We all want to stop thinking about him, right? We want to stop obsessing, but we don't know how. We cannot erase the Narcissist from our brain. It is not possible. However, we can retrain our brain.
You will have thoughts in the future about your ex that you'd rather not have. You cannot control thoughts that come to mind. Memory is memory. Once created, it cannot be erased.
However, the good news is you CAN control HOW you will respond to the thoughts that pop into your head and that is the key to reducing your obsessive thoughts.
Everyone gets unwanted, intrusive thoughts. Yes, everyone! The difference is people who have not been brainwashed or suffer from OCD do not over-analyze these thoughts or judge these thoughts. They let them roll-off of them. Many just laugh and say, "Ha, what a strange thought" and then move on.
Unfortunately, we don't do that because we are stuck in Cognitive Dissonance and over-analyze and obsess about every little thought. The key is not to judge our thoughts or give them any weight. The minute you judge a thought, you give it more power.
Smart people are extremely creative and imaginative. As we've been talking about in another thread, I believe that we are all very intelligent people. Therefore, all kinds of thoughts and images will pop into our creative minds. The important thing to remember is a thought is a thought. That's it. You need not over-analyze it or judge it.
Exposure Response Prevention is what we will do in Step 5 of our program when we face our fears and find our outlet. We will expose ourselves to our fears, but then prevent ourselves from responding in our typical compulsive way.
You see, Obsessive thoughts are a result of anxiety and Compulsions are what we do to try to reduce the anxiety. i.e. Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior.
Unfortunately, we think engaging in a compulsive behavior will lessen the anxiety, and it might initially, but it is only temporary. In fact, it only increases the anxiety in the long run. Why? Because responding to the anxiety or obsessive thought in any way, shape or form only intensifies it. It validates it. Do not validate the thoughts.
You can observe the thoughts, but do not judge. Do not try to wish the thoughts away because, believe me, that will only make you think of them more. Do not fight your thoughts. To do so creates major Cognitive Dissonance, which only creates more obsessive thought. Allow your thoughts to happen, but do not validate or judge them in any way. Laugh at the thoughts, dismiss them, talk back to them as if they are an unwanted intruder in your mind.
You must realize that these thoughts do not define you and are not a part of you. They are simply thoughts. Look at the obsessive thoughts as a separate entity and you will be able to distance yourself from them, believe me. I call my obsessive thought patterns "The Tormentor" and I talk back to "The Tormentor" when it tries to engage me. No joke.
Oh, and engage me it tries, quite often. I have learned that this is ok. The thoughts will always come. We have no control over that. Do not fight that. If you fight that, you're only setting yourself up for failure. It's like telling people not to look at the white elephant in the room. Everyone is going to look, right? Instead, you do not fight the thoughts or tell yourself not to think of him. You simply control how you respond to the thoughts when they do occur.
We will always have intrusive, unwanted thoughts. Everyone does! The good news is that we have a choice in how we want to respond to these thoughts.
Life is not about what happens to us, it's about how we respond to what happens to us. For me, the key is this:
I will always have intrusive, unwanted thoughts. I cannot control this. However, I can choose whether I want to engage with the thoughts and give them power or see them for what they really are - white noise that tries to distract me from living in the moment.
The key to recovery is understanding that you CAN control HOW you will respond to your thoughts. And that is what makes all the difference in the world for your sanity. By engaging with the thoughts, you only increase the power of the anxiety and fear you are trying to avoid. Tell it to fu*k off and dismiss it. It may sound silly, but trust me, it works.
Practicing this (aka Exposure Response Prevention) has helped me tremendously. I finally have peace of mind I never thought was possible. Again, the thoughts still come, but by choosing HOW I will respond to these thoughts, I have reduced the power and the hold they have over me.
They are only thoughts after all. Thoughts cannot hurt me, but how I respond to my thoughts can hurt me. Being paralyzed with anxiety over thoughts is no way to live life. It prohibits us from enjoying the moment and living life to its fullest.