How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex (And Start Feeling Better ASAP)

how to stop thinking about your ex

I’ll admit to getting stuck in a negative feedback loop where I had lots of trouble with shutting down my thoughts about an ex in the past.

Maybe you can relate.

Wouldn’t you want to know how to stop thinking about your ex? I sure did. I wished that my thoughts of him would just fade, but I am stubborn and was pretty obsessed with him.

It seemed like everywhere I went, there were reminders. The jokes we told. The places we went. The things we bought together. All of the bonding experiences. Sad breakup songs. Everything.

And it was over forever.

I wondered how he was. I thought about calling and/or texting. I fantasized that he might realize what a huge mistake he made (I thought) and come running back to me. I was wasting time living in the past, hoping for a relationship that didn’t work.

No amount of wishing and hoping made any difference.

The days turned into months, and I realized he wasn’t coming back. That didn’t seem to stop my incessant, obsessive thoughts about my ex boyfriend.

That agony is what eventually drove me to come up with this game plan to finally get the obsessive thoughts of him gone for good.

1. Clear Out Your Environment

Get a friend or family member to help if you’re feeling weak and not quite ready to completely clear the decks. Go through your house and find everything he gave you or that strongly reminds you of him. If you’re feeling strong, donate or toss it. If you’re not sure, box up the most tender items and give them to a friend to keep for you until later. Set aside everything that still belongs to your ex.

Rearrange your furniture and declutter your place. If you make a visible change to your environment, it will leave a “changed” input on your self conscious that will help you mark the fresh start you are making.

While you’re clearing out your environment, you’re clearing a path to stop thinking about your ex. Once you finish this step, the anchors in your environment which remind you of them will be gone, replaced with a fresh slate. This is so powerful, and people are most tempted to skip this step, but it’s one of the most important.

2. Tie Up Loose Ends

Next it’s time to take the items that still belong to your ex and make concrete plans to give them back.

If the items are small, postal mail is a nice way to do it. That way you get to mail it off and it’s done without dealing with your ex or ripping the wound open by seeing them in person. If you can’t afford the mail or the items are large and numerous, then your next options are thus:

A. Call them and have them pick up the items – This is a tough one, since you’re relying on them to show up, follow instructions, heed your wishes, etc. This can be a tough bargain with an ex, especially one who you aren’t getting along with. This is not recommended.

B. Beg a friend to drop the items off – This is an option for the sheepish and heartbroken.

C. Call them and arrange a time to drop their items off – The nice part about this is that you don’t have to worry about whether they will show up, let you down, turn up late or any other nonsense. If they aren’t there when you get there, you can leave the items.

If they won’t respond to your communication, you have several options. You can notify them via text or mail that if they don’t collect their stuff within 30 days, you are going to donate everything or sell it. You can drop the items off anyway. Whatever you do, you must do something with their stuff to get it resolved and out of your life.

By far, the best thing to do is to handle it head on. Get the items to their zone, and get it over with.

If you do the call and wait option, you’re on the hook for whenever (if ever) they want to parachute into your life. Be proactive so that you can get past this. If the whole point is to get them off your mind, waiting for them to come deal with their stuff is not the way to do it.

Also, deal with your joint bank accounts, get them to forward their mail if you both lived together, get all the lose ends tied up that you can.

If you’re working with lawyers, do what you can to get the process moving along more smoothly. If you’re in the way of progress when it comes to custody or the court, rethink your position. Do whatever steps you can that smooth out the breakup from your end. If you are holding onto something of theirs in a superstitious effort to change their feelings somehow, release it. You don’t need it anymore. Whether you manage to repair your relationship sometime down the road does not depend on keeping his granny’s china or holding onto his favorite sweatshirt.

3. Delete Your Ex From Your Social Media

I debated about whether to make this it’s own separate step or simply put it under “loose ends.” I made it separate because having reminders of your ex available over social media 24/7 is such a pervasive thing. Social media updates, cyber stalking and the ramifications of a breakup over social media, drives people to distraction so often that it deserves it’s own article.

Go to all of the social media outlets you use, and clean out your ex. Do a full sweep of all of your photos, “unfriend,” “unfollow,” etc. Go out of your way to delete all traces of them. Even if the service makes it difficult. Even if you worry that you’ll be hurting their feelings. Even if you have pictures where you’re both tagged together. Doing this will reduce the tendency to obsess and be thrown into a tail-spin every time you see something from them, wonder when they’re going to delete you, etc. Do it all.

This way you aren’t tempted to cyber stalk them in moments of weakness or send them telepathic status updates. Just clear them out the same way you did with their stuff. Don’t concern yourself with what they think, what your friends and family think, what your dog thinks. This is about getting your life and your sanity back. You need to erase all reminders of them from your life. If you aren’t feeling strong, remember that you can always re-add them later if there is some huge new development like you get back together. For now, delete it all.

4. Talk About The Breakup Incessantly for 7 Days

Talk about your ex until you’re completely sick of hearing yourself for the next week. Give it a full 7 days of non-stop discussion of all things breakup. Wallow. Do it.

Asking people to stop obsessing cold turkey just doesn’t work. You need the floodgates to open so that you can shut them. Go at it, with the solid resolve that you’ll completely stop discussing them after the week is up. To stop thinking about them, you’ll need to stop talking about them, but first, get it all out.

5. Put an End to All Discussion About Your Ex

After the week is up, announce to your friends and family that you no longer want to hear about your ex or discuss him anymore. Tell them that you really appreciate their support so far and you are making the steps to move on so you would appreciate if they wouldn’t mention him at all. Tell them you don’t want updates about how your ex is doing either, if the friends are mutual.

If they slip up, change the subject gracefully. They have supported you tirelessly up until this point, remember. Your breakup with your ex has become “your news.” Since you’re working on refreshing your news, be compassionate. If they’re really just hoping for gossip and going on and on, distance yourself from them for now while you make changes. Eventually all mention of your ex will cease driving you crazy.

6. Do a Little Ceremony

After the seven days are up and you’ve told your friends and family that the ex topic is over, it’s time to do a little ceremony that symbolizes moving into a new chapter in your life.

You can burn a few pictures of the two of you together, like on friends, or you can simply burn candles and think about the start of your shiny new life. Use your creativity, but whatever you do, the point is to signify that a new beginning has arrived.

7. Get Yourself a Rubber Band and a Stop Sign

Each time that your ex pops into your head, picture a big red stop sign and snap a rubber band on your wrist.

I particularly like using one of those rubber bracelets for a cause, this way you’re stylish, support a good cause AND getting over him at the same time. You’ll feel silly, and this is the point, but stick with it. If you have to, say “Stop” right out loud. Then, immediately focus your thoughts on something else.

8. Use the 3×5 Method for Stubborn Thought Patterns

If you’re having trouble with only using your stop sign and rubber band, every time your ex pops into your mind, center your mind using the 3×5 exercise:

  1. Notice 3 things that are currently seeing visually.
  2. Notice 3 things that you are currently hearing.
  3. Notice 3 things you smell.
  4. Notice how 3 things you are touching feel.
  5. Notice 3 things you taste.

Once you’ve done this, it’s hard to be anything except centered in your own body. Use this reboot any time you get lost in old memories. It’s a good way to snap your consciousness right back into the present.

9. Maintenance

At some point in the past, before you knew you ex, you didn’t think about him. That sounds glib and obvious, but it’s not.

It’s easy to get stuck on the idea that your life will never, ever be okay again. This is simply not true. When your grief and pain feel overwhelming, remind yourself that it will pass.

Feeling better will take time and practice. You can’t do these nine steps to stop thinking about your ex and then magically have the clouds lift without some emotional maintenance.

This is your opportunity to use your breakup to recreate an amazing life. You’ve been given the chance to start over with a fresh slate. This is scary sometimes, but a rare opportunity to do the things that you love and might have neglected while you were coupled up. If you ever felt stifled in your relationship (and who doesn’t, on occasion), you have a fresh, new start.

If your feelings about your ex go beyond this level, or your life feels like it’s falling apart, it might be time to see a therapist or consider your options that way.

Don’t let this breakup be a negative defining action of your life that keeps you stuck.

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6 thoughts on “How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex (And Start Feeling Better ASAP)”

  1. Avatar

    I don’t think a former of self harming (snapping a rubber band on the wrist) is a healthy coping skill at all. One should find outlets that aren’t harmful to their bodies in order to overcome hardships such as break-ups.

    1. Avatar


      I’m a mental health professional and I see rubber band snapping a lot as a gateway to cutting. I think the best way is to move on in mind and body by reframing your thinking. You don’t have to hurt yourself to feel better. It takes time and don’t punish yourself for it.

  2. Avatar

    When leaving a situation with a person you have such a rare connection with it is hard to do. You might never truly get over it. But love like death in some means can be put away in the back of your mind so you can continue with your life. You will most likely try to replace that love with the same connection you had, this is not a bad idea because this is the idea of love that you endow onto others. I believe that if you try based from studies of (the law of attraction) you will find the same love connection because the type of energy you attract is the type of energy you use to connect with others. Life is also ment for you to discover things about yourself so you might not be ready for a seriouos life partner maybe because of a mental block as a child or something you believe you should accomplish before you take this step. But keep in mind the law of attraction basically states this- if you are ready for something to happen in your life it will but if you dont break harmful barriers that keep you inclusive from positive things to happen, these things will never happen. Basically be happy, positive, meet people, life does not change you people do, believe in yourself your worth and pursue love in your way to get what you truly want, so first date be yourself. I hope this helps whoever reads this I was in this situation and I had to learn the hard way. This is the shortcut.

  3. Avatar

    I DO NOT WANT my Ex Narcissist girlfriend back at all. I just hate how she constantly got away with her selfish actions towards me repeatedly. I feel stupid, hurt, angry, and sad at the same time. But now I am sure that she will never be a decent human being. She dumped me several times in the past for various selfish reasons, She cheated a few times and when she finally said she wanted to get a fresh start in her life and needed my help, I jumped to help her when no one else would. After she got what she wanted out of me, she promptly dumped me again for another guy. Since it had happened in the past I was ready for it but what gets me mad is how she always gets away with it while suffering no consequences. I am the one who suffered and so I am the one to make a change for the better.

    1. Avatar

      I did the same things you did for seven years. It sucks so bad…especially with a narcissist you know will never care about you as deeply as you cared for them.

  4. Avatar

    My narcissist man gave me no notice he just up and moved same day. It’s a pattern. He leaves, has a blast, and down the road he’s back for more!! Not this time.
    He was a well kept man. I did everything, bought everything, paid all the bills as he had his way.
    Obviously he has new supply! He was super duper selfish, cheated with just about anyone who gave him attention. He had it all planned out. Lies on top of lies. He used me, physically, mentally and verbally.
    It’s only been a month that he left. When you love someone you don’t leave them.
    And so here is a huge way to stop thinking about him
    1. Think off all the mean and nasty ways he treated you and how he made an ass out of you.
    2. Work, Work, Work…
    3. Imagine the ways he’s going to treat his next victim .
    4. Know your worth
    5. Start doing you!!
    6. Before ya know it, you’ll be so happy he left and when you do see him, he’ll be eating his heart out, cos you just gonna walk in past his nasty Azz.

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