top of page
  • Writer's pictureDebra

Why You Can't Heal Heartbreak at the Level of Mind

Quan Yin, Goddess of Compassion

About 6 years after my Awakening, I walked into a psychotherapist's office for the first time.

It might be hard for you to believe that I'd never been to see a therapist before. Like many other empaths and sensitives, I’d quietly suffered through a lot of betrayal, pain and abusive relationships before I reached out for help.

But now I was frustrated. I felt stuck in a cycle of self-sabotage. Despite all my efforts at Mindfulness and all those hours meditating, I was still being undermined by my pain body.

At the time I didn’t understand the idea of projection. I wasn’t aware how I was acting out of my conditioning and projecting past trauma onto present circumstances. All I knew was that I was getting in my own way and I was sick of it.

During our first session, my therapist said something to me I'd never heard before.

Until that point, I’d been doing all my inner work by myself, with the help of spiritual self-help books. What I heard that day never appeared in the print of any book I read, nor left the lips of any person who supposedly cared about me.

And it was exactly what I needed to hear for a profound healing crisis to begin.

You see, before then I'd been trying desperately to heal my heart at the level of mind.

I'd read hundreds of spiritual books by now and sat through thousands of hours of meditation. I felt that if I could just focus on being present in the now, I could train my pain to go away. That I could re-program my thoughts, like many do, by sheer will, with affirmations. That I could shift beyond feeling angry and resentful towards myself by telling myself those horrible things I'd been through didn't matter now that circumstances had changed.

Yet, that clearly wasn’t working.

Don’t get me wrong, I was very good at dissociating. I had always been good at detaching from my issues or finding ways to escape from them. But by now I had enlisted my intellect to do it instead of drugs or alcohol. I was still fragmented.

My new spiritual vantage point could easily explain away what I’d been through. I excused my abusers for acting unconsciously or out of their programming. I intellectualized my feelings and thought if I just continued to observe as the Witness, my pain would remain at a distance. That I'd find my peace with it.

Until something would trigger me.

Then I'd get all unraveled and painful feelings would come flooding back. My heart raced, pumping cortisol gave me the shakes. I would ruminate in shame for hours over the slightest mistake. What's worse is that underneath all the fluffy self talk, I still disliked myself.

No amount of meditation or self-talk could bring me back to center. It felt like my emotions had their own neural network, and I couldn’t unplug from it.

Until the day I walked into that therapist’s office.

Goddess of Compassion

After talking with me a little about the kinds of experiences I'd had in my youth that I was carrying around with me, he softened his gaze and said, "Wow, Debra, you've been through a lot."

It was the first time I'd ever felt this kind of compassion towards me. Raised in a household that shamed us into obedience, suppression and toughing things out, I certainly wasn't very patient with myself.

How else was I supposed to crawl out of a pit of hostility and self-pity without allowing myself to FEEL victimized, at least for a short time?

Before I left his office that day, my therapist gave me homework. Pointing to a statue of Quan Yin on his bookshelf, he said, "She's the Chinese goddess of mercy and compassion. I want you to go home and contemplate Quan Yin. Be gentle with yourself."

So I went home and sat with my feelings of betrayal and abuse, especially by people who were supposed to protect me when I was young. From here on, each time I heard my inner critic's voice, the one who said I was weak and bad, that I'd deserved what happened to me, that I should be ashamed for the circumstances I put myself in, I contemplated Quan Yin and the idea of self-compassion.

This frequent repetition of contemplating self-compassion brought me to a stage of grieving, and eventually an authentic integration of some the things that I had gone through in my youth.

Victimization as a Bridge

But, what's important to note is that I didn't identify with the victim mentality. I didn't cling to it as if it were a long lost part of me. I visited that dark cave for a short while, just enough to shift the frequency of shame I was holding onto.

As I let the tears fall without stopping them and told myself I'd been through a lot, I had a revelation. In that dark womb-like cave of grief, I came to recognize that shaming myself was a pattern I’d learned from my parents. I didn't have to keep doing it just because I'd learned it as a child.