Are you a victim of obsessive thinking after the break-up of a relationship? Recovery is on its way because the first step is the desire to be free!
Obsessive thinking is repeatedly falling into a pattern of thought that creates feelings of anxiety, depression and despair. It would be great if the obsessive thoughts were positive and life affirming but usually they're not, particularly after the break-up of a relationship. What causes it? What can you do about it?
Science suggests a couple of reasons for obsessive thinking: 1) seratonin
levels as a possible cause for obsessive compulsive disorder; and 2) the Hebbian theory
- neurons that fire together wire together. Neuronets of thought form in the brain and thoughts will take the path of list resistance - the rut of obsessive thinking.
I think also that we can become dependent on stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine that are released with negative thoughts. It's like being addicted to our bodies' own internal drug store.
The best way to describe obsessive thinking is like an addiction. You have a thought, the thought takes a thought, and before you know it you're emotionally intoxicated. Some times the slightest reminder of the relationship can trigger the phenomenon of craving for the other person much like an alcoholic's craving for alcohol. As much as you want to feel better, the craving wins and you start obsessively thinking again. You feel powerless to stop them.
The first three method below are adapted from 12 Step recovery programs.
- Admit your powerlessness over the other person, the relationship, obsessive thinking and that your obsession is hurting your life.
- Ask to be restore to sanity. It doesn't matter if you believe in God, g.o.d - good orderly direction, Source Energy, or the Higgs Boson. It's the connection that comes with asking that's important.
- Turn over your will for your life, the other person, and the relationship to that same Higher Power.*
- Find a support person or group who has the solution.
- Cognitive therapy exercises to get your mind in the present moment. i.e., "There's a blue car in front of me. A road sign that says 35 mph. A green tree . . . ."
- EFT - Emotional Freedom Technique, an energy psychology method that releases negative emotion that's stored in the body's energy system.
I like to laugh now and say, "If it's not worth obsessing about, it's not worth thinking about!" That's years after practicing all of the solutions outlined above and finally finding some relief from my own obsessive thinking.
The break-up of a seven year relationship caused me to be in the deepest pain that I had ever felt. Every day was filled with wasted hours of reliving past events with my partner, fearing future events, having conversations with him in my mind - I was miserable! After practicing the first five methods* outlined above a break came.
It was summer time. I had just parked my car and was walking down the sidewalk. I was wearing a black and white sheath dress from The Limited. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and my mind was clear, free from obsession. At that moment I thought, "Is this all I get? He gets to have a new girlfriend, a . . . . " That thought took a thought and my thinking was once again obsessed with him. The emotional pain returned immediately. That brief moment of freedom was serenity but it was so foreign to me that once again I defaulted to pain. Who would think that peace of mind could feel so boring?
Through the years I've created a number of relationships or situations about which to obsess; however, I now have the tools to return cope and restore my peace of mind.
You Can’t Stop Thinking
You can’t not think. See, Don't Think About the Problem
. What you can do is turn your thoughts to something that feels better. That simple action begins breaking the neuronet of obsessive thinking about the relationship and can build new networks of thought. Where can you turn you attention that feels better? A funny movie? Happy music? Gardening? Taking a walk in the sunshine? Dinner with friends? Exercise? Taking a class? What other methods do you use to break the cycle of obsessive thinking?
What other methods do you use to break the cycle of obsessive thinking?
* EFT was added to my repertoire of tools two or three years ago.
Photo by lorda on flickr.com
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