Ending a Relationship Through Conscious Uncoupling


To use the five-step process of conscious uncoupling to end a romantic relationship.

You Should Know

The end of a romantic relationship can be very painful. Research shows that a person going through a difficult divorce or bad breakup shares the same brain chemistry as someone who has lost a loved one. You might believe you will never experience true love or real joy again. You might worry you will never heal from the breakup.

There is a way to end a romantic relationship with honor, respect, generosity, and goodwill, navigating through the breakup in a way that fosters “posttraumatic growth” rather than complicated or prolonged grief. This five-step process, called conscious uncoupling, was created by Katherine Woodward Thomas, and it was designed to guide people in ending a romantic relationship.

Maybe you are considering ending your relationship, or you have recently experienced a breakup. The process of conscious uncoupling can help you find emotional freedom, reclaim your power, and recreate your life.

What to Do

If you and your partner are working through this process together, make a copy of this worksheet for each of you. After you have both completed it, share your responses without judging or criticizing. You may also complete this worksheet on your own.

After completing each step, move on to the next step when you are ready.

Step 1. Find emotional freedom. The first step involves meditation. Reflect on your experience when you are finished with this step.

  • Become still. Find a quiet place, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Become aware of the feelings and sensations in your body and release any tension you might be holding.

  • Step back from your feelings. Imagine stepping away from your thoughts and feelings, and simply offering yourself care, compassion, and curiosity. See if you can view what is happening in your life from a larger and well-informed perspective.

  • Connect with a deeper center within. Keep breathing, and become aware there is a center within you that is deeper and wider than the feelings you are experiencing. Remind yourself you are OK.

  • Extend love to the part of your suffering. From this deeper and wiser center, extend love to the part of you that is feeling overwhelmed with painful emotions. Pay attention to the pain while continuing to connect with your wise self. Notice where in your body you are holding these emotions.

Welcome in and mirror your feelings. With kindness and compassion, ask yourself what you are feeling. Listen closely for the response and then mirror it back by saying to yourself, “I can see you’re feeling __________ (sad, enraged, hopeless, used, etc.).”

Breathe out a blessing. For each feeling, on your next in-breath, breathe that feeling into the center of your heart, welcoming it, and on the out-breath, breathe out a blessing for yourself and all beings throughout the world who are suffering from this same feeling in this very moment.

Write down your experiences as you completed Step 1.

Name and mirror your needs. Now, with kindness and compassion, ask yourself the following question, “What do you need?” Listen closely for the response and then mirror it back by saying to yourself, “I can see that you need ________ (love, closure, an apology, justice, safety, support, comfort, to be seen, to be heard, etc.).”

Step 2. Reclaim your power and your life. As long as your attention is focused on how your partner hurt you, you are not going to discover all the ways you contributed to what happened.

Even if your ex is mostly at fault for the relationship ending, your focus should be on your part in it.

Why? Because until you identify how you show up in romantic relationships, you will be unable to trust yourself and fully open up to another person.

Reclaiming your power and your life happens when you are willing to see the ways you gave up power, self-sabotaged, ignored the truth, and damaged your own well-being.