There is an old adage: breaking up is hard to do.

Most of us at one time or another have suffered the pain of a broken heart. While we know that hearts don’t literally break, it can be hard to believe that’s true when a relationship has ended. It feels like the place that was once filled with love has been shattered to pieces.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Amy Chan, a relationship expert who authored the book, Breakup Bootcamp: The Science of Rewiring Your Heart.

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While breaking up can be painful, Amy believes that the heartbreak can be transformed into healing. She says that anyone can turn their greatest heartbreak into a powerful opportunity for growth.

Amy believes that from an early age we are taught about love by fairy tales, love songs, and romantic movies. They show us that relationships should end in a happily ever after. But in reality, she says those lessons should not be the benchmark by which we measure our success. She contends that we should evaluate our relationships for the purpose that they serve in our life. Even though a breakup has occurred, the experience may have provided a valuable lesson.

To grow from a relationship, Amy advises:

  • Allow yourself time to heal and process your emotions. Understand that you will go through the stages of grief and that is okay. Be gentle and nonjudgmental. Don’t distract yourself or avoid your feelings.
  • Reflect on the relationship and recognize your patterns. Ask yourself: Am I making the same decisions? What do I need to do to change the pattern? What am I willing to accept or not accept in the next relationship?
  • Don’t jump into another relationship to heal internal wounds. Expecting a partner to fill an unmet childhood need can create an unhealthy relationship. Other people cannot fill a void within you.
  • Define your definition of love. Often we equate intensity with love. In the beginning of a relationship there is excitement but that will eventually transition to a peaceful, content stage. When that occurs, people tend to think something is wrong.

Listen to my conversation with Amy: