Try as we might to avoid it, heartbreak is a truly universal human experience, a crushing great equalizer. Dublin, Ireland, native Claire Byrne was especially familiar with it having trudged through more than her fair share.
While dealing with a particularly rough split, the Santa Baraba, CA, resident noticed something peculiar while handling her own healing: a serious lack of specific coaching and practical tools around the topic. After working as a yoga teacher, Byrne had eventually added life coaching to her services, but it wasn’t until this heartache that she decided to take her sadness and transform it into an opportunity to help herself and countless others.
Now, Claire The Heartbreak Coach supports clients through personal coaching, content and her signature program, Stop Wanting Him Back & Find Someone Better! Below she chats with SBS about her own personal journey toward love, the top mistakes during a break-up and how to move toward true connection.
SBS: What was your professional path toward your unique job?
Claire Byrne: I was a dancer growing up, so I loved to move my body. Upon reflecting back, I see that I used it as my form of therapy without realizing it, escaping into song and dance in my bedroom as an outlet to express my big feelings I didn’t have the ability to put into words.
I pursued acting professionally once I graduated college, and for a while, I supported myself through commercial work up until when the economy crashed in 2008. My heart happened to also crash about a year later over my first real adult heartbreak at 28.
It was then that I discovered the spiritual and philosophical components of yoga, which then inspired me to get certified to teach, while still continuing to act. After a few years of teaching, I found myself a bit burnt out and bored, despite still loving practicing yoga. So I decided to search for something more fulfilling as a plan B to support my plan A of acting.
I’d heard about life coaching, so I decided to explore it further and fell in love with this line of work. I I did Martha Beck’s life coaching training program, but I really don’t consider myself one type of coach, as I’ve studied and gotten coached by a handful of different coaches, each offering different tools and approaches. So I consider myself to be a product of the mish-mosh of them all!
After my last heartbreak, four years ago, I was inspired to niche down to becoming a heartbreak coach, because at the time no one was talking about actual concrete steps to take in order to move through it. I was so tired of feeling at a loss on what to do and how to move through it, and I wanted to learn how to consciously date in such a way that I could stop attracting unavailable men. I knew I wasn’t alone, so I decided to dive in, trial and error a process to Stop Wanting Him Back & Find Someone Better, and the rest is history. I slowly but surely found myself loving acting less and coaching more, and ultimately let it go. And like with all of my exes, I never looked back!
SBS: How did you take the leap from the idea of your company to actually manifesting being The Heartbreak Coach?
CB: There really weren’t any strategic stages. I was already a general life coach for women. And when I got my heart broken for probably the seventh time, I said, ‘I’m doing this. I’m sharing my story and de-stigmatizing the shame so many women feel about being heartbroken, and I’m going to serve them on a level they never have been before. And I just did it. I posted on social media, let my blog subscribers know I was niching down to heartbreak, and didn’t shut up about it!
I think there’s something to be said about deciding and just going for it. It’s easy to hide behind planning things out like having the perfect website, branding or marketing strategy, but none of it was perfect. All I needed was my message, desire to serve, and willingness to feel major vulnerability putting my story out there...and let the judgers judge and the haters hate.
SBS: What experiences/information serves as your foundation?
CB: For me, it’s a mixture of life experiences, coach training, continuing to work with coaches myself, learning and being inspired by my clients’ transformations, always continuing to fine-tune my own coaching, and evaluating how I can serve at a higher level.
I knew I loved self-help and serving others. But for me, it was important to get trained and have some structured tools to implement and guide my clients through. I did Martha Beck’s life coaching training program. But I really don’t consider myself one type of coach, as I’ve studied and gotten coached by a handful of different coaches, each offering different tools and approaches. So I consider myself to be a product of the mish-mosh of them all! And now after 6 years of coaching, again, I’d say it’s a combination of all my training and life experiences that make me the coach and entrepreneur I am today.
I think you need to get clear on what works best for you. I know incredible coaches who never got trained, so just be honest with yourself and what you think would best serve you, and most importantly, your clients. If you want to avoid training and credentials because you’re rushing to have a business or you don’t have the money, I would say that’s a sign you should figure out how to make it happen and slow down. Starting a business isn’t easy, but the most successful coaches I’ve seen are those who are on to what her particular areas of growth and needs will be...not trying to get to the finish line faster than everyone else.
SBS: What are the top three mistakes people make when trying to heal from heartbreak?
CB: They stay in contact with their ex, whether that’s direct communication or keeping the lines open on social media. They don’t consciously let themselves grieve, and they numb out on sugar, alcohol, Netflix, and dating apps, to name a few. And, they give their ex the power to dictate their worth, even when he’s no longer in the picture.
SBS: What are your top three tips for moving on from someone?
CB: (First, an important disclaimer regarding my use of the pronouns ‘him’ and ‘her’: For simplicity’s sake, as well as my own experience as a straight woman, I use these heteronormative terms. But, of course, I believe heartbreak and finding-love journeys are universal lessons!)
So, first: Cut all forms of contact with him and his friends and family. More than ever, it’s harder to disconnect during a break-up: You’ve got multiple forms of social media, Venmo, WhatsApp, etc. Clean him out! Knowing his whereabouts and staying connected to him will inhibit your healing.
Next, consciously grieve. Let yourself cry. Stay in bed if that’s what your body craves. Take off work if you need to. Breathe. Allow your excruciating pain to move through you. This felt so counterintuitive to me. But the reality is, you’re already in so much pain, so resisting it will only make it persist.
Next, create closure for yourself. He doesn’t need to give it to you. This is one of my favorite steps I guide my clients through. You really have so much more power in your healing journey than you realize.
SBS: What are the main reasons people choose partners who aren't right for them?
CB: I think it’s easy to get blinded by attraction and chemistry without slowing down and checking to see if your values and what you want in life are actually aligned. I also think there’s a rush to find someone instead of the one, whether you’re in your mid to late twenties, or your 30’s into your 40’s. I don’t think people are aware of how much they try to fit a square peg into a round hole, but I see this happen a lot with my clients.
SBS: What are your top three tips for choosing the "right" partner, and calling them in?
CB: First: Make sure you have total peace and closure over all past relationships. Even if you’re not heartbroken, if there’s unfinished business you have with an ex, clean it up. And no, I don’t mean go talk to him about it. I teach my clients how to do this for themselves, so that they aren’t playing out unconscious patterns and attracting the same type of unavailable guy.
Second, get clear on who he is before you look for him. Then you won’t be blinded by the attraction if you discover he isn’t who you know you’re looking to attract. I don’t encourage my clients to have a rigid list, but when there’s an energy and focus on who he is before you find him, chances are he’ll arrive sooner, instead of reacting off what’s out there and believing that he doesn’t exist.
Then, become the woman who would align with a guy like him. (I don’t suggest this from an anti-feminist standpoint!) If you’re clear on who he is— someone who’s super up-leveled emotionally, mentally, spiritually, maybe even physically if that’s your thing— then make sure you’re up-leveling yourself, in order to attract him.
SBS: With all the information and courses out there, is there such a thing as "too much" self-work? If so, what are your guidelines for how much "work" to be doing at once in terms of therapy, courses, etc.?
CB: Great question! Yes, I do think there is such a thing as too much self-work. I suggest constraint as much as you can, and make sure that, with however many cooks you choose to have in your self-help kitchen, they are sending you compatible messages. It will never serve to have conflicting messages from your healers, even if both aren’t necessarily wrong. But if you have a therapist who says you’re not ready to date and you’re working my program and I’m saying you are, then you have a problem.
The best, zaniest part of being Claire: I put in my dating profile that I’m a spaz, and my boyfriend loved it and can confirm that this is true! I cling to him and make funny voices and play this really needy, smothery role in our relationship, like he’s not allowed to go to the bathroom if I’m in a comfortable position in his arms: How dare he! It’s, of course, all in good fun.
Claire’s SBS Mantra: Be Kind resonates the most with me. Kind to myself, by slowing down way more in both my personal and professional life; kind to my clients even when I’m serving them some tough love they may not want to hear; always kind to my partner who is the kindest man I’ve ever known (next to my dad!); and kindness to the server at a restaurant. Kindness is really everything to me, despite always having love for my inner bitch when she’s warranted!
Claire’s Cali Faves:
Healthy Restaurant: Ichiban in Santa Barbara
Splurge Restaurant: Oliver’s of Montecito
Nightlife Spot: I’m such a grandma, so I’ll just throw in another restaurant I love, which is La Paloma Cafe in Santa Barbara.
Fun Activity: Biking along the beach
Calming Activity: I just got into mindfulness coloring and love it!
Fitness Studio: F45
Yoga Studio: CorePower
Athletic Shoes: Nikes...always!
Online Resources: I really don’t go online for self-help resources. I stick to my coaching work, whether it’s with my coaches or self-coaching. If you’re heartbroken or single, go to my site for all the articles and podcast episodes as well as options to work with me! www.clairetheheartbreakcoach.com
Books: Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, Ph.D, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
Check out Claire's website.