If you’ve been through a breakup recently…or maybe not so recently…you probably can’t get your mind off your ex.
Every little thing reminds of them and it seems like you can’t go five minutes without thinking about them.
I’ll tell you why you’re feeling this way, how to stop it and how you can overcome these feelings to win back your ex, if that’s what you’re looking to do.
First off, I’ll answer the most obvious question: if you want your ex back, should you really be fighting these thoughts? Don’t you NEED to think about your ex if you want to win them back? And the answer is of course you do, to an extent. But obsessing over your ex is never productive whether or not you want them back. Thinking about your ex day and night isn’t even a particularly good way to process the breakup. It just ends up making you feel bad.
And don’t worry, the techniques I share with you in this video aren’t going to magically make you forget your ex. I’m not that good. I’m just going to help you gain some control over your thoughts and feelings so that you’re free to think about your ex without OBSESSING over them.
Now, why exactly is it that you can’t stop thinking about your ex? Well if it’s only been a little while then the answer is obvious: you miss them, you love them and you want them back. While this is all true, if you’re here then chances are there’s something more going on. Your ex shouldn’t still be dominating your thoughts and emotions the way they have been and the more time passes, the more true this is.
So finding the source of these repetitive thoughts is the first step. Here are some likely reasons that you can’t forget your ex:
1. It’s easier to think about your past than it is fix your life
Buddhist leader Tick Nah Tahn says “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
That’s a fancy way of saying that this fixation on the past relationship is a way to avoid having to worry about your own problems. While thinking about your ex is painful, it’s familiar. In a weird way, it’s comforting, like picking a scab or poking a canker sore with your tongue. It may feel bad but it’s not going to surprise you.
This is why many people live in the past instead of reaching for the future. Unfortunately, whether you want your ex back or just want to move on, you’re going to have to start thinking about what comes next.
2. You still see them
If your ex is still a part of your life, then it makes sense that you’re having trouble moving on.
Whether you’re seeing them on social media, hearing about them from mutual friends, or actually seeing them day-to-day, then it makes sense that they’re still on your mind.
You need to take steps to build some distance into your life. First, social media. There are ways you can avoid seeing them without straight up blocking their accounts. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all allow you to mute the person so you won’t stumble across them in your feed.
This can be a hard step to take but it’s definitely going to be better for your mental health in the long run. And it doesn’t have to be permanent.
On that note, if your friends keep bringing your ex up, tell them to stop. It’s not the easiest conversation to have but they need to know that it bothers you. If they’re good friends, they’ll understand why.
RELATED: Should You Be Friends With Your Ex?
Some people think that acting like nothing bothers you is how to be strong. But we’re only human. Putting on a brave face can only get you so far. Truly strong people acknowledge what bothers them and address it so they can move forward.
On that note, don’t text them, call them, or see them anymore. If you two are still hanging out, cut off all contact. Seeing your ex is comforting in the short term but in the long run it’s just making your problem worse.
3. The rejection has hurt your self image
Breakups hurt for many reasons. The most obvious is that you’ve lost the person you cared about the most in the world but equally damaging can be what they do to your self esteem. It takes vulnerability to love another person. You put yourself at risk when you opened up your heart and being dumped can feel like you’re being punished for letting someone in.
These emotions are powerful so you may be trying to reason out what went wrong as a way to regain some of the self esteem your ex took from you when they ended things. You’ll know this is the case if you feel obsessed with the positive and negative qualities of your ex. One minute they feel like the best person in the world and the next they’re a piece of garbage. This is your brain trying to understand just what exactly this rejection means about you.
4. You’re keeping it bottled up
Talking about your ex too much can be obnoxious but if you haven’t been able to talk about your breakup at all then that might be why you can’t stop thinking about your ex.
You need to own the breakup and talk about it to take its power away. You’ll be surprised how saying it out loud will make it feel like way less of a big deal.
If you have no one in your life you can turn to, you should consider seeking outside help. It’s helpful to have someone who is willing to listen to anything you have to say without judgment. Sometimes getting it all out in the open will free your mind from continuously going to the same places.
5. You’re focusing on the wrong things
Let’s talk about how you’re thinking about your ex. When you get stuck in a negative thought cycle like this, your mind has a tendency to play tricks on you. You see, you’re hardwired to remember only the good things about your past relationship.
This can be a good thing. It allows us to maintain positive memories of an ex and move forward with our hearts free from pain. But more often than not, it hurts us.
Those who fixate on an ex tend to think of two things only: how amazing their ex made them feel, and how much it hurt to have that end. If this is all you’re thinking about this then it’s no wonder you can’t get over it. Try to remember all the bad times too. Even the best relationship isn’t perfect.
If you can keep the negatives in mind when you think about your ex you’ll be more able to see them as a real person instead of a symbol of your pain and sadness.
6. You feel like you have to start all over
One of the worst feelings post breakup is the idea that you have to start all over from scratch now that you’re no longer together. I’ve even heard people say that you should be able to erase all those years together and go back to the age you were when you met, which I thought was pretty funny.
While I definitely sympathize with this mindset, it’s pretty silly if you think about it at all. Because it’s not like you spent those months or years together cryogenically frozen, aging and letting your life slip away.
The time you spent together still had value. You learned what it means to trust another person in this way. You made yourself vulnerable. You created a life together. You learned about another person and you let them learn about you.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how powerful a loving relationship can be. It can change your life, and just because you two didn’t get married or die of old age together, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a valid experience and one that will make you a better, more well-rounded person.
And, of course, if you follow my advice and win your ex back then this will not apply either way. While you will build a new relationship with your ex, it will be built on the foundation you set up together in your past and it will be informed by everything you learned from the breakup itself.
I personally think that couples who have gone through rough patches like this one create stronger, better relationships than couples who have never had to struggle.
How To Stop Thinking About Your Ex
Now, it’s all well and good to figure out WHY you can’t forget your ex, but how can you stop it? Well by reading this far, you’ve already begun the process. Perspective is what’s most important here and if you can go from thinking about your ex to thinking about WHY you’re thinking about your ex then you’ve effectively begun breaking the cycle.
But if that’s not enough then here’s my big tip for you: take stock of your life.
As I said earlier, it can be easier to live in the past than to move forward. If you really want to move forward you need to figure out exactly where you are RIGHT NOW.
So what I want you to do is make a list of what you love about your life. It may make you feel a little silly but I promise it helps. Whether it’s friends, family, your job, your hobbies. What are the things that add value to your life and make it worth living?
Don’t compare yourself to other people. Focus on the things that make you happy and dig into the why and how. Many people can’t see this stuff because they’re too focused on what isn’t working and not putting any thought into what’s going well.
This is a natural human impulse. We feel like what isn’t working needs our attention because we need to fix it, whereas the things that are working can be safely ignored. This is why even people who seem like they have amazing lives are unhappy because they’re focusing on the negative and not the positive.
This list will help give you context. What I mean is, when your ex is all you can think about, they seem like they’re your entire life. If you can see how they really fit into your life, you’ll see that they’re just a small piece.
Another benefit of this list is that these are all things you can lean on to get your mind off your ex.
Love the beach? Get off the couch and get out in the sun. Are you happiest among family? Go have dinner with your parents. I know it seems like an impossible task when you feel this way but if you can push through that pain, it will make a huge difference to your mindset.
But what if that list is extremely short? If you’re finding that you can’t find a lot of stuff to put on this list, it’s okay. Sometimes we let a relationship swallow up a lot of the good things in our life. This is another reason why you can’t stop thinking about your ex.
This short list is an opportunity. Think of the areas in your life that are lacking. Do you enjoy your job? Your studies? Have you lost touch with friends? Maybe you’ve stopped pursuing your hobbies. Don’t despair. The more you have to work on, the easier it will be to keep your mind off your ex.
So where does that leave things if you still want your ex back? Isn’t this going to lead you to forget them and end up further away from them than ever? Well the truth is by focusing on yourself and making your life better you’re actually making it easier to get them back.
The person who you were at the end of the relationship is someone who your ex doesn’t want. If they did, they wouldn’t have ended things. By changing and growing instead of sinking into despair and obsession, you’ll start to become a new and exciting person. And that’s the person your ex is going to want.