When pain enters a heart, the one thing we can be sure of is that it will never quite be the same. Pain changes things. It enters our lives violently without announcement, and it demonstrates no honor for the sacred relationships and the invaluable connections we have labored so diligently to forge. In other words, pain takes mercy on no one.

Although nothing touched by pain will ever regain its original form, there is divine power in our change. There are times in our lives when hurt and devastation—if channeled and coped with properly—will lead to work we all must do to rise to our highest potential. Yes, our pain has purpose. If we learn to listen to our heartache, it will serve as a road map to help navigate our journey to wholeness. When we ignore the directions coming from our hurt places of pain, we will repeatedly veer off course.

The amount of time we invest in healing is evident in our romantic unions. Love should be healthy and holistically satisfying. It is a bond that can only be created between two individuals who have devoted the necessary energy into moving from pain to peace on an individual level.

Broken people will attempt to fill their emotional cracks with the love they feel from other people. Using people to numb your pain is contradictory to healing. We have two options when it comes to dealing with our heartache: We can make the conscious choice to deal with our pain or allow our pain to rule us.

Here is how to navigate the delicate process of healing open wounds, so that we can transition from pain to peace.

1. Accept when something is real.

When we have done the necessary work to evolve from painful situations, we gain maturity needed to realize that hurt is not the sole emotion that derives from love. When we have not reached a point of speaking and thinking from a restored place, our hurt will continue to convince us that love will always result in our demise.

2. Allow a relieved heart to do the choosing.

Transitioning from pain to peace can be a lonesome journey. It is a walk that requires vulnerability. Whenever we feel naked or exposed, our natural response is to seek refuge. That refuge can often be another person. This is a mistake many of us make and, sadly, it causes a disruption in our healing. Heartache makes the worst decisions. Never allow loneliness to select your lover. Instead of seeking love while in the process of learning to love yourself, stay committed to your emotional recovery. This level of change requires complete dedication, deep emotional exploration and solitude.

3. Sit in your feelings.

We are a collection of people who have somewhere along the way developed the idea that the only way to deal with pain is to pretend to feel nothing at all. But what we are experiencing internally will eventually present itself. It will surface in a way that is reflective of your healing or it will rise in you and come forward in a way that is evident of your deep brewing misery.

We get to decide how life is going to affect us, and healing is an active and engaging process that demands awareness. Until you are willing to spending time being present with what you are feeling, you will never understand “why” you feel the way that you do and how to create a shift in your behavior.

4. The “sunken place” is an alternate state of consciousness.

The “sunken place,” aka an alternate state of consciousness, is one in which we have impaired mobility and a loss of independent thought. It is also where we find ourselves face-to-face with our most painful memories. For many of us, we have made our “sunken place” home. We dwell there and put unhealthy and limiting thoughts on replay daily and as a result, we are kept in complacency.

For some, it is easier to accept defeat than it is to deal with the deathly thoughts. In our state of emotional sunkeness, we forfeit any accountability and ownership we have in our ability to think our way through our painful experiences. When we are forced to face the hurtful things of our past, we instead choose denial, and pretend our sunken place is the best life can offer. We must come out of denial and do the work. Anything that assists us in staying disengaged in our lives must be eradicated.

5. Tell yourself the truth.

Self-examination is less about stirring up unloving memories or being cruel and unkind to yourself. It is willingly analyzing their thoughts, attitudes, behaviors and communication to identify the spaces that need work. This is the first step; labor is the next. To create a shift in your life, you must first change the way you perceive and act. If you want love, you must first learn how to sow seeds of self-love in your own heart.

Jazz Keyes is a clinical psychologist, poetess and a nationally certified Life Purpose and Career Coach. She has devoted a great deal of her time and energy on mastering the art of communication in order to create healthy, dynamic, long-lasting relationships. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @jazzkeyes.