The First Step to Surviving a Break-Up

Ending a relationship is never fun, but sometimes it needs to happen. (Photo: Getty)

Fact about me: I love deeply.

Doesn’t matter if you’re my friend, my girlfriend, my family, or my mentor — I just love relationships.

So I take it hard when a good relationship comes to an end.

Can you relate?

It’s been something I’ve been working on understanding for a long time (especially how to healthily end a relationship), so when I heard about a new book on this topic, I was very interested.

Luckily enough, I got the author of the book, Conscious Uncoupling, on The School of Greatness and I learned A LOT. Katherine Woodward Thomas is not only a licensed marriage therapist and best-selling author, but she also has personal experience to back up her ideas about the best ways to find an incredible partner — and also end a relationship that is no longer working.

I asked her a lot of questions and we got to dive into some topics that we all deal with, but rarely talk about. Specifically, Katherine went over the five steps to consciously uncouple when you are ready to end an intimate relationship (such as a marriage).

She said the first step is to de-escalate the intensity of the emotions you are feeling. One way to do this is to “affect label.” Essentially, ask a friend to ask you what you are feeling so you can verbalize each emotion that is coming up without judgment.

For example, my friend could ask me, “Lewis, what are you feeling right now about this break-up?” and I could answer, “I feel hurt. I feel betrayed. I feel lonely.”

The first step to overcoming this kind of pain is to acknowledge it. While it can be difficult to do that inside your own head, it’s a big help to verbalize it out loud to a trusted friend.

This is also good practice for a later step, which involves learning how to tell the story of the break-up in a positive and truthful light. The power of the stories we tell is real, and the stories we tell about our relationships are just as powerful.

For all the steps Katherine suggests (and more of her wisdom about how to find the right partner after a relationship ends) watch our full interview here. You can also listen to our full conversation below: