How to ‘Marie Kondo’ your way through a breakup
If there’s one thing that most certainly doesn’t spark joy, it’s a breakup.
But in their new book, “Better Apart” (Harper Wave), Gabrielle Hartley and Elena Brower advise those going through a separation to employ the wisdom of Marie Kondo — the viral tidying expert who challenges her readers and viewers to throw away any items in their home that don’t “spark joy.”
Brower is a yoga instructor and friend to fellow divorcée Gwyneth Paltrow, and Hartley is a divorce attorney who helped Brower through her own divorce 10 years ago. The college friends say Kondo’s technique can help anyone in the midst of a breakup, whether it’s a messy divorce or a heartbreaking split.
They challenge their readers to take stock of the negatives introduced during a breakup, such as gossip and bashing your ex, and give practical advice for how to metaphorically throw them in the garbage.
“Once we start to see what’s in the ‘toss’ pile . . . we can forge forward on a peaceful path,” says Hartley, a former New Yorker who now lives in Massachusetts.
Here’s how to dispose of excess baggage that ultimately won’t reignite your joy.
Squash the gossip
While “vengeful conversation” can feel cathartic in the moment, it creates long-standing damage. If you must, limit venting to your trusted circle, and whatever you do, keep it off social media.
“We cannot emphasize enough to do your very best to not post and not look at social media when you’re in the process of separating,” Hartley says. “It can be a land mine for misinterpretations and upsetting yourself.”
People going through a separation often hoard thoughts about their exes’ negative attributes — i.e., “she’s a liar” or “she causes me to lose my cool,” Brower says.
Just as Kondo encourages her followers to lay out all the clothes in their closet on their bed in order to sort them out into throwaway piles, the two say you should write down all the thoughts you have about your ex to figure out which ones will help you move on — or, in the case of divorce, which will keep the process as neutral and peaceful as possible.
“When we can list the repetitive negatives so that we can see them, we can say, ‘This is something I’m no longer choosing to repeat, this is not productive, this is getting put in the toss pile,’ ” Brower says.
Let go of grieving
While the two encourage mourning the death of the relationship, it’s ultimately something you should gradually let go, they say. Start by setting aside an hour of your day to “do something that makes you feel uplifted,” Hartley says.
“You can be a miserable wretch the rest of the day, but during that one hour, just do something that makes you happy — go see a movie, spend time with someone you really love,” Hartley says.
Then, gradually kick it up to two hours a day, and so on: “Over time you will rewire your brain by concentrating on the positive thoughts and interactions, and those breakups that feel so scarring, they will start to dissipate,” Hartley says.
The future is now
Part of being in a trusting relationship means picturing a future with that person. But during a breakup, that imagined future can be much more uncertain. Hartley and Brower say this can be a good time to envision something better.
They recommend journaling or creating a vision board that details what you want your life to be now: places you’ll travel to, positive qualities you’ll embody, even meals you want to make.
“You can create whatever you want your reality to look like,” Brower says.
“It becomes an affirmation,” Hartley adds. “Be as specific as you can, and be positive. Act like it’s happening now.”
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