Relationship issues

Stop thinking about your Ex! Breaking Free from the Mental Loop

In this article, we look at why your brain keeps thinking about your ex, how to stop ruminating about an ex, and a short exercise that can help.

I'm sefora!

I have been a transformational leader and coach for over 20 years. As a therapist, I am trained in how psychobiology affects your relationships and how to create secure attachment. I studied attachment work for 2 decades both personally and professionally. Changing your attachment style is possible. I'll be honest, it takes grit! But there are things that most people can learn that can improve their attachment in relationships. 

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Friends, today I want to delve into a topic that many of us can relate to—why our brains keep fixating on our exes after a breakup. It’s a frustrating and sometimes overwhelming experience, but understanding the underlying mechanisms can help us regain control of our thoughts and emotions. Inspired by valuable insights from ally Abdol’s Top Tips for aspiring YouTubers, I want to share some strategies to break free from this mental loop and cultivate a healthier mindset. So if you’re ready to embark on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, let’s dive in.

Why Your Brain Keeps Thinking About Your Ex:

One of the most challenging aspects of a breakup is the inability to stop thinking about your ex. These thoughts can appear out of the blue—when you’re getting ready for bed or when a certain song plays on the radio. They trigger a cascade of memories and emotions that can feel overwhelming. However, it’s essential to remember that your brain is not your enemy—it’s trying to help you, albeit in a complex way.

Understanding How Your Mind Works:

To gain clarity, let’s explore a simplified model of the mind. We have three distinct parts: the child, the parent, and the adult. These parts correspond to the concept of transactional analysis, where the child seeks pleasure and relief, the parent strives to keep us safe, and the adult engages in mindful decision-making. The child part is often the part that keeps thinking about our ex. It wants to recreate joy, fun, companionship and support. It is looking for comfort and one of the last strong associations it had with comfort was your ex unfortunately. Additionally, our brains are highly associative, thinking in clusters rather than isolated thoughts. You have a lot of things associated with your ex right now, and we need to begin to link those associations with something else!

Associations and the Ex Factor:

When we think about our exes, our minds create numerous associations with them. These associations are often rooted in the child part of our brains, seeking love, support, future plans, security, and various other needs. It’s as if our exes become a metaphorical “big box store” where we believe we can find everything we desire. Our brains, associating relief and support with our exes, prompt us to seek them out in times of emotional distress. Want love? Cuddles? Someone to listen to you? Security? Support? Someone to help you lift that heavy couch? Your brain will send you to the box store named YOUR EX. But now that box store is closed up, with cardboard on the windows. And let’s be honest, the quality of the goods at that store was a bit janky.

Breaking the Loop; Transforming Associations:

Now that we understand the mechanisms at play, we can actively redirect our associations and create new connections. This process involves fulfilling the needs we once sought from our exes, but in alternative and healthier ways. To facilitate this transformation, I’ve prepared a worksheet for you:

AssociationExamples
Support
Affection
Future plans
Stability
Other needs

Instructions:

  1. Take some time to reflect on the associations your brain has with your ex. Fill in the list provided in the worksheet with all the things your mind connects to your ex.
  2. Once you have completed the list, review each association and think about how you can fulfill those needs for yourself. Write down alternative ways you can meet each need, separate from your ex.

AssociationAlternative Ways to Fulfill the Need
Support
Affection
Future plans
Stability
Other needs
  1. Consider the alternative solutions you’ve listed and choose one or two to focus on initially. Select options that resonate with you and feel attainable in your current circumstances.
  2. Commit to taking action and actively seeking fulfillment for those needs. Write down specific steps or actions you will take to meet those needs. Set realistic timelines and milestones to track your progress.
  3. Reflect on the changes you observe in your thought patterns and emotions as you consciously redirect your associations. Notice how your brain begins to create new connections and detach from the old ones.

Remember, breaking free from the mental loop takes time and patience. By consciously redirecting your associations and meeting your needs in healthier ways, you can transform your thought patterns and cultivate a healthier mindset. Embrace the process of self-discovery and personal growth, celebrating each milestone along the way.

Feel free to print out the provided worksheet or create a digital copy to track your progress and refer back to it whenever needed. You have the power to break free from the mental loop and create a brighter future for yourself.

If you have further questions or need additional support, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Additionally, I really encourage you to listen to my free visualization meditation designed to support your relationship power and reclaiming your personal strength.

Wishing you all the best on your journey of healing and growth.

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