Obsessing about your ex wastes all your time and keeps you in a rut that you can’t get out of until you take hard steps to disconnect from them completely.
That involves a lot of will power and determination. But when you get your life back, it will have been time and energy well spent.
(The following podcast transcript has been modified for easier readability and to benefit the Deaf and hard of hearing)
I want to talk about something serious that can happen in our life. It’s when we cannot get someone out of our head. Now, I have episodes that I swore that I would never do again on obsession. I’m not going to go over the depth of obsession and obsessive thoughts today, because I sort of want to start this off as a reminder that I’ve already done these episodes.
If you have obsessive thoughts, meaning you just can’t get something out of your head, it keeps coming back, it keeps rolling around in your brain, and you just want to get rid of it. This is for a thought that you actually want to get rid of, or you don’t want to have anymore, or you think you don’t want to have anymore but you choose to have them because you don’t want to lose a connection to the person or the thing that you’re stuck thinking about or whatever it is.
I consider an obsessive thought something you just can’t stop thinking about. Now. I’m talking about negative, obsessive thoughts. You can have a positive, obsessive thought like, “Oh my god, that movie was so awesome,” and you can’t stop thinking about it. And it makes you feel good every time you think about it, or “I love having this person in my life and I just can’t stop thinking about them.” Whatever that is positive, obsessive thoughts, I don’t think, are necessarily a problem unless they are taking up your time.
When I’ve gotten into new relationships in the past, I can’t stop thinking about the person and my work suffers, and my life suffers in ways, even though I’m benefiting from those positive thoughts. So those are things that we can usually have better control over, like, “Oh my god, everything’s going so great. Yet, here I am at work and I need to complete my task, but I can’t stop thinking about them and I’m going to text them again and I’m going to email them again or whatever.” And now you are delayed.
I’m not talking about that. But if that’s a problem, we can usually control that kind of stuff. We can usually go “Okay, okay. It’s great to think about that person or that thing, but I got to get back to work.” And you usually can, maybe some people can’t, but usually the positive, obsessive thoughts we can. So I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about the kind of thoughts that make you feel like you’re missing something, or you’re pining for something, you’re longing for it, and it’s just out of reach. Or it’s really out of reach.
Like I said at the beginning, I’m not gonna get too much into obsession today because what I want you to do is if you have obsessive thoughts, and especially regarding a person, it’s typically regarding a person. Sometimes it’s regarding our own problems, we have issues in our life, I’m not gonna be able to pay this bill, this is included as well. But a lot of the emails that I get have to do with “I can’t stop thinking about this person, I can’t get them out of my head.”
In fact, I have one in front of me, right now that I’m going to go over in bits and pieces, but I do have resources on this. Those resources I created are pretty definitive. If you follow the steps, if you really go through the process that I’ve laid out in those resources, you will take a massive step toward getting past these obsessive thoughts. Dive into those resources. Listen to them again and again. Obsess over those episodes and articles, and make sure that you actually follow the steps.
I should have said this earlier, but this is going to be a very tough love episode. “Tough love” means I’m going to tell you something that’s gonna sound cold-hearted, it’s gonna sound like you better do this or you’re a loser and I don’t mean for it to come out like that at all. In fact, I’m doing this from my heart. I’m doing this from the deepest level of love and respect for you so that if you are at all obsessed about someone from your past, especially someone romantic in a romantic sense, that you take what I’m saying with you, and apply it to your life so that you can get past it and start living your life again.
That’s why I sometimes go on these tough love kicks, because… I’ll just come out and say it: People that are obsessed about an ex, and they can’t stop thinking about them, they want to be with them again, they want them to come back, I or anyone else really can’t tell them how to stop obsessing. I can, but for them to hear it, for an obsessed person to hear you or anyone say to them to stop obsessing and this is what you do, they probably won’t follow the advice. They probably don’t want to follow the advice they probably don’t want to stop obsessing because stopping obsessing means that they lose a connection to them, and that might be the only connection they have or they think will keep them connected to them, so they don’t stop obsessing.
You can tell someone who went through a breakup months and months ago or even years or years ago, to stop obsessing about the person and get back to life, start diving into your work again, get into another relationship. You could tell them all this stuff – stop following them on social media, stop emailing them, stop texting with them, or trying to text with them – whatever it is that you want to tell this person to move on with their life, they very likely won’t do it. They just won’t. They don’t want to stop they don’t want to let go of that connection.
My perception on why that is is because it means accepting that they are actually gone from their life. And the pain that that could be a reality is too great for them to experience. So they choose to hang on to this negative obsession and continue suffering.
It sounds backward. We know that obsessing can be suffering. It can hurt, it can feel painful. Because what we want to happen doesn’t happen. So if we give someone a way out of that pain and suffering, and they choose not to do it, you might think, why not? Why wouldn’t you want to stop suffering?
Well, what happens is there’s something that’s overriding that. There’s something that’s overriding the choice to stop obsessing. And that override has a lot to do, typically, with self-worth and self-esteem, and a feeling of not being able to get that again in your life, not being able to get that love, again, not being able to get that feeling of connection that they had with this person again. Because they don’t want to lose that, they keep that person alive in their mind and hold on to the possibility that there can be reconciliation.
This can drive you crazy. When I was in my 20s, I was obsessive. When I broke up with that first girl that I met in Florida, or she broke up with me, they all broke up with me, I would become obsessive, I would think about her all the time. I would try to look her up and we didn’t have social media back then. But I would drive by her house, I would do things that I am not proud to admit that I probably won’t admit right now, but I was not the perfect ex. I was not the guy who just moved on and said, “Well, I guess she doesn’t like me anymore. That really sucks and it feels painful. I guess I’ll just move on.”
I wasn’t that person. I was the obsessive person. Being in a state of obsession keeps you in a rut. It keeps you emotionally impoverished and it takes up all your time. You can’t stop thinking about it and you choose not to disconnect fully, or you think you don’t have a choice to disconnect, because it’s always in your mind. But you do have a choice and I’m gonna go over one of those choices a moment, but holding on to what may be, and probably never will be, is an exercise in futility. That futility will cause you to suffer because you’re always looking for something that you’ll never have.
This is pretty much my only point today and this is where the tough love comes in. Is that you have to accept that they are gone. You have to accept it, you have no choice, but to accept it that they are gone.
Of course, you have a choice, but if you want to stop obsessing, if you want to get out of this rut you’re in, you have to accept that they are gone and they’re never coming back. If this is an ex-partner in your life, some relationship that you had, you have to accept that they don’t want you back.
I say that at risk. I know that I could say that and it could trigger someone to think, “They don’t want me. That means I’m unlovable. That means that I’m not worthy, that I’m not important…”
It has nothing to do with that. You’re worth, your lovability, your importance in life has nothing to do with whether somebody wants to be in a relationship with you or not. They’re not tied together. They’re two totally different thought processes. They’re two totally different life experiences. Meaning you can be in a relationship with someone who loves you and wants to be with you, and you can be out of a relationship with someone who no longer loves you and no longer wants to be with you. But that doesn’t define you; Doesn’t define who you are. It just shows you what their choice is.
You have choices just like they have choices. You might like a certain food all your life and then realize you don’t want to eat it anymore. It’s your choice to stop eating it. It’s just a choice. It doesn’t make the food less worthy of eating. It doesn’t make the food less appealing to the 8 billion other people on the planet. It just means you have chosen to stop eating it.
This works the same in relationships. Sometimes you’ll be in a relationship and the person doesn’t want to be with you anymore. That is a beautiful thing. Let me tell you why it’s a beautiful thing:
When someone doesn’t want to be with you anymore, and they leave, it’s so much better than someone not wanting to be with you and they stay.
That is the worst feeling because now you’re in a relationship where you feel ignored, unloved unworthy… all those things that you don’t like feeling about yourself. Someone gives you a gift when they choose to leave you because they no longer love you. I’m sorry to tell you this.
The point I’m trying to make today is acceptance. I want you to accept mainly two things:
- Everyone has a choice that has nothing to do with you.
They want to live their life you want to live your life. And yes, it would be great to be together because you like a lot of their qualities, or you love them in a way that you’ve never loved anyone else before. But they still have a choice whether to stay or go.
- Your level of self-worth and self-esteem has to come from within you, not from them.
That has nothing to do with their choice because here’s how I see relationships:
If I’m doing the best I can for myself, if I love myself, if I find myself worthy, if I find myself important, and I’m constantly working on myself, then when I show up in a relationship, I am giving the best version of myself to them, which means they’re going to get my vibe.
They’re going to feel how I feel about myself. They’re going to experience what I’m experiencing about myself. In a different way from their perspective, of course, but they’re not going to sense the insecurity. They’re not going to sense any jealousy or any lack of emotional stability. They’re going to sense a confidence in myself for myself.
Because of that, they don’t feel like they have to fill in any gaps in me. they won’t feel like they have to make up for something that I’m lacking. Because I’m showing up in the relationship, as fully charged as I can be as fully embracing my worth and my significance. I’m fully embracing that I am lovable. If they don’t want to love me, that’s not my fault. It’s not on me. Because I already know that I’m lovable.
This is something else that you have to accept. You have to accept that you are lovable and worthy. Because you’re always working on yourself because you know you’re an ethical person, a moral person because you know you’re trying. You know you’re doing the right thing at least as much as you can.
When you show up knowing all this about yourself, the other person can’t put you down. They can’t see you as anything less than the way you’re showing up. If they do, that’s their issue. If they choose to leave you, they take those issues with them into any relationship they go into, because they have judgments and perceptions and beliefs that maybe serve them or don’t serve them. Or, maybe they just feel like they’re not compatible. Maybe there are other things going on that they can’t get on board with.
You can have an immoral person connected to a very moral person, meaning the moral person just tries to do the right thing all the time and tries to love as best as they can and just shows up as the best partner they can be. The immoral person cheats, lies, and deceives. Yet the moral person loves the immoral person, and they have a relationship, but the immoral person might decide. I feel so restricted by the moral person. These aren’t the words they use, but they’ll feel restricted, and they’ll feel like they’re in a relationship that the walls are closing in on them.
The immoral person might leave. This is just a made-up scenario, but I’m giving you an idea of what can happen. The immoral person leaves the relationship, but the moral person thinks it was her fault or his fault. They think, “Oh, what did I do to make them cheat? What did they do to make them lie? What did I do to make them leave?”
The moral person obviously has issues that they need to deal with inside themselves, because how could a kind, generous, compassionate, moral person ever go into that space where they think they’re not worthy?
If a moral person that is kind, caring, generous, and compassionate, doing the best they can, experiences any thoughts that they’re not lovable, or not worthy, or they think they did something wrong, then that usually indicates that there’s more work to be done on themselves.
That’s where the focus needs to be. Because if the focus isn’t there, and the focus is on someone else to fill the gaps and fill the void inside your own life, then what ends up happening is the moral person, in this example, walks around with those gaps, thinking that the only way to fulfillment is to have someone else in their life. This is what leads to obsessive thoughts because they think “If they’re back in my life, then I will feel complete, I will feel whole. If they’re not in my life, I don’t feel whole. So I’m going to obsess about them coming back into my life because I’m not complete until they do.”
That’s why I cannot stand the phrase “You complete me.” I don’t even know if that’s a real phrase or if I just heard it in an Austin Powers movie, but I’ve seen that phrase a lot and I don’t like it.
You don’t complete me, I complete me! Then I take that complete person into a relationship with a person that’s trying to complete themselves too.
We’re always just trying to complete ourselves, I think that’s what personal growth and development is all about.
When you get into a relationship, you can then share your complete self, as incomplete as that is, with another person’s complete self, as incomplete as they are. Then you create a synergy together, experiencing life together, discovering each other, discovering their strengths and reflecting on our own strengths, and discovering their weaknesses, not that we’re looking for those but we discover them and then we discover our own weaknesses because each person can be a mirror for us to look into.
There are benefits of having another person in your life to help you reflect on what you need to work on in yourself. But try not to be dependent on those people to fulfill what you’re missing inside of you especially when it is something that you need to work on yourself so that you don’t bring a sense of lack into the relationship in order to for it to get fulfilled by the other person. Because that is a lot of work. If you’ve listened to my show before, you’ve heard me say, that just drains another person.
If you bring a sense of lack of yourself, or in yourself, into a relationship with another person, and it’s their job to fill that lack; It’s their job to fulfill you in ways that perhaps you should be doing yourself, then that drains them. It can be repelling to them. It can take away some people’s happiness because they feel like their job is to fulfill you and complete you. That is a difficult journey for anyone.
People-pleasers will often feel like they need to complete other people or they need to rescue or fix other people. People-pleasers might have an easier time doing this. It’s still an energy drain because they’re not focused on themselves, but people-pleasers often end up with energy vampires or takers, where the people-pleaser is a giver and the person they’re with is a taker, but the takers usually keep taking and draining the energy of the people-pleaser.
It works in the opposite way too. When you’re giving and the other person’s taking, and there’s no reciprocation, then there’s a big energy drain there as well.
I understand that relationships are also about love and connection and support and experiencing each other, experiencing each other’s life and social circles and family and being intimate and all of this is part of our relationship as well. And of course, you won’t be able to fulfill some of those things in yourself. You probably won’t be able to experience a highly gratifying sexual connection by yourself (you know what I mean.)
Of course, you can experience sexual gratification by yourself. But with someone else, I think we can all agree it’s a lot more fun. It’s a lot more pleasurable. I look at that and think, yes, of course, there are parts of life and living that we certainly can’t do ourselves. It’s so amazing to have a friend or a lover or a spouse or whatever that we can share things with, that we can be vulnerable with, that we can share our secrets, that we can snuggle with, that will hold us when we’re down or hold us when we’re up. The list goes on and on. There’s a lot that other people do for us. But sometimes, we place the burden on them to fulfill us in ways that we need to take care of ourselves.
Coming back to obsessive thinking. Obsessive thoughts are typically a clear indicator that we are not doing enough of our self-love, self-compassion, increasing our self-worth increasing our confidence in ourselves, working on our personal boundaries, working on anything that empowers us to feel good in ourselves about ourselves, so that when we’re in relationships and the breakup happens, because sometimes it just happens, and sometimes we know it’s coming and sometimes we don’t, but when that breakup happens, when we fall down and we’re in pain, and we’re in suffering, we need to be able to get back up. We can’t do that half-baked, we can’t do that half “done”. We have to do it as whole as we can be.
How do you become whole? I talk about self-esteem, self-worth, being authentic, self-empowering things on every other episode of the show. If you’re just starting to listen, go through my back catalog of every episode. Go through my website, theoverwhelmedbrain.com, read those articles, listen to everything I talk about, because it’s all there.
It’s important. This stuff is important because when you fall, you’re going to feel broken. You’re going to feel empty. You’re going to feel unloved. I’m not saying that when the women in my life broke up with me that I didn’t feel unworthy and I didn’t feel unloved. I felt all those things. There is a moment in time right when the breakup is occurring, and right after the breakup, that you’re going to feel some pretty terrible stuff.
But this stuff is supposed to pass. It’s supposed to move on so that you can move on. The only way to do that and I’m going to come back to this right now, the one thing I want to talk about today is to accept that this person is gone. That you are not getting them back, ever.
You can see where the obsessive thoughts might come in because it’s that mix of loving something and being hurt by something. And let me enlighten you if you don’t already know: Love is not supposed to contain abusive behavior.
That’s why I have the other show. If you haven’t heard that other show Love and Abuse, go to loveandabuse.com, you can hear me talk about that all the time. Love is not supposed to contain abusive behavior otherwise, it’s not love.
Love in my definition is when you support someone else’s happiness. If the person that is supposed to love you is causing you pain, is lying to you, is manipulating you, is withdrawing emotional connection from you, then they’re not loving you. So you really have to ask yourself, Why would I want someone who doesn’t love me back in my life?
That’s really one of the key components to all of this to any obsessive thinking is if the person left you or you left them, or they’re gone from your life for some reason, and you want them back, why would you want someone back that doesn’t love you? That part doesn’t make sense.
I know there are justifications for it. “Yes, but we had such good times together and I know he’s really a nice guy underneath all that terribleness.” That’s what we say to ourselves when we’re justifying. When we justify bad behavior because we have good feelings mixed in, we introduce ourselves to more suffering.
A couple more things I want to say about this email. One is that you said this was the man of your dreams. You probably know what I’m going to say. But here’s what I want you to do. I want you to write down what the man of your dreams looks like. Write down all the characteristics of the man of your dreams.
Do that first. Put this episode on pause and just go ahead and write down all those characteristics. I don’t want you to think of the person you’re talking about in this email. I want you to think about any man that comes along that if you were to have a relationship, or if anyone’s listening any person in your life if they come along, and you want the greatest relationship ever, what characteristics and qualities would they have to make them the person of your dreams? If you don’t like that term, the most perfect partner, the most ideal partner. Pause this and write that stuff down.
Now if you’ve paused this or you’ve got it in your mind, or you just want to keep listening, this is what I want you to do next: I want you to compare the list of this person of your dreams, the ideal partner, with the person that you have experienced. Tell me if they match. Because the person that wrote this email, the man of her dreams, I can almost guarantee isn’t the type of person to withdraw, detach, reject, belittle you and be unavailable. Your ideal partner doesn’t leave, they work with you to try and figure things out together. They’re not emotionally abusing you. They’re not devaluing you. They’re not discarding you. That is not a person of anyone’s dream.
I want you to be very, very careful when you say that the man of your dreams dumped you. That’s not the man of your dreams, that’s the man of your nightmares. This is the tough love episode. That is the man of your nightmares and you don’t want that man in your life again. I always ask this question when it comes to relationships and longing for someone in the past because I went through this very same thing, the question I asked is:
If someone showed up in your life that wasn’t this person but was somebody else that was just as attractive, just as intelligent, and funny, and all the qualities that you liked, wasn’t that person, it was someone else completely and treated you just as nice when they were nice, was never mean, was never hurtful, and maybe even more attractive, maybe even nicer, maybe even better in so many ways… Would you then consider having a relationship with that person, as opposed to this one?
Think about that. Someone comes along is just as nice, just as attractive, if not more so, just as intelligent, if not more so, maybe they have money or more money, whatever qualities you like in someone. If they were just like that without the bad stuff, but it wasn’t the person that you had before, the one you were with, would you consider a relationship with them?
Your answer should be “Well, yeah, I would, of course! If somebody came along like that, that would be great.”
If you would consider a relationship with a person like that, this can help you stop obsessing about the person that you really don’t want back in your life. Because you miss the feelings. You miss what it was like to be treated with kindness and with care and compassion. You miss those things. But you don’t miss the bad things. You don’t miss the painful things. You don’t miss how you suffered.
If you take the person out of the equation that used to make you suffer, and you put somebody else in there that gave you all the nice things and more, suddenly you have a different relationship with a different person that has nothing to do with the person that you were with, which you have to make room for in your mind in order for that to happen. Because people are going to pass through your peripheral, and you’re either going to give them the time of day or not.
Sometimes we’re so obsessively thinking about someone from our past, that we don’t give anyone a chance. Even if we don’t know that those people exist, our mind doesn’t clear the space for them because they have to fit a certain model that we’ve created in our mind and certain criteria, because that’s who the person that came into our life before filled, except they brought all the bad stuff too.
Again, this person is not the man of your dreams. The man of your dreams wouldn’t do all the things that this person did. The man of your dreams is on that paper on that list, that is in front of you or in your mind. The man of your dreams doesn’t do that kind of stuff. I want you to get clear about that and realize that this person was probably the man of your nightmares that just had some good qualities that made you feel good too.
When you start to reverse that in your mind, you won’t stop thinking like you just missed out on something wonderful because what is not in your life anymore is a big break, is a big reprieve from going through the rollercoaster of emotions that you went through. Because you can absolutely feel all the good things you felt too, just not with someone who puts you through that.
The tricky part for you has been clearing that space. What I’m talking about today, but especially in other episodes I talk about obsession, is going to help you clear that space.
Let me give you my last point, my last thought on this, which is a process that I want you to do when it comes to obsessing and thinking about the same person over and over again. What I want you to do is, there’s something called associated versus dissociated when it comes to memories. What that means is, when you’re in an associated memory, you’re in your own body, looking out through your own eyes, and experiencing it in the first person.
Become completely associated in yourself in that memory. It’s sort of like when you were on a roller coaster one time, do you see yourself on the roller coaster over there, like you’re out of your body, and you’re seeing your body and the roller coaster? Or, when you remember it, are you looking out through your own eyes, and you can see the seat and you can see your hands in front of you. You can see the track in front of you. When you do that, it’s an entirely different experience, it’s a very visceral experience. You will get all those feelings and other feelings that come with being on that roller coaster, or whatever you’re visualizing now.
The associated version of a memory is when you’re looking through your own eyes experiencing it through yourself. The dissociated version of a memory is when you see yourself over there having the experience. I want you to remember that when it comes to having these memories pop up that you keep obsessing about because you’re either having them in an associated way or a dissociated way, or you’re having them in different ways like one is associated one is dissociated.
The reason that’s important is because when you have an associated memory, when you’re in your body, looking through your own eyes, you’re more likely to experience the feelings that you felt during that time during that moment. You’re very likely having associated memories when it came to the good stuff. All the good times: “Oh, he was so great there and he was so wonderful here.”
When you think about those, probably today you have those memories associated. You can see through your own eyes, you’re experiencing it like firsthand. What may be happening with the bad memories, the negative memories, is that you may be dissociated during those memories, and they wouldn’t have as much of an impact. I learned this in my training a long time ago, where you have this bad memory, and you can dissociate from yourself and see yourself over there having the bad memory. So it doesn’t feel so bad.
That’s actually helpful with trauma and things like that, but there’s more to it. But the problem with that when you have a relationship that you just can’t get out of your mind is that we tend to dissociate from the bad memories and associate with the good memories. What we need to do is reverse that. We need to reverse that in our mind visually. What I mean by that is think about a great memory that you have with this person. Think about a time you had with this person that you remember fondly. When you think about that time, if you’re looking through your own eyes now, I want you to dissociate from yourself.
Closing our eyes, you visualize this happening, I want you to be outside your body and you can see yourself over there, having this good time with that person. You distance yourself from you and that person and then try to access what it feels like then. Because now you’re watching them. have the experience and you’re dissociated from the experience.
Do this with a good memory, something that felt good. See them over there feeling good, and you experience it less over “here”. If you have the good feelings, I want you to distance yourself even further. Like you can take another few feet back or 100 feet back. You can see it from afar, and see what’s happening over there, way over there.
If that doesn’t work, dissociate again. Step out of this body, and go back even further. Watch yourself watching yourself, having that experience over there. It’s kind of mind-blowing. When you do this, it dissociates you from the feeling as well. What this does is it starts to diminish the good feelings that you had.
I’m not telling you to forget them, I’m not telling you not to have these great memories of the relationship that you had or how you used to feel. It doesn’t do that. It just helps you disconnect from certain memories, and helps you distance yourself from the feelings that were so good that they’re hard to forget. This is what’s causing part of the obsession, is that you have these great feelings, but we need to disconnect from those great feelings. How do we do that? That’s one way to do it.
You dissociate from the good memories. Now you do the same with the bad memories except the opposite. You’re going to associate with the bad memories, and this is uncomfortable. Because if you’ve been dissociating, seeing yourself over there having the bad experience, then associating, it can be scary.
Only do this if you’re ready to stop obsessing. I’m serious. Because when you dissociate from the good memory Go into your body with the bad memories and experiencing it as if you’re there right now, seeing through your own eyes, experiencing it firsthand, you’re going to have a much more powerful negative memory associated with this person.
You are now in an associated state with this negative memory, experiencing it firsthand having those bad feelings. It’s awful. Then when you’re done experiencing that memory, you come back to now, and you remember the good times differently and you remember the bad times a lot differently because you’re experiencing them firsthand.
The key here is dissociating from the good times enough so you stop obsessing. I’m not saying this is a solution, I’m just saying this is one of the many tools that you can use to stop obsessing. I don’t remember if I talked about this, specifically in one of the other episodes, but it can be very, very helpful so that you don’t constantly replay the same tape and put the needle on the same groove of the record. How can we experience it a lot differently, we’re going to have a different memory of it.
Dissociating from the good memories and associating with the bad memories helps you reverse the effect; helps you reverse the obsession. When you do this enough, it can really start to change your experience. Don’t be afraid to change the memories too. What I mean is that you can have a good memory… Let’s just say that you remember his face or remember a feeling that you had at a certain time, maybe you went out and you had a great time. Maybe you can put like devil horns on his head. Visualize something different. Recreate the memory in another image that is memorable so that when you remember it again, that’s the first thing that pops up.
Again, I’m not saying that you should change the good memories, you don’t have to do this, but if you really want to stop obsessing, it’s time to do something a little bit more drastic. If it’s been months and months or years, it might be time to do something a bit more drastic. Changing the visual in your head doesn’t change what happened, it just changes how your brain processes it so you can finally get past it and get through it and move on with your life.
Don’t be afraid to add visual elements that change things or even auditory elements where during the good times, there’s ominous music playing in the background, and you’re like, What the heck is this? And it’s always like a foreboding feeling. It can start to reverse the thought processes in your head.
Play with that. Do things like that to help you get beyond this. And I do have one more piece of advice and that is this: If you have any connection to this person, if you still have their phone number, if you are connected on social media or you can see their social media accounts, if you have any paperwork or documentation that they own, if you have anything that they own in your house, you need to start eliminating that stuff. You need to start blocking them at every pass. You need to make sure that every avenue of connection is severed. Unless there are special circumstances, you own a business together, you have kids together, that might be different. But you need to do your best to disconnect completely.
That might mean something drastic like you move 1000 miles away. I’m not saying you should do this. I’m not saying you have to do this. I’m just saying that when you remove all avenues of connection, and there’s no way that you can just wake up at 2 AM and look at their social media or anything like that, then you give your brain a break.
This is one of those things that I’ll tell someone, but it’s very hard for them to do because, why? It involves doing it. It involves actually taking the steps to do it. When they do it, it means “Oh no, I’m losing connection with them. It’s the only connection I have.”
Yes, if you really want to stop obsessing, you have to break all the connections. You have to pretend like they don’t exist. You have to make them disappear from your life. Because what happens is by leaving any path open, knowing that you could travel that path anytime, you open Facebook and you can follow them if that path is available to you. Obsessive thinking causes you to take that path. It always does, and it always will.
You need to buck up, take the pain that comes with it, the experience that you’re going to lose connection to this person forever, and do the things that you don’t want to do like completely disconnect so that you realize that you no longer have a choice when it comes to trying to connect to them again.
Believe me, if they have a sudden change of heart and they want to reach out to you they’re gonna find a way. But what you need to do is separate. disconnect, go no-contact and untether yourself in every possible way. If something in your house reminds you of them, remove it, get rid of it, hide it, do whatever you can. You need to stop with all the associations. If something reminds you of them or helps you stay in touch with them in some way, or helps you think about them in some way, it’s time to remove it, or get rid of it, or do something with it so that you never see it and you can move on.
I hope all of this landed in the way I wanted it to land. Again, if you are thinking of self-harm, contact a professional because life is amazing. You are amazing, you are worthy, you are significant, you are lovable, and no one person can ever say that you aren’t. No one person can ever imply that you aren’t. You are, as long as you love yourself.
You have to love yourself. You have to be compassionate towards yourself. You have to show yourself that you are worthy and you are important. You have to treat yourself like your best friend. You have to remember that that little child inside of you might be scared, might have fears, and he or she needs you. He or she needs you to run the show and be the adult and show up in your life so that they know they’re worthy.
When you’re nurturing that inner child, he or she feels comfortable, and safe, and accepted by you. Once that’s in place, then no one else can define who you are, what you are, whether you’re important or not, they can’t define that at all because you define that in yourself. And that’s the most important thing that you can do for you.
When you show up in the world like that, and especially in any relationship like that, where there are no dependencies where someone else has to fill in the gaps, and you both just bring your best versions of yourself, that’s the best type of relationship to have.
Redefine the person of your dreams, redefine the ideal partner, because if you think it’s somebody that caused you all that pain so long ago, that’s not your perfect partner. That might be the only representation you have, but it’s time to redefine that. Because only certain people are like that and you don’t need those certain people in your life.
This is the butt-kicking episode. So I’m kicking your butt. If you are having obsessive thoughts, it’s time to do the things that you don’t want to do. It’s time to disconnect. It’s time to move on. Yes, I know sometimes you try everything, but it’s always a work in progress. Absolutely get rid of anything that reminds you of that person.
I got rid of hundreds of pictures once. I took them all out of the box, and I went through every single picture, and every picture that made me feel good, I kept. Every picture that made me feel bad (these are the old pictures, not the digital pictures that we have today), I got rid. They were my only copy and the only copy that anyone ever had. I got rid of them. I didn’t want them any more. I didn’t want to see them. I didn’t want to think about them. When I went through the entire box (it was like 600 pictures), and removed the ones that made me feel bad, I felt better.
All the pictures that made me feel bad? In the trash. All the pictures that made me feel good? I still have that box and I can pull it out any time and go through those pictures, and never have a bad feeling. And that’s how life should be. I’m not saying you deny and you hide your head, and you should never deal with these emotions. Absolutely, if you have emotions going on, that’s what I talk about on the show all the time. But if you’ve had pictures for years and years and years, and you’ve dealt with the emotions, and then you see a person or thing that happened in your past on a picture, and it makes you feel bad, why are you keeping it? Get rid of it. You don’t need it. Give it to someone else, never see it again. Or hide it in a vault in the backyard. And then move on.
I appreciate the person who wrote this email. Thank you so much. You are absolutely going to get through this. I know you are. You’ve already written this email, so wanting the change is already there, which is the first step to healing. You’re gonna make it. You’re gonna get through it. Anyone listening that is going through the same thing, having obsessive thoughts and you’re thinking about somebody from your past or just can’t get something out of your head, you’re gonna get through it. But you’ve got to do the work.
You might have to make hard decisions. You might have to get rid of that thing. You might have to disconnect from them on social media. You might have to do a lot. It’s gonna be hard because you’re thinking, “Oh, this is it, though. This is the last thing that we have together. This is our last connection.”
Good, get rid of it. Gone.