Why You’re Thinking About Your Ex (And How To Stop)

There’s nothing quite like a breakup to remind us how futile attempts at disciplining our subconscious mind are.

It doesn’t matter whether we’re OK with parting ways. It doesn’t matter whether they were terribly incompatible. It doesn’t even really matter if we were treated horribly.

Despite the wealth of logic and objectivity at our disposal, here we are again, being held at gunpoint by our past. Doesn’t make much sense does it?

And yet it does…

Where’s My Comfort Zone?

The first thing to note here is that the subconscious mind is — well, to put it bluntly — subconscious. It neither agrees nor disagrees with whatever argument we put forth with regards to moving forward.

What the subconscious mind does like, is routine, and the key point here is recognizing that it doesn’t matter whether this habit is patently unhealthy or not, as long as it forms what serves as a personal comfort zone. Any behavior or situation repeated often enough can form the backbone of habit. For instance:

  • We might feel depressed about not having a social life, and then choose to isolate ourselves.
  • We might punish/reward ourselves by over-indulging on food, drugs or whatever else and hate ourselves for it.
  • We might feel bogged down by an unfulfilling and stale day to day routine and not do a thing about it.

The point is, despite knowing that all of these things might be affecting us adversely, we keep doing them. Why? Because change of any kind is hard (again, even if we know that it is detrimental).

The reason why we struggle with breaking our habits (comfort zones) is thanks to our subconscious mind’s dependence on it. It yearns, unknowingly, and often illogically, for the safety that comes with consistency and habit.

Moving on after a breakup is no exception, even if you’re sure that you’re better off without your ex, the trauma of having your previous comfort zone torn apart is enough to trigger your subconscious mind to demand it back.

Moving On Means Moving

If exorcising the ghost of our exs from our present is the goal, the primary objective is attempting to accelerate the development of a new comfort zone. So that our subconscious mind can stop reminding us that our emotional puzzle is still in pieces. Thanks subconscious mind.

Thankfully, developing new comfort zones is easy when your previous one was torn to pieces.

It’s what you’re doing right now, like it or not.

So, since it’s already happening we might as a well quicken the process by repeating things that we like (comfort zone = habit = repetition).

BeingĀ  Honest With Ourselves

Rather than kick ourselves whenever we think about our exs, or telling ourselves we’re weird or weak because we can’t get over it, we’re better off asking ourselves honestly what it is that our memories are telling us.

Is it — as state above — just an illogical byproduct of our fickle sub-conscious minds?

Might be.

Or is there some conscious truth to what we are reliving?

When it comes to processing the past it pays to be ruthlessly objective. And the ruthless truth is that usually, despite the plethora of flaws there might have been, there’s always something to miss.

Perhaps they were assholes but great in bed. Perhaps you found them unattractive but enjoyed their company. Maybe you miss the end-of-day massage. Whatever. Sometimes just realizing that there’s something we’re going to miss out on is enough to bury the ghost.

There’s rarely such as a thing as a total breakup victory despite half the worlds’ Facebook statuses claiming the contrary. There’s always something we are forced to give up.

Even when the bad greatly outweighs the good, we’re still going to miss what was good.

Acceptance is key to moving forward, because that’s all acceptance is: Surrendering. The worst thing we can do is confuse acceptance with happiness. Because then we label every day we aren’t happy as a sign we aren’t moving forward. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy from hell!

Making It Stop

In part, the point I’ve been trying to convey with this article is that we can’t just flip a switch and erase the emotional hiccups. We cannot consciously manipulate our subconscious mind.

For instance; try not to remember what you ex looks like. And there you go remembering what they look like! Attempting to control our thoughts in this way is an exercise in futility.

We’re far better off accepting these hiccups without judgment, thereby making them less painful in the long run, than we are attempting to divorce ourselves from them. Because even if they do occur all the time it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Easier said then done? Absolutely.

The bottom-line is that we must dissociate these fleeting pangs of remembrance from any personal judgment. Thinking about an ex does not put them on a pedestal. It does not make them better for you than somebody else. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, nor does it imply that a mistake was made.

What it means is that you are simply in the process of moving forward, and that while these thoughts may feel like drops in a bucket, it is nevertheless a bucket which is one one drop closer to being full.