Portland Therapy Blog

Portland Therapy Blog

Local experts share the latest information and resources on all things mental health.

How a Break-up can be the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You

Posted: April 28, 2014 by amelia@modernmindful.com

Everyone knows that break-ups just plain suck. It doesn’t matter if it was a long relationship or a short one. It doesn’t matter whether you were the dumper, the dumpee, or it was a mutual decision. However it goes down, it really hurts to end a relationship and say goodbye to someone you care about. Maybe you thought this person was “The One” and you had your future planed together, or maybe you share the same apartment, the same friends, and the same hobbies and now you have to untangle your lives. The fact is, the separation process can be excruciatingly painful.

And yet, I would like to suggest that there is something really good about going through a break-up. Hold on. Don’t stop reading. Of course if you are right in the midst of a break-up—let’s say it happened last night—then this is probably not going to ring true to you. In that case, I know you are hurting tremendously right now, and that pain is valid and real. A part of you is ending, a part of you is over, and life will never be quite the same. Feeling sad, angry, hurt, lonely and confused are all really normal feelings to be having right now. AND…there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Good things will be coming your way if you are up for the challenge.

Let me explain. Many people come to see me for counseling when they have just gone through a break-up and they need help navigating the emotions that go along with this painful process. After a few sessions of focusing on the relationship and processing the grief that naturally arises around this loss, the focus generally shifts away from the relationship and moves to the person sitting in my office. This shift is important, as now the real progress can begin.

At this point clients start looking within and asking important questions. Such as:

  • Who am I?
  • Who do I want to be in this world?
  • What are my values?
  • What kind of people do I want to spend my time with?
  • What is important to me?
  • What role did I have in what didn’t work in this relationship?
  • Do I have the strength to be single?
  • Am I codependent?
  • What are my needs?
  • What do I really want in a relationship?
  • What wounds am I carrying that affect the way I am in relationships?
  • How do I heal these wounds?
  • What unconscious beliefs do I believe about myself or others?
  • How do I experience intimacy?
  • How do I hold myself back from being close to another?
  • How do I like to be nourished?
  • What changes do I need to make if I want a really healthy relationship?
  • Am I lovable?

The list goes on…

These are not questions that I directly ask my clients, but ones that come up naturally. At this point, a whole new world opens up and people start to see what else is possible for themselves both in and out of a relationship. For some clients, it is the first time they have really looked within and for others it is a journey of discovering deeper layers of clarity about themselves and the way they see the world. Either way, the self-reflection process yields tremendous benefits.

Through the self-reflection process, many people say they feel more alive, more whole, and more free to be themselves. Many people find a newfound dedication to themselves and what they want in life. A lot of people make big changes in all areas of life as they find what really makes them happy and what really inspires them to live each day fully. Many people develop confidence in themselves that they carry into their next relationships and their future endeavors.

In closing, I will share a personal story. When I was 22, my first love broke up with me on the street, at midnight, in the middle of Times Square. I was devastated and thought I would not survive without him. That ending was actually a beginning, and one that I am forever thankful for. Looking back more than 9 years later, I see that this break-up was the catalyst for years of emotional growth that I would never trade for anything. I would not be the person I am today if the pain from this break-up had not forced me to look at myself, to heal, and to develop strength and confidence in myself with or without a partner. Without this break-up, I know I would not have decided to become a therapist. I would not have decided to help others find what they are really missing: not the man, not the woman, but themselves.

The secret benefit that you will gain when you go through a break-up is: YOU.

Amelia Morgan-Rothschild, MA, LPCi, is a professional counselor in Portland, OR. You can find out more about her practice by visiting her website or her profile.

Tags: mood and feelings, relationship and family, life transition