How to forget someone you love once and for all
It's not just about getting over the breakup
Part 1, Part 2
In this article on how to forget someone I will tell it like it is. Why?
Because, I know only too well what it's like, from personal as well as professional experience, when you want to get over someone once and for all.
Let me start by reassuring you that it's perfectly understandable and normal under the circumstances if…
- you can't stop crying
- you feel hurt and angry
- you're depressed and anxious
- you're at risk of falling apart in the face of the slightest upset
- you wonder if you'll ever get over it and if you’ll ever be able to forget that person.
This article is for you if you want to leave the sadness behind as soon as you can, forget and move on.
Let's start by establishing what kind of relationship it was and how it ended...
What happened to that relationship you want to forget?
There are at least 4 likely reasons why you’re struggling to forget this person:
- They were your first ever real love. The two of you had a bond so tight you thought you'd never part.
- You had a holiday romance. It necessarily had to come to an end, but you had idealised the object of your affection without being able to get to know the whole person.
- Your relationship ended very suddenly. You never got an explanation or even a chance to ask questions. Perhaps your partner suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth and you never found out what happened, or he or she, sadly, died.
- You never had a relationship with them, because they simply weren't available or never knew of your love. I have an article written specifically for you: How to get over unrequited love.
We have an emotionally-laden TV programme here in the Netherlands. It tells the story of people who have loved, lost touch, and were never able to forget. They often mention one of the scenarios above.
In the programme, endings were caused by critical and even forbidding parents, letters not posted or love letters received but never passed on. Break-ups were also caused by death, illness, accidents, etc.
The common pattern is that people are often left with what feels like a hole in their experience and thereby their memory.
I know many of my clients had secret memories of lost or unrequited love lurking under the weight of their relationship problems.
They were often comparing past, sometimes idealised, partners with their present one. Sometimes their partner or spouse could never match up to the person they had once lost their heart to.
The good news, though, is that it really is possible to lead a happy and fulfilling life, despite those memories!
New! Do let me know...
When did your relationship end?
You were told "it's over" this week (or fairly recently)
You really need a little time to just be, and to not do anything at all for couple of weeks at least (if at all possible).
But that doesn't mean you’ll have forgotten it all and be over it after a couple of weeks! Being able to get over someone and forget them can be a slow process. If you’ve only recently split up, hop over to my article on how to get over a breakup for the most helpful advice for you right now. At the moment, all you may be able to do is cope with not coping.
The two of you separated some time ago
You may have broken up a long time ago. Perhaps everyone else thinks (and maybe even you think) you should be over it by now. But for one reason or another, you just can't yet forget and move on.
If this is where you’re at, the following advice is for you...
How to forget someone
7 Steps to help you let go and move on
To forget someone and build a new life without that person, there are some definite steps you need to take.
Here we go...
How to forget someone
Step 1. Start focusing on yourself
Have you been focusing too much on your ex-partner or spouse since the break up? Or have you been focusing too much on yourself, turned inwards and stopped seeing people?
Either way, it’s time now to focus outwards and engage with your friends and family instead. The need to connect with others is an essential emotional need. Neglect that need at your peril.
Step 2. Clean up your social media accounts
Delete whatever and whoever needs to be deleted from your social media sites as much as you can.
I don't want you to be confronted with what your ex is up to - ever. It's over, so let it be! Don't waste your energy looking backwards. Use it instead to start creating a new future. Baby-steps are fine!
Step 3: Change your surroundings
Material things and surroundings have a direct link with what motivated you to buy and/or create them, and also how you felt at the time.
They can be physical reminders of what was and is. Even if you’ve moved on, it's almost as if your ex and past memories are etched across those things. And every now and then they’ll transport you back to how things used to be.
So, here's what to do about it...
Do whatever’s possible to refresh your personal space. Move the furniture, tidy up, buy new sheets and pillows for your bed, throw away things you don't need and which are laden with memories. Buy new stuff, find second hand stuff or swap with friends.
I promise you, this practical action will help you gain a measure of control. And having a sense of control is another important essential emotional need.
Step 4. Help your friends and family to help you
Firmly remind your friends and family to keep your ex out of the conversation.
You should see a decline in that need the further along you are in your grieving process. But, you really don't need every Tom, Dick and Harry talking about your ex all the time!
Ask friends and family to be sensitive to your needs. Don't give them any slack on this one - set a tight boundary on what you will and won’t discuss.
Here's what you could say: "Thank you so much for your concern. I'm just not ready/willing/prepared to talk about it any further." If they continue to press: "Thank you, but let's change the subject." No more!
Step 4. Take responsibility
Can't seem to stop blaming your ex or yourself?
I can guarantee you, blame is the one thing that's going to prevent you from letting go and moving on.
I know it's really difficult to move on if you haven't been given the opportunity to talk it over and/or vent your anger, or when you've had no say in what's happened.
But don’t let yourself get stuck in the blame stage. Instead, consider whether you truly have been the best partner anyone could have wished for. My article on how to make your partner love you will help you figure it out, in addition to the advice in Steps 5 and 6 below.
Step 5. Build your strength
First and foremost, be kind and compassionate with yourself. Do not allow yourself to say or do anything that undermines *YOU*. Recognise all your achievements, however small. Be your own best friend.
The stronger you are, the more likely you're going to be able to leave what’s happened behind. Whenever that person pops into your mind you'll also find it easier to change your focus to something (or someone) in the here and now.
I highly recommend you use self-hypnosis with the aid of a hypnosis download. This is the best way I know to (re)build your self-esteem and become strong and confident enough to face the future without that person slipping into your mind. For more information, see my article: Hypnosis FAQ and downloads.
Step 6. Consider getting professional help
Get professional help if you need to. There's no need to suffer in silence and there's no shame in needing a helping hand. It's easy and so much more affordable these days to connect to a counsellor online. I highly recommend it (as a qualified and experienced counsellor myself, I would of course!).
Remember that by taking control and doing something to deal with the pain of an ending you're always going to feel better. You're also more likely to be able to remove painful reminders to make it easier to forget that person you still love.
I just want you to know that you will survive, once you've made the decision to do so. I'm going to help you along with a free worksheet which is designed to help you start looking after yourself and to focus on the now (not on what was).
Can you ever really forget?
The answer to whether or not you can forget someone depends on many factors, including:
- the strength of your feelings for each other at the time of the breakup,
- whether or not your were the instigator,
- how the breakup happened,
- whether or not you have a history of mental health problems,
- whether or not this was an on-off relationship.
Your gender also has some impact on your memories. Women, on the whole, tend to have a better memory for emotionally laden experiences.
Whatever happened to your world, read on...
How to forget someone - train your brain
According to Jim Kwik, it's what you do and how you train your brain that makes all the difference.
Watch this video to learn more about that...
What to do if you can't seem to forget that person you still love
Know that the relationship - and its ending - will become part of your life-story. Your story includes all your experiences (for as far as you remember them), from the most glorious to the frankly disastrous.
These experiences all come together to create the colourful hand woven tapestry of your life.
What you had with that special person is partly what has made you the way you are today. It's part of your history, and the person you've become.
Up to now, you’ve probably been focusing on what you've lost. But it doesn't need to be that way.
Make the conscious decision to let the positive aspects of all that experience shine through!
By working as hard as you can to become the very best version of you.
Rather than focusing on forgetting, decide that you want to preserve the beautiful, the interesting and all that you learnt from the good and the difficult times.
You'll have the learnings from these life experiences forever more in your own personal toolkit. They’ll always be there to help you next time you encounter a difficult or upsetting situation.
You’re stronger because of what’s happened. You’re more resourceful than you were before. You don’t need to forget what’s happened, because it’s part of who you are right now.
Part 1, Part 2
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