6 Steps To Bounce Back From A Failed Relationship

A breakup can send you spiraling downward, reviving old thought patterns and collecting negative beliefs about yourself. Or it can be the greatest soil for growth.

It all depends on how you decide to see your breakup and the approach you take. Here are six ways to keep you from despair so you can turn your breakup into a breakthrough.

1. Reframe the story of your breakup.

The first step is the simplest but can be the most difficult.

Like milk, your relationship has expired. It had an expiration date. It was not meant to end one day sooner or one day later. Write this on your bathroom mirror. Read this out loud every until you believe it.

You may not believe it now. But you will one day. I understand it may be difficult to swallow. But there’s absolutely no other way to look at it. Otherwise, you’ll open up a giant can of what ifs, I should have, could have, if I only, if he had just … and that’s when you start playing the highlight reel, and that's when you regress instead of grow.

2. Cut the cord.

No emails. No texts. No check ins. Unfriend him. Unfollow him. The worst thing you can do is follow his life on social media. I don’t care how strong you think you are. Photos and updates of his carefully curated filtered life will trigger your emotional elephant.

It's either over or it’s not. If it’s not, you should be working on the relationship. If it’s over, you should be working on you.

3. Create a self-care plan to address your six basic needs.

Let’s start with a self-care plan, because from here on out, you HAVE to make it about you. It may feel weird at first because you’re not used to it. But that’s the growth piece. Get used to it.

When you find someone who really deserves you, you can’t lose your yourself. That’s what happened in this last relationship. Somewhere down the line, you got a little lost. You started to compromise. You put their needs before yours.

Let's review the six basic human needs:

  • Emotional need. How do you fulfill your emotional needs? Talking to friends? Family? A therapist? If you don’t have anyone, how do you plan on fulfilling your emotional needs? By _________ (date), you will take one step toward fulfilling that need, knowing that it may take a while but what’s important is that you’re being proactive about taking care of yourself in this regard.
  • Work / Passion / Purpose need. How are you fulfilling your need to be fueled with passion and purpose? If you’re in a shitty job, you don't need to quit it tomorrow. But start the process of exploring other options. By _________ (date), you will commit to taking one step toward fulfilling that need, knowing that it may take a while but what’s important is that you’re being proactive about taking care of yourself in this regard.
  • Sexual need. This doesn’t refer to how much sex you're having. What are you doing in your life to feel sexy? Yes, that is a need and if you don’t, you should work on your sexy. By _________ (date), you will commit to taking one step toward fulfilling that need, knowing that it may take a while but what’s important is that you’re being proactive about taking care of yourself in this regard.
  • Physical need. Maybe you already have a fitness routine and you’re good. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to try something different. Well, now’s the time. By _________ (date), you will commit to taking one step toward fulfilling that need, knowing that it may take a while but what’s important is that you’re being proactive about taking care of yourself in this regard.
  • Intellectual need. What are you doing to feed your brain? Are there books you’ve been wanting to read but you’ve put aside? A course you’ve always wanted to take? By _________ (date), you will commit to taking one step toward fulfilling that need, knowing that it may take a while but what’s important is that you’re being proactive about taking care of yourself in this regard.
  • Spiritual need. How are you getting your spiritual needs met? This doesn’t mean you have to be religious. How can you connect or reconnect to the spiritual part of yourself? By _________ (date), you will commit to taking one step toward fulfilling that need, knowing that it may take a while but what’s important is that you’re being proactive about taking care of yourself in this regard.

Many of these needs can overlap. But this will give you a framework to start building a structure on.

4. Assess the damage.

Eventually you want to review the damage the relationship did to you. It's not about blaming the other person. It’s about reviewing the relationship so that you can learn and grow. You want to first have some distance from the break up before you can go back and look at it with clearer lenses.

When you’re ready to assess the damage, here are some questions to ask yourself.

  • Did the relationship chipped away at who you are?
  • If so, in what ways? Did you lose your essence?
  • What messages did you absorb about yourself through this relationship? Is this a pattern?

5. Take ownership for the damage you caused.

After you access the damage, the next step is to ask yourself what your piece was in the damage. Remember, there’s your ex, you, and the relationship. The relationship is it’s own piece. The damage came from the relationship, not your ex. He or she contributed. But you did, too.

So the question is: what was your contribution to the expiration of the relationship? If you’re not willing to own anything, there’s still a lot of pain and anger there. It will prevent you from moving on. Instead, it will keep you stuck. So in a way, taking ownership is accepting and forgiving.

6. Create non-negotiables for your life and your next relationship.

Finally, you want to start creating non-negotiables, things you are not willing to negotiate in your relationship and life. Remember, non-negotiables are not preferences. Preferences are things that you prefer. Non-nogotiables are rock-solid stances that you keep so that you're safe and growth is possible. Most people negotiate more than they realize. We don’t usually start off this way. Love distorts our lenses.

Start writing. From everything you’ve learned about love, life, and yourself through this relationship, what are you now not willing to negotiate?

Like working the 12 steps, these getting-through-a-breakup-steps are not a one-time process. You may have to go through them many times. Or you may get stuck on one step for months. For example, you may not be able to cut the cord for a while. That’s OK. Keep at that step until you accomplish it and are able to move on to the next. See these steps as an engine that will help you climb that hill.

Remember, the only way out is through.

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