The Benefits of Making a Conscious Choice to Uncouple

While the song “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” by Neil Sedaka is more than 40 years old, the concept of “breaking up” has been around for much longer. Breakups can be difficult, and many people experience discomfort during the process. But there may be a way to minimize the difficulty by implementing the concept of conscious uncoupling, which was developed by best-selling author and relationship expert Katherine Woodward Thomas.

In her book, “Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After,” Woodward Thomas speaks to being intentionally mindful of self and how this conscious awareness involves ending relationships in the healthiest way possible. This concept is not solely reserved for romantic relationships as it can be helpful in resolving a variety of strained relationships, such as friendships and business arrangements.

Making informed decisions involves acquiring as much information as possible. When we think about the dissolution of a relationship, pain, mental duress, sadness, fear, anger, and other emotions come to mind. While these aspects of separation may be real, being consciously aware of the language we choose to use and intentionally selecting the thoughts surrounding our language can be empowering.

During a 2015 interview with author and entrepreneur Lewis Howes, Woodward Thomas described conscious uncoupling as being fully aware of how to end a relationship without shame, guilt, and blame, while not losing the people we love in the process. She outlined five ways to end relationships in a healthy way:

  1. De-escalate the intensity of the emotions by labeling them.
  2. Reclaim power in life by taking the necessary steps to avoid being a victim.
  3. Go back and heal the original wound by recreating the stories that are not based on deeper truths and moving beyond painful lies that we’ve told ourselves.
  4. Set an intention for a positive outcome for everyone affected in the situation.
  5. Create an awareness of self and self-responsibility.

Although I am not a certified conscious uncoupling coach nor have I received the training necessary to add this as a credential, there is increasing evidence that conscious uncoupling is a great addition to the arsenal of tools that helping professionals use. Whether a breakup is an absolute certainty or a possibility, couples can gain significant and helpful knowledge from the conscious uncoupling process.

Perhaps the most important benefits of conscious uncoupling are that it allows individuals to gain additional insight regarding broken communication and that it can be used as an alternative way of collaborating. The process brings about the opportunity to address concerns and issues within a relationship without experiencing the total loss of it. I believe this measure to be a viable option for what Woodward Thomas labels as “re-coupling,” which is the process of going through a breakup and staying together in a totally new way, and it could be used as a restorative measure rather than absolute dissolution.

If given the choice, I believe that the vast majority of people would intentionally choose to end relationships as amicably as possible. The concepts surrounding the idea of conscious uncoupling aren’t new, but the process does involve being deliberate and consistent when considering one’s personal communication style and needs. Identifying and understanding healthier ways to positively reframe what may not be working or going well within the dynamics of your relationships and taking responsibility for your part can lead to increased self-awareness and self-advocacy.

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