Are you experiencing a wave of emotions right now after your breakup? Sometimes it’s hard to know whether you should feel happy or sad or mad or full of regret. Please use this breakup guide to sort your feelings, develop a plan and work through the emotions you’re feeling to start the journey towards becoming a more fabulous version of yourself.
An Overview of the Breakup Guide
Outlined below is an overview of the content you’ll find in this article. Jump to any section that might provide the support you’re seeking or read through it section by section to understand how to approach this period after your breakup and move forward with strength and dignity.
- How are you feeling right now?
- Identify the good and the bad in the relationship
- Grieve the relationship
- Where do you want to be?
- Deal with your emotions
- Recognise your value and self-worth
- Become your best self
- Get outside support
- Fill the void with healthy things
- How to deal with your ex
- How to deal with infidelity
Where are you right now? Where is your head and your heart? Is your heart still madly in love with your EX? Do you feel angry or hurt? Are you feeling lonely? Identify everything you’re feeling right now.
Sometimes in a relationship we think we’re with “the one” and it clouds our minds from ever seeing anything differently. In this moment of honesty, you can take a real assessment of where you are.
Psychiatrist Suzannne Lachmann advises that you, “Register how you feel. Acknowledge it. Your feelings may not be rational, but they are valid, and they are yours. You feel what you feel, and whatever you feel is valid; it doesn’t have to make sense. Feelings happen.”
But I should balance that by saying just because you feel something doesn’t mean you have to act on it, but we’ll get to that later.
Right now, be straight up with yourself. You can write it in a journal, share it with a trusted friend or just keep it in your heart. However you decide to do it, just be honest.
(Affiliate Disclosure: If you click on a link in this post and decide to sign-up for counseling from BetterHelp or purchase from Amazon, I will get a commission. It doesn’t cost you one cent more. I will use this money to keep supporting you on this blog, feed my cute little munchkin son and go home to the States to visit my mom, dad and brother — they miss me and I miss them! I’ll only recommend things to you that I believe would be an awesome benefit that I’ve benefitted from as well.)
Acknowledge the good and the bad of the relationship
Often, after a breakup, we put on rose-colored glasses as we look back at the relationship, and we don’t realise that by doing that we make it harder to get over the relationship.
I want to challenge you to see the relationship for what it was both good and bad.
Recount the good times and the bad times. Create a complete picture of your experience with your EX.
When we’re grieving a relationship, we put the good moments on repeat in order to support the idea that we missed out on the best thing since sliced bread, and this is what turns our world upside down.
What would happen if you took the time to write out the good things and the bad things that happened in the relationship.
What if you took a few minutes writing about your EX’s dreamy eyes and his frequent bad moods –or whatever it is that really bothered you in the relationship but you always overlooked for the sake of the relationship.
Normally, I’d tell you to be as optimistic as possible, but in this case, I want you to be realistic and honest with yourself.
Grieve the relationship
If you’re going through the pain of a breakup right now, you don’t need me to tell you that breakups hurt like hell.
Just to confirm what many of us already know, a study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience that was conducted by psychologists from the University of Colorado Boulder. The experiment used an MRI to show people who had experienced breakups within six months of the study registered emotional pain in their brain in a similar way to how they register physical pain.
It’s not like we needed science to tell us breakups are not just imaginary pain but real pain, but somehow getting neuroscientists’ confirmation gives us a little bit more credibility with friends and family, right?!
So when it feels like your heart is being pulled from your chest, you’re not totally wrong.
You have experienced a painful loss and in order to deal with it, you need to grieve it.
In a sense it’s the death of a part of your life that was deeply meaningful to you.
So allow your heart to mourn it the same way you would allow yourself to grieve the death of a loved one.
Lisa Cypers Kamen, psychology coach, happiness expert, and author of the book Are We Happy Yet? is quoted as saying, “Grieving does not feel good, but it is a necessary experience. If we cannot weather the disappointment and hardships of life, we never fully learn to celebrate and appreciate the joy of life.”
And you know what?
Grief is not all bad.
In this situation of separation from your EX, you have lost two things: the good and the bad of the relationship. So in this moment, you have the freedom to grieve the good and the bad things you have lost.
As you start contemplating the relationship and sifting through the good and the bad memories, you’ll come to a place where you’re no longer mourning the bad parts of the relationship, but you’re realising that you dodged a bullet.
All of the bad habits, unchanging characteristics and painful memories will no longer be part of the pile of “things you just have to deal with”.
And eventually, over time, you’ll be grateful for that.
Now is the time to go back to that list of good and bad stuff from your previous relationship and grieve the good, but be grateful that you don’t have to deal with the bad.
Identify where you want to be with your life and emotions
This step is among the most important because it’s about you and your future. It’s something you can control.
I want to challenge you to think long-term about your future. Imagine the life and the emotional state that you want.
One of the most tangible ways you can do this is to write a vision statement for your life.
Ah man! Right now, you might be thinking, a vision statement?? What is that and what does it have to do with healing after a breakup.
Your thinking might be clouded right now. You might be struggling to see a way forward so a vision statement might seem like a really far reach right now.
Sometimes we get to the point where we can’t imagine what the next phase of our lives look like without our EX. If this is you, don’t worry, you don’t need to be able to see the future right now, you just need to believe that there is a future.
When you’re ready, this will challenge you to imagine what a great version of your life might look like. For this section, I want you to imagine your life in five years.
Write what you picture as the greatest version of your life. Write the statements in the present as though they’ve already happened.
If you need help writing this statement of your future, try answering these questions as you write:
5 years from now, I will be?
My purpose in life is to:
My wildest dream for my life is:
These questions will give you a starting point for your vision statement. If you want to go a little bit deeper, check out a site like Brandyourself.com to get step-by-step guidance.
Deal with your emotions
The biggest thing we associate with breakups is the emotions — the ugly crying, the overwhelming sadness, the loneliness and the feeling of powerlessness.
There are so many different emotions you experience and the hardest part is that they all seem to flood over you at the same time.
Check out the articles I’ve listed below that can help you navigate the maze of emotions you’re likely to feel in the weeks and months ahead.
- How to deal with loneliness
- How to deal with anger
- How to feel happiness again after a breakup
- How to deal with feeling like you’ll never be able to trust again
- How to feel empowered after your breakup
- What to do when you need to feel courageous
Developing strong emotional health will help you in this journey. And as you’ll learn later, getting outside help, like counselling and coaching can help with this tremendously!
Recognize your value and self-worth
Your sense of self-worth might be a bit shattered right now and this can make getting over your breakup even harder.
While everything inside of you might be telling you otherwise, you are not broken!
Your EX didn’t give you your value as a person so he cannot take it away.
You were not personally rejected; the relationship was broken and just didn’t work out.
One of the best ways to rebuild your self-esteem is to understand who you are and develop mental strength. And one of the best ways to reconnect with this is by becoming your best self.
Become your best self
Suzanne Bachmann Psy.D. says, “It may feel too overwhelming to shake the feeling that there may be nothing you can do about the confusion, even desperation of not knowing who you are without your ex as a reference point. For now, just work on understanding that it’s ok not to know…
It’s a common struggle. As terrifying as it can be to lose track of who you were supposed to be in the world, this is part of your process. Just experience it. Listen to it. Take comfort in knowing that feeling uncertain about who you are is a part of you too.
Know that you will ultimately re-make yourself in whatever form is right for you.”
Now is a great time to take a class you’ve always wanted to try, travel, set and pursue a goal or get fit. Nothing fuels your motivation like a breakup.
What are some goals you’d like to set for yourself?
Get outside support
One of the most powerful tools you have after a breakup is the help that comes from outside of yourself.
Fortunately, you are not alone in your healing and recovery process. I find people are usually fairly compassionate and empathetic towards people experiencing a breakup. Maybe it’s because we’ve all been there and we understand how intense the pain can be.
There are many ways you can get the support you need to facilitate your healing process.
When you’re ready to sit for a bit with your thoughts and reflect on how to process this breakup, you may find one (or all) of these books might help you during your recovery process.
This book is one of the all-time favourites for those who have experienced a breakup. With over 500 positive reviews on Amazon, it’s tried and true in helping people over the years push through the tough emotions we all feel after a breakup. Teaching concepts such as the no-contact rule, it’s well known for helping people who’ve experienced long, deep and significant relationships recapture their identity and rebuild after a breakup.
Reading this book feels more like therapy than reading some self-help mumbo jumbo. The author, Rachel Sussman doesn’t just tell you to eat ice cream and watch movies, she helps you dig deep into why you entered the relationship and what kept you in it. If you’re looking to gain a bit of self-understanding as well as recovery after your breakup, then keep this book close by.
This book was recommended to me during the counselling sessions I had after a breakup. Unlike most books you’ll read after a breakup, it talks about how to have a healthy relationship. Although you may have to look backwards at the relationship (or look forward if you’re ready for that), it can put some of your hurt into perspective as you’re able to start to pinpoint where some things may have gone wrong or you may identify some characteristics of your EX that you realise you don’t want to deal with in the long-term. This book is honest and straight forward and as a little bit of a change is written by a guy so if nothing else, it’s interesting to hear a male psychologist’s perspective.
If you’re looking for practical fun advice that tells you like it is, you’ll enjoy this book that has two co-authors. One of the highlights is the personal experiences the authors bring into the book. Be prepared at times to face some unpleasant truths, but remember it’s all for your good and so you can move and and be a happier, healthier version of yourself.
If you need a swift kick in the butt to remind you of your value and self-worth, you don’t need to look further than this book! It’s all things empowerment and helping you remember your value and self-worth. So if you’ve been finding yourself calling and texting non-stop and begging your EX to reconcile and take you back, you don’t need to look any further.
Breakup Coaching is dedicated support to help you develop a plan, identify resources and provide support through the weeks and months after your breakup.
Coaching can be provided on an individual basis or in a group setting. Coaches are sometimes certified life coaches or individuals with proven strategies to manage emotions and create plans after a breakup.
Counseling can be very powerful and can help you gain clarity on your situation after a breakup. Counselors are typically trained as licensed social workers, psychologists or counsellors and us specific strategies like cognitive behaviour therapy to help you manage your emotions and strengthen your mental health.
There are many options when it comes to counseling. For example, you can do an online search for someone in your area or you can check out an online counseling option as well, which can provide a bit more flexibility for travel options and scheduling.
Fill the void with healthy things
One absolute is that after a breakup you will experience a void in your heart and in your life. A big impact on the way you’ll deal with the days weeks and months after the breakup is way you do with that emptiness.
You’ll feel it in your heart, in your thoughts and with your time. While I’m sure you can come up with a million and one things to do, a few you can think about might be things like surrounding yourself with great friends and family, exercise, hobbies and volunteering.
How to Deal with Your EX
One thing that’s almost guaranteed is you’ll have to figure out what to say or do when your EX tries to get in touch with you again. Do you jump for joy, take him back right away or stay cool and distant. Here are a few ideas on how to approach the situation (or not approach it, depending on your perspective).
- The 30 Day No Contact Rule
- How to Deal with Being Ghosted after a Breakup
- 5 Reasons You Should Never Be Your EX to Stay with You
- 6 Ways to Know If You Should Take Your Ex Back
- What Should You Do When Your Ex Wants You Back?
How to Deal with Infidelity
If you’re in the situation to have to deal with infidelity, what are some questions you might ask to try to sort your thoughts or feelings?
What’s Next after The Ultimate Breakup Guide for Letting Go of Someone You Love
Learning how to let go of someone you love is a challenging process that will take effort and work. I’ve laid out the steps for you in my article below. Check it out to continue your journey towards healing.