How to Start Over After a Break-Up: 5 Steps to Hit the Reboot Button
By Bridget Fonger, author of Superhero of Love: Heal Your Broken Heart & Then Go Save the World
The reboot button in your post-break-up hard drive is hidden from view right after a relationship ends. I’m going to give you its secret coordinates because as different as we all may be, we all bleed red, we all can feel the deep ache of love lost, and our reboot button is situated in the very same spot.
Where is it? It’s right inside your heart, currently situated under the pile of break-up debris. And we all have the debris. We all have the end-of-relationship laundry pile on the bed that we need to sift through – one piece at a time, one relationship wound at a time, one relationship joy at a time. I’m going to lead you through five steps that will help you remove some of that debris and get you closer to that reboot button.
Think of this as Marie Kondo-ing your heart. The effects are just as en-light-ening, but the long-term effects of doing these five steps could lighten your heart forever. And, the best news is that every time you remove some debris from your heart, you are making space to love and be loved more in the future.
Each loss does not hit our hearts as one singular event, it touches off all the losses and other heart wounds from our past. If we take a few moments to look inside with this five-part exercise, we can grab back our power and take care of a good chunk of that debris.
You’ll need a pen and paper or a computer – wherever you feel comfortable writing out your thoughts – quickly, as they come to you — as you follow the prompts.
Stand Firmly Entrenched in What is So Now
Let’s talk about now. After a break-up, we tend to want to stay planted in the past, with accusations, regrets, justifications and romantic stories of what was and what could have been. I want you to come to the present, and become entrenched in what is so. Write out – quickly, don’t judge what you write or how it comes out – some of the thoughts and feelings you have right now about
1) your ex,
2) the relationship
Let it all out – the good, the bad and the ugly. No one will ever see this: it’s just for you to get present to what is so.
1. Your Emotional Landscape
Write a list of all the emotions you have felt since the break-up – just emotions — no stories — just a long list of feelings.
2. Overriding Feeling
Take that list and circle the top three emotions that you feel on a regular basis. Now, choose one to work on first. This should be an overriding emotion felt during this break-up. Now ask yourself the following:
When do I remember first feeling this emotion?
Don’t move on until you get a moment from your early life that carries the seed of that emotion. It doesn’t have to be the first time but goes back as far as you can. Let your mind wander freely until it latches onto a memory, a clue, the recollection of a person, a place. The clue may be tiny but follow it – gently — to the memory.
Once you have the memory, go to the next question:
- How old was I?
- Where was I?
- Who was around?
- What happened?
- What was the label I put on myself after that event? (I.e., I am powerless, people don’t love me, I’m not good enough, etc.)
3. Have a chat with yourself at that age – Now that you have all that information, imagine yourself at the time of that first memory and ask that little one to have a little chat in your mind’s eye. Ask her some questions so that she knows you are there to help her now:
- What is she feeling now?
- What was she feeling back then?
- What would she have said had she been your adult version of her back then?
- When she is done expressing herself to you, let her know you are here for her and ask her what she needs now to feel safe and happy.
Own Your New Power
This is a big deal what you just did in #3 and #4. Let it sink in that you just touched base with a part of your heart that has been long-wounded, and that you have empowered simply by giving it your loving attention. It will not need to poke and scream as dramatically next time. You will be less triggered because of your chat with that little one, you will be forever aware of the source of this feeling. You will able to adult your way through it in the future, rather than leaving the wounded little one to run the show.
Bravo, Marie Kondo, you just cleaned out a piece of your heart! You just cleared away some of the breakup debris that was associated with that wound! You are one giant step closer to hitting that reboot button.
The beauty of relationships is that they all — the beginnings, the endings, and all points between – trigger pieces of our hearts that need healing. When we attend to them we give voice to the pieces of ourselves that were accidentally trounced upon and left behind, set aside or forgotten. When we do that, they no longer sabotage us when we are trying to heal, find peace and reboot after a breakup.
By the way, I know that I will never be done with this kind of work. Whether I’m in a relationship or not, pieces of my heart get triggered and when they do I know it’s time to go inside and look around so that I can take away anything that is stopping me from loving or being loved.
About the Author:
Bridget Fonger is longtime health, lifestyle, and relationship writer, having authored a regular column for Huffington Post and blogs at superherooflove.blogspot.com. Fonger currently serves as a contributor for Thrive Global and Quora and hosts a podcast entitled Superhero of Love Podcast.
She is the author of Superhero of Love: Heal Your Broken Heart & Then Go Save the World (January 1, 2019).