Just about everyone is familiar with that feeling when, often after a breakup, you endlessly relive what happened to you in the past and can’t get certain destructive thoughts out of your head.
We at Bright Side have put together a selection of ideas from professional psychologists that can help you cope with tough experiences. And that includes not just breakups, but any unpleasant memories that you can’t let go of.
1. Talk less and make pauses
When in conversation with someone who can cause you to feel emotional, try to make pauses. You need time to “cool off” and to think about what you’ve said. This way, there’ll be fewer things said that you later regret. And, eventually, your anger and irritation will dissipate.
2. Wait and see what will happen
We often feel the need to react to a situation, to what’s been said, or to a person’s actions immediately. In doing so, we often make rash decisions. Psychologists suggest that it’s much better not to rush, and to give yourself time to think. See what happens next without trying to shape the situation yourself.
3. Stop searching for who’s to blame
Constantly analyzing the past in search of finding blame, including finding ways of blaming yourself, rarely leads to a positive result. It’s usually the case that a whole number of factors lead to the result you’re now experiencing — everything acts like a domino with one thing leading to another. Just accept it: what happened, happened. What matters now is finding a solution.
4. Don’t try to climb into someone else’s head
Ask yourself this: If other people try to make sense of what you think and what your motivations are, will they make the right conclusions? The chances are they won’t have the faintest idea what’s actually going through your head. The same rule applies in relation to other people: there’s a high probability that you yourself will reach the wrong conclusions about them and, in doing so, you just waste your time.
5. Deal with the biggest problem first of all
Irrespective of what happened to you, the biggest problem most of us have to deal with is our anger. This dampens all other emotions and pushes the resolution to your problems out of sight. Try to extinguish your anger with meditation, long walks, or physical exercise. Or indeed any activity that helps you calm down.
6. Develop new skills, and play sport
When your brain switches over to studying something new, the number of unwelcome thoughts in your head are gradually reduced to zero. Every time we assimilate a new process into our ideas and experiences, we concentrate on it to such an extent that we think a whole lot less. The same rule applies when we engage in physical exertion.
7. Write down all your negativity on paper, and then destroy it
Research has shown that expounding all of our unhappy thoughts on paper and then destroying it can help us to reduce the level of stress and tension we feel as a result of such thoughts. The process of writing things down also allows you to better understand your own feelings compared to just listing them in your mind.
8. Remember that your thoughts are not facts
Reality and the thoughts in your head are not the same thing. Our emotions have a physical effect on us in the form of stress, worry, tension, and fear, which we feel all over our bodies. This leads us to interpret thoughts as facts. But think about it objectively and you’ll realize this simply isn’t the case — they’re two separate things.
9. Work out what this experience can teach you and how it can help you in future
Think about what lessons your previous relationship taught you, and try to see it as invaluable experience for the future. If you can make sense of what this relationship meant, then it’ll be easier to place a full stop after it. Every failure is a chance to correct things and make sure you develop as a person in a positive way in future.
10. Don’t live through the past over and over again
When we think about the past, we often imagine what we could have said or done differently to avoid the bad things that happened. But this is no different from trying to change what happened a thousand years ago — it’s impossible.
11. Don’t simply block out what you’d rather forget
Behave differently: fill your mind with alternative thoughts. Psychologists argue that powerful positive ideas can help you get off the endless track of negative thoughts. Imagine yourself doing something new and exciting or actually plan something fun for the coming days.
12. Remind yourself of who you were before this relationship happened
When we think of our past selves, we often sigh with regret. Perhaps about who we remember ourselves to be before we got mixed up in this relationship that’s now over and that brought us so much pain. But we don’t have to see that person as a stranger who we can never be again. By remembering yourself as you were, you give yourself the chance to become that person again.