Milena Nguyen on Forgiveness, Moving On & Long Distance Love

Milena is an author, coach, and three-time TEDx speaker. She spent the first 22 years of her life suffering from low self-esteem and emotional dependency on men, but her life changed when she discovered self-love. She now helps women find true love from the inside out. We talked to Milena about love, heartbreak, and her new book on long-distance relationships, “10,000 Miles For Love.”

If you think back to the first time you were heartbroken, what advice would you give to that younger version of yourself?

Stop fighting against the pain. Stop running away and numbing yourself with boys, work, food, and mindless television. Stay right here. Stay present. Surrender.

If you need to cry, cry. But always remember to breathe. And you must take good care of yourself: brush your teeth, take a bath, eat warm soup, sleep eight hours each night, stretch.

This will help you stay open and soft, so the intense emotions can go through you. You can’t just be done with them; they must be done with you. The only way to heal your broken heart is to give the pain what it needs – as John Green said – “to be felt.”

What has heartbreak taught you about yourself?

Heartbreak taught me three things.  Firstly, I am stronger than I think I am. I can embrace the intense emotions of heartbreak. I can also heal my heart and open it to love again.  Secondly, if I am not happy without a relationship, I will never be happy in a relationship. Self-love is the prerequisite to loving others. Thirdly, sometimes it is breaking up, but many times it is breaking free. I need to be brave enough to break free from a relationship that is no longer meant for me.

What are your rituals during a breakup? What things/practices/people helped you mend?

After my second break up, I was addicted to work. Those 15-hour workdays obviously did not help. (Do not try this at home!) Overworking myself broke my body and mind. I suffered from severe anxiety and lower back pain. That brought me to yoga and meditation. I felt that I had no choice. For the first time in my life, I found a bliss in connecting with myself: my body, mind, heart. These practices fixed me and continue helping me thrive today.

However, the real mending came two years later when I wrote a letter to my ex. I did not send it to him, I just wrote it for myself. I wanted to find forgiveness, and move on. By the end of the letter, it dawned on me. The person I most needed to forgive was myself. I burned the letter, poured water over the ashes, and poured the mixture of soot and water by the roots of a tree. A lightness washed over me. I knew then; I was ready to love again. 

I share a lot about forgiveness and moving on in my book 10,000 Miles for Love.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about love so far in your life?

Love is a verb. If you want to love someone, love someone. Give them acceptance, appreciation, forgiveness, believe in them, and help them make their dreams come true. Be there for them when they need you.

You do not have to be a love-beggar. You are the creator of love.

What keeps your heart open, despite the heartbreaks you’ve had in your life?

Rumi said, “You have to break your heart until it opens.” This is true. My heart would not have been so open without the heartbreaks I have had in my life. Like going to the gym, you need to “break” your muscles for them to get stronger. The heart muscle follows the same principle. Remember though, you need time for muscle recovery. Otherwise, you will suffer from injury and inflammation. If your heart is bleeding, you need to care for it. When the healing is done, your heart will be ready for the “love gym” again.

What is your favorite song about heartbreak?

Frou Frou – Let Go

What is your favorite movie about heartbreak?

The Fault in Our Stars

What projects are you currently working on, and looking forward to most?

I am most excited about my books. The first one, 10,000 Miles for Love: Turn Long Distance Relationships into Long Lasting Love, is launching Sunday, October 15th this year. I married my Brazilian soulmate after four years of a cross-continent long distance relationship. With this book, I want to help as many women as possible to create a happy ending for their long distance love story. I have also started working on my second book, the power of self-love for the modern woman.

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