Recently I was talking with someone who was like a broken woman consumed with thoughts of her ex morning, noon, and night. “How am I supposed to stay NC if I can’t stop thinking about him all the time? I’m never going to be able to move on!” That’s when I thought “Woah! Hold up a second here – who said anything about NC being about forcing yourself to never have a thought about the person ever again?”
No Contact is initially about not making or accepting contact, but it also provides the space to not only grieve the loss of the relationship, but to focus your energy elsewhere and begin rebuilding your life. What it isn’t, is cutting contact and then sitting around trying to not have anymore thoughts about them.
Experience has taught me that the more you try not to think about something, is the more likely you are to, and then you’ll stress yourself further about the fact that you are in fact thinking about it and what you think thinking about it means, and then often react off the back of it. Exhausting!
Back in October 2010, when I was told to cut out wheat in an effort to reduce tinnitus and vertigo, after initially thinking it was going to be fine and then discovering that wheat is in many things, I went on a serious moan-a-thon. In an effort to remain focused on what I thought was the task at hand – not eating wheat – I attempted to put wheat out of my mind, only for it to turn up in my dreams dressed as the likes of eclairs, hot buttery toast, and my puff pastry covered beef pies. I seemed consumed by thoughts of wheat and what I was feeling were the inconveniences.
After a while, mostly because I was wearing down my own last nerve and probably those of the boyf, I began putting effort into finding alternatives, discovering places to eat with varied menus, and making myself food that I enjoy. As I’d felt the health benefits after a week (seriously), tempting as it was to, for example, snaffle down a mince pie, I accepted that uncomfortable as it had been, overall I felt happier and better.
I’ve seen this replicated in so many aspects of life – change doesn’t come without change which means discomfort, but the change feels positive when you don’t just sit around complaining about the inconveniences of the change or trying to force yourself never to think about whatever it is that you’re changing from and/or having to leave behind or put on hold.
If you’ve had hopes, dreams, aspirations, and experiences good and bad with someone, it’s a bit tricky just to cut them out of your thoughts. It’s also part of the grieving and healing process to feel your feelings and process your thoughts so that you can draw conclusions, accept and move on.
Yes I had to avoid wheat, but I was making my life about avoiding wheat instead of focusing on improving my health. Equally, I found that I made great strides in being happy when I stopped making my life about maintaining NC and instead made it about having a better life…while keeping my ex at bay.
To go to the trouble of devoting your energies and attention to not thinking about someone and then obsessing about the fact that you’re thinking about them, is actually just another convoluted way of giving them more attention and remaining invested.
If you think about not thinking about them, you’ll think about them and if you persist at it, you’ll eventually ‘break’ and make contact. Same goes for anything else – you’ll either slow your progress by being resistant to it, or you’ll backtrack/fall off the wagon.
This doesn’t mean you should go “OK I’ll think about them all the time” but it is about helping yourself by doing 3 things that will make your life a hell of a lot easier and over time reduce the amount of time spent thinking about them (or something) and eventually replace these thoughts:
1) Accept that you will think about them but don’t make a mountain out of molehill. For many people, thinking about someone equals ‘I love them’; ‘We should get back together’;’It was a bad decision’. Initially, you’re bound to think about them a lot – it’s like ripping off a plaster (Band Aid) – but it’s important to remember that you’re processing a situation. There are many things that you think about – you don’t attach a call to action on all of them. As time passes, the thoughts will pop in but it doesn’t even have to mean that you’re not over them – they’re just thoughts and just memories and as your life builds up and moves away from them, these thoughts shrink and don’t carry the same weight.
2) But do have some self-control. If a thought pops into your head, for all you know, it’s just your unconscious processing away and throwing something out. What it doesn’t mean is that you should ‘make that call’ or ‘send that text’ or load another gazillion thoughts on top. If you spend hours or all day thinking about someone, that’s not one thought – it’s a sequence of thoughts. Unless you’re living in on another planet, even after a few minutes, you should become aware of the passage of time. Whether you recognise that you’re going off on a thinking track after one or twenty thoughts, pull yourself back to reality instead of saying “Ah shag it! I’ve had a thought or few about them – let me just write off today!”
Refocus your thoughts in reality – What can you do? Who can you talk to? What positives can you say to yourself to affirm the decisions and actions you’re undertaking? Isn’t there some work you should be doing? Things to be enjoying? I know quite a few readers who set a time limit when the thought pops in and then it’s ‘ding ding ding’, back to life. Initially you’ll use up all the time – 10 minutes is good – but the habit will actually have you reluctant to be a slave to your thoughts. It’s about being conscious.
3) If you have thoughts but you’re still active in the conscious, life will happen to gradually replace them. The more you ‘occupy’ your own life, as in living it, the more things that your mind has to spread itself across.
If you have a suddenly flurry of thoughts after feeling that you’re doing better, don’t panic – on a subconscious level, you’re actually moving towards acceptance. Maybe you’re enjoying yourself or have realised that a week or so has gone by without really thinking of them – it’s panic about rolling with it and letting go, so as if to make up for it, you go on thinking overload. It would be better to focus on returning to what you were being and doing before the panic arrived.
You don’t have to erase your ex from your mind but you also don’t have to give those thoughts so much power or airtime. You can think about them, you just don’t need to spend all day, all week, or all month on it – break things up a little…or a lot. These thoughts don’t own you – you own you – and you will find when you put plenty of positive action into your life, that the thoughts begin to follow that path instead.
Your thoughts? (hehe)
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