Laura Yates is a London-based breakup coach and writer who helps clients rewire old patterns using a practice called neural rewiring. We asked Laura some questions about her personal experience with heartbreak and she opened up about how she used her breakup as an opportunity for personal transformation.
If you think back to the first time you were heartbroken, what advice would you give to that younger version of yourself?
“Oh wow, this brings back a memory! The thing I did that time was something I actually should have done more of when I got older and that was spend time around good friends. The day I got finished with by someone I really liked, I went over to my best friend’s house, she cooked for a few of our friendship group that evening and I cried, laughed and felt so much better. It was so comforting to be around friends. I would tell her to keep doing that! I’d also tell her to trust that the feeling will pass, to not let it hold her back or make her feel like it’s something she did wrong. With relationships and breakups, a large part of the time it’s just where the other person is at and not a personal reflection on you. (I would also tell her to not trust any guy that finishes with you whilst he’s on roller blades anyway!)”
What has heartbreak taught you about yourself?
“Oh gosh so much! So much of my transformation has come through going through heartbreak. It taught me to understand that everything isn’t supposed to be perfect in life. It’s not linear. It’s full of messy twists and turns but there can be so much beauty that comes out of that. It also taught me about boundaries. When you love someone so much, you can over-compromise. You see the relationship and that person through rose tinted glasses because you believe things might change. But you can’t change people. All you can do is have control over how you choose to react to a situation and how you can change to become a better person as a result of it. Walking away from my last relationship was one of the hardest things I had to do but it set us both free to find a relationship that’s better suited. We can put so much blame on the other person and that keeps us rooted in the past and the relationship. But putting blame aside, taking responsibility for myself and being able to let go and forgive (and that forgiveness doesn’t mean saying what happened was ok – it’s just means that you set yourself free from the emotional turmoil that’s keeping you stuck) was one of the biggest learnings I had.”
What are your rituals during a breakup? What things/practices/people helped you mend?
“After my breakup I focused on my health and wellbeing. Whenever I face challenges life, I turn back to my physical health (which is the thing that always tends to get compromised with me!) and strength because I notice how much it impacts my emotional resilience. After my breakup I worked with a personal trainer and found that exerting all that energy into something positive, just for me, helped me heal so much. For so long I was focused on the relationship and my ex that I lost sight of myself. So my rituals were about rediscovering who I was. That was also when journaling became more of a ritual for me too. I also consciously decided to make sure my environment was one that could facilitate healing, inspiration, fun and creativity. Spending time with friends, going to workshops, getting more and more into personal development, writing about how I was coming through my own heartbreak and helping other people heal from breakups was something I completely threw myself into!”
Thinking back to breakups you’ve had, did you have any breakup vices (checking your ex’s Insta, etc) and how do you conquer them?
“I’m convinced my breakups when I was younger were easier because social media wasn’t really around then! Depending on how serious the relationship was, you do tend to bounce back a little quicker when you’re younger but getting over a breakup was still a lot more fluid because there were no social media triggers. It was more if you bumped into your ex down the pub that would cause the most worry! I’ve noticed this with friends I’ve grown up with too.
With my last breakup, there was a lot I saw and found out about via social media and it 100% perpetuated the heartbreak, anger and anxiety associated with it. So what I did was notice how much anxiety and pain it caused me and then every time I went to click on his profile, asked myself whether that was really going to help or hinder me. It’s like rubbing salt in the emotional wound so I did what I could to eliminate what I saw. I also defriended him. Not out of spite but because I knew seeing his life would only cause more pain. I had what I call a mini breakup with someone else about a year or so later and he barely used social media. Even though that relationship was quite short and not as much emotional investment, I still really noticed how much easier it was to bounce back because he didn’t really use Facebook or Instagram. It’s crazy how much it affects us. With my coaching clients, how to handle social media is something that always comes up.”
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about love so far in your life?
“It’s unpredictable! But isn’t that amazing? You honestly never know when love can show up in your life but you have to be open to it. I also think that love is the thing that reminds me that everyone is human. It’s the ultimate equalizer. It doesn’t matter how famous, attractive, successful, wealthy or accomplished you are, you’re not immune to heartbreak. It brings out that inner vulnerability in everyone.”
Do you think exes can be friends? Do you stay friends with your exes on social media?
“I think it’s a really individual thing. Personally, I don’t stay friends with exes or think I could. If you’ve have that kind of connection and relationship with someone, it’s hard to be able to then separate that and create a friendship. But I know it can happen with some people, it just depends on the relationship and why it ended. I definitely don’t think you can be friends immediately after a breakup. There are too many raw emotions and so often we can use staying friends as an excuse to stay in each other’s lives in any way possible. When it comes to social media, again it depends on the relationship itself. I’m friends with guys I’ve dated in the past on social media but the ones I’ve been in serious relationships with I’m not.”
What keeps your heart open, despite the heartbreaks you’ve had in your life?
“I love the thought of being in love again! I find it exciting, exhilarating and I really believe that relationships are journeys that lead us from one stage in our lives to another. Just knowing that sometimes things aren’t meant to last forever is comforting. But it doesn’t mean those past relationships were a mistake. They’re just stepping-stones to the next chapter. Plus you learn so much about yourself after a relationship ends. I’ve taken a lot of time since my last big relationship ended. So I know that when I meet that next person, I have such a deep knowing of myself, what I want and need from a partner and relationship – and who I want to be for them too that it takes the ‘risk’ element out of it. It’s easy to put up walls after heartbreak but when you have your boundaries, wants and needs in check, you spot red flags sooner and can walk away quicker from something or someone that isn’t right for you. You can have an open heart without leaving yourself vulnerable.”
What is your favorite song about heartbreak?
“So many! But I’d say my favourite has to be Amy Winehouse ‘Back to Black.'”
What is your favorite movie about heartbreak?
“500 Days of Summer. That scene where Tom starts drawing the skyline on his apartment wall – I love that so much because it perfectly captures the turning point of him beginning to come out the other side of his heartbreak. I also love the scene after Summer and Tom bump into each other after she’s married where she tells him that it wasn’t that there was anything wrong for him; it just wasn’t right for her. We can make heartbreak so much about ‘us’. But even if it isn’t right for one person it doesn’t make you inadequate in any way. It just wasn’t right.”
What projects are you currently working on, and looking forward to most?
“I love working with Mend (obviously ha!) and within my own brand, I’m extending my coaching services to helping people bounce back from many areas of their life and transform their everyday. Something I am passionate about is approaching transformation with humility and creativity. I work with clients to make their lives drama free. After challenges in my own health journey, I’ve also been inspired to find a way to help people in this way too, so I’ve recently enrolled in the Sano School of Culinary Medicine, which is about understanding how food and nutrition can heal the body and how it also impacts emotional health. Helping other people has been a great healer for me when it comes to heartbreak and life challenges and my mission is to help as many people as possible. Aside from that I’m also revisiting my performing roots and doing an acting course this summer. It’s important to make time to do the things you love so I’m really excited for that!”