These tips for reframing what happened will help you get over a breakup by changing the story you’re telling yourself. If you’ve been telling yourself that you’re unlovable, unworthy, dumb or even ugly then you may not need as much help as you think! Maybe you just need to retell the story you’ve been telling about what it means to break up with someone you love.
Even if you knew your relationship wasn’t meant to be, you may feel disbelief and shock at the thought of being alone now. Learning how to reframe what happened to your relationship – and what will happen now, after the breakup – has the power to change your life! Healing your heart – even without relationship closure – can be as simple as changing your breakup story.
What would happen if you told yourself a different story about what it means to break up with someone you love? I’m not telling you to lie to yourself or others about the breakup. I’m encouraging you to think about different aspects of your relationship and yourself. You can help yourself get over a breakup by retelling your breakup story.
The four steps below will guide you through the process of changing the story you’re telling yourself about why you broke up, how you will get over the pain, and what might happen next. This is actually a process some counselors when counseling clients who are stuck in old stories and thought patterns. Psychotherapists and psychologists call it Narrative Therapy; it is effective for some people and problems. This may be the exact type of help you need getting over a breakup because it will take your perspective away from what went “wrong” in your relationship.
Are you ready to change how you think about yourself, the breakup, and your future? It’s time to renew your mind and renew your thought patterns!
4 Steps to Changing Your Breakup Story
Narrative therapy or retelling the stories in your life is a creative way to get help after a breakup. Changing your story will change how you see yourself, the relationship, and what your future looks like.
In Retelling the Stories of Our Lives: Everyday Narrative Therapy to Draw Inspiration and Transform Experience, David Denborough says that the ways in which we understand and share the stories of our lives a huge difference! If we tell stories that emphasize only desolation, then we become weaker. If we tell our stories in ways that make us stronger, we can soothe our losses and ease our sorrows. This book doesn’t offer specific help for getting over a breakup, but it will teach you how to rewrite and retell the stories in your life.
1. Listen to the story you’re telling yourself
In his podcast Change Your Life, Change Your Story, Michael Hyatt encourages us to listen to the voice in our heads. What is it saying, how often does it come up, and do you believe about yourself? For example, your “narrator” might be telling you that you’re a failure. Your relationship ended, your children are damaged beyond repair, and you’ll never get over this breakup. Maybe the voice in your head is even saying your partner was right about your weaknesses and flaws, and you deserve to be alone because you’re not worthy of love.
When you change the story of what it means to break up with someone, you change how you feel about yourself. That’s how you start healing and moving forward. You refuse to stay stuck in the same old thought patterns and breakup stories. You choose not to continue being a victim. You decide not to accept wrong beliefs about yourself as absolute truth.
2. Write down what you believe about yourself and the breakup
Give yourself 20 minutes to write down everything you think about yourself – good and bad, healthy and unhealthy, positive and negative. This may not seem like the best way to help yourself get over a breakup, but there is a purpose. Try it. What do you think and believe about the way your relationship ended?
You may find that the beliefs you have about yourself will look different after you write them down. Their power will begin to evaporate as you are writing. You’ll see your thoughts more objectively because you bring them into the light. This is the process of Narrative Therapy or retelling your breakup story: changing how you see what you’ve been thinking and telling yourself.
Writing also helps you get unstuck if you’re in the “victim” mode. Telling the truth about how it feels to break up with someone you love may bring up unexpected feelings, such as relief or even like a burden has been lifted. This is how you change what you think and believe about yourself and it will help you get over the breakup.
If you can’t change your thoughts about what it meant to break up, read How to Accept a Breakup You Didn’t Want.
3. Notice how your breakup story makes you feel
Is the story of your breakup dragging you down or lifting you up? How do your thoughts make you feel? Your beliefs are driving your behavior, your emotions, your reactions to others, your ability to make good decisions, your ability to learn healthy ways to get over a breakup.
What are your thoughts creating in your life? How is your story changing how you feel and think about yourself? Is what you tell yourself lifting you up, or dragging you down? Take a step back, be objective, and determine what effect your thoughts are having on your life. Finding the right help getting over a breakup could be as simple as becoming aware of how your story is affecting you.
4. Write down a different story
This is where it gets interesting – and not because you get to lie to yourself or others! Rather, you need to learn how to focus on a different aspect of your break up story. If you’re telling yourself how stupid you are for staying in an unhealthy relationship for all this time, you need to reframe it. Find the positive and focus on that. For instance, you may have stayed with him because of your strong sense of loyalty, your love for your children, or your belief in your wedding vows.
What is the story you’re telling yourself about the breakup? If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you may have adopted your partner’s perspective of you. Maybe you’ve lost touch with who you are, and you believe what he says about you. Take a moment to consider what you’re saying about yourself and the relationship you had with your partner. The first step to helping yourself get over the breakup is to be aware of what you’re telling yourself and what you believe.
Know that getting over a breakup does get easier
“There are certain events that we may never accept fully,” writes Melody Beattie in More Language of Letting Go: 366 New Daily Meditations. “What can be accepted, though, is that we are required to live with these losses and find a way to go on.” I read her book every morning – it takes less than five minutes to read one of her daily meditations, and they help me accept everything about my life! The good, the bad, the ugly. Accepting a breakup is a daily process – it may even take years for you to feel like you’re truly healed and ready for a new relationship.
Getting over a breakup is like grieving the death of a loved one because something DID die. Your relationship ended. You lost the hopes and dreams you had for your future as a couple and a family.
Give yourself time to get over the loss
You may never fully accept a breakup, but you will start to remember your ex and the relationship with less pain. You may still feel a twinge of loss or regret, but you won’t feel raw. Your heart and soul are intertwined with your partner’s when you’re in a relationship – especially if you have kids together. Separating and breaking up is a huge loss in your life. You need to give yourself time to grieve before you can heal.
Changing the story of your relationship and reason for breaking up has the power to change your perspective of your relationship, your self, and your life. This can help you heal and move on.
Remember that “this, too, shall pass”
“There is no such thing as complete acceptance,” says David Viscott in Emotionally Free. “When you can remember a loss with a little distance and much less pain, you have accepted the loss and mourned it fully. You accept that life is different now and move on.”
Like you, I’ve experienced so many losses in life. They’re all part of me now, part of my heart and spirit and soul. I’ll never fully get over the pain of losing someone I love – whether it was a breakup or a death – but my heart will go on. I’ll be different but not defined by who and what I have lost.
For help getting over a difficult breakup with a man you lived with, read How to Be Happy Without Him in Your Life.
How do you feel? If you’d like to practice Narrative Therapy and retell the story of what the break up meant to you, share below! xo