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“I was devastated when he left!”

“I felt like my life was over.”

“I felt so low, like I just wanted to hide from the world.”

Breakups can leave us feeling heartbroken, alone and sad. Especially if we had our hopes pinned on our ex being the one! Even if the relationship was not ideal we can still have feelings of “What if we’d done this or that differently, would it have worked out?”

A breakup brings uncertainty about the future. What will life be like without your partner? Will you find someone else? Will you end up alone? These unknowns often seem worse than an unhappy relationship.

Depending on the circumstances we can blame ourselves for the failure of the relationship and feel depressed or regretful. Or we could be incredibly angry about how we were treated, especially if our ex was unfaithful or abusive.

Sometimes we don’t even get the closure we need from a breakup especially if we were just told it was over and then ghosted! We’re left reeling and wondering why…

If it was you who made the break it can still be stressful and challenging especially if you’ve lived together or have shared friends/family and experiences. Even if you know you made the right decision you may worry about your ex and feel guilty for hurting them.

Something I wasn’t aware of at the time of a major breakup in my life was the different stages of grief/loss that we can go through. This is something I talk to clients about now if they are experiencing the same.

5 Stages of Grief/Loss

In 1969, a Swiss-American psychiatrist named Elizabeth Kübler-Ross wrote in her book “On Death and Dying” that grief could be divided into five stages. Her theory came from years of working with terminally ill patients. While these grief stages were originally devised for people who were ill, they have been adapted for other experiences of loss too, such as the death of a loved-one or a breakup. The stages are of grief are listed here with some examples of thoughts that could be coming up for you when/if you find yourself at a particular stage following a breakup.

1. Denial; “We’re just on a break.” “He/she will change her mind tomorrow.”

2. Anger; “How could he/she do this to me.” “I’m going to tell everyone what a …….. you are.” “I hate you!”

3. Bargaining; “If only I’d been around more/been more open about my feelings etc then this wouldn’t have happened.”

4. Depression; “Nothing is fun anymore.” “I’m never going to meet anyone else.”

5. Acceptance; “This was the best option for us both.” “It’s still sad but I have to move on now.”

Note that not everyone goes through all five of these and also that grief is different for everyone so each person and situation will be unique. I remember from my own experience of divorce, going back and forth between the first four stages more than once before reaching acceptance. A close friend actually said she’d never seen anyone go through such a range of emotions in the space of a few days as me at that time!

Being aware of the different stages that you may be moving through as you heal from a breakup will help. Also here are some other suggestions to help you on this journey:

· Do take time to mourn the loss. It’s important to feel the emotions to heal them. When a wave of sadness comes over you don’t be afraid of it. Sit with the feeling and breathe. If you do this, the emotion will be acknowledged and will pass. I made a video here about processing your emotions and giving a great tool to help you with this. Getting some outside help from a therapist could also be useful here.

· Be kind to yourself while you’re going through this. Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep and lay off alcohol & drugs (these may numb you to the pain temporarily but don’t help long-term for obvious reasons). Do things that you enjoy like reading, watching movies or box sets, have a nice bath. Get a massage or facial, anything to pamper and focus on you for now.

· No contact. Whatever terms you’re on with your ex agree to have some time with no contact between you. If things are really over, meeting up or calling/texting each other will not help either of you to move on. The anger and bargaining stages of loss are often the times where we tend to want to make contact to either let our feelings be known or to try to get our ex back. Neither of these are a good idea!

· Don’t blame yourself OR play the victim. Relationships fail and this is life. Sometimes things just run their course. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it or spending loads of time blaming the other person. If the relationship was toxic or dysfunctional both of you are responsible. This may be hard to take, but when this sinks in it empowers you to change yourself so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes or allow someone else abuse you again.

· Learn the lessons that need to be learnt. What have been your patterns, beliefs and triggers in relationships so far. If you want to have more positive experiences in the future awareness of your own stuff is the first step to attracting a happier, healthier relationship next time.

· Build your confidence. Write a “Reasons I am Awesome List.” Include all of your qualities, talents and attributes that make you unique, things you like about yourself, achievements, compliments others have given you. Read through this everyday to remind yourself of your great bits! Listen to an empowering confidence hypnosis recording (this works on rewiring the subconscious to boost your confidence and self worth on a deeper level.) Get your hair or nails done, treat yourself to a new outfit, read some inspiring self development books. Do whatever boosts your sense of confidence and self esteem.

· Connect. This is not a time to shut yourself off from the world. Make sure you speak to friends and family. Confide in them and allow yourself to be supported by them when you need it most.

· Forgive. This is a powerful quote about the importance of forgiveness. “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” Bearing a grudge won’t help you. Forgive yourself for any mistakes you made and when you feel ready forgive your ex to let go of the past, if you don’t you’re only hurting yourself.

· Focus on something new. When you’re feeling a bit better set yourself a new challenge. It may be a career, fitness or personal goal you want to achieve. Focus on this and you’ll take your mind off the breakup and look forward to the future.

· Don’t rush into dating again. It can take time to recover after the shock and sadness of loss. Give yourself enough time to process, heal and learn from this experience. You’ll be glad you did, I promise.

A final thought

"Pain makes you stronger, fear makes you braver, heartbreak makes you wiser."

Breakups are difficult and often painful events in our lives, but remember that personal growth is always on the other side of anything challenging that we have to face. For every ending, there is a new beginning and for every door that closes a brand new one opens! You might just be making room for something much better in your love life.


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