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Making New Associations with Old Stimuli


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I know I'm not the only one who has a hard time doing just about *anything* because it is associated with the ex in some way, shape, or form...hence, it causes extra pain.

 

So today I went walking somewhere where there was *just* the right amount of people. I didn't go to the river because I knew it would depress and discouage me. Instead, I walked from my neighborhood all the way down over the overpass on the freeway, where lots of cars were, but not a lot of pedestrians or steets to cross. I had music from my Ipod and decided to listen to some of "our songs" as I walked over the overpass.

 

Funny thing was that I didn't feel sad when I heard "our" songs as I was walking over the overpass. The overpass is not associated with my ex at all, so there was no emotional charge there. If I keep walking there everyday, listening to my ex's songs, maybe I'll build an assoction between the songs and something neutral--walking over the overpass!

 

I notice that my triggers are anything really "nature"--oriented. My ex loved forests and trees, so whenever I'm around a wooded area, I feel depressed. People are supposed to feel good in nature but I feel particularly sad. So for now, I'm going to try to go to areas without "nature." Later, I'll listen to really up-beat dance songs when I'm in nature so that I don't get sad and I can associate nature with upbeat music, not sad, mystical, romantic, religious stuff.

 

That seems like KEY right now. As I try to get closer to God, sometimes I feel sad because I tink of serious stuff like death and romance and all that mystical stuff. The KEY to other people out there like me is to STOP STOP STOP dwelling on all the spiritual stuff. Still believe in God, but start focusing on your 5 SENSES! It seems counter-intuitive since a lot of psychology urges us to focus on our thoughts/feelings/etc.

 

I say DO THE OPPOSITE---focus on the physical! I had a choice of whether to volunteer to supervise children OR participate in the canned food drive. It would seem like the kids would be more rewarding, right? WRONG!

I've had some really depressing experiences lately having to do with kids (I may not be able to have any due to a medical problem, my ex left me, I lost my teaching job). So I really want to do something not directly with people. Something where I can get my hands dirty and really get in there and do physical stuff.

 

I AM NOT at all very physical...never have been. Always have I been in my head. So now I'm looking forward to doing more sports-type things, hiking, fixing things, etc. That seems so relieving now. It's also great to socialize with people outdoors. I got in touch with some old friends and asked them to go out. I want to try kareoke (I enjoy singing), maybe try some dancing (I am a lousy dancer), etc.

 

I also have lost about 15 pounds from the break-up and today some guy slowed down his car and gave me this big flirty smile. It kind of freaked me out because he was about my age and cute. I'm not used to that kind of thing. I was wearing tight clothes, and while I'm still overweight, I'm starting to appreciate my body: I DO have nice curves/chest/butt and when I was younger and not overweight, had a lot of compliments in that regard.

 

I just hope to meet some decent, honest people through volunteering. Don't think I want a relationship AT ALL at this point, but if I do more things with friends and meet some new ones, it should be more manageable.

 

This Sunday I'm going to a Board Game Meetup. I don't have anyone to play Apples to Apples, Blockus, Scrabble, or some of the others I love anymore...so this way I'll feel pretty comfortable meeting some new people. I'm kind of scared to go by myself (wish a friend could join me) but I guess it's just something I have to do.

 

Does anyone else have success stories for building new connections to old stimuli? Ways to make the songs less painful? Nature less painful? Seeing couples less painful? I want to break those connections to pain that are holding me back and I'm sure other people are hoping to as well.

 

Any thoughts?

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I would focus on doing new things like you're doing now, that have nothing to do with him.

 

And if you're listening to 'your songs' that you and your ex listened to, stop doing that until you are more over him.

 

If you are out with a group of new people you are having fun with in nature, you won't be able to dwell on him.

 

So get out and meet new people and do new things, until you've let some time pass and don't have such strong associations with him. Just avoid those things you did together for a while, unless you are out with other people while you're doing them and making connections to the new people.

 

Time will break those connections if you don't dwell on them and keep them alive in your mind.

 

Also, try to avoid any kind of self pity as in seeing couples and feeling bad that you're not part of a couple. Instead, when you see them replace that with good positive thoughts, as in, one day soon i will find someone who makes me as happy as that.

 

Your ex loved nature and trees, but so do whole loads of men... look for a group that goes out into nature and goes camping, somewhere you can meet men who also like nature and you can replace thoughts of your ex with thoughts of the new people you meet.

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