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The Vicious Cycle Of Your Memories

When you go through a break up or divorce, everything reminds you of your Ex. Sometimes it’s pretty weird, (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve been there). You make the silliest connections just to be reminded of what has happened to you.

That’s why I always recommend cleaning up your house and getting rid of everything that reminds you about your Ex. Nothing should remind you about the past at home.

And remember what is most important: do not torture yourself with unnecessary memories!

What do I mean by that?

There is this curious affinity to suffering. Something forces us to rethink, to evaluate, to relive the moments of the break up again and again (see no 2. here), as if we will gain something very important from it.

In fact the exact opposite is the case: we suffer and move deeper and deeper into the vicious circle of negative emotions (phase 2 of a break up).

Why do we torture ourselves deliberately?


This is something I asked myself over and over again when I suffered from a break up. This is a usual pattern I encounter very often in my personal coaching.

It is always the same sequence:

  1. There is an urge to think and reason about specific key situations with your Ex.
  2. You connect suffering to these memories.
  3. There is a further urge to deepen and reason these thoughts with the intention to ease the pain, (but this only leads deeper into pain).
  4. Any attempt to escape this pattern causes feelings of guilt

That’s when we are caught into this vicious cycle from which it’s very difficult to escape.

How do we escape this vicious cycle?

It’s better to not get sucked into it in the first place, because once you’re in it, you program yourself to the suffering-path, and you get deeper and deeper into depression. This is more difficult to escape than to avoid it from the beginning.

The only way to not get pulled into it (and to escape from it once you’re in) is Mind Control.

Our Monkey-Mind makes it sometimes impossible for us to follow our thoughts, because there seems to be a lot of unconscious processes going on. The key to Mind Control is to make these unconscious thoughts conscious, and to learn to avoid or replace unwanted thoughts. This is often an arduous task to accomplish, especially during a high-emotional state like a break up or divorce.

A big problem and an obstacle is step 4 in the sequence: not thinking about these Ex-memories causes guilt because you are under the impression that you MUST think about your Ex, that you have to keep him/her alive in your memories. Forgetting him/her would mean betrayal.

This is WRONG thinking. A trick of our minds.

To control your thoughts and thereby suppress certain painful memories does NOT mean that you have to forget your Exes, or the memories you have from the time you were together.

It only means that you refuse to torture yourself.

Being caught in this vicious cycle of memories really doesn’t have any point. You cannot get your Ex back with it, and you certainly will not gain a clue about the reasons why you broke up in the first place.

You will only postpone your healing process.

This is a very important fact to realize.

So, break through! Don’t allow yourself to be pulled inside.

Here are some ways to avoid the cycle:

  • Put your thoughts under a “surveillance-mode”
    Monitor your thoughts and note when you are thinking them.
  • Do not take a whole day as a goal
    Try a short period first and then expand it (“now I take one hour where I will not think about my Ex).
  • Distract yourself at “difficult times”
    There are times of the day when it’s more difficult to control your thoughts. Distract yourself then: go to the gym, meet some friends…
  • Don’t take alcohol or drugs hoping to free your mind
    It will backfire badly.
  • Clean your apartment of the “Ex-Stuff”
    Do not leave anything behind. Put it in a box and hide it in the cellar.
  • Don’t listen to “break up songs”, or watch “romantic love movies”
    They will only make you feel bad.
  • Learn how to meditate
    Meditation is a very good way to master mind control (if not the ONLY way)
  • Avoid negative people and resist the urge to “talk about it”
    To tell everyone about your break up is characteristic of the 1st phase, and something that is recommended. But not forever.

Remember: emotional suffering isn’t something that is imposed upon you from the outside world. It is the influence, but the suffering is caused only by yourself. It is caused by the way you interpret things in your life.

Remember that, and choke it off early.

Think good – feel good. This is a shortcut to healing from a break up.

Your friend,

Eddie Corbano

(Photograph is a courtesy of WolfSoul)

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21 Responses to The Vicious Cycle Of Your Memories

  1. Tracy April 14, 2008 at 2:02 pm #

    thank you!

  2. Danielle April 17, 2008 at 5:08 pm #

    Thank you for this article it has really helped me realize a few things. I have tried all of your suggestions to get my mind of off my ex (whom broke up with me 2 months ago after 1 year). I completely cut off contact 1 week ago after my texting him and calling him on occasion over the past 2 months. We saw each other a few times (dinner 2x and him coming over once to help me with my house) since we broke up. I am way to aware that I am nowhere near being over him let alone having even excepted that I will never see him or talk to him again and that tere is my question. How do I deal with the overwhelming sadness and borderline feeling of panic at the thought that I will never see or talk to the man that I fell in love with and still truly love to this day? Just the idea makes me sick to my stomach because of my feelings towards him. He’s 26 years old but emotionally he is 18 and I figured that out maybe a little to late. However, I excepted him and loved him for who he was. I fell in love with the man he someday wanted to be and that he did try to be with me. I knew that with time he would catch up but I was looking forward to the time in between. I myself am 25 years old and I know that I have a long life ahead of me but that does not make the present any easier to handle. I would love Any help you can offer me in what feels like a desperate time. Thank you so much again.

  3. Hot Alpha Female April 23, 2008 at 12:54 am #

    Hey buddy,
    Man this is great advice! Breakups are pretty hard but a necessary part of life.

    I think that the most important thing to remember during a breakup is that you really have to control your thoughts.

    The one thing that i noticed over time … is that when you just beakup and you think about the other person and what they are doing and attempt to control how they feel and what not.

    You always feel upset and in no control of your emotions.

    So during these times … like you said, its good not to put yourself in situations where these emotions are drawn out.

    Its all about replacing habits. Instead of thinking about your ex. Start thinking about how amazing your next partner will be.

    Instead of thinking about all the things you could or could not have said, then start thinking about all the lessons that relationship taught you so that you can have better ones in the future.

    Doing this .. makes the break up process a whole lot easier.

    Hot Alpha Female

    http://www.hotalphafemale.blogspot.com

  4. searchingwithin April 26, 2008 at 9:08 pm #

    I found that the only thing that saved me during those desperate days and nights following my last break-up, was hypnosis, meditation, and journaling. I carried a notebook everywhere I went to help process those feelings I had to let out, and did not want to share with others. I would even be sitting at a red light, and something would come to mind, that I just had to get out. That feeling that you have to tell him, all went into the book, and help relieve some of the almost uncontrolable urge to call him and tell him.

  5. Mark Raymus April 30, 2008 at 8:07 pm #

    The one thing you haven’t touched on is getting rid of electronic evidence of your ex. I’ve gone through my house and tried to get rid of everything that reminds me of my ex, although I think that depending on how long you were together, it’s almost impossible. I met my ex in Haiti and I was passionate about Haiti (I have Haitian art and things) before she came along. But now that she’s gone, all my Haitian stuff reminds me of her. Also, the TV we bought together reminds me of her. It’s a little impractical to get rid of everything since many of the things that are in my house now are things that we bought while we were together. I’ve just got to learn to disassociate those things from her.

    But back to my original comment, and probably more common amongst the geeks, is email. I have every single email that my ex ever sent to me and I’m not sure what to do with it. All of the romantic conversations and expressions of enduring love are in there. All of the funny songs and phrases we sent to each other are in there. What should I do with those? I don’t want to lose them. I want to preserve them. But looking at them in my inbox is dangerous. So, what do you recommend we should do with things like that?

    keep up the good work!

    Mark

  6. Eddie Corbano May 1, 2008 at 7:16 am #

    @ Mark

    Depending on the e-mail client you use, there is always a way to preserve the e-mails (or IM-Logs, SMS, etc).

    First put them into a separate folder, then download them (every client has it’s unique way).

    I burned it on a CD a put it to the other stuff.

    Also, you don’t have to get rid of the things which are not directly related to your Ex (like stuff you had before), it’s normal at the beginning of a breakup that you associate everything with her. This will get much better in the future.

    But you did the right thing. Many do not have the courage to clean their places, but it’s such an important and vital step towards healing.

    All the best,

    Eddie

  7. dhvani June 16, 2008 at 1:12 pm #

    hi eddie, thanks so much for creating this website…i am going through my first break up, and reading about the action oriented positive words towards dealing with it are making me feel a little bit more like i am in control and this too shall pass…… although it seems very difficult…at the moment…

    thanks again,
    dhvani.

  8. Adam June 20, 2008 at 10:20 pm #

    Some excellent tips in this article.

  9. Alustriel June 21, 2008 at 3:05 pm #

    Thanks so much!

  10. Occy July 30, 2008 at 6:00 pm #

    I cant even begin to describe how much this website has helped me. On this topic here I actually found a GREAT link to a proven method of detaching emotions from events –

    http://www.buildfreedom.com/tl/tl12.shtml

    These methods have changed my life, it took months to get freeze framing down but my stress level and overall mental outlook is changed forever.

  11. Blue August 14, 2008 at 3:47 pm #

    I got rid of every shred of evidence of our relationship. Tore the pictures up, trashed the gifts. Deleted every email and chat log. Blocked him from all sites and accounts. I wish I could talk to him again- but why? This will make it easier on both of us, I know it. Its the least to be done. I just want to move on. So this is how I am trying to. I love this man with all my being and always will. But there is a saying:

    aur bhi dukh hain zamaane mein, mohabbat ke sivaa.

    This always helps me. It means “there are other agonies in this land, other than love”. This, too, shall pass and there is so many other things to focus on in life. Only thing is, I have cut him out of my life and usually dont think about him (even though it has only been one day since our break-up) but his memories linger. I have accepted the fact that I lost the love of my life and even if I got him back, what would I do with him? The damage done to our relationship was irreversible and I caused it. So now I just want to forget, forget, forget and forget and move on. Time will tell, I suppose…

  12. Eddie Corbano August 15, 2008 at 9:17 am #

    @Blue

    Thank you for your inspiring thoughts.

    You did good. Complete No-Contact is the most important thing to do.

    It’s ok that you still miss and think about him, we are human not machines.

    With time you will notice a shift, your thoughts will be more positive and one day you will remember your relationship and gain strength from it, without pain or judging.

    Thanks for the saying, I like it.

  13. 1JadedHeart September 13, 2008 at 4:00 am #

    Excellent article. One thing that was critical for me goes along with thought control. That is positive self-talk. A lot of times we have a tendency to find fault with ourselves as a result of the failed relationship. I am also easily susceptible to deep depressions if I ever start allowing myself to wallow in self-pity. I found that to avoid this I must not only control my thoughts, but actively talk to myself about positive things. I do this a lot through affirmations. To me, affirmations do not have to be these great, inspired sentences; they just have to be something simple that is right for you. Doing this has helped me to make drastic changes in my life.

    Also, we have to have the dogged determination to do the things mentioned in this article consistently, especially when we want to the least.

  14. 1JadedHeart September 13, 2008 at 4:13 am #

    @Danielle – Danielle – Not sure if you are still out there reading this, but I understand completely how you must be feeling. I recently lost someone from my life that I loved more than I have ever loved anyone in my life. I will always feel love this person, until the day I die (which I thought I was going to do initially). The one piece of advice I got, which I hated to hear, was to give it time. We have to allow ourselves the time to mourn the loss of our relationship (not the same thing as dwelling on it) and with time the pain will lessen. This ended up to be good advice. Although the pain is still deep and will never completely go away, it has now become much more manageable and I can actually enjoy life again. One quote that I have come to completely disagree with , though, is that “time heals all wounds.” No, it doesn’t. Sometimes it only allows us to be able to put internal space between our present life and the pain of the past. This, in turn, allows us to control it more so it does not continue to consume us.

    My thoughts, for what they are worth….

  15. Cheeky Tricky Chic January 4, 2009 at 6:26 am #

    Words fail me to express how appreciative I am. Thank you sooooooooo much.

  16. stronger ;) August 26, 2009 at 6:28 am #

    I wondered if anyone had the experience I am having now: I was the “Dumper” and for some time (while traveling away from the location loaded with all the memories about my ex), I was doing fine. We kept occasional contact over email but it seemed alright to do (although I guess it was not). Then, once I returned to the city we both used to live in (and my ex is still here of course, and I met him to collect my things from his house), I started feeling the urge to call him up and share the “why we can’t be together” thoughts i have. I guess it is a kind of a reassurance to myself – as if I need to convince myself breaking up was the right thing to do – and we talk a lot about why it did not work out or what we are looking to do differently in the future.

    At the same time, I do realize this is a complete violation of the No Contact rule, and I don’t know if I should consider it progress or regress. I guess doing this gives me some comfort knowing that I have made my best to make my ex understand my reasons for breaking up, and yet, by keeping the conversation going, to think for myself that I am not that BAD to completely kick him out of my life (which I, of course, seem very unwilling to do because he is a wonderful person but I see no future for us in the long run).

    Yet, all of this makes me wonder if I am at all having any progress at all – I do want to put the pieces together and I do reflect on the relationship a lot – but am I doing the talking only to feed my Ego, or to actually help the situation? Also, I seem to want to be friends with him, but I wonder, how could he ever be friends with me after I tell him how I don’t feel anything for him anymore? I mean, how could one be friends with someone who doesn’t care for them?

  17. anonymous July 16, 2010 at 5:24 am #

    I've been through a few break-ups in the past 2.5 years– one was out of an 8 year relationship, a small handful were over two month dating things, and one was out of a 6 month relationship. I would say the hardest was coming out of the 6 month relationship, since we were in the state of honey-mooning, transitioning to getting really serious, and she just abandoned ship, broke up with me over the phone, and seemed to change entirely.

    I'm back on this site after having a hard time letting go of a 2 month thing. Since it wasn't so serious, I'm able to notice some of my patterns in break ups. It's good to be aware but still, doesn't mean I've been able to stop them.

    My dispositions that seem to make me more vulnerable to cyclic obsessing and thinking:
    1. I've always been a worrier and prone to deep/obsessive thinking my whole life
    2. Through these break ups (especially the 6 month one where my ex just “disappeared”). I've realized that I still have major abandonement issues from when my dad passed away when I was 12. In short, he got really ill with emphasema, became mentally ill, left town to stay with his brother, and died there. We never saw him, his body, or had a real funeral. I'm 31 now.

    I have a therapist, but still can't seem to get a way around the “monkey-mind thinking”. I have good and positive moments and bad, like most, but there's a part of my brain that literally panics and needs to make sure the ex is still alive at my worst moments. This is sparked by heavey thinking, dreams, and moments when I can't otherwise distract myself. I KNOW this idea that the person is dead is silly, but I can't seem to quiet it. In my case, thank god for facebook because it's kept me from calling to check in (like i would have years ago) and has given me another way to “check in” when I'm going through this panicked stage. Eventually, I'm able to separate and not care anymore, but it's hard to sit with myself through this period. Sounds crazy writing it, actually! Perhaps I am OCD?

    I am trying my best to get away from the computer and just enjoy life in the present and i know at some point, I will have forgotten him. If anything, I have become easier on myself through all of these heartaches the past few years, which is a big deal.

  18. Anon November 9, 2010 at 3:17 am #

    Probably the biggest mistake I've been making is the way I am CONSTANTLY thinking about my breakup. But the thing is, I feel guilty about this too… which makes me feel even worse. I realized I never really loved my boyfriend, even though I said I did. So really, I'm just missing the idea of being in love, and being in a relationship.
    I didn't even know my boyfriend very well. This is probably due to the fact that we had a long distance relationship…
    So every time I think about about him or the breakup, which is constantly, I know I'm putting him on a pedestal and almost imagining up a new person. I literally have conversations with this person in my head or imagine up random situations. Maybe there'll be something happening in my life, and I'll “tell” him this. In my head. I know. I'm crazy.
    I know I need to stop this. Everytime I have the urge to “tell” him something, I stop and remind myself NOT to “talk” to him. This has helped a lot so far. He's always been fairly disconnected from my real life, naturally, and now I can see that we REALLY are now, and I can get used to it.

  19. Pacocita March 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    I absolutely feel this way! I feel like I am trapped in my thoughts just because if I stop thinking then I put an end to our relationship. I feel that I would sabotage it, if he was only going through a “phase”.
    It definitely feels like I would betray him!

  20. Andy September 23, 2016 at 5:30 am #

    I bookmarked this page and Im reading it every other day. It keeps me going. This website is really great for people during/after divorce. Thank you Eddie.

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