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Forgetting Your Ex

Updated on August 9, 2012
Learning to forget requires effort.
Learning to forget requires effort.

Forgetting your ex requires effort. The amount of time and action necessary to forget them depends on the intensity of the relationship and the effort that you put into forgetting.

In forgetting your ex, it helps when you understand how memories are formed. Each interaction you had with your ex created new mental and emotional connections. Your mind was rewired by your experiences with them. Once these connections are made, they remain in place. The connections you made can not be undone. Although the connections can not be undone, the power those connections have can be diminished or overpowered. In diminishing the connections, a good place for you to start is removing triggers. Triggers include anything that reminds you of your ex. It may be photographs, songs, parts of town, gifts they gave you or places the two of you went. When you surround yourself with triggers, you are engaging in self-defeating behavior. Forgetting becomes an exercise in futility. The triggers activate the connections that you formed. In some cases, merely removing the triggers is not enough. You may need to not only remove the triggers, but also replace them with something different.

Changing your connections also means that you will need to make changes. If you carry on life the same way you did when your ex was a part of your life, the feelings will return. Making changes may include changing the way you dress, where you go to relax, where you go to eat, and what you spend your leisure time doing. You may also need to change the friends and people you associate with, depending on whether or not they trigger memories of your ex.

In overcoming your ex, you will need to accept that it takes time. The feelings will be more intense shortly after the relationship ends. In time, these sensations will diminish. There may be times that the feelings fire up again. These sensations may be triggered by anniversary reactions. Having such reactions is common in overcoming your ex.

Besides external changes, you will need to make internal changes as well. These internal changes include letting go of the expectations and fantasies about your ex. When these internal changes are not made, you may find yourself feeling torn. Part of you will be wanting to re-connect and part of you wanting separation. This feeling of being torn will have your mind going in two directions. Since your mind it programmed to solve problems, having it going in two opposite directions often brings a sense of confusion.

Your enemy in overcoming your ex will be unstructured free time. If you have a lifestyle or job that allows for large amounts of unstructured free time, you will need a way to deal with that. Filling unstructured time can be done with activities. It will be important for those activities to be of an active nature, rather than passive. With passive activities, your mind will tend to wander. By engaging in ‘active’ tasks, you will occupy your body and your mind. When you just have physical activity without mental activity, you may be setting yourself up for remembering your ex.

Overcoming your ex also means that you need to let go of the old you. Along with your ex no longer being a part of your life, the old you will need to be let go of as well. Continuing with your same outlook and behaviors often leads to old patterns returning. The way to keep the likelihood of those patterns returning is to change yourself as well. In making changes, you will need to be alert to the relationships with people that remind you of your ex.

Starting up relationships with people that remind you of your ex can trigger memories of them all over again. You may find yourself still attracted to others that remind you of your spouse on an unconscious level. The best way to minimize this is to associate with people that are unlike your ex.

Some people resort to chemical forgetfulness. By ingesting drugs and alcohol, your memory often grows fuzzy. Such techniques often bring fast results, yet the results they bring are not long term. The memory of your ex is still there, the only difference is that the chemicals ingested are changing your reaction to the memories. Using chemicals also brings the risk of other portions of your thinking being affected as well. You may end up forgetting more than you intended to. Some pharmaceutical companies are researching substances that block out unpleasant memories. In the future there may be some items available of this nature that do not have all the unpleasant side effects.

Traumas and intense experiences often create new associations that completely over-ride previous ones. I do not recommend that you experience a trauma. You may want to consider doing some new activities that you have never tried before. When you do something new, those initial experiences are intense and strong. The use of intense experiences to cover over old recollections offers some hope. In terms of intense experiences, activities like scuba diving, bungee jumping, zip lining, or other extreme sports can provide intense stimulation you need.

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