Yesterday I was discussing with a friend “after breakup avoidance”; where you avoid places, situations, songs, etc, that remind you of your ex, as an attempt to avoid the negative feelings that these things bring up. Apparently this behaviour will actually prolong the heartache; the association with pain will be cemented and the things that you avoided will, when encountered, forevermore remind you of your ex causing the pain to constantly come back. So the best thing to do is continue on as normal, and eventually the association with the ex will be broken, and the places, situations, songs etc will no longer cause you pain.
This is all well and good, and makes a lot of sense. I started implementing “non-avoidant” behaviour today, and there was some pain, of course, but that’s to be expected. However, I noticed something else about myself: an emotional glitch.
Random things that have no obvious association with my ex make me sad. And now that I think about it, this has been going on for a long time, probably since childhood. Things like a lone pea left on a plate, a bird eating a chip off the ground, or a chimp who learned to say the word “cup” are some examples of actual things that have in the past made me so sad that I wanted to die.
This happens alot, sometimes multiple times in a single day. Something is seriously wrong with my brain, and the way it makes associations.
Years ago I read a book called The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. It’s about neuroplasticity and how our thoughts and behaviours shape the structure of our brain, either to our benefit or detriment. I don’t really know how or why, but I guess somehow I have been reinforcing or rewarding myself when random events make me inappropriately sad, so now my brain is creating pathways to sadness every chance it gets.
I need to break this habit somehow. Perhaps by zapping myself whenever something makes me sad inappropriately, or by smiling when this happens and fooling my brain into thinking it has actually made me happy. I’m not sure yet. I’ll do some reading and some experimenting, and hopefully something will work.
Does anybody else have any experience of this, or have any suggestions on how to break this association?