As a result of the toxic relationship we were in, we were influenced to think illogically and doubt ourselves. We no longer trust our judgment and are experiencing severe anxiety and Cognitive Dissonance. We need to deprogram from our ex and....
Retrain Our Brain
The most important thing to recognize when retraining your brain is that you are currently in a state of major anxiety. It is this anxiety that causes you to remain stuck and unable to focus on anything productive. You must acknowledge that you no longer want to remain in this negative pattern of thinking and will consciously make an effort to break free from it.
Webster defines anxiety as: “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it.”
The key to retraining your brain is the ability to learn how to manage and cope with anxiety. It all comes down again to:
HOW YOU RESPOND
How you RESPOND to anxiety determines your ability to manage it. Everyone experiences anxiety. It is part of the human condition. 70 percent of adults report experiencing it daily and 30 percent report their anxiety levels are constant.
Unfortunately, we are currently in a heightened state of constant anxiety as a result of the emotional abuse we experienced in a toxic relationship. We need to focus on retraining our brain. Heightened and prolonged anxiety can lead to obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks and other phobias.
The key to retraining our brain is to
HOW WE RESPOND
to anxiety in our lives.
“We are born into this world unarmed – our mind is our only weapon.”
~ Ayn Rand
Here is what is happening in your mind when you experience anxiety:
Fear and stress trigger anxiety, which create noise and chaos that your brain cannot resolve. It is this noise that keeps you stuck and spinning in obsessive thought.
The key to stop obsessing is to prevent yourself from responding to the thoughts that cause you to obsess in the first place. You see, obsessive thoughts are a direct result of anxiety. Compulsions are what we do to try to reduce the anxiety….hence…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, responding 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. We must not validate the thoughts.
You can observe the thoughts, but do not judge. Do not try to wish the thoughts away either because it will only cause you to think of them more. Do not fight your thoughts. To do so 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, but don’t fight them off. Instead, simply observe, but don’t judge or respond to them. To ignore them decreases their power.
Please allow me to forewarn you that I am going to be purposively redundant in this upcoming section, but please understand I simply want to be sure you understand the power you have to manage your thoughts.
The key is not to control WHAT you think (that is impossible).
The key is to control how you RESPOND to what you think.
The key to managing all anxiety is learning how to RESPOND to it.
For example, we have an anxiety provoking thought….
We have a CHOICE in how we RESPOND to it…
We judge and analyze the thought, thereby giving it significance, causing our mind to obsess and get stuck there…
We do not judge or analyze the thought, thereby desensitizing ourselves to it and allowing our mind to move on…..
It’s all in how we RESPOND
OBSESSIVE THOUGHT OR ANXIETY OCCURS…
RESPOND BY OBSERVING IT AND NOT JUDGING IT = RELEASE IT & MOVE ON
OBSESSIVE THOUGHT OR ANXIETY OCCURS…
RESPOND BY JUDGING IT AND ANALYZING IT = OBSESS MORE & GET STUCK
By controlling how we respond to our anxiety, we control our ability to manage it. For example, if we respond impulsively by trying to numb the anxiety or avoid it, we only increase the power and hold the thought has over us. However, if we respond with no judgment, we slowly desensitize ourselves to the fear, thereby lessening the control it has over us.
Simply observe the thought and realize that 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. 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 “elephant” in the room. Everyone is going to look, right? Do not fight the thoughts or tell yourself not to think of them. Instead, you simply control how you RESPOND to the thoughts when they occur……because trust me, they will occur.
You cannot prevent yourself from thinking thoughts. You can only control how you respond to your thoughts. That is the fundamental difference in successfully managing anxiety.
Everyone gets unwanted, intrusive thoughts. Yes, everyone. However, those who have not been brainwashed or traumatized do not over-analyze or judge these thoughts the way we do. They let random thoughts roll-off of them. They may just laugh and say, "Ha, what a strange thought" and then move on.
Unfortunately, this has become difficult for us to do because we are experiencing Cognitive Dissonance and possibly PTSD. As a result, we over-analyze and obsess about every little thought that pops into our mind. You must understand this is precisely what the Toxic Personality counts on. If we feel paralyzed to act, confused by our thoughts and doubtful, we will never leave them. This is where they want us….under their control….asking them to clarify what is truth and what is reality.
I am often asked by readers if obsessing about their ex means they belong together. Absolutely not! Thoughts of your ex do not mean you still love them, need them or should be with them. Thoughts of your ex simply mean they have managed to manipulate you to obsess over them and should be further proof that you need to deprogram from them.
You must accept that you will have thoughts in the future about your ex that you'd rather not have. They were a significant part of your life. It is natural to still think of your ex. In fact, it would be unnatural if you never thought of him or her.
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.
You must not fight off thoughts of your ex because they are going to arise. The key is not to judge the thoughts or respond to the thoughts when they do arise.
If you respond to the thoughts in any other way but indifference, you give them power and start the cycle of obsessive ideation.
So the key is not to fight the thoughts. Observe the thoughts. It is how you RESPOND to the thoughts that matter.
Try not to even think of them as your own thoughts but simply "intrusive thoughts" that prevent you from getting in touch with yourself. Looking at them in this way is helpful because the less you identify with the thoughts, the more quickly you can get back to your real self. As mentioned earlier, the obsessive thoughts are just trying to distract you from feeling what you need to feel and doing what you need to do.
We can take back control. We can deprogram and begin to trust our judgment again. The key is not to judge your thoughts. The minute you judge a thought, you give it more power. The important thing to remember is a thought is a thought. That's it. You need not over-analyze it or judge it.
A member of our forum put it very well when she said:
"It's ok to revisit places we have been in our lives (in our minds) but just don't throw out the anchor and stay there."
And you know what the anchor is? You know what causes you to get stuck? When you:
JUDGE OR ANALYZE the thoughts.
The MOMENT you judge or analyze your thoughts is the MOMENT you…..
ANCHOR THEM & GET STUCK.
THE LONGER YOU HOLD THE ANXIETY, THE HEAVIER IT WILL FEEL.
Thoughts are random. They don't define us. We cannot control them. They don't mean anything. There's no hidden or deeper meaning behind crazy thoughts or memories. In fact, some thoughts may even frighten you, but they are nothing more than white noise trying to distract you from having a REAL RELATIONSHIP with YOURSELF.
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.
Practicing this has helped me tremendously. I finally have peace of mind I never thought was possible. 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. I prevent myself from responding to the thoughts in any way that will intensify their strength.
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 experiencing life.