These six tips on how to stop thinking about your ex will help you overcome obsessive thoughts, and move on with your life. Stop ruminating on the past, and start thinking about your future.
How to Break Your Addiction to a Person by Howard Halpern is the book I recommend on how to stop thinking about your ex. Obsessive thoughts about your ex can be a normal part of breaking up. But if those thoughts are overpowering or overwhelming, then you need to find a way to overcome them.
The most important thing to remember is that learning how to stop thinking about your ex is a habit that you CAN break. It takes energy and dedication at first, but you can stop the obsessive thoughts about the person you broke up with. Another important thing to remember when you’re trying to stop thinking about the breakup is that you’re not alone – other people have broken their addictions to their ex’s, and so can you.
Here’s what one guy says about his ex-girlfriend: “I still seem to be obsessing about my ex. She crowds into my thoughts a dozen times a day. I’m trying my best to forget about her, but, despite what I’ve read and the advice I’ve gotten, I CAN’T GET HER OUT OF MY HEAD! I feel like I’m going through my days as half a person, with nothing ahead of me but regrets about what might have been….how do I stop my thoughts?” ~ from my article on letting go of someone you love.
6 Tips on How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex
Different people will find different ways to stop thinking about an ex, and the only way to learn what works for you is to try something you think might work. If a couple of weeks go by and you’re still obsessing, then try another technique. Eventually, you’ll find what works for you.
Use the dog-and-vomit analogy (it’s gross, but it works!). It sounds gross, but hang in with me here! I recently read There Is a Season by Patrick Lane, about his journey through addiction and recovery. He said thinking about sad things in the past is like a dog returning to his own vomit. I love this analogy, and use it when I start berating myself for something I regret doing.
Instead of raking myself over the coals, I tell myself that I’m not a dog and I refuse to go back to my own vomit…and I then think “Eeewwww…” and I move on! This is a very practical, effective way to stop obsessive thoughts about an ex.
Another great book on how to stop thinking about your ex is Obsessive Love: When It Hurts Too Much to Let Go by Dr Susan Forward. Here’s what one reader says about this book on how to stop thinking about your ex: “Susan Forward explains the difference between love — and obsession is very different than love! The book is written in a nonjudgmental way, and her compassion comes through on every page. This allows readers to take the first painful step: admitting that we’re obsessing about the breakup.”
Use the rubber band technique. In psychology, a popular technique for overcoming obsessive thinking is to wear a rubber band around your wrist. When those obsessive thoughts come up, snap the band and replace your obsessive thought of your ex with a different thought (which you planned in advance).
Your replacement thought should be something that makes you feel good, and can range from “Which three pairs of shorts should I take on my Mexican vacation?” to “Wow, I did an awesome job on that work project! I really nailed it.” Learning that you can control your thoughts is a valuable tip on how to stop thinking about your ex.
Overcoming the urge to obsess about your ex is difficult – but not impossible! Here are six ways to stop thinking about your ex all the time.
Incorporate two new activities into your life. Plan a trip to Mexico. Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Be a Big Brother. Take a sushi making class. Join a snowshoeing or hiking club. Take Zumba dance lessons. Find a new place to live. It doesn’t matter what the new activities are, really…what matters is that you find new, interesting things to do with your life. Then, when you start obsessing about your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend, you can practice replacing the obsession with something new and interesting.
Facing Love Addiction: Giving Yourself the Power to Change the Way You Love by Pia Mellody, Andrea Wells Miller, and J. Keith Miller is a helpful book that describe how to let go of toxic love. If you can’t stop thinking about your ex, you need to learn about the intricate dynamics of unhealthy love relationships.
If reading a book on how to stop thinking about your ex seems overwhelming, look at How to Get Over a Bad Breakup.
Schedule a time to obsess, and a time to get on with your life. If you can’t bear the thought of not thinking about the relationship breakup, then set a specific time to let your obsessive thoughts about your ex run wild. I’d suggest 15 minutes at the beginning or end of the day – and maybe a 15 minute stint at lunch, too (if you’re really dedicated). When the obsession intrudes at the wrong time (in the middle of a work meeting, for instance), then remind yourself that you get to obsess all you want in your “obsession time.”
During your obsession time, you must sit and do nothing but think, wail, cry, and obsess about your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend. After a few days of this, you’ll find it boring to sit and do nothing but think about your ex.
Stop trying to overcome your obsession with your ex
Have you heard the “elephant in the corner” analogy? When you attempt to force yourself not to think about the elephant in the corner (or ice cream if you’re on a diet), then of course that’s all you can think about. Instead of focusing on the fact that you’re obsessed with love, just flow with your thoughts. Don’t try to stop them. Instead, accept the thought – and then replace it with one of the ways I’ve suggested above.
It takes determination and self-control to control the direction your thoughts take. But, ultimately, you do have control. You just need to find the willpower – and the right technique – for overcoming obsessive love.
Are you obsessive about your ex-cessive? Read 5 Reasons It’s So Hard to Get Over a Breakup.
If you want to share your thoughts on how to stop thinking about your ex, I welcome you below. Sometimes writing can change your perspective and bring healing.
My prayer for everyone who is stuck in a past relationship is that we increase our faith and trust in God. He cares about the teeniest details in our lives, and He wants good things for us. This breakup happened for a reason, and there is no reason to stay stuck in the past.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.