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15 Valuable Lessons That The Pain Of Heartbreak Will Teach You

15 Valuable Lessons That The Pain Of Heartbreak Will Teach You

Finding the silver lining. Turning lemons into lemonade. The rainbow after the storm.

You know them – all the sayings people tell us that are supposed to make us feel better when we face tough times. But here’s the thing, finding a silver lining is darn near impossible when we are so stuck in our emotions and negativity that we can’t see it. The key to getting through pain is to clear away the cobwebs so we can see the potential for future joy in the first place.

When I was widowed unexpectedly at age 31 with a new baby and a stressful corporate job during a crashing economy, I was in the deepest, darkest pit of pity, sadness and anger you can imagine. I was functional and taking care of my daughter, but the foggy thinking prevented me from seeing any sort of potential happiness. It was only when I was able to step outside of myself to see the implications of my mindset, behaviors and attitude on others, my career and my health that I started to see tiny glimmers of hope again.

Only by going through your pain mindfully can you possibly learn any lessons. If you wallow, feel sorry for yourself, complain and victimize yourself, it only perpetuates and prolongs pain. Here are 15 lessons you can learn throughout your journey to help you not only get through pain faster, but minimize future pain when stressful situations happen again.

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1. You will find your true friends.

It’s inevitable that some people will not be there when you need them most. It’s also inevitable that those who belong in your life will be there for you to hold your hand and stand by you as you work through your pain. Know that those who don’t hang around aren’t meant to be in your life. Those who do should be cherished for helping you through your difficult time. Be there for them too.

2. Your body will tell you what it needs.

The power of stress on our health is that the earliest signals that we are going through something painful show up as physical symptoms. Moodiness, headaches, stomach aches, weight issues, insomnia – all of these are the first indicators that we need some physical self-care while we figure out how to heal emotionally. Listen to the signals and take care of yourself by eating right, exercising and finding ways to laugh even when you don’t want to crack a smile.

3. Your goals will become clear.

There’s nothing like life-shattering pain to help you get focused on what is really important to you. Is it really about getting a bigger paycheck or is finding a fulfilling career more important? Is dating another person of the same type the right step or would it be better to be alone for awhile to know yourself first so you make better partner decisions? Big setbacks can lead to huge leaps forward when you look at how the situation could be different so be open-minded and open-hearted during painful times.

4. Your money will have more meaning.

If you’ve experienced financial loss, bankruptcy, job loss or massive debt, you know the toll it can take on your happiness, security and relationships. The best steps during financial pain are to be aware of your money habits and set up a new budgeting plan so you feel more in control. That will immediately lead to more meaningful and clear decisions about what you want your financial future to be like that isn’t filled with lack, debt or worry.

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5. You will know what you value in relationships.

When divorce, death of a partner or a break-up happen, not only do you lose the person, but you lose all of the dreams and plans you shared for your future. This forces you to re-evaluate what was missing in your past relationship so you can choose more wisely in your next one.

6. Your kids will learn from you.

When tough times strike and you have kids, they will watch how you handle YOUR pain and stress to know how to deal with their own pain and stress. Be mindful of how you self-soothe yourself during pain including alcohol and drugs, poor health habits, ways you speak to others and the energy you bring to a situation. If you over-drink, bad mouth and complain when you go through pain, that is how your kids will deal with their own pain when they grow up. Be aware and make the right choices to impact your kids positively.

7. You will become more independent.

No one knows exactly what it’s like to walk in your shoes. When you are hurting, people understand your journey even less. It’s up to you to dig deep to find the strength to get through each day even when you feel like curling into a ball in a dark room all day. Only you have the power to make choices for your life. This power can help boost your self-confidence and your independence when you see yourself moving through pain to a happier future.

8. You will discover that music helps you heal.

There’s nothing like a good sad song when you’re wallowing in pain, but you can also choose inspiring music to encourage you during bad days. It feels good to get a  good cry out every once in awhile and those monster ballads can help make it happen. But more important are the energizing and reflective songs that make you feel good, empowered and strong.

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9. You will finally embrace that mistakes are okay.

We are all only human. We WILL mess up – often and in big ways. Here’s the good thing about this – we’re all messing up together. You aren’t alone. And mistakes are just one more way to rule out a way not to do things to get you closer to the right choices for your life. Instead of crashing and burning when things go bad, accept the failure and bounce back with gusto.

10. You will become more resilient to big and small changes.

The more pain you deal with and get through with positivity, the better you will be at getting through future change and stress. Resilience is a much studied characteristic that seems to be bolstered by a positive attitude, having gone through pain in the past and how you’ve learned from that pain. Know that even if you feel awful now, it is serving you with strength for the future.

11. Your reactions to stress will be more positive.

When we experience bad stuff in life, we can either let it paralyze us into stress, anxiety and worry, or we can use the pain to propel us ahead. It’s up to you to decide how you will respond to stress. Painful situations have the weird tendency to help us get through stress more positively IF we let the lessons show up and follow through on them.

12. You will understand unconditional love.

When we are stressed, we aren’t usually at our best. We are cranky, easily agitated, tired, sick more often and don’t look great either. Those who stand by us even when we are at our worst love us unconditionally. That type of love can be our anchor when painful times happen and help us to love others unconditionally back.

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13. Your pets can be the best medicine.

There is nothing like cuddling up to a furry friend when you need to escape pain. Animals can’t talk back. They don’t expect anything from us except food, potty breaks and cuddles. They are truly the best example of the unconditional love mentioned in point #12. Plus research has shown that pet owners are happier and less stressed because animals boost endorphins which are feel-good chemicals that boost our moods.

14. Travel can open your eyes to new perspectives.

Getting out of your normal routine and heading to a new locale can be extremely therapeutic when you are suffering a painful situation. Seeing other people in new environments engages your brain and body in something fresh and exciting instead of wallowing in the sameness of the pain you are feeling. Get out and explore even if it’s just a new neighborhood nearby.

15. You will appreciate the good times more.

The old saying goes that without a little sadness you don’t appreciate the happy times. If life were just one steady experience of sameness, we truly would not know when a good time is really good. The down times give us a grounding into our human existence while the good times remind us that life is amazing.

There are so many lessons we can learn from pain. The most important one is that we need to acknowledge that there are lessons to be learned in the first place so we can look for them. Every day we go through the stress of heartbreak, loss, change or setbacks is one more day closer to the other side of pain.

SHARE WITH ME: How do you find the lessons in painful situations? What do you do when you’re feeling stressed to help counteract the pain?

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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