Free your mind from impeding thoughts and live a self-determined life.
“Does he listen to Adele because he thinks of the evening we went to her concert a few years ago?” I’m asking myself while sitting on my computer and starring at his Spotify record.
He listened to this song 4 hours ago, which means he went to bed pretty late. Did he lie in his bed and think of me all night, or did the song randomly occur in one of his playlists?
These kinds of obsessions determined my lonely post-break-up-Covid19-lockdown-phase. I checked out my ex-boyfriend’s social media account every day as this seemed like the only remaining connection we had.
I didn’t want to let go of a person who used to be my soulmate for five years. My life felt empty without him, even though I ended the relationship to save myself from more pain.
But then it hit me. One day, I checked out his Instagram stories when I found a photo of him and his new girlfriend, who caused our break-up. I cried for hours, and I swore by myself to never check out his social media accounts again.
Of course, it didn’t work immediately. But it was the first step in the right direction. Now, more than one year after the break-up, I know that I can distance myself from harmful thoughts and habits. I’m finding more and more techniques to help myself get back to a free and self-determined life.
Here are the three most effective habits that helped me stop obsessing over someone who didn’t deserve to be part of my life anymore.
1. Ask yourself this question.
When it comes to our ex-partners, we often get lost in thoughts like:
What if we get back together someday?
Is he thinking of me right now?
Why does he seem to move on so quickly?
We are caught in a vicious cycle of questions we cannot answer. As we only talk to ourselves and do not get any feedback on our questions, it is hard to let it go. We wish so hard to find the truth about the person who used to be THE most significant attachment figure in our lives that we lose ourselves without knowing how to get out of our minds.
I used to obsess over the same situations and conversations of the last months of our relationship again and again. What could I have done differently to save our relationship? Did I break up too early? What did he mean by saying this and that?
One simple question of Byron Katie’s The Work helped me immediately let go of these kinds of thoughts. Her methods consist of four crucial questions to stop yourself from overthinking.
Is it true?
Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
Who would you be without that thought?
It can be helpful to go through all the questions, but the last question is most useful for me. I know, when obsessing over my ex, I feel terrible.
So who would I be without that thought?
I’d be a young, empowered woman who doesn’t cling to a toxic relationship that doesn’t serve her values and needs anymore. I’d have a free mind which I can fill with creative activities, valuable conversations, and new ideas for my future.
When I ask myself this question, I always feel relieved afterward. I know those harmful thoughts will come back, but they will return less frequently. Finally, I sense that my thoughts and feelings do not define me. At last, I’m a free person who can live her life the way she wants and deserves.
2. Search for triggers to change your focus
When you obsess over your ex, you should start finding triggers to shift your focus to positive thoughts.
What can be positive triggers to change my focus?
What kinds of activities make me feel happy and safe?
Who do I have to call to feel better?
Your triggers can be all kinds of things, people, or activities. Listening to songs, reading poems, sitting in your favorite arm chair, calling your best friend, smelling your favorite perfume, going to a Yoga class, etc. The list is endless. Search for triggers that feel right for you and practice using them.
Here are some practical examples from my daily life:
I use a hair and body spray to get out of my mind and feel myself again.
I listen to my favorite dance song.
I plan activities with my friends.
This exercise isn’t about denying feelings and thoughts. Also, it isn’t about forcing yourself to function in a society where negative emotions aren’t accepted. This exercise helps you to free yourself from harmful and impeding thoughts. Obsessing always brings along something toxic for us. It isn’t a helpful kind of grief, anger, or love, but something that holds us back from growing.
When you feel like you cannot get out of your head, positive triggers can get you back to a place of abundance and love.
3. Implement a strict no-contact rule
A few weeks ago, I invited my ex-partner to my apartment. We wanted to hang out and talk about what had happened during the last few months. I thought one year after the break-up, I’d feel self-confident and safe enough to talk to him. As you can imagine, this wasn’t the case. We ended up crying for three hours and feeling terrible afterward.
Even though we agreed to stop having regular contact a few months ago, we called each other from time to time to catch up. After that painful visit, however, I realized that I had to cut all kinds of contact, even though I rarely felt like obsessing over him back then.
We wanted to stay friends, but now I know that my wounds cannot heal when having him in my life.
It is hard to make such a strict cut from your former best friend, soulmate, and romantic partner. But in the end, you are the most critical person in your life. Allow yourself to implement a strict no-contact rule to give yourself time and space for your healing process.
A strict no-contact rule should look like this:
Delete your chat record on all social media platforms.
Block him on all social media platforms (including Spotify!).
Create your own Netflix account.
Ask your mutual friends not to talk about him with you.
Put everything that reminds you of him in a box and give it to a friend.
Never call or write him.
Don’t go to restaurants, clubs, or other places you used to hang out together. Search for new great hotspots and fill your mind with new memories.
These measures sound harsh, but in my case, I know that they are necessary to free myself entirely from obsessing over him. After a few weeks or months, you will feel relieved and won’t even think about calling or writing him. You will have new great activities, friends, and hotspots to fill your life with.
Over one year after the break-up, I feel like myself again. There are still challenging phases, and I realized that love always comes along with grief. But that’s alright! Love cannot exist without pain.
I don’t check out my ex-partner’s social media accounts anymore. I don’t reach out to him or search for reasons to think of him. Breaking this connection was painful, but I’m convinced that shifting the focus on myself will bring me a happier and more fulfilling love life in the future.
You deserve a happy and healthy love life as well.