Still thinking about that ex after six months?;
Or about that guy you had a ‘crush on’ but waited too long, ‘I should of said something!’; Or how can I trust again after my last bad relationship/s?
How do we deal with the memories that haunt us, taunt us and make us question ourselves; what is wrong with me? Humans have, and always will be, emotional beings. Everything we do in life is defined by how we feel about ourselves and the outside world. Sometimes that’s a positive, sometimes a negative. We can laugh at jokes told hours before, smile about the things we love when they aren’t around OR even hold onto grudges for a lifetime over one poorly chosen and ill-willed sentence.
The why is simple; we have evolved to learn from our experiences by attaching emotional connections to reinforce the ‘desired’ lesson. Just as every day you spend with a lover increases your connection; so too can time apart strengthen a negative attachment. In simplest terms when spoken to our children, ‘Do not touch the stove or you will get burned.’ Yet for all our good intentions; we all know that curiosity and the inevitable painful consequences will be learned. In this case, after many scream filled tears, the lesson that you should never touch a stove will last that child’s lifetime.
So Tim, How do we move on? Well… My first answer is always the question, ‘why do you want to move on?’
Every time you reflect on an old flame, memory or experience; that is your brain reminding you of potential consequences of lessons learned, positive and negative. It’s that simple. Remember, our brains, or more so, our subconscious is not the enemy. It isn’t trying to confuse, trick or manipulate us just for the sake of it. It is simply answering the question based on the information you have given it. This is you…
You: I’m bored and not fully focused on this task, please bring up a selection of thoughts based on emotional importance to reinforce existing learning.
Brainoogle: Are you sure about that?
You: Not really but let’s roll the dice; C’mon happy thoughts….
Brainoogle: Let’s see… searching… Current stimulus = At Work ADD Most frequent thought cross referenced with emotional potency REMOVE results older than one year…
Brainoogle: Here is a vivid memory of the time you caught your boyfriend cheating on you with your co-worker. QUE Chemical release attached emotion – Anger leading to heart wrenching sadness.
You: Where is that BI*CH! I’ll kill her! She ruined my life! I have nothing left! I’m useless!
Brainoogle: RELEASE TEARS… and my job is done for the next 30 minutes… time for my smoke break.
Like and share if you can relate.. But joke aside, it is important to understand that although you can’t always control what you think, you CAN CONTROL how you interpret these thoughts. Using cognitive restructuring YOU are able to reprogram these conditioned responses BUT it takes time and continued effort. You cannot just break the memory/emotion neurological process over night. The more we think about any one topic, the stronger the bond gets. It’s that simple. The reason you can’t move on, is because you keep thinking about how you can’t move on. The stimuli is only relevant so long as you keep reinforcing that emotional bond.
So here is the answer; and I know It’s not as easy as just switching off the thought. You can’t just stop thinking about it, that’s impossible. Every where you go, you will be reminded of the connection, it’s inevitable. This is your brain actively learning and improving. A very necessary function to human life… Example, you see a movie; ‘this is where we used to date’ ect ect. Excluding serious brain trauma/concussion, you can’t just erase memories.
So what do we do; this all leads back to my first question… See what I did there… *wink*
Until you have decided what you truly want, and you yourself believe it, you will never be able to ‘let go’. In many cases, people can get back together, and they can live happily ever after, and sometimes people learn to forgive and have meaningful friendships, and so on. OR you may decide that
YOU WILL NEVER LET THIS HAPPEN AGAIN!!!
Decide on a goal, weighing up the pro’s and con’s, and decide once and for all what you want, then try your best to achieve it and with success or failure you will have closure. Anything else is only reinforcing unhealthy mind sets.
You need to change the emotional attachment through sheer unwavering repetition. Every time you have that thought/memory, you need to remind yourself that the future is better than the past. You will be happier in the future! You may not be ‘happy’ now, but you know you are working to make a better future. You need to re-wire any thought you had, and reconstruct it with a positive outlook. Thinking about your ex? ‘you’re better off without them’. REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT.
There is no easy fix, and your brain is trying to help you avoid the same mistakes. The amazing thing is; after you have deconstructed and remade that memory chain, these very same thoughts you’re having now, will actually bring you joy in the future. When you start the next amazing connection, it will only add to the richness and vigor of those memories and create a happier, better you.