In my previous post I explained a little about how the mind and memories work, but did not get a chance to explain a little more about how to forget your ex wife. To be more explicit though, how to stop those painful ex-wife memories from hindering your post divorce recovery effort! This is because memories are never really forgotten, but the intensity of those memories, and the ease of them coming back to you when you feel vulnerable can be countered to give you more peace in your life and avoid mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
I like to break how to forget your ex wife (or any painful or disturbing memories for that matter) into three parts:
1. Lowering Intensity:
The more intense these memories are the more you will suffer thinking about them. Lowering the intensity of a memory is possible and means that when you do recall things, this memory and the way it makes you feel be it a sickness in the stomach, blinding rage, or any other emotions, will also be blunted. This is very helpful in your divorce recovery time. One way to do this is to employ visualisation techniques on these memories to lessen their effect. For example:
- Imagining your bad memories of your ex wife as a layer of dirty on your body. While they are on it feels disgusting of course as you can feel them creeping on your skin, smothering you. I bet that is how you feel sometimes right? Easy to imagine in your minds eye. Now imagine that you’re are stepping into a hot shower and washing those memories off your body, imagine they are sliding down into the drain gurgling away leaving you fresh, clean and with a clear head.
- Alternatively, if you have a very intense ‘loud’ memory, you might want to adjust the volume. That right, imagine this memory as if it is playing on a TV set in front of you and you are watching it. An argument perhaps, loud and noisy, those sharp sounds in your memory making you flinch and feel miserable or angry. Now imagine you have a volume knob right there and you are slowly turning the volume down. Do not shy away from the noise, imaging it strongly, but imagine it slowly lowering in volume until it is silent. Do this for any other loud memories you have that cause you pain.
This might seem silly, but remembering memories in this visual context actually changes how your brain sees these memories. It takes repeated attempts but over time this can really help.
2. Lowering Frequency:
By frequency I mean how often these memories are dredged up from your mind. This comes down to two critical things: how often you remember your ex wife and those situations that cause you pain, and situations/events/items that can link you to those memories.
The vicious cycle is when the more your brain accesses a particular memory or set of memories the easier it is to recall them. This might seem like bad news, but it is also good news to know that once you do stop remembering and thinking of your ex as much, it becomes easier for your mind to not go to that place as its first port of call. If you can lessen the intensity, and keep some control of your thoughts then day by day you will train you brain not to think of her and your marriage anywhere near as much. You will start to control how you remember her as well.
The other thing you need to know to gorget your ex wife is to know what triggers a rush on those memories. Sometimes it is a place you are at, your old home, a place you both used to visit – this might set these things off and make it hard to forget. It might be a situation you are in, something as simple as washing the dishes if you used to do that together and now you do not for instance. Also a very common trigger is an object or item of some sort. Pictures are the main culprit, but it could be an old gift from her, an item of her clothes you refuse to throw away, or a myriad of other things. Being aware of these triggers can allow you to avoid them, or come to grips with them.
3. Stopping Catastrophic Thinking
Catastrophic thinking is usually a term related to panic and anxiety attacks, but it can be equally applicable to being sidelines by bad ex wife memories. Forgetting your ex wife also means stoping your memories taking control of your thinking and sending it down into dark places. Basically catastrophic thinking is where you have a bad thought, and you start to build on that bad thought to even worse thoughts until it becomes so bad you have a panic attack. This can also happen with memories; you remember one thing, and start to remember more and more. You then dwell on them and think about what you did wrong, what they did wrong, what else might have happened. Questions become more and more horrible and the answers you give yourself even worse until you become depressed, anxious and miserable.
Being able to realise you are spiralling out of control and stopping this is very helpful because the more you attach these miserable thoughts to your memories the harder it becomes to gorget your ex wife and move on. Those memories become even more tainted and toxic and stronger in your mind as well. Distraction can be a useful tool here, but also having the mental discipline to realise you are in this spiral and start to rationalise those thoughts rather than making assumptions that are very bad.
This is a pretty big topic and a long post! There is an excellent e-book out there that JUST deals with forgetting your ex which I recommend if this is your biggest worry.
Though it does not go into the depth that Kyle Morrisons book does about all aspects of recovering from divorce. Check them both out for more help on how to forget your ex wife, but I hope this advice helps!