The Reset: How to work with a broken heart 

Whether a bad day or a broken heart, we still need to show up at work — but being honest could create a better workplace culture.

As a culture, we are so good at hiding our pain that it can sometimes feel like everyone is doing fine. These days, you often only know someone is having a bad day when they show up on social media for a “candid” vulnerable moment. But here’s the truth: most of us are either going through something now, about to go through something, or emerging from some kind of emotional tornado.

Even still, rent needs to be paid, projects must be turned in, and PTO doesn’t last forever. We still have to work; life goes on. So how do you continue to show up on Zoom or in the office when, let’s say, you’re going through a breakup? Or when you feel so disenchanted by a lack of romance, it’s starting to zap energy from your day-to-day life? Bree Jenkins, therapist and dating coach, says when a dating or marriage relationship isn’t working out as planned, we should process it like we’re experiencing a loss. 

“I think the number one thing you need to do is gain some perspective and start processing those feelings. If you can get yourself to a therapist, get yourself to a coach, and get to journaling. Just so you can start offloading some of what you’re feeling,” advised Jenkins. “So often, we think of grief and loss — which, actually, when you have a breakup, that’s what it is. You’re experiencing a type of loss, a realization that what you thought was going to happen is no longer happening. We always think of it as a problem that we need to solve. And really, it’s a process we must go through.”

Jenkins says the sooner you start processing and talking through your feelings, the sooner your emotions become more manageable. 

What if, though, you just can’t hide it? Your eyes are swollen, you’re obviously distracted. What do you say when your colleague sends the “You okay?” text from across the room; what do you do then? Jenkins says how you respond could set the tone for your workplace culture. 

“We all are part of changing toxic work cultures. And so treating people like they’re human robots who never have anything personal going on is not what we want to encourage, so you have to be a part of that change. So absolutely, you can share in a constructive way so that people can kind of give you some grace. And it’s the same grace that you should be willing to offer people if they’re in the same position,” said Jenkins. 

Jenkins suggests saying something like: “Hey, I’ve kind of got some personal stuff going on. It’s kind of a difficult time for me. I’m doing what I can to take care of myself. But I just wanted to let you know, in case you notice, my energy is a little off, or I’m not quite as on it as I normally am.” 

Just reading that makes me uncomfortable. It’s raw, and it’s real. But maybe that’s what we need more of; more off-screen emotion, in real life and at work. In fact, I think we’ll find some people care. A nice reminder when you’ve been let down, wouldn’t you say? 

To see the full conversation with Bree Jenkins, watch “The Reset with Coach Tish,” above.

Letisha Bereola

Letisha Bereola is a life coach who helps ambitious women overcome burnout and reach their career goals, so they feel great at work and happy at home. She’s a former Emmy-nominated TV news anchor, Podcast host of AUDACITY, and a speaker. Learn more at

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. TheGrio’s Black Podcast Network is free too. Download theGrio mobile apps today! Listen to ‘Writing Black‘ with Maiysha Kai.