If your constant thoughts about your ex are disrupting your current life, this article is for you.
I know it can be hard to leave the past where it belongs and get over someone who was (or still is) really important to you. I’m a big believer that the present moment is all we have. If you keep using your precious time, energy, and emotion on thoughts about your ex, you’re wasting your present. You are losing moments of your life to negative and unproductive thinking that will never get you what you want. In fact, it will get you more what you DO NOT want because what your thoughts make up your life. If your thoughts are mostly of your ex and how much you miss them, then obviously your setting yourself to experience more instances of missing them and feeling absolutely terrible that they aren’t around.
That being said, the first step to take is to think about your ex...in a totally different way.
How to Think Of Your Ex Productively
What are you actually doing when you think about your ex?
I bet you aren’t actually thinking about them as a person.
I bet you are narrating who they are and a repeated story about your relationship.
For example, if I was simply thinking about a person, I would most likely be thinking about their general qualities. Maybe I’m thinking about one of my high school math teachers. Mr. Dornan was light hearted, liked to throw in a lot of analogies while explaining derivatives, and always wore the same green tie on Fridays. Note my lack of emotional attachment.
Now try it. What are you actually thinking when you’re thinking about your ex?
If you’re recalling good times, I bet you aren’t just recalling good times. I bet you’re remembering a little bit about those special moments together and mostly narrating a story about how you’ll never find someone who will treat you that well again. Or that you messed up and pushed him or her away with your overbearing behavior and that you hate yourself for it. Or that even if you know he/she wasn’t good for you, you still want them so much because only they know how to make you feel special.
You see, it usually comes back to you and your beliefs about relationships.
You aren’t really thinking about how wonderful your ex is, you’re thinking about how scared you are that you’ll never find something better, or that you don’t deserve anyone that good or that only they understand you and make you happy.
Those are all beliefs.
Now the great thing about beliefs is that they can be examined, and they can be changed.
In order to examine and change beliefs, you have to really know what beliefs you hold.
Now is where some work is involved on your part. Every time you start thinking about your ex and those emotions get a hold of you, start to write down whatever is going on in your mind. Let that troublesome storm of negative feelings and negative thoughts unfold, and write down what they are. What are you actually thinking? Record the narrative going on in your mind.
Depending on how often you think of your ex, it will take a few hours or maybe a few days to fill up 3-5 pages. Once you’ve written down a few pages, go back and read them. Look for themes that keep resurfacing. Maybe you keep going back to a belief that states you think your ex is the only one for you and that there is no one else in the world. Maybe you believe that your ex is the only one who truly understands you and makes you happy. Maybe you think that your ex is the only one who can possibly make you feel passionate and alive, or safe and secure. Really analyze your recurring narratives and pick out a few beliefs that keep coming back up.
Write these beliefs down on a different page in your journal or a different sheet of paper. Now is the time for even more inner work. Inner work is the only way we can change our lives. By examining our beliefs, we can figure out what “rule” or “expectation” we are abiding by that is causing us so much undue suffering.
Change has to happen from within, and without delving deep into ourselves and really examining our tendencies and reasoning, we operate by default. We operate according to a set of rules that we’ve subconsciously accepted and adopted and failed to consciously question. This forces us to live a very unintentional life, and an unintentional life will always lead to unhappiness.
Examining Your Beliefs
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” -Dan Millman
You will be examining and “fixing” belief systems that are causing you to suffer. Keep in mind that whatever you resist will persist. You must struck a good balance between rejecting the old and building the new. Rejecting the old is not the same thing as fighting the old. If you spend most of your time and energy on thinking of all the reasons why an old belief is harmful, you will not have enough time and energy to adopt and invest in a new belief.
Read one of your beliefs. For example, let’s say your belief is “My ex is the only one who can make me feel passionate and alive.”
Ask yourself, how does your ex make you feel passionate and alive?
Maybe your ex was a very happy, in the moment kind of person and you really value that.
Maybe your ex made you really angry and sad and those turbulent emotions gave you intensity and you crave that emotional high. Why do you crave that emotional high?
Maybe your ex was the only one who gave you all the attention you craved and therefore made you feel seen and heard, which made you feel alive. Why do you think you can not be seen and heard without your ex?
These beliefs need to broken down into other beliefs.
You will do quite a lot of question. This will take a lot of time. This can be a very exhausting process, so do not expect to undergo a total transformation of your belief system in a few days or hours. The process takes time, just like a bone healing or a flower growing from a seed. Be patient and gentle with yourself. This process will likely bring up more beliefs and more emotions. Understand that it is all a process and do not cling to these emotions and beliefs. Do not over-identify with these beliefs and do not let yourself be limited by them.
The more conscious you can be with your narrative, the more you will realize that you aren’t really thinking about your ex as a person. You are thinking of your ex as a mirror to your own personal belief systems about the world and your relationship with yourself.
Someone who does not give themselves ample self care and attention is more likely to adopt and feed into the belief that only their ex can give them the kind of feelings they desperately need. Someone who does not take the time to appreciate the small things in life is easily swayed by moments of intensity and confuses emotional highs for emotional nurturing.
Your relationships always reflect yourself back to you.
Relationships are a mirror for our growth as much as they are a co-creative field in which 2 partners reap what they sow.
If you need help examining your beliefs, comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for one on one coaching.
Stayed tuned for the next post. I will be discussing more beliefs in depth.
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.