Five Ways To Combat Post-Breakup Obsession
by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.
What Is Obsession?
Obsession is typically defined as recurrent, intrusive thoughts. It’s ruminating about situations that you can’t really do anything about. It’s turning things over and over in your mind searching for answers where there are none.
These ruminations are useless and unhelpful.
The Necessary Review of Grief
Obsession is not the same as reviewing your relationship in an effort to be done with it once and for all. The human mind is naturally equipped to grieve a loss and heal if you allow it to happen.
Part of the normal and natural grief process is what is called Review and Relinquishment. This is explained, in depth, in the MLT Grief Podcasts [Mean Lady Talking Podcasts 36 a/b/c (listen to it HERE) or click the button below with all the episodes]. The MOVIE in our head is the natural process called Review and Relinquishment.
To heal our post-breakup grief, our mind wants to figure out what the new world is and what happened to the old one. It’s how the human psyche works. Listen to the Grief Podcasts to understand what, exactly, is going on in your head. Intellectual understanding of what is happening in your head will make it a whole lot easier to tolerate. Review and relinquishment is just the movie in your head about the relationship – lots of scenes float by and most of them are very painful. It’s also about dreaming about your ex.
Getting Past Your Breakup is the most successful breakup program due to its structured exercises and its emphasis on working out the bad and working in the good. Working out the bad happens through the many unique-to-GPYB inventories. The first one you do in this program is the Relationship Inventory.
Eventually – when we are a bit beyond our grief – we start to think about the relationship in a more objective way. To do that we need to do the RELATIONSHIP INVENTORY and see who owns what and to become responsible for OUR PART IN IT.
You need to be fairly stable to do the RI (if you want to know the order as to HOW to use the books and the workbook to do the work, GO HERE).
Don’t rush to it. Read the guide to the order of the work and give yourself the time and space to heal for a while before you do the RI. Although the RI is the secret to why GPYB is so successful and how healing it is, you can’t do it right away. There is other work to do first and the other work will set you up nicely to do the RI successfully.
The review necessary in grief happens first as a crazy, out-of-control, movie that goes round in your head and later as a more controlled, objective review via the Relationship Inventory in Getting Past Your Breakup (GPYB). But neither of these things are OBSESSION.
The Unnecessary Review: Obsession
Obsession is endless thinking about unhelpful things. It is asking questions that have no answers or the answers don’t matter. It’s fantasizing about the conversation you would have with the ex and thinking it would turn out “well.” It’s being absorbed with someone who wouldn’t give you the time of day if you were bleeding in the street. It’s fooling ourselves that if we had these conversations, we would have “closure.” But as it says in the book and in the closure video, closure must come from inside you.
Obsession is thinking that goes round and round and round. It’s getting lost in “thought streams” such as “if only” or “why didn’t” or “maybe if I did this” or “perhaps this is the truth” or some other continually useless mental scenario that keeps you stuck.
Obsession is thinking and re-thinking for no useful purpose. It’s asking questions over and over…often the same questions over and over…where there either are no answers or the answers don’t matter.
So when you are thinking back on your relationship, are you reviewing in a healthy way to let it go? Or are you obsessing? If you’re obsessing, you need to stop as it’s a hellish, useless waste of time and energy.
Getting out of obsession takes discipline and decision. Use the following to get out of obsession hell.
5 Things To Help With Post-Breakup Obsession
1. DECISIONS You have to decide that you are going to stop thinking about it. You need to use the STOP technique or the rubber band technique as defined in GPYB. You need to write about what you need to write about and be done with it.
2. HOBBIES, INTERESTS, FRIENDS You need to spend your time thinking about building your life: hobbies, interests and friends.
Hobbies: When I was obsessing and it would make me anxious, I would color mandalas while listening to classical music.
I would suggest that if you can find a hobby to do something with your hands (go to a hobby store and just walk around – you will find something to do), bring it home and do it while listening to books on audio….NOT self-help books – you want to listen to something that will take your mind OFF the relationship. Listen to fiction or listen to non-fiction that talks about very concrete things – history, travel, finance…there are MANY things you can listen to while keeping your hands busy.
Explore other hobbies – more active ones and get out and DO THINGS.
Interests: Find new things to be interested in. Go to Meetups. Research new things. Work on the Goals section of the Workbook – make a brand new set of goals in the areas suggested by the workbook and start working on how you’re going to get there.
Friends: Go out with old friends. Find new ones.
3. AFFIRMATIONS and POSITIVE SELF-TALK When you start to go down the rabbit hole of doom, you have to take control of your thoughts and break them. You have to say “STOP” and follow up with your affirmations and positive self-talk.
To truly move forward, you need to be focused on YOU. There is a certain amount of looking at what this other person DID but the important thing is not to see it as what they DID, but what you ALLOWED.
GPYB is the most successful breakup program in the world. At the core is that this work is about YOU – not about the other person. It’s about YOU getting well. Go to the Power! Affirmations Booklet or the GPYP Workbook and write Acceptance Statements and Even Though Statements. (The chapter in the Power! Affirmations Booklet is Chapter 4: Developing a Positive Outlook). The positivity techniques and the Acceptance/Even Though Statements are incredibly powerful tools to get you through obsession.
4. Journal about YOU instead of IT or YOUR EX
A continuation of 3. As recommended in GPYB, you should be journaling every day. As you journal, stop dwelling on what was done TO YOU and understand that you need to figure out what it is in you that put you in that position to be treated that way.
Something IN YOU is broken. What is it? Find out and fix it. Stop dwelling on them and what they did.
Journal about what you allowed, how long you allowed it, what red flags you ignored and how you should have gotten out sooner. As you go through GPYB and later GBOT, you will do inventories- relationship inventories, life inventories and the Standards and Compatibility Inventory. Use this time NOW to lay the groundwork for doing them later on.
Journal about what you want in future relationships that you did not have in this one. Work on YOU and how to fix YOU. If you need to read other books, Codependent No More, Women Who Love Too Much or other books and authors Recommended by GPYB (there are a lot of books on this page, so it takes a while to load), read them.
As you journal and read GPYB, GBOT and the other recommended books and listen to the Mean Lady Talking podcasts, and the GPYB videos (the GPYB video channel is HERE) figure out what is wrong with YOU and what other things need to be FIXED. Focus your journals on that.
The GPYP Workbook includes Journaling exercises which give you topics to write about other than you, the relationship and your ex. Use those journaling ideas to find other things to think about and write about. Direct your mind to someplace new.
5. Stay in TODAY. The other way we obsess is to think about what we did wrong and what we could have done right and WILL do right if only given a second chance. There is a saying that if you have one foot in the past and one in the future, you’re peeing all over today.
And when you think about what you did and what you can do if given a second chance, that is EXACTLY what you are doing: giving up your today for a yesterday you can’t change and a tomorrow that might never come.
Put your head where your feet are: IN YOUR OWN LIFE. Use all the recommendations in the Power! Affirmations Booklet Positive Thinking chapter to attack your thinking processes. Obsession is about negative thinking – and the Power! Affirmations Booklet turns that thinking around.
We need to do the hard, tough work in GPYB to get past our breakup, heal our hearts and build our life. We need to be bringing in the good stuff and building a worthwhile life.
If you’re just ruminating over the past and not building something solid in your life, you’re suffering for no good reason. GPYB is about working out the bad and working in the good. Obsession is just running in place…it’s exhausting and you’re not getting anywhere. Employ these methods to stop obsessing and start moving forward.
Stop obsessing about the ex. Stop ruminating. Start working the bad stuff out WHILE working the good stuff in. Get off the dime and into your own life.
You can do this.