First, I want to say there is no one way or right way to coach someone through a break up. There are so many factors to consider and process. Every break up is different and everyone handles their break up differently. What may take one person a summer to “get over” someone may take another an entire lifetime. Hopefully not. But it depends on the person, their story, the imprint of the relationship, etc. etc. etc. So many factors. No two break ups are the same so you can’t help every client in the same way.
But you can have a template to work off of. You can have a general process that you take your clients through.
First, acknowledge the pain. That’s the most powerful thing you can do. You’re letting them know you’re with them. You hear them. You understand and relate to their pain. It’s too soon for “everything happens for a reason” and they’re going to get that from everyone else. The soil or primer is always to acknowledge their feels.
Second, the reframe. A break up sounds like something just exploded. Something tragic just happened. And of course, break ups can feel that way. But if you can get your client to change her language from break up to expiration, you can help soften the blow. She can start to pull back, let go, accept, and heal. Or at least start the process. The relationship has expired. It was only meant to go as long as it did, not one day less or more.
Third, congratulate them on choosing to begin this process. You are indirectly announcing to them that they are making a decision to move forward. Yes, there may be many conversations about what happened. But the intention / goal is to move forward. Get on the same page.
Now the meat and potatoes.
There are three pieces to helping someone through an expired relationship. These pieces don’t have to be processed in this order. The client will usually lead. But depending on your approach, you can either guide them or follow their lead. Up to you. These are just the main parts to cover.
Examining the black box.
Again, I’m not going to give you a step by step process. Because every coach has their own way in, tempo, pace, tone, approach and style. There is no one fits all. But here are some important questions to get that conversation going so you can process what happened and help your client on their journey.
What happened? It’s important to process what happened. To make sense of things and learn from the expiration. Many may feel like they just got hit by a car, depending on how it went down. Or for some, the break up may have been a slow burn. Either way, the goal is not to dwell on the past. The goal is to learn, grow, and move forward. So if after many sessions, the client only wants to talk about how they were a victim or what their ex did to them or took from them, you may want to start to redirect the conversation. That being said, let them vent for a few sessions. It’s okay if they have a victim mindset in the beginning. But it’s your job to help them change their mindset.
Here are some broad questions to ask to get them to change their mindset. What did you learn about yourself from the expiration? What did you learn about your love patterns? How do those patterns play out in a relationship? What was your contribution to the expiration?
When the client is ready, you want to help them take ownership so it doesn’t just become a blame game. And you can explain to them the value in taking ownership. When you own your piece, you are taking the power back. So what do they need to own? And what does that look like?
Create a space for your client’s feelings. Literally ask her how she feels. Where is she at emotionally? Important: Is she blaming herself for the expiration? If so, you want to process that with her. What does she believe was her fault and why?
One thing I always remind my clients is that they are only fifty percent of any relationship so even if they were perfect (there’s no such thing), they would only be responsible for half. They have no control over the other half. Drill that into their brain.
The goal is to get the client to feel so she doesn’t hold onto anger and resentment. Feelings pass by actually feeling them. Remind your client that if she is holding on to feelings, she needs to allow herself to feel. Anything she feels is okay. Don’t judge her feelings and make sure she also doesn’t judge them. You job as a coach is to be there with her, hold a safe space as she goes through her myriad of feelings. This would be a good place to also let her know that you relate to what she’s feeling and going through. Share a story of your own. It will help her feel less alone.
When the client is ready, it’s time to talk about her new chapter. Hopefully, she’s had many revelations about the relationship but more importantly about herself. Expired relationships are the richest soil for growth. Remind her. This part of the process is all about taking what she has learned about herself, how she maneuvers in relationships, triggers, patterns, etc. and applying the learnings to her life so she becomes a better version of herself AND brings more to the table in her next relationship. That always seems to be motivation with my clients. What they will bring to the table in their next relationship. For many, it’s difficult to want to be better for themselves but they will always want to be better for someone else, even if they don’t know who that someone else is right now. That language also works because you’re saying there WILL be someone else. Many get discouraged because they feel like there won’t be or that they will be alone forever now that this relationship is over. You want to help them change that belief.
The what now is all about the new her. Help her connect with herself again. Many lose themselves when they get into a relationship. What parts of her did she disconnect with during the relationship? What would it look like to connect with those parts of her again? Passions. Hobbies. Travel. Or maybe there’s something she’s always wanted to do but didn’t or couldn’t because of the relationship. What would it look like to do engage in that?
The best way to get over someone is to connect with yourself again. Or for some, maybe the first time.
Your job is the make her accountable.
And process the journey.