Breakups are no fun. Even if you were the one to pull the plug on the relationship, it sucks to go from being a couple to being alone.
And it doesn’t get any better with experience. It’s always miserable.
Because breakups are so unpleasant, most of us take the same approach. We try to get over them as fast as possible. It’s easiest to think about something else, try to meet someone new, or just move on.
Processing the dead relationship is the last thing we want to do.
Unfortunately, moving on too fast means you miss out on something VERY important. That’s especially true during the dark days right after a breakup.
Your girlfriends may want to get you out of the house for a night on the town, or come over with a sad movie and some Ben and Jerry’s, but trust me…
There’s a better way to process your post-breakup pain.
Researchers at Villanova University recently conducted a study all about dealing with the end of a romantic connection. Specifically, they were looking for the best ways to move on.
The simple technique they recommend is easy to do and comes with some pretty big payoffs.
There are tons of ways to process a breakup, but there’s one technique that research has shown to be super effective.
It’s called “redemptive narrative” journaling.
The idea is simple. Write about the relationship, including the breakup, but try to re-frame as much of it as you can in a positive light.
For example, you might focus on things you learned about yourself during the relationship. Or maybe you walked away with a clearer picture of what a healthy relationship looks like. You might also have a better idea of the things you do and don’t want in a partner.
The specifics don’t matter. What matters is finding something positive about the painful experience.
Researchers found that when people were able to do that, it actually lessened the emotional toll.
If journaling is a foreign concept to you, that’s okay. You don’t have to do it all the time to take advantage of this technique. Even one writing session has the potential to help reshape the way you see the breakup.
I won’t lie. It’s not going to make breaking up fun. Nothing will.
But that’s not the point. The point is to keep moving forward, to keep growing, and to go into your next relationship smarter, better prepared, and ready to make it the one that will stick.
If you’re actively dating, breakups are going to happen. That’s how every relationship ends until you find the partner you want to spend your life with.
If breakups are inevitable, why not have a plan for dealing with them?
Use redemptive narrative journaling to work THROUGH breakups instead of just waiting for the bad feelings to pass. This simple technique can help you feel better in the moment, and it will almost certainly make your next relationship better.
 Slotter, E. B., and D. E. Ward. “Finding the Silver Lining: The Relative Roles of Redemptive Narratives and Cognitive Reappraisal in Individuals’ Emotional Distress after the End of a Romantic Relationship.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 32.6 (2014): 737-56. Web.