What makes a sad breakup worse? Having nothing to look forward to. These gentle ways to find your life purpose will comfort, encourage, and help you let go of a relationship that meant everything to you. I wrote this article for a reader who is struggling to get over a sad breakup.
“I’d stop thinking about my ex boyfriend if I had a reason to live,” says Maya on How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex and Get On With Your Life. “It’s not that I want to stop living because the breakup was sad and difficult. I just wish I had a life purpose. I was with my boyfriend for 13 years and I dedicated my whole life to him. He was my reason for living, for breathing, for existing. Now that we’re over I don’t know how to stop thinking about him and I don’t know what the purpose of my life is. Can you help me? I know you don’t give relationship or breakup advice but maybe you could give me something to hang on to or work towards.”
You gave yourself to your relationship, and now it’s over. It was a sad breakup, and you’re grieving the loss of not just someone you love, but your hopes, dreams and plans for a future together. You were happy with him, and you thought your relationship would last forever. Now that it’s over, you feel like you’ve lost your true identity.
Give yourself time to grieve the end of your relationship. You’re an achiever, a dreamer, a planner – I know this because you’re already looking for tips on how to find your life purpose after a sad breakup! That’s great; I’m glad you’re ready to move forward. But, allow your heart time to heal. Ending a relationship is painful, even if you know that breaking up is the best thing for both you and your partner.
Can you hold grief in one hand, and hope for your future in the other? I hope so, because there are thousands of creative, exciting, and practical ways to find your life purpose after a sad breakup. Here, I share a few of my most random and favorite tips for healing after a relationship ends. They involve exciting travel, internal journeys, deep exploration, thoughtful journaling, and learning how to trust yourself again.
How to Find Your Life Purpose After a Sad Breakup
As you read through these ideas, focus on what you need in your life. Maybe you need practical tips for taking care of the finances – you need to figure out what career path to take or what your most meaningful job is. Or maybe you need psychological advice, emotional support, or spiritual healing.
Maybe you need to find yourself emotionally and spiritually because you got lost in your relationship. You might even need help finding yourself physically because you gained too much weight and are literally weighed down.
Figure out where you’re empty. Search for specific ways to give yourself what you need; pay attention to how and where you lost yourself along the way. This will help you find yourself again – especially if you lost yourself in a relationship 30 years ago and you’re searching for your life purpose when you’re in your 50s.
1. Consider going on a journey to a place far, far away
Sometimes we need to travel away in order to come back to ourselves. That’s one of the best tips for finding your life purpose after a sad breakup: go somewhere alone, and learn how to trust yourself (and God) to get you through safely.
Have you ever traveled alone?
Safari means “journey” in Swahili. Going on safari – either an internal journey of self-exploration or an external excursion to a place far far away – means leaving the comfort and safety of your world. An African safari is scary and thrilling, exotic and powerful! Before you go on safari, however, think about what you want to rediscover in your personality and life. What was the purpose of your life before your relationship began? How did it change as the relationship progressed? What is the most difficult part of this sad breakup, and are you surprised by how your relationship ended?
Take time to answer these questions in writing. You can share your thoughts with me in the comments section below, or in your own private journal.
Go on safari – an actual excursion to Africa
Winter is the dry season in Africa – and the best season for a safari. You’re now in a winter season of your life; you’re coping with a sad breakup. You’re already on safari. You’re venturing into the wilderness and searching for the purpose of your life. You take external and internal risks when you go on safari. You risk losing yourself and you risk having to rely on yourself.
This is good. This is how you find the purpose of your life after a sad breakup.
Your goal when you’re on a safari is not just survival, but living the best, biggest life you couldn’t even begin to imagine! You’ll see big vistas of plains and little river valleys. You’ll see rhinos, lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, and kudu. You’ll see carcasses of animals, with vultures or hyenas still munching. You might even see a kill. You’ll marvel at the ruthlessness of the animal kingdom, and you’ll see your own life much differently.
Maybe you’ll find yourself – and your life purpose – on the plains of the African continent. Maybe you think you’re hunting game, but really you’re hunting for yourself.
2. Look for your life purpose in people and places, here and now
Going to Africa on an actual safari is a huge stretch for most of us! Too far, too expensive, too scary. But how about this: go on a “city safari.” Visit a new part of town, a vintage store, a museum, a forest hike. You mind find a purposeful life in the most surprising place – your own community, city, country.
The best tip on how to find the purpose of your life after a sad breakup is to stop dwelling in the place you get stuck. Get out of yourself, your head and life. Get of out your usual haunts and explore new places. Learn how to rely on yourself somewhere new and completely different.
If you don’t know where the ethnic neighborhoods or cultural gathering places are, then it’s time to book a safari in your own city! Recruit an adventurous friend to go with you…or take the Big Risk and go alone.
For more tips, read 7 Ways to Pick Up the Pieces of Your Broken Heart.
3. Go back to the future
One of my favorite ways to go on safari in my own city – and to learn something new about myself – is to browse through vintage stores, thrift shops, and second-hand or consignment sales. I sift through all the racks of clothes, shoes, hats, bedding, crafts, games, housewares, furniture, and bookshelves.
I don’t shop for anything specific, I just pay attention to the things that jump out at me. It’s similar to creating a vision board: look for things that make you smile, laugh, feel good, and connect more deeply with who you really are. That’s how to find your life purpose, especially after a sad breakup.
If you go on a “thrift store safari”, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you drawn to the sweaters, shoes, books, cookware, pictures, furniture, or crafts? What section “fits” you?
- What textures, colors, and patterns jump out at you?
- Which hats, shoes, belts, and scarves speak to you?
- Why are you struck by certain books or pictures? What do you love or hate?
- Take pictures of the things you love with your phone. Put it on your vision board.
Going on a safari – whether it’s a literal safari to Africa or a metaphorical safari to a thrift store in your own city – can be an awesome way to find the purpose of your life and rediscover who you are.
4. Go on an internal safari – learn how to grieve after a sad breakup
Ah, the journey within. My favorite type of safari! This is the most important safari if you’re serious about finding your life purpose. Going deep within will help you heal after a sad breakup. It will help you learn, grow, and flourish.
How to find your life purpose on an internal safari:
- Schedule time every day to actually do the work. Read books that challenge and provoke you, such as Martha Beck’s Steering by Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny.
- Write down your answers to the questions in Martha’s book and at the end of this article. Journal. Think. Pray.
- Allow the purpose of your life to unfold naturally.
- Expect pain – because you are coping with a sad breakup. A reader once told me that she spent a year finding herself after a 10 year marriage; it was both the most painful and the best year she ever had.
It takes time to heal after a sad breakup. You’ll never be the same. You are already different. And that’s good.
5. Journal about healing and finding your life purpose every day
Journaling is free form writing about whatever you think and feel. It’s a great way to find your life purpose after a breakup because it helps you get in touch with your deepest core self.
When you first start journaling you might find yourself constantly weeping and writing about your relationship and breakup. This is okay; you’re sad and you should be crying. But eventually, that will stop. You will start focusing on YOU. What do you want to do, see, feel, and hear? What was your life purpose before? You will recover and rediscover yourself. Who do you want to be? Where do you want to go?
Journal writing can help you heal after a sad breakup, and show you what your life purpose is.
“I found journaling cathartic after a terrible breakup,” writes Rachel Sussman in The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce. “I suggest you buy a notebook or journal and write in it daily. You can write absolutely anything you feel like. Let your thoughts spill onto the blank page.”
Writing is a way of processing your grief, thoughts, and emotions – and it will help you move forward in your life. Where are you going, why, and what do you need? Journaling will help you figure this out.
Keeping a journal can show you how much you’ve grown and flourished in your life. This will give you motivation you need to keep moving forward in your life.
“After each writing session rate your mood on a scale from one to ten (one being extremely depressed and ten being your personal best),” advises Sussman in The Breakup Bible. “When we note our moods and progression through journaling, we can track our evolution more objectively. As the months pass you can literally see where you have been and where you are going.”
6. Experiment with different things until you find what works for you
Not everyone benefits from writing in a journal. In Does Journal Writing Help You Heal From Divorce? Not Necessarily, I share research that found that expressive writing of any kind can actually hinder emotional recovery for some people. For them, non-expressive or control writing might actually be a more effective form of healing after a breakup.
Journaling one’s feelings was especially ineffective for people who are “high ruminators.” I’m one of those women – I tend to brood over situations, behaviors, regrets, words. High ruminators dwell on the circumstances of their separation or divorce, and journal to search for answers. I think about my life purpose a lot, even if I haven’t recently gone through a breakup.
If you tend to think and obsess a lot, then journaling as a way to find your life purpose after a relationship ends won’t be helpful. It may actually backfire, and cause you to keep ruminating about the breakup and why it happened. Ruminators need to get out of their heads and start thinking about how they’re going to put their lives back together.
“As I began the process of dealing with my divorce, I tried expressive journaling for a while,” says Claire on Overcoming Depressed Feelings After a Breakup. “Whenever an incident came up between me and my ex, I would write about it. But then I would end up vibrating with anger. I found that I was thinking about the interaction way more than it deserved. And it wasn’t helping me to understand it better. So I took a different approach.”
Instead of journaling about her feelings, she wrote about the thing that made her angry in a neutral way. She pretended she was writing about the situation for a judge or lawyer – someone who would only be concerned about the facts.
“That, more than anything, helped me to work out my feelings, detach, and excise blame from the experience,” said Claire. “As a result, I’m less emotionally involved with my ex.”
7. Believe that a sad breakup can lead you to a meaningful life purpose
“Acceptance is not about being happy but it’s the end of a long search for peace,” says Susan Elliott, author of Getting Past Your Breakup: How To Turn A Devastating Loss Into The Best Thing That Ever Happened To You. “If you do your work, you come to this. It’s when you can sit back and understand your relationship was not meant to be.”
Elliott says she wrote Getting Past Your Breakup because she wanted to place a great deal of emphasis on grieving a sad breakup and lost relationship.
“When I wrote the book, I thought that was one thing that was conspicuously absent in breakup literature,” she writes in The Emotions of Grief After a Breakup on the Psychology Today website. “After working with clients for years, I knew that many people needed to know that they are normal if they are grieving and that grief after a sad breakup is normal and natural. What is NOT natural is our society’s inclination to encourage people to blow by their very real grief.”
Don’t dismiss the grief you feel about the end of your relationship. But, don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the past, or in your sadness of breaking up. Your grief and the healing process can be a healthy way to find your life purpose after a sad breakup.
8. Answer specific questions about finding your life purpose
Writing is therapeutic for moving through grief and answering difficult questions.
Writing in your journal can help you deal with a sad breakup and find your life purpose. Or, it can keep you stuck in the sad and sorry emotions. The questions below will help you focus on rebuilding your life and reclaiming your courage. Allow your mind to take you wherever it wants to go. Just write, write, write…
Answer one or two of these questions every day:
- What are you afraid of?
- What are the greatest adjustments and challenges you’ve faced so far in your life?
- What are the biggest relationship problems you’re facing right now?
- What are the biggest problems you’re facing because of the breakup?
- What has surprised you the most about this experience?
- What is your biggest obstacle to healing? What can you do to get past this obstacle?
- How will you know you are getting better?
- How have your priorities changed because of this breakup?
- What new strengths have you discovered in yourself since the breakup?
- Can your new strengths help you find your life purpose?
- What new realities has this breakup forced you to see?
If you’d like to share your thoughts in the comments section below instead of your private journal, feel free to write away! I won’t offer advice or feedback; this is your space to write whatever you like.
Thoughts to finish in your journal:
- I’m looking forward to…
- I want to hold on to…
- I want to let go of…
- My new purpose in life is…
- I have a dream to…
You’ve already started the healing process after a sad breakup. You’re beginning to learn how to find the purpose of your life – and you will get there. Don’t give up.
9. Learn how to let go of someone you love
I wrote 3 Powerful Secrets and 75 Tips for Healing Your Heart not because I was dealing with a sad breakup — well, actually it was a sad breakup!
Ten years ago, my sister disappeared from my life. She told me she never wanted to speak to me again, and that she just wanted to cut all ties with me and her past. It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever experienced – even worse than breakups with boyfriends.
To write this ebook, I interviewed life coaches, counselors, and grief coaches. I summarized everything I learned about letting go of someone you love, processing the pain of a sad breakup, and grieving the end of a relationship. I wasn’t searching for the purpose of my life, but I was desperate to learn how to heal after losing someone I loved so much.
May you find peace, healing, and wisdom. May the peace of God – which transcends all understanding – descend on your spirit and soul. May you find the purpose of your life, and may this sad breakup become a distant memory of the past.
Take good care of yourself, for you are worth taking good care of.
Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.
Need encouragement? Sign up for my weekly "Echoes of Joy" email - it's free, short, and energizing. Like me!