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What To Do When Life Falls Apart: The Essential 6 Step Program

What To Do When Life Falls Apart: The Essential 6 Step ProgramWhat constitutes life falling apart? The death of a beloved spouse or family member? A marriage or relationship that has withered away or perhaps ended abruptly? A job loss potentially leading to financial ruin (or so you might think right now)?

Whichever situation is closest to yours, there are some steps that you must go through to come out the other side with your heart — and new life — intact.

The 6 Steps:

  1. Wallow in it. This step is essential. Repeat everything you went and are still going through many times to anyone who will listen. Good friends and family will be very patient with this part of the process. If your big life change included a cheating spouse, self-righteous indignation is appropriate at this point.Part of this step includes getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other. Remember, this step is temporary. The more evolved among us can skip this step completely and go right to forgiveness and acceptance.
  2. To eat or not to eat? Part of healing is taking care of yourself. Perhaps you are a stress-eater or (equally dangerous) stress-drinker — downing alcohol to numb your frazzled nerves, often followed by high-caffeine drinks to rev you back up.If you are a stress eater, first you need to recognize the fact that you are opening the freezer door. If ice cream is your weakness, why not put a sign on the freezer saying, “Go for a walk instead”? Or have an apple with a little peanut butter on it. Basically, we’re talking about redirecting your focus to healthier choices that won’t make you feel guilty and hard on yourself afterward — which will increase your stress.Maybe you are a stress non-eater. You can’t stand the thought of food and simply stop eating, forcing your body to feed on itself, wasting your muscles and affecting your brain chemistry, adding to your already depressed state. If you are a stress non-eater, perhaps you need to place cards about the house saying, ‘Please feed me, I need fuel.’ Again, making healthy choices begins with awareness.
  3. Get help. Your friends and family need a break, but you still need someone to talk to, so make an appointment with a therapist. If finances are a problem, there are community agencies that can help or provide you a referral. Your place of worship may offer you comfort. Therapeutic massage, acupuncture, meditation and yoga can help calm your nerves. Don’t underestimate the healing power of nature. A walk in the woods or by the sea or even stargazing from a high-rise building’s rooftop can offer you tremendous healing energy.
  4. Read every book you can find. There are many books that will say exactly what you want to hear and some that won’t; eventually, read all of them. Some good choices are:

    Basically, anything inspirational to you is a good choice.

  5. Believe in yourself. Life begins anew. Choose to learn from experiences, choose to trust, choose to breathe deeply, pull yourself up by the bootstraps and move on. Dig deep and learn about the parts of yourself that you forgot were there. During times of self-reflection, many of us have reinforced what we already knew, and that is that family, friends and community are, basically, everything. Choose (it is a choice!) to move past fear and to believe in yourself. Do you believe in yourself? If you believe in yourself and your gifts — and we all have them — others will believe in you too. Choose to be openhearted. The best is yet to come. Believe it!
  6. Pay it forward. If you have been through a life-changing event and know of someone who is going through one now, you can help as others helped you. Lend an ear, listen — really listen — and do what you can to help. Remember what helped you.

Know in your heart that most of the time there are lessons in the falling apart and such times offer a chance to learn and grow. Use your experiences to become a better version of yourself.

What To Do When Life Falls Apart: The Essential 6 Step Program

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Patty James

Patty James is a Certified Natural Chef with a Master's degree in Holistic Nutrition and was founder and director of the Patty James Cooking School and Nutrition Center, the first certified organic cooking school and nutrition center in the country. She created the Patty James Health Guide, a guide to life-long healthy eating and lifestyle. Patty is a frequent guest speaker in public and private schools around the U.S., the Clinton Foundation in New York, as well as to health practitioners and organizations.Shine the Light On America’s Kids, an organization whose mission is to shine the light on all aspects of kids' health in America. She is the author of More Vegetables, Please!, available from and major booksellers. Patty runs here

APA Reference
James, P. (2019). What To Do When Life Falls Apart: The Essential 6 Step Program. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 16 Mar 2019 (Originally: 13 Feb 2010)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 16 Mar 2019
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