In my own experience I remember a couple of times when I was so upset, so heartbroken that all I could do was think about my ex.

Pretty much day in and day out I was replaying conversations in my head, thinking about what I would say, trying to come up with some answers as to why she had did this or said that…

Then there would be those times where I would kind snap out of it for a moment and realize how much time I was thinking the same thing over and over again.

I was exhausted from it, and every time I would notice it I would tell myself to stop thinking so much about it.

But I couldn’t. It’s as if then I would get sucked right back in, and there I was again, thinking about the break up, my ex, brooding over the basically the same things.

So even though I didn’t want to think about it, my mind wouldn’t cooperate with me.

Stop and think about that comment for a moment.

“My mind won’t cooperate with me.”

Seems kind of like an oxymoron doesn’t it? Even though I think reading it you probably understand what it means.

thinking of her

In fact there probably aren’t too many times in your life when it will be this obvious that you actually don’t have control over your own thoughts.

These and all the other thoughts can be so overwhelming that they really become a drain. Most of the time you may not even realize that you are doing it, and when you do it’s usually by accident.

I have found that most of the time when I have talked with guys they find that this is the most exhausting part.

On an intuitive level they understand that these thoughts are really depleting them and they want to have some control. But it’s really, really hard.

But there is a point where it is no longer related to the love that you had or about dealing with real sorrow of parting from someone you love.

It just becomes painfully habitual, repetitive pain.

Constantly the thoughts keep recirculating over and over. There are variations, but really it’s all the same thing. Even when we want to focus on other things that would make us feel better.

We look for relief in ways to keep ourselves distracted, but ultimately whenever we are left alone with our thoughts, it goes right back.

Why Everything Reminds You Of Her

Part of this is just the natural healing process. Something really important just happened and it is obviously unnatural and unhealthy (and pretty much impossible) to just not think about it.

Understanding this feedback loop is important to understanding what makes these thoughts so hard to stop.

I had stressed before that the emotions are running the show, and that this process is grossly one sided. But now that we have accepted that, we still need to remember that it is still a loop.

That means that what we think still triggers our emotions and so our thoughts are still is part of the process.

The images, thoughts and things we say to ourselves still have a significant effect on our emotions, especially in the long term. If we take control of those and redirect them, the feelings will begin to weaken. It just takes a while.

So you might be saying “Wait, if it’s so hard to stop thinking about my ex in the first place, how do I do anything about it?”

The answer is, you do it very carefully.

There are three parts in doing it. They involve:

Removing direct triggers.

Replacing associations.

Redirecting thoughts consciously.

The reservoir of feelings for your ex is still there. Most of the time they do a fine job of directing your thoughts just by themselves, but whether or not you know it they are getting a lot of help.

The most obvious is the triggers you have that remind you directly of your ex. These are more obvious ones like, pictures and places you used to hang out.

stop thinking of her

There is a strong attachment to many of these things, and depending on the history you two have together these things may everywhere.

Anything that reminds you of your life when the two of you were together are also associations. This means potentially… well, potentially everything.

Your apartment, the neighborhood you live in, the people you hand out with, the music you are listening to, the clothes you are wearing.

No, I’m not about to tell you to go all out Fight Club on me and destroy your apartment and everything you own.

But, I am not kidding when I say that many people have found that one of the only ways they can really get over their ex is by moving to another town. They do this because of this very reason.

Depending on how painful the breakup feels, everything around you can be like playing “Six degrees to my ex-girlfriend.” Most of the time this isn’t a conscious process because associations work far more subtly than that.

Now we are going into some more abstract stuff so put your thinking cap on. This may involve you focusing your attention on things you may have not noticed before.

And again, come at this with your preconceived notions benched just for a little while.

Since we have been talking about your thoughts, we are going to put some of these concepts into action.

Most of the time we think without noticing it. We are so close to our thoughts that we identify with them and we exercise little control over them. The more emotional the thoughts are, the harder it is to even be aware that we are having them.

I want you to stop and think about how you think. Yeah, I know, sounds a little out there but stick with me on this one.

I’m going to put our thoughts into 4 categories, and I want you to start noticing the differences. Building your awareness muscle is the important part of this.

When describing these I am going to talk about “stickiness”. What I mean by that is the charge they have, and difficulty you have in controlling them.

thinking of you problem

The sticky quality of thought means:

How hard it is to control.

How hard it is to be aware that you are having them.

How much energy you are spending thinking about them.

How tempting it is to think about them, painful or not.

How many times you rerun them over and over again.

Background noise: These are the words, half sentences, images, noises that are pretty much going on all the time. This stuff is bubbling up all the time, and they have almost no charge to them.

Mundane thoughts: These are short thoughts like “What am I going to eat for dinner tonight”; “I need to take out the garbage”. These at the very most a have a tiny bit of the sticky quality.

Charged thoughts: These are things you dwell on for a bit. Say if your boss said something mean to you, or you need to get something done and you haven’t done it yet and you’re worried about it. These are sticky thoughts and you tend to think about them for a while before moving on to something else.

Super charged thoughts: The thoughts you are having about your ex would fall into this category. You start thinking about them and before you know they build up steam and an avalanche of images, conversations and feelings follow.

These can be so powerful once they have momentum that it’s almost as if a whirlpool has pulled you under and you have no control.

They also have a very seductive quality so it’s really easy to keep running them through your mind over and over. When you manage to stop, sometimes it feels as if you just woke up out of dream.

When this happens, just take note of it.

Ask yourself. How long you were thinking about it before you stopped? Did you even know you were doing it at first? When you stopped, how much did you want to continue thinking about it?

The more often you notice this the more of an awareness you will build as to how much you are actually doing it.

You may be having these thoughts a lot more than you think, which may be a little disturbing once you begin to see it. It may also bother you that you don’t have as much control over these as you might think you do.

That’s okay, don’t judge yourself. For now, just practice noticing them.

The Delayed Response

Once you have started catching yourself thinking about it, the next thing is to consciously start thinking of something else.

This is not a one time thing you can learn and just start doing. Buddhist monks spend decades mediating for hours a day exercising this very same muscle.

So the bad news is if you start practicing redirecting your thoughts everyday, you’ll be long over your ex girlfriend before you perfect it (I suppose that really isn’t bad news is it?)

The good news is just catching yourself and doing it a few times a day can have a profound effect on your mood and how fast you move on.

But it does take time. Fires will still burn for a while after you have stopped adding wood to them. After you have gotten rid of triggers, associations and started redirecting the thoughts the strong emotions that are driving everything will only have so much fuel to keep burning.

Once the emotions start to dissipate, the thoughts will actually be easier to control. The easier it is to think about other things, the less strong emotion you’ll feel…This is where the negative feedback loop actually turns into a positive one.

This is the tipping point I keep coming back to.

One day you will find yourself thinking about your ex and you’ll decide you aren’t in the mood to go there, so you’ll stop, and you won’t even think twice about it.