As it Turns Out, Personality Work is Vital to our Psychological Health
When Someone Moves On From Our Lives!

WHAT’S UP IN BREAKUPS:  Carol Dweck (one of my favorite Stanford University relationship researchers) and her colleagues are researching how we can avoid that “stuckness” people can get stranded in, if a relationship ends badly and it leaves us feeling rejected.  

NOT TAKING IT PERSONALLY:  Howe & Dweck found that how personally we take the breakup has a huge impact on how quickly and effectively we recover from it.  (Taking it personally might sound something like: “I’m just not the kind of person people love,” or “No-one is ever going to understand me.”)   They talk about the fact that a BIG key to thriving through a breakup, and not getting stuck in the “taking-it-personally” trap, is BELIEVING THAT YOUR PERSONALITY IS NOT A FIXED ENTITY!    Trusting that our CHARACTER CAN CONTINUE TO GROW THROUGH THIS BREAKUP, is apparently vital to getting healthy, and getting into a healthy relationship next time around!

Here’s how a recent article in Psychology Today summarized those two belief systems about personality work:

“According to a large body of research, people differ in the extent to which they hold entityor incremental beliefs about the nature of personality. These are called implicit personality theories.

  • If you hold an entity view of personality, then you believe that personality traits are fixed: People are the way they are, and there’s not much you can do about it. Having an entity theory of personality also implies that things you do or things that happen to you don’t change you, but rather they may reveal your true, underlying self.7

  • If you hold an incremental view of personality, then you believe that personality traits can change: People can work to improve themselves and things that happen to you can change who you are.”  (Gwendolyn Seidman Ph.D)

HOW WE UNDERSTAND AND WORK WITH OUR PERSONALITY DETERMINES A LOT:  Another way to talk about what these researchers have really discovered is how important it is to see our personality and relationship growth journey as a practice, not as just some path of fate we’ve been handed!

DOING PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT WORK CREATES THE KIND OF RESILIENCE THE AUTHORS OF THESE STUDIES ARE TALKING ABOUT:  The way we internalize that vision of our personality and the resulting resilience (the authors of these studies are talking about) is by doing the work of personality development, especially in a relational context!   This self-confidence about being able to grow through romantic loss, doesn’t magically take root in our souls from others’ nice words.   It comes from a sense of competency, and a sense of competency in an area of life comes from jumping in and doing that particular activity, and moving through the natural beginner feelings of “incompetency” to a sense of “I can do this.”

GETTING HELP SO WE CAN DO THE WORK:  A relationship coach, teacher, or therapist can provide a great starting place for this plunge, and a great structure for the entire process!

Exactly what problems that sense of “My character can grow through this!” can prevent:

  1. Taking a long time to get over the breakup!
  2. Getting stuck in thinking future relationships will turn out poorly!
  3. Avoidance behaviors around needed conversations with current partners, when past rejection issues getting triggered!


Until next time, Builders!

Dr. Ronna

5 thoughts on “Breakups – How to Thrive When Someone Moves On!

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