How To Get Over A Break Up

We all do it – voodoo dolls, tubs of icecream, drunk texting – but what is the best way to get over a break up? Susan Elliott, author of Getting Past Your Breakup, holds “Heartbreak Bootcamps” in NYC and shares her tops tips:

1. Keep a journal or write unsent letters

In behavioural therapy, therapists often ask their clients to keep detailed daily records of particular events or reactions. The journal approach sheds insight on many destructive patterns and habits, and has proven to be a successful tool in combating undesirable behaviours. As per my recommendations in Getting Past Your Breakup, I ask those attending my bootcamp to keep a journal (which some do or do not start before they
get there). For those who have trouble journaling, I suggest they write letters to their ex that they do not send and letters to themselves about how they are feeling. For many the “talking to” letter writing works better than the journaling. Use the letters and the journal to log how many times you are communicating with your ex; write about your reactions when your ex contacts you and your reactions when you make contact; and what is going on for you right before the urge to call comes up. Spend some time with these questions, thinking about them and writing out the answers.

2. Complete the Relationship Inventory

Often, when people are grieving, they tend to view their former relationship in a light that doesn’t accurately reflect reality. The purpose of the Relationship Inventory is to take you out of the emotion and the fantasy and into the objective and the realistic. Even still, sometimes we have a tendency to only revisit the parts we want to and in many cases, someone will only come up with good things about their ex rather than a balance of good and bad for the Inventory. In this case, we ask that they journal or write a letter about only the negative aspects of the relationship. Instead of saying, ‘you were my best friend’, turn
it into, ‘you hurt me’, ‘you disappointed me’ or ‘you humiliated me’. Many times people only concentrating on the good and can’t put into words what was done TO them. Even if the breakup was the only thing the person did, it was done and it hurt.

3. Focus on YOU

At the Heartbreak Bootcamps everyone has an opportunity to share their week with the group – many times it’s all about the ex. One woman always started out her weekly report talking about her ex. After a couple of weeks we started to point this out and ask that she tell us about her instead of him. Focus on you – one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to take your head out of your ex’s life and put it back into yours.

4. Go “No Contact (NC)” with your ex

At the bootcamps, we also discuss the importance of “NC” strategies. As Getting Past Your Breakup details, ‘no contact is the key to moving forward’. When there is continued contact, the healing process is thwarted. Therefore, at the bootcamp we have a “NC” check-in each
week for those struggling with it.

5. Reward yourself

I encourage everyone to reward themselves weekly, sometimes daily, for the hard work that they do. Take breaks, learn self-pampering techniques for yourself and give yourself much credit for doing the hard work. At the end of the bootcamp, I always give out gifts and cards to the participants and encourage them to do the same for themselves after they leave.

Susan Elliott’s new release book, Getting Past Your Breakup, $29.95, is available from bookstores nationally and online from

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