry remnants of what was once a full life, a full story.

In the beginning, I drifted through the days, determined to put on a good face. From outward appearances I looked okay. But inside I was lost. I drifted about like a ghost with nowhere to land.

Learn to look beyond the pain

Unexpectedly, I found myself waking up to the world around me: the feel of sunshine on my face or of the soft fur of a dog. These sensory pleasures brought me back into myself and back into the world—where my story awaited. Eventually I realised that life was still happening and unless I took charge, I would end up living a life stuck inside the wound and drifting about in confusion. I needed to make some decisions. I needed to move on.

Unexpectedly, I found myself waking up to the world around me

What I decided is less a story about what I let go of and more about what I embraced. If you had told me to let go of my anger and sadness at that point, I’d have been upset. Asking me to do that was like asking a mother to give up her child. I would have thought, “I have lost so much already. How could you ask me to let go of anything more?” The story I held onto might have been painful but it was what I knew and it was familiar—even if it only existed in the past.

So I didn’t let go. Instead, I embraced what was coming at me. You see you don’t have to make the seemingly impossible decision to let go if you instead choose to embrace the pleasure that is right in front of you: the smell of food cooking, the sound of your nephew’s voice, the weight of blankets in bed.

Make room for new experiences

The pain will be there. You can’t change that. But you can choose to embrace pleasure. And to be open to anything you have to let go of something. It’s the law of the Universe: there must be space available to take in something new.

Imagine a child that has been playing in the yard. You call her in for dinner and she runs to the door with her hands full of dirt. She stands there wanting to come in but when you tell her she has to put the dirt down to eat dinner she stubbornly says “No”. Her hands tighten. You see the strain. You know she’s hungry but she won’t give up the dirt because it’s what she has right now. Even the promise of something good in the future isn’t enticing enough to let go of what she has now. This child is you, your ego that is defiantly attached to your story.

It’s the law of the Universe: there must be space available to take in something new

Now picture that instead of asking the child to let go of the dirt you offer her a bite of the delicious dinner that awaits her inside. Imagine her mouth watering, realising just how hungry she is. She realises the evening air has cooled. And something warm awaits her inside. Will she let go of the dirt to accept this meal?

This is what happens when you let in the pleasure of what’s right in front of you. It just has a way of taking over. If you keep leaning into it, embracing it, the pain slips out. There just isn’t room for all the pain.

Be patient with yourself

Remember this is a practice. It can take time to shift from a state of chronic pain to becoming pain-free. While your soul is infinite, you are still very human, so have patience with yourself.

Remember that your deep wounds are a rite of passage into a privileged state of human existence. It’s from grief that we gain the greatest insights and deepest connection to Source.

Remember that your soul is not wounded. Your soul is a source of infinite energy and connection to a greater Source. You can rely on this connection and draw on it for solace, healing and inspiration. The pain you feel is a tear in the story you’ve created about who you are and the trajectory on which you were. This is an opportunity to create a different story.

Lean into pleasure. Embrace what’s in front of you. The smells, sights, sounds, tastes and feelings that you come into contact with—embrace them. They will guide you.

And know that these wounds are opportunities to go deeper, learn more and expand beyond what you were and what you are today. Lean in.

This was first published in the August 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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Heather Rees
Heather Rees is a strategist and coach for businesses and entrepreneurs. In her practice, Heather blends brass tacks practicality and a soulful approach to help individuals and businesses apply effective conscious strategies to gain the results they want.


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