On episode 66 of The Jordan Harbinger Show, Jordan interviews Guy Winch, author of the new book, “How to Fix a Broken Heart”. I’ve been talking to a friend lately about difficulty we face during breakups and after listening to this episode, I knew this would be useful for our conversations in supporting each other. Hearing why recovering from an emotional wound on “auto pilot” is bad for you, and “how our mind is going to be working against us and what we can do about it”, sounded like very useful information that could help provide some clarity into why we were responding the way we have been. I was also very interested to hear how we could be a “great source of support when someone, even ourselves is dealing with the loss of a relationship, a loved one, or even a pet.” It feels to me like we only talk about loss of a relationship or a loved one and I was curious to hear about dealing with the loss of a pet.
Beginning the conversation, Jordan asks Guy what he means by not listening to our emotional auto pilot. Guy explains by describing that when we’re younger and touch a hot stove, our mind learns how painful it is and will “make sure you remember never to do that again. (It’ll) make sure by reminding you about it frequently by making it very clear that you were very hurt by this.” He goes on to say, “that’s very good for a hot stove, but when our heart gets broken, our goal is to get over it. To get over it, we actually have to be able to move it out of our mind and diminish its presence in our thoughts. Except, our mind is trained to keep very painful things present in our thoughts.” Understanding how “our mind thinks it’ll keep us from doing this bad thing again” explains why some people swear off relationships after one ends. An interesting point I thought considering I do want a relationship in the future and my auto pilot wants the opposite.
Guy follows up saying, “what the mind will do in the initial stages of heartbreak is bombard you with thoughts and images about the person that are extraordinarily airbrushed and idealized.” That constant highlight reel playing would ultimately lead to what seems like a “brilliant idea”, a reason why you must contact your ex. My highlight reel often would begin when I heard interesting facts I wanted to share when listening to podcasts and feelings just like Guy spoke about would arise. My ex and I used share “fun facts” daily and it seemed like a great idea to continue that when something “useful” came my way. Jordan gave me some things to think about when he explores taking “actions that are emotionally uncomfortable when we’re trying to get over somebody”, asking Guy what actions are emotionally uncomfortable? It “means really sitting on (your) reactions, stopping yourself from contacting the person”, Guy responds. I feel like I’ve gone through that process to find a different outlet for sharing what I learn from podcasts and that motivated me to begin blogging about it instead. “To prevent yourself from doing the thing that’s ‘better for you’ but not the thing that comes naturally requires emotional effort. It’s emotional discomfort. That’s why most people don’t do it.” Hearing Guy’s explanations of the “why” our minds are doing this is extremely interesting, like to “focus and remind ourselves of our strengths and what we actually do bring to the table.” He even mentioned something I did do last year, making “a list of the qualities (I) have that are valuable in a relationship.” Repeatedly in this episode I felt like this conversation was helpful to better understand what my friend and I are currently dealing with.
Wrapping up the podcast, Jordan transitions to the loss of a pet. Saying, “I think a lot of people under estimate how much grief (losing a pet) can cause”, and “that there’s not the same kind of gravitas around the death of a pet than there is the loss of a relationship.” Calling this “uniquely isolating.” Guy goes to point out a unifying theme regarding “romantic heartbreak” and “pet loss” in that “both of those experiences cause authentic grief responses, but they’re not really sanctioned in society.” I can relate that our pets “follow us through every critical moment of our lives”, as my dog has been my support through divorce and the loss of my mother. Two very hard times, filled by unconditional love when I felt lost and without it. As Guy points out all the ways that a pet owner plans their day around caring for their pet, I began to realize how caring for my dog Paisley has become a key part of everyday life. “Everything we think about and do considers our relationship with these pets. So, the bond we can form with them is profound. And the loss is profound.” Being honest with the serious feelings of loss and finding a support group sound like very important steps to take when dealing with the loss of a pet. Guy also advises to pay attention to voids created by the loss. You may not be walking or running with your dog like you used to, or not have that social connection of being recognized as “Rexy’s Mom or Dad” in your community. “Real voids, real changes that in (your) life that got created by the loss of a pet that (you) really need to pay attention to.” Guy brings up many points I’d never even thought of but am thankful to be learning about.
Dealing with a broken heart is hard, and this podcast has many different ideas and strategies I hadn’t really thought of. I’m glad Jordan and Guy came together again after originally speaking on episode 328 of the Art of Charm four years ago. Knowing how your minds responds to heartbreak can help when dealing with this yourself, or if you know someone going through a hard time. I love podcasts like this because it’s not just about me getting better, but sharing the message with others who need it. I hope this episode makes a difference for anyone else who listens to it, and I also recommend listening to Guy Winch’s TED talks titled, “How to fix a broken heart” and “How to practice emotional first aid.” If we know better, we can do better. For me, that is where change can really happen.
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