Here are some tips for Natural Born Worriers and those who overthink
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Are You Still Haunted By The Ghost Of Your Ex?
With my help you can get over your ex once and for all!
It's rare that people experience a clean break-up, move on and forget their ex. Studies vary but find that 80 to 90 per cent of couples have another "go" before breaking up for good. But what about when your ex has moved on and you simply can’t forget how much you loved them? Unfortunately I meet many who don't realise how the ghost of their ex haunts their new relationships and life generally. This emotional baggage prevents them from moving on.
Why do some get stuck in this trap? Often they've experienced such hurt from the break-up that dwelling on their ex becomes a defence mechanism. It stops them looking for someone new preventing the possibility of getting hurt again. Or they might have an obsessive streak and can’t break the psychological habit of obsessing over what went wrong and wanting to put it right. A third main reason is having to maintain contact with their ex, e.g., because they’ve children. That means the ex is rarely out of their mind and feelings of love constantly resurface.
Take my quick quiz to determine how much influence your ex has over your life.
1/ You’re in a group and someone mentions your ‘ex’, do you –
A/ ignore what they're saying?
B/ it them for more details?
C/ listen but then change the conversation?
2/ Someone says that your ‘ex’ has a new partner, do you -
A/ think "I'm glad my ex is happy"
B/ desperately try to find out about the new partner?
C/ feel a bit curious about what the new partner’s like?
3/ Do you catch yourself going past you ex’s house/office/haunts?
A/ no I wouldn't dream of it
B/ yes I have
C/ I've thought of it but haven't done it
4/ Do thoughts of your ex interrupt your work/life?
A/ no never
B/ Far too often
5/ Have you compared your ‘ex’ to new people in your life?
A/ No because that wouldn't be fair to a new person
B/ I'm always doing this
C/ the odd comparison passes my mind
6/ Have you withheld your number and made silent calls to your ex?
A/ wouldn't dream of it
B/ Yes, I desperately want to hear his voice
C/ I've thought of doing it
7/ Have friends told you to stop talking about your ‘ex’?
A/ I don't talk about my ex
B/ Yes, they've told me that
C/ No, because I don't mention my ex much
8/ Where do you keep photos of your ‘ex’?
A/ I haven't kept them
B/ close at hand
C/ I have them but they're out of sight
9/ Have you kept personal items that belong to your ex?
A/ No, I gave everything that
B/ Yes, I treasure his old shirt/jumper/hankie.
C/ No, but I found it hard to part with some things
Mostly As – Your ex no longer haunts you! Your ex no longer influences your life and you've got good closure. You're ready for dating without the risk of falling into a rebound relationship. Enjoy life without your ex!
Mostly Bs – You’re definitely haunted by your ex! Your ex figures far too prominently in your life.
v First, get to the bottom of why you can’t lay your ghosts to rest. Do you fear moving forward? Do you tend to get obsessive? Try to combat any such feelings.
v Take practical steps to avoid unnecessary contact, e.g., if you work in the same place, until you've healed.
v Write down the things you've learnt about yourself from the broken relationship. You'll be surprised what you come up with. If it's helpful write it like a letter addressed yourself as if you've been observing how the relationship and break-up affected you. Part of moving on is about identifying how we change and grow with experience.
v Time to assess honestly what you would’ve done differently. Taking responsibility for your part in the break-up will help you take responsibility for how you heal.
v Visualisation techniques can be very helpful. Try visualising yourself as a whole person in a protective bubble that can take hold of their life and be in charge. Visualise this image daily as it’ll help stop negative feelings.
v Be realistic and accept that if your ex finished the relationship, they had their reasons and were perhaps at a different point in their life then you are. You may well find yourself in that position one-day where you're not ready to continue a relationship. Getting realistic about their side of things can help you combat the quite natural but overly emotional/highly-charged thoughts and feelings that stop you moving on.
v Get rid of personal reminders like photos, etc. If you can’t face chucking them, box them up and leave them at a friend's till the time you've healed and can look at them with fondness but without weeping!
v Use "thought-stopping" when your ex pops into your mind. Replace such thoughts with a pleasurable image – like Brad Pitt!
v Let friends/family know you’re trying hard to move on and they can help you by not mentioning your ex.
v Switch radio stations if ‘your song’ comes on. Select a new song to symbolise your new life.
v Do avoid your old haunts until you can handle seeing him.
v Seek new friendships rather than rushing into dating.
v A good sign that you're not ready for dating is if you start comparing a new person to your ‘ghost’.
v Challenge yourself with new projects to boost your confidence generally.
Mostly Cs – Beware your ex’s ghost still haunts you! There’s part of you that still can’t move on and you may be affected in unexpected ways. Boost your confidence by enjoying being single, e.g., eating what you want, when you want! Use the advice above where applicable.
Published in The Express Newspaper
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