It’s been over a year since my ex left me for my best friend and I can’t seem to get over it. It doesn’t help that I’m constantly reminded of the devastating fiasco because I’m around people who know him on an almost daily basis and get a dose of TMI thrown in my face all the time.
They’re happy. They’re going on trips. They’re moving forward in their relationship, and all I keep thinking about is “Why did this happen to me? Why is SHE in my place, living the life I should be living! Why didn’t he love me enough to do all these things and make a life with me?”
It’s seriously making me sick with anger, grief, and anxiety. I hate going to work because one of my co-workers knows his family and talk about them. I hate having to think about them. I hate that I’m still single. I hate that I have to keep trying to get over all this and I just can’t.
Can you help me?
I absolutely can!
One of the biggest misconceptions we ever create is we’re helpless inside our own heads. But with a bit of understanding about the human brain you can lead yourself out of this spin cycle and rescue your heart and soul from the pit of darkness.
Our brains are complex, but what we don’t realize is the power we have in reshaping it and as a result, forming our own thought patterns and emotions.
I want you to take a second and think about how the Grand Canyon was formed. Millions of years ago water began to run along a particular channel, and the more water passed along this path the deeper that channel was carved, drawing even more water into it. Deeper and wider it grew, until it became the mighty chasm we see today.
Your brains neural pathways work a lot like this too. When you have a new thought or meet a new person a new neural pathway is formed, and each time you repeat that though or think about that person your brain carves that particular channel a little deeper, a little wider, and a little more able to automatically channel your thought patterns into that space. When you get to a place where you just can’t get something out of your mind it’s because you consciously thought about it so much your mental energy is being automatically sucked into that pathway, much like water is being drawn into the Grand Canyon, because its massive size has become the path of least resistance.
But what if we built a structure that rechanneled and redirected the water headed towards the Grand Canyon? Over time that chasm would fill with blowing dirt as all the water went towards a new source. And believe it or not, we can do the same with our brains, redirecting our thoughts until that old pathways is no longer the mighty force of nature it once was.
So the first step towards healing is becoming conscious of your ability to heal yourself. You are not helpless, you simply need to learn how to redirect your thoughts until you’re no longer bothered by them. To help you do this, I’ve come up with five steps to remember and apply every time you find yourself sliding down that slippery slope of gut wrenching thoughts.
Ready? Let’s heal.
1) Change the story
Realize that the part that’s damaging you the most is the dialogue taking place inside your head. Your thoughts and emotions are intricately intertwined, so by changing the words in your mind you can then begin to change the direction your emotions go in.
So here’s what you do; write down what you’re telling yourself that’s making you miserable. All of it. Then, rewrite every sentence in an opposite form. “My ex left me for my best friend and I can’t get over the fact that he’s making her happy, while he couldn’t make the effort to do the same with me” is changed to, “I have amazing people in my life who love me for who I am. I’m a better person today, and I’ll never again get caught up in a relationship with someone who doesn’t appreciate me. I’m free to find a man who will focus on making me happy, and I’m happy to no longer be with someone who brings me down with their indifference.”
Much better, right? So every time you find yourself spinning catch yourself, become aware of the words swirling through your mind, and replace them with something that’s more positive and ingrained in today’s reality. Every time you do this there’s a redirect that’s taking place, and eventually you’ll fill in the old channel, burying that negativity while strengthening the channel cognizant of just how awesome you are and how bright your future really is.
2) Shrink your amygdala
There’s a part of your brain that’s responsible for your flight or flight system. Back in caveman days this was the part that kept us alive, but for today’s world it’s wayyyyy too active. Shrinking this part of your brain will actually shrink your capacity to feel stress, anxiety, fear, and anger, and boy do you need that right now. So go to my You Tube channel, where you’ll find my Let’s Meditate playlist. There you’ll find tracks that not only sound lovely to sit and listen to, but are also specially designed to help your brain settle down faster.
Grab some headphones, find a char, close your eyes, and listen to any of them that look intriguing for as long as you can, as often as you can, while bringing your focus back to the music every time you realize you’re thinking about something. Don’t know which one to pick? Then start with the 10 minute Love Signal track. If you can only swing once a day with this track you’re still making progress, and you’ll find within a couple of weeks your brain is feeling more calm and relaxed, and it’s easier to swing your mental chatter the other way when you realize it’s running away on you.
3) Get out
Go for walks as often as possible. There’s an old trick used in dog training that’s basically called “moving forward.” In essence, instead of letting an anxious or fearful dog sit and stew in its emotions, trainers get it walking. There’s something about physically moving forward that literally lets the brain move forward too, unclenching it from the state it’s in.
On top of that, studies show that Mother Nature has some pretty incredible healing properties, so much so that hospitals are building gardens outside of ICU units because just looking at them helps patients heal faster. Huh.
So get outside and get walking, because the double benefits will help your mind get clear of all this bullshit sooner rather than later.
4) Get social.
There’s nothing like doing stuff with people to help get your mind off not doing stuff with other people. Remember, the more you think of something the more likely you are to keep thinking about it. So start saying yes to everything and anything and give yourself opportunities to forget, even for a moment, what’s making you feel unhappy.
5) Have your feelings
Yep. Don’t supress your feelings because they’re just going to stay in you, festering and rotting and stinking up your insides. Get that crap out any way you can. Need to get angry? Then start saying “fuck you” every time you find yourself reminiscing about him and remind yourself of what wasn’t working. Need to shed some tears? Then let them out, because that water is literally detoxing your insides.
If you keep these feelings in all you’re going to do is carry them into your next relationship, and you’ll be dooming that one with your toxic, negative emotions. So get them out and allow them to have all of their physiological responses without holding anything back. You’ll find when you do this in combination with all the steps above you’re going to feel better over time, depending on how often you’re following steps 1-4.
Here’s the thing – people suck. Sometimes often. All these tips will be valuable tools you’ll use over and over to help the inevitable suckage you encounter roll off your back. Get proficient at using these methods and you’ll find yourself less and less bothered by what people say or do because your brain will be equipped to shrug and move on for you, saving you from ever finding yourself in this unhappy position again.
And that’s what I call that a win/win.