Friday, November 16, 2018

How to Fix A Broken Heart (2018) by Dr. Guy Winch, Book Review

How to Fix A Broken Heart (2018) by Dr. Guy Winch

You fall in love. You break someone’s heart. Your heart is broken. How to deal with this universal experience? Guy Winch is a licensed psychologist, author, and keynote speaker. His first TED Talk, Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid, has been viewed more than 50 million times (also, check out his latest TED Talk on the same book title). "A brok
en heart is unmistakable. We think of nothing else. We feel nothing else," writes Guy. "And often, we can do nothing else except sit with the immense pain, grief, and loss. Heartbreak can last for days, weeks, months, and even years." 

Yet while we wouldn't expect someone to go to work or function well with a broken limb, heartbroken people are expected to function in their lives despite the emotional pain they feel. Whether it comes in the form of romantic love or through loss, heartbreak is ubiquitous. Yet we know so little about how to deal with it. With great wisdom and empathy, Guy explores how different our lives and our society would be if we better understood this unique emotional pain. 

Imagine we treated broken hearts with the same respect and concern we have for broken arms. Guy urges us to rethink the way we deal with emotional pain, offering warm, wise, and witty advice for the broken-hearted. Our hearts might be broken, we do not have to break with them. We can take control of our lives and our minds and put ourselves on the path of healing. This book (with superb illustrations by Henn Kim) published by TED Books, offers a 'toolkit' for how to handle and cope with a broken heart and how to - eventually - move on. There are four (4) chapters in this book, and I include some of my favorite quotes for each chapter:

Chapter 1: How the Brokenhearted Are Abandoned. “Our journey through heartbreak is determined by multiple variables: the specific nature of the relationship or loss, our fundamental character and coping styles, our individual and familial histories, the current context of our lives, and how we manage or mismanage our recovery. The last crucial variable that impacts our recovery is also the one most likely to disappoint us – our available support systems: friends and family, communities, schools, and places of employment”; “Most of us know of only two healing agents: social support and time”; “When our heart is broken, what determines others’ compassion is not how much emotional pain we actually feel but how much emotional pain they believe we should feel”; “Creating mysteries and conspiracies where none exist is a common response to romantic breakups”; “The worst thing we could do for ourselves when we are hurting is to internalize [it], become self-critical as a result, and deny ourselves the very empathy and support we so badly need.”

Chapter 2: When Hearts Break, Brains and Bodies Break Too. “Heartbreak is a hijacker. The emotional anguish it causes invades our thoughts, captures our attention, seizes our focus, and dominates our awareness”; “Reliving old memories and going through pictures is something many of us might do in the first hours, days or even weeks following a breakup… like a drug addict… We become intensely focused on the person who broke our heart (the ‘drug’)”; “In the era of social media, the most common way people satisfy their craving for the person who broke their heart is to stalk them digitally”; “Difficult as it is to unfriend, unfollow, block or delete our access to the person’s cyber world, it is the only prudent way to prevent ourselves from stalking them again in the future”; effects of heartbreak such as “panic attacks”, “cardiac abnormalities”, “stress” lead to depression, “suppressed immune system functioning” and more; “Heartbreak impacts our minds, our brains, and our bodies in direct, measurable, and unfortunate ways… to heal from a broken heart we have to first stop making things worse.”

Chapter 3: The Many Mistakes that Set Us Back. “Having a clear understanding of why things ended helps us reach closure much sooner than we might otherwise”; “Psychologically speaking, negative cognitions [inaccurate thoughts or beliefs that make us feel bad about ourselves] have three key features: they are self-critical, harmful or limiting; they are inaccurate to some degree; and most problematic, we tend to be convinced they are true”; “Our ‘cravings’ for them [ex] make us focus disproportionally in their best qualities... [Don’t!]… The best way to avoid idealizing the person who broke our heart is to deliberately force a balanced perspective in our mind”; “Avoiding things [memories of the person, places, activates together] does not lessen their emotional impact on us – it supersizes it… the best way to do so is by revisiting these places under different and specific circumstances so we can create new associations for them”; “We must be willing to make one crucial decision – to let go.” 
Chapter 4: Healing Starts with the Mind. “Our body’s priority is always to heal and keep us alive… but our mind’s priority is… to keep us away from situations that have hurt us in the past. The more painful an experience is, the harder the mind will work to make sure we do not make that ‘mistake’ again… to that end, when our heart is broken, our mind tries to keep our pain fresh and unforgettable…”; “Our bodies heal well automatically. Our minds do not”; “To fully heal when our heart is broken, we have to look in the mirror (metaphorically and perhaps literally) and tell ourselves it’s time to let go. And that can be extremely difficult… we need to let go our hope, of the fantasy in which we undo what went wrong… we need to truly say good-bye – to turn away from love, even when there is no longer a person or animal there to receive it… we need to let go of a part of ourselves, of the person we were when our love still mattered”; “We have to rebuild our self-esteem by practicing self-compassion”; “Emotional pain should not and need not be a constant companion.”

Epilogue: Making Emotional Pain Visible. “When societies do not sanction grief, we internalize these standards and regard our own emotions and reactions as less legitimate… If emotional pain we visible, heartbreak and the suffering if caused would not remain disenfranchised for long. When we show up to work or school with a broken leg, arm, or even a broken finger, we often garner more attention, concern, and consideration, because we can see the splints or bandages, than we are likely to when our heart is broken. They are there as evidence that we hurt. And yet, broken bones inflict none of the profound cognitive, emotional, and psychological impairments heartbreak does”; “Heartbreak is all around us. It’s time we open our eyes and see it, for only then can we truly heal it and move on.”


[P.s: Why you need to buy a book? Borrow from your local library!]
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