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Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After Divorce

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

What is Conscious Uncoupling?

Conscious Uncoupling is a term and concept coined by Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and New York Times Best selling author Katherine Woodward Thomas. Her book “Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After” outlines a 5 Step Program to help individuals navigate separation and divorce in a more amicable, loving and respectful way. It also highlights the importance of keeping children’s best interests at the forefront.

I’ll admit, when I first heard the term, I rolled my eyes. My mother in-law had emailed me a clip of Katherine Woodward Thomas speaking about her work. My divorce felt anything but “conscious” (I was the one being left after all… while pregnant). The thought of my ex-husband and I uncoupling in a “conscious” manner felt absurd given the circumstances. I wish I had been able to look past the term itself though and discover the value of the program sooner. It could have saved both my partner and I a lot of anguish, pain and money handed to lawyers in endless negotiations.

Conscious Uncoupling isn’t about being best buds with your ex-partner or doing everything perfectly. It provides a framework for doing the inner work necessary to navigate the process in a manner that causes the least amount of damage possible. Katherine Woodward Thomas likens the Conscious Uncoupling framework to the bumper pads at the bowling alley. These tools can’t help you bowl a perfect “strike” every time but Conscious Uncoupling protects you from going in the “gutters”, softens the bumps along the way and helps you stay heading in the right direction.

Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps

1. Find Emotional Freedom

Step one of Conscious Uncoupling is focused on learning how to cope with all the intense and often destructive emotions that accompany a break-up. You learn tools to hold and contain your emotions without acting out on them in harmful ways. The goal is to create a sense of safety and comfort within yourself and to harness the energy of those overwhelming emotions as drivers for positive change.

2. Reclaiming your Power and your Life

Step two focuses on empowered self-reflection and shifting perspectives away from blaming and shaming yourself and your partner. The goal is to learn to take personal responsibility for your part in the breakdown of the relationship. It’s easy to point fingers and place blame but the only way to grow is to look at your part and see what you could have been done differently. When approached with love and compassion, this reflection allows you to see things more clearly and to make a commitment to do things different moving forward.

3. Break the Pattern, Heal your Heart

Step three of Conscious Uncoupling invites you to discover the core wound, or as Katherine calls it “source fracture”, that’s been at the heart of many painful patterns in your life (your relationship included). We form false stories and beliefs about ourselves at a very young age and carry those forward without even realizing it – I’m alone, I’m not enough, I’m not wanted, I’m not loveable etc. These false beliefs affect how we relate to ourselves, others and the world in general. Naming your core “source fracture” wound allows you to challenge its validity and discover what’s really true underneath it. For many this is a very transformative experience and helps them see things more clearly. Connecting with the deeper truths about yourself allows you to make different choices moving forward and to live a more rich and fulfilling life.

4. Becoming a Love Alchemist

Step four empowers you to part ways from your ex with love and respect and to make choices in line with the values you stand for. This may involve stepping up and being “the bigger person” in order to be the generator of cohesion in your family. It opens you up to clear any lingering resentments held towards your ex-partner, to appreciate the good that came of the union and to set a new intention for the relationship moving forward. If children are involved for example, that may be to have a supportive and respectful co-parenting relationship that allows your kids to flourish and live a happy life.

5. Creating your Happily Even After Life

Step five of Conscious Uncoupling allows you to celebrate how far you’ve come in the process, all the insights you’ve made, and steps taken. You identify and release any old agreements held with your ex-partner and make new ones in line with the future you are creating. Some people chose to do a Conscious Uncoupling ritual at this stage, either individually, or as a couple and it can be a very powerful experience. At this stage the hope is that you’ve awoken to the truth of who you really are, taken a strong stand for your future and become committed to reinventing your life and making the most out of it.

Who is Conscious Uncoupling designed for?

Conscious Uncoupling is for anyone suffering from heartache, past or present. Whether it be a current breakup, unresolved heartache from your past, or a current relationship that’s future is uncertain. While it is beneficial for both members of the couple to embark on this journey, many do so alone. It is very much a personal journey and your partner’s participation is not required. Even a couple who choose to do the program together, are encouraged to do the first several steps independently before sharing their insights.

How can I do the Conscious Uncoupling Work?

Buy the Conscious Uncoupling Book

There are many ways to engage in the Conscious Uncoupling work. The simplest is to buy the book, follow the exercises in each step and do the work independently (it available on Amazon and through most other book retailers). You may also find a friend interested in the work or form an online book study group committed to going through the stages together and supporting each-other.

Mindvalley Conscious Uncoupling Quest

The Mindvalley platform offers a five-week digital course with over 7 hours of online training and access to a community of others enrolled in the program.

Hiring a Conscious Uncoupling Coach

Hiring a Conscious Uncoupling Certified Coach, such as myself, provides you with the highest level of support to complete the 5 Step Program. A coach partners with you and helps guide you through the process and navigate whatever life is throwing at you along the way. Breakups are messy and while the book itself is an amazing tool, it’s often hard to complete this work alone. If you are ready to dive into this work and would like coaching support please feel free to reach out anytime for a free 30 minute consultation. I would love to help you find light on the other side of your breakup and create your own Happily Even After Story.

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