“A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is so much more attractive than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence.”
~ Mandy Hale
First, I think it’s helpful to understand why you do it. Or I should say, why your brain does it.
Obsessing is an activity that the brain engages in. It probably feels to you like you can’t control it, but the brain is actually doing it intentionally.
And here’s why.
Your brain’s main job is survival.
Your brain thinks that you HAVE TO have him in your life to survive.
And your brain also believes that if you think about it enough, you will figure out a way to get him to behave the way you think you need him to behave to survive.
You see, thinking about things and figuring them out has worked well for you in some areas of your life in the past. But the first step in learning how to stop obsessing about him is to recognize that it is not working now and it will not work to get what you want. It will only succeed in making you miserable.
The next step to help you stop obsessing over a man also involves understanding something about how our brains work.
Our brains develop patterns of neural pathways that we use frequently, called neural ruts. The more commonly we experience a certain emotional response, the stronger it becomes.
So, obsessing over him becomes a default response by the brain.
In order to change this, we can’t cut out a neural pathway, we have to build a new one.
At first, the brain wants to default to the behavior that it knows. This is why we have to become mindful and pay attention to our brain and when we notice the obsessing behavior, we need to gently remind ourselves that this strategy no longer works and we must begin to build that new pattern.
The new behavior is to come into the present moment and ground yourself in your body and get out of your head. The best way to do this is with your breath.
But here’s the thing; the brain is very efficient and it wants to do what it knows so it will keep defaulting to the old pattern.
You have to become the brain police and really pay attention because when we are building new neural pathways in our brain, it takes time.
Here is the How To:
Step One is to recognize as soon as you start obsessing and tell your brain:
I know you are trying to help me survive but this is not helping me. I can’t control getting what I want and need from him so I just have to surrender to what is
Step Two is to teach your brain to do something different instead of what has become automatic.
To break the cycle of obsessive thinking, shift your attention out of your thinking mind by focusing on your breath, or feeling your feet on the ground, or using one of your senses to become aware of the present moment. Here is a list of 13 different ways to practice mindfulness.
Notice I said “practice”. Be patient and kind with yourself. It takes time to build those new neural pathways. But it’s worth it. You are worth it.
Ellen Hartson, LISW – www.ellenhartson.com
When it comes to obsessing over a guy, I often ask my clients, “What would you be doing if you were not obsessing?”
Next I ask, “What would you have to feel if you were not obsessing?”
Obsession about someone can be a way to avoid painful feelings.
Obsession can be a pretty awful feeling while also being a distraction. Feelings that are commonly avoided are feelings or grief, rejection, or suffering from a past family dynamic. The obsessing can be a protection from what’s really hurting.
It’s not the quick and painless road but first explore what you’re really afraid to feel.
Facing this can heal many wounds. What we resist will persist (and often repeat itself).
The second tough part is letting yourself feel these tough feelings.
Really feel them. Cry, Scream, Feel low, truly sit in the muck of the tough feeling and let it run through you. I promise you it won’t last forever. This might take a lot of practice and that’s alright. Journal, call a friend, book a therapy appointment.
Lastly, practice radical acceptance.
When there is rejection, grief or other tough feelings associated with a painful situation we have to accept that the painful situation has occurred. Any version of stating that it “shouldn’t be that way” increases the suffering and loop of obsessive thoughts.
Acceptance does not mean you have to like a situation.
Acceptance means you are willing to face and tolerate the situation as it is.
Adrienne Alden, LMFT, PLLC – www.relationshiprestoration.org
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