TED : Ideas worth spreading

Review: How to fix a broken heart

Speaker: Dr. Guy Winch
Date: April 2017
Location: Vancouver, BC

Description from TED website:
At some point in our lives, almost every one of us will have our heart broken. Imagine how different things would be if we paid more attention to this unique emotional pain. Psychologist Guy Winch reveals how recovering from heartbreak starts with a determination to fight our instincts to idealize and search for answers that aren't there — and offers a toolkit on how to, eventually, move on. Our hearts might sometimes be broken, but we don't have to break with them.

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My Review / Notes / Thoughts

“At some point in our lives, almost every one of us will have our heart broken.”

This talk by Dr. Winch is a very powerful message. I really recommend everyone watch it – even if you aren’t heartbroken. It will give you an understanding of what people go through when they deal with heartbreak and some ideas of how to help with the healing processes.

“Brain studies have shown that the withdrawal of romantic love activates the same mechanisms in our brain that get activated when addicts are withdrawing from substances like cocaine or opioids.”

Meaning that love is literally a drug – and it takes time to get over an addiction. It also takes patience, understanding, and support. One of the steps he has his patients take is to write down ALL the reasons the person was wrong for them — and then keep it on their phone.

“Your mind will try to tell you they were perfect. But they were not, and neither was the relationship. And if you want to get over them, you have to remind yourself of that, frequently.”

By having that list close at and, you can pull it out and remind yourself of all the reasons they were wrong for you. Get your mind off of the memories – the alternative to the drug of “love” – and that will help you with recovering from the addiction.

“Another consequence of heartbreak is that feeling alone and in pain can significantly impair our intellectual functioning, especially when performing complex tasks involving logic and reasoning. It temporarily lowers our IQ.”

Ouch! Who wants their IQ lowered? Not me! This means we really DO need to know how to recover, and the sooner we can recover, the sooner we can get our intellectual functioning back to normal. This can even potentially help us save our jobs!

“Heartbreak shares all the hallmarks of traditional loss and grief: insomnia, intrusive thoughts, immune system dysfunction. Forty percent of people experience clinically measurable depression. Heartbreak is a complex psychological injury.”

When heartbreak is severe, someone may need to seek professional assistance. There is no shame in that – the goal is to get your healthy again – health is extremely important. If someone you know is dealing with severe heartbreak, encourage them to seek help – if it’s you dealing with it, I encourage you to seek help. Get the help you need to repair the psychological injury so that your whole body can heal.

“To fix your broken heart, you have to identify these voids in your life and fill them, and I mean all of them. The voids in your identity: you have to reestablish who you are and what your life is about.”

Dr. Winch mentions that frequently when we lose someone close to us through a breakup, we typically lose much more than just that person. We lose all the social activities, friends, etc. that came with being with that person. So many voids appear suddenly in our lives and part of healing means acknowledging those voids and finding new ways of filling them. Find new activities to do, find new friends to associate with and do things with – find a new church (if that was one of the activities you were doing with them) – a new church that is supporting and can actually give you some of the help you need in healing.

If you want to learn more (other than by watching the video) you can check out his book linked below.

Note: Links are affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if you make any purchases.

Dr. Winch’s Book:

How to Fix a Broken Heart (TED Books)
How to Fix a Broken Heart

I’m not exactly sure how to sign off on this review because I’ve been there – it took me years to recover from the breakup with my fiancé from college. So I’ll leave you with the last statement that Dr. Winch made in his talk:

“[I]f you know someone who is heartbroken, have compassion, because social support has been found to be important for their recovery. And have patience, because it's going to take them longer to move on than you think it should. And if you're hurting, know this: it's difficult, it is a battle within your own mind, and you have to be diligent to win. But you do have weapons. You can fight. And you will heal.”

Until next time … live long life-learner!

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